Despite their extremely colourful appearance you really would not want to mess with a member of the Pontifical Swiss Guard or Swiss Guard for short. They are the elite bodyguards to the Pope and the protectors of the tiny state of the Vatican City. Be under no illusions, they may wear a uniform that looks like a pair of big orange and blue striped pyjamas but they can wield the Halberd they hold very well thank you very much! It’s very likely they have a pistol in their baggy apparel too. Their role has been very ceremonial but after real threats to the Pope, particularly being an attempt in 1981, they have begun to offer a closer more modern bodyguard security facing role.
The Swiss Guard are one of the oldest professional bodies that deal with close protection. A company closer to home such as a Close Protection London based firm can supply a similar role should you need them and will be able to give you the modern day answer to Close Protection London services. The Swiss Guard can trace their history back to the fifteenth century with the election of Pope Sixtus the Fourth. It was a rather interesting time to be Pope and it carried certain military options rather removed from our modern understanding of the Pontiff now. Sixtus IV wanted Swiss mercenaries to protect him and made a barracks ready for them. He died before they could be housed but his successor Innocent the eighth thought this was a cracking idea and he got them in to be used against the Duke of Milan who was giving the papal state some bother. They saw active service for the next sixty five years during the Italian wars where power and Popes were pretty fluid. All this was unofficial and it wasn’t until 1506 that a legitimate force of 150 soldiers marched to Rome under the banner of the Swiss Guard to take up residence in the Vatican. Basically the followers of the Catholic Faith were fed up with the War’s in Italy threatening the Pontiff’s life every five minutes so some crack trained troops might well fit the bill.
An example of the need for the guard came some 20 years later when Charles the fifth, head of the Holy Roman Empire, decided to let his starving Protestant troops have a go at sacking Rome for supplies and also because the Papacy was a part of the League of Cognac against them. The guards defended Pope Clement the seventh as he escaped and lost many men doing it. As a result Clement couldn’t annul Henry the eighth’s marriage to Catherine of Aragorn so Henry broke from Rome and formed the Church of England and joined with Anne Boleyn. So the Swiss Guards have even played a massive part in English history as well!
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