Orders of Battle in the Thirty Years War

The 80 Years War (1568-1648) overlapped the 30 Years War (1618-1648). The main protagonists of the Dutch Revolt, Spanish and Dutch, are covered in the Organisation in the Eighty Years War. Other nations (Swedes, French, Imperialist, etc) are covered here.

Also see the Orders of Battle for:


The company was the building block of Infantry organisation (Heath, 1997). Larger units were made up of a number of companies. The company was not, however, necessarily a battlefield formation. The Pike and shot components of a company were usually deployed separately in the field.

In proportions of pike to shot, I’ve included command elements, swordsmen etc in the pike component. Although not strictly accurate this gives a reasonable approximation of the fire power of the unit relative to its size.

Battlefield units differed to the organisational units. On the field infantry were formed into units usually called battalions. These were a temporary unit usually formed from a single regiment but which could also be formed by subdividing large regiments or consolidating several small regiments. The units consolidated from several regiments were confusingly sometimes called brigades, as distinct from a brigade comprising several battlefield battalions.


Swedish companies had 150 men including 72 musketeers (Brzenzinski, 1995).

Swedish regiments were administrative (Brzenzinski, 1995). Officially of 1,200 men, they could also have 1,800 or 2,400. In reality the composition were smaller.

In the field the Swedes used squadrons (battalions) and brigades (Brzenzinski, 1995). Squadrons first appeared between 1617 and 1621. A squadron was half a regiment, so about 500 men. The Swedish brigade was a unique formation of three or four squadrons.


By the end of the 16th Century German Fähnlein (companies) had shrunk to 300 men (Heath, 1997). A low proportion of shot was recorded as late as 1601. On the other hand by 1601 the Germans had a higher proportion of muskets with 60% of their shot having muskets and 40% arquebus.

Germans infantry were organised into regiments, never using the tercio (Heath, 1997), but the distinction is more about terminology than anything else. In fact German regiments were bigger than their Spanish counterparts, comprising five to ten companies of 300-500 men each. This would give a regimental size of 1,500 to 5,000 men, i.e. pretty much like a tercio.


British troops in Swedish employ were organised along Swedish lines (Brzenzinski, 1995).


Corneta or Vanen (Cornet) or Tropa (Troop)

German cornets were 150-200 strong (Heath, 1997).

Adhoc Formations

The typical battlefield formation for cavalry was a temporary group of 300-600 men (Heath, 1997). Some German groups had up to 1,000.



Brzenzinski, R. (1995). The Army of Gustavus Adolphus 1: Infantry [Men-at-Arms 235]. Osprey.

Gush, G. (1975). Renaissance Armies 1480-1650. Patrick Stephens.

Part of this book are available on-line on the myArmoury site:

The Burgundian Army of Charles
the Bold

The Swiss
The Italians
Military Orders
The English: Henry VIII to Elizabeth
The Irish
The Scots
The Spanish
The French

Parker, G. (1972). The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road 1567-1659: The logistics of Spanish Victory and Defeat in the Low Countries’ Wars. Cambridge University Press.

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