The Academia General Militar has a long, successful tradition in the training of Spanish Army officers. The few treatise writers that have thoroughly studied Military training in Spain, such as Clonard or Almirante, conclude that the “Compañía de los Cien Donceles” (Company of the Hundred Young Noblemen), created in 1340 by king of Castile Alfonso XI, appears as the oldest precedent.
In the Renaissance Period, the unification of the different kingdoms in Spain and the progress of The Art of the War lead to important tactical and technological innovations which set the basis of the Escuela Militar Española de la Casa de Austria (Spanish Military College of the House of Austria) and the power of the Tercios (the Thirds) throughout the XVIth and XVIIth centuries. Spain was about to create a universal Empire and its maintenance needs required the foundation of Military Colleges or Academies which, under royal protection, dealt with military training and which were located in various places of the Empire (Burgos, Milan, Seville, Barcelona, Lisbon, Orán, Sardinia, etc).
The first project to create a Progressive Teaching System, which goes from the general to the specific, was carried out at the end of the XVIIth century, concretely in 1674, in Brussels, where the first modern Military Academy for teaching and training appeared. The Academia Militar del Ejército de los Países Bajos (The Military Academy of the Netherlands) was founded in Brussels by Sebastián Fernández de Medrano, also known as “Second Lieutenant Medrano”. He was a veteran in the Thirds of Flandes and was appointed its Commandant due to his solid scientific and tactical training. This Academy was renowned for the diverse origin of its officer cadets, for the innovative features of its plan of studies, the theoretical and practical basis of its learning process apart from the relevant assignments given to its officer cadets who were also known as the “Great Masters of War”. This center can be considered as the first project of General Military Training as well as the forefather of the future Academia General Militar.
These origins act as a guarantor for the comprehensive, evolutionist and varied character that defines our Training Centre which can be considered as a state-of-the-art institution in the developed countries military training.
The epoch of the Military Academies goes from 1674 to 1823. The first one, as we have already mentioned, is the Academia del Ejército de los Países Bajos (from 1674 to 1699).The XVIIIth century starts with the Spanish War of Succession which meant the arrival of the Dynasty of the Borbones. Felipe V started a profound reform in the military institution following the French model. The Real Academia de Barcelona (Royal Academy of Barcelona) can be considered as the second project of Centro de Enseñanza General (General Teaching Centre) since it inherits the teaching tradition of the Brussels Academy as it was open by Lieutenant General Jorge Próspero Verboom, outstanding student of this Academy. It was created featuring the one in Brussels to train the most distinguished officers in the peninsula in the Art of War. In 1805 the Academia Especial of the Cuerpo de Ingenieros (Special Academy for the Corps of Engineers) is founded in Alcalá de Henares. In 1805 it is the turn of the Academia de las Armas Generales (Academy of the General Arms) in Zamora, which assumes the tasks of the Academia de Barcelona.
In 1764 Carlos III creates the Real Colegio de Artillería (Royal College of Artillery) in Segovia which although does not comply with the general character of the institution, can be considered as the model to follow due to its pedagogical as well as interior regime systems for the Military Academies in the XIX the century. The Independence War led to diversity and lack of coordination in the Military Academies, thus creating various Military Academies of the different branches. It was Lieutenant Colonel Mariano Gil de Bernabé, from the Artillery branch, who unifies them again in a Military Academy in 1809 based on Batallones Universitarios de Toledo, Granada y Sevilla (the University Battalions). The so called Academia Militar de Cuarto Ejército (1809-1823) adopted the flag called “La Universitaria” and it can be considered the first flag in the Military Academies.
"La Universitaria" Flag
In 1824 an order was issued that established a General Military College divided in sections depending on whether the students were going to join the Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery or Engineers branch. But owing to the interest of the Arms and Corps to train their officers, the Engineers Academy in 1826 and the College of Artillery in 1829 are opened, which broke the idea of College as a unique place for officers’ training.
Lieutenant General Francisco Javier Venegas was appointed Commandant of the Academy and Colonel Mackenna was the second-in-command. The college was placed in Segovia, in the Alcázar, and it was conceived as a boarding school whose plan of studies lasted 5 years. The College started off on 1st June 1825 with great success and was visited by the king annually between 1825 and 1830. In 1837, during the Carlist War, the expedition of General Zaratiegui sieged Segovia and took control of the city and the Alcázar. Then the College of Artillery had to be moved to Madrid and was placed at Convento de Dominicos de Atocha (Dominican Convent of Atocha) and later at Convento de los Trinitarios Descalzos (Convent that belongs to the Barefoot Trinity Order).
The disappearance of the Military College in Segovia and the continuation of the Spanish Civil War up until 1840 blurred the work the college had been doing so far and which had the disadvantage of taking a long time in training officers for the Army. This is the reason why the old training system came into effect again: The Milicia Nacional (National Militia), Compañías de Distinguidos y Cadetes de Cuerpo (The Corps of Cadets) revitalized the Arms corporative spirit.
In 1842 a Decree signed by Espartero leads to the foundation of the Colegio General de Todas las Armas (General College for all the Branches), that can be regarded as the fifth project in General Military Training. In 1844, its Commandant, Count Clonard, whose name was Serafín María de Sotto, changes its name to Colegio General Militar (General Military College) and moves it to Toledo. The plan of studies consisted of six semesters and established a mixed teaching system that had an initial common cycle in the General College and a second specific cycle in the Special Corps Academies.
Alcázar de Segovia