On the 13th of May, 1844, a Royal Decree gave the official birth of the Guardia Civil.
On the 28th of March, 1844, the historic moment change the future when, under the control of the Minister of War Manuel de Mazarredo, a “special armed forces body of Infantry and Cavalry” is created, given the name of the “Guardia Civil”, under the command of Field Marshal D. Francisco Javier Girón y Ezpeleta, II Duque de Ahumada.
The challenge facing the Duque de Ahumada was to set in motion an institution that is designed “to effectively protect people and property” and therefore the Guardia Civil would be formed.
On the 20th of April, 1844, the Duque de Ahumada produced a decisive report, for which budgets and payment plans were leaked and became a cause of controversy, before the previous decree, which had not even come into force, was repealed, thus being replaced by the definitive Real Decreto de 13 de mayo, presented by the government minister, D. Ramón María Narváez, and so giving birth to the Guardia Civil.
In etymological terms, “Guardia”, comes from the Gothic word “wardja”, and then from the Old German warten, meaning watch or guard. The word “civil” comes from the Latin civilis or citizen.
Initially The Guardia Civil was formed of 14 senior officers, 232 officers and 5769 guards, scattered in 14 Tercios, thus recovering a term of great tradition and prestige in Spanish military history because it refers to select units of the army. In each of these Tercios there would be a variable number of Infantry companies and a squadron (or Independent section) of cavalry.
In the summer of 1844, the first recruitment campaign began, with many more men applying for the positions than were available. Bearing in mind that it was the reserve of men at the time.
Today, popularly known as the Benemérita, the Guardia Civil remains a militarised body, with over 77,000 personnel, not only operating in Spain but in various military and peace keeping operations around the globe. Women are now welcomed into the corps, and also operate alongside their male counterparts with the utmost of equality.
The Guardia Civil have numerous different bodies responsible for everything from counter terrorism, Royal protection, divers, maritime and airborne patrols, mountain rescue, dogs, mounted section, bomb disposal, financial investigators, child protection and many more, not forgetting the traffic department who police the national road network of Spain.
Every day the men, women, and animals of the Guardia Civil put their lives on the line, still maintaining the original reason the corps was formed, to protect people and property, deservedly celebrating the birth of the corps on the 13th of May, and then their special day on October the 12th, Festividad de la Virgen del Pilar.