All through my research for Weave a Garland I have come across the Swiss Guard.
In 17th century France there were two corps – the Hundred Swiss (Cent Suisses), who served within the Palace as bodyguards and ceremonial troops.
And the Swiss Guards (Gardes Suisses) who guarded the entrances and outer perimeters of the royal residences.
They were like frescoes behind the moveable drama of Louis XIII’s court. Marshal Bassompierre commanded the Swiss during the early part of Louis’ reign and the marriage of Henrietta Maria was coloured all over by the red and white of the Switzers who lined the parvis outside of Notre Dame on the day of her wedding to Charles I of England.
Today the Swiss Guard protect the Vatican and it has just been announced that, for the first time in their 500 year history, they are considering allowing women to join their ranks.
See The Telegraph article dated 5 May 2009.