Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Cry God for England, Harry and Saint George !

St. George was something of an obsession for Henry VIII; his image and the cross of St. George reached new heights in his early reign, adorning almost every piece of armour he commissioned. During 1513 this coincided neatly with his will to replicate Henry V thus the veneration of Edward the Confessor saw a new following as this and other banners carried at Agincourt were removed from Westminster and taken to France once more.

My blogs have been a bit quiet of late but I am most certainly painting; the desk has a definite Landsknecht theme - yo can never have too many !


Thursday, 13 March 2014

WIP Stradiot light cavalry

My painting distractions of late have taken a Stradiot theme. I have a lot of these figures and would like to get quite a few painted up prior to basing for maximum mix and match potential and to result in a decent sized swarm to terrorise their English border horse counterparts.

Progress on these was a little slow as I played around a bit with some themes but I've now figured out what my approach will be and they're proving easier to paint. My initial thoughts on these troops were that they just wore myriads of brown which didn't really appeal to me that much. However after doing a bit of reading and gathering as much as I could it seems that isn't quite the case.

As with most new painting projects I like to gather a bank of images and ideas to refer to which in this instance centres around image searches of the following; Balkan, Albanian, Macedonian, Greek cloth, clothing, dress, patterns, traditional / medieval / renaissance dress.

These are then filtered with a bias for simple patterns and colours and result in this work in progress thus far.

I've gone with a muted tone for their smocks with lines of decoration showing on the seams or their under-tunics / waistcoats appearing more intricate. I've no idea at all if this is a true reflection of these troops but as the term Stradiot is a bit of a catch all for men from a fairly wide area it feels like I've captured the right mood in overall appearance.

I've reflected this in the horses too, going with breeds typical of central Europe with a bias for the palomino type colouring to highlight a sense of rapid wild fury that is associated with the Stradiot cavalry of the early sixteenth century.

Shield designs are still proving to be a bit of a hard nut to crack, the nearest thing I can find with a few image resources are the shields of Hungarian cavalry but i'll stick at it and see what I can come up with.

All the best.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Picard Pike complete !

Here we have the second unit of French Picard pike representing the defenders of Therouanne.

The besieged defenders of Therouanne numbered around 3500 though this did fluctuate as reinforcements were able to break through the siege lines on a number of occasions.

Other than something akin to a town militia there was no garrison as such, Louis XII had reasonable time to gather forces in the area and appoint captains, local nobles such as seigneurs de Bournonville and Heilly were ordered to muster 1000 infantry each as represented in this pike square;

Though there may have been a nucleus of some of their household these troops were undoubtedly francs archers, meaning free archers (in that their service exempted them from land tax), these were locally raised territorial troops with an average age of around 32, they were something of a 'home guard' force.

The development of this troop type began during the hundred years war,  if you're interested I thoroughly recommend a read of this post by Jim Hale for an in depth look at the evolution, success and limitations of the francs archer;

Notably the last occasion where they fought in any great numbers was at the Battle of Guinegate (a few miles from Therouanne) in 1479, after which a period of relative decline began. Sources get confusing at this point as they begin to get reorganised, suppressed and re-raised. To bring us up to date, after this relative hiatus 22000 were raised for frontier defence in May 1513, these were organised in 44 ensigns of 500 men each and stayed in being for 18 months. I'm convinced that the French defenders of Therouanne and some of the relief army must have been part of this decree.

Despite the name the armament of the franc archer in the early sixteenth century was very much reflective of the early renaissance; whereas previously they had been required to serve with brigandine, sallet,and predominantly bow and crossbow (though pike had been tried on the Swiss model in the late 1470's / 1480's) a decree of January 1522 required a levy of 24000 francs archers for campaigns in Italy, Guyenne and Picardy (the latter for a second invasion by Henry) to be equipped with , doublets, feathers, leather cape, shoes, corselets, mail gorgets, arm pieces, mail skirts and helmets. 2/3 were armed with pike and the rest were halberdiers, crossbowmen and arquebusiers. All were to serve in hoquetons (sleeveless coats) in the liveries of their captains and or towns / cities. They were paid month by month and stood down at the end of a campaign.

Based upon the equipment described up to 1490 and from 1522 (I have been unable to find anything for the 1513 muster) as well as descriptions of the skirmishing during the siege of Therouanne I have opted for a mid point for the francs archers of Therouanne to be armed with a mix of 1/3 pike and the remainder missile armed.

It is also worth mentioning another staple of the French infantry; the adventurier. These were less disciplined, predominantly crossbow and arquebus armed infantry, the term adventurier meaning equally foot soldier and pillager.

These were more specifically raised for the Italian campaigns though Picardy was a recruiting region with recurring captains such as Bournonville, Sercus and Heilly becoming commonplace beginning a semi permanent formation soon referred to as the ‘bands of Picardy’ which would soon become known as the 'old bands of Picardy' during the reign of Francis I.

As I've experienced with the early Tudors army lists seem to confuse the franc archer and adventurier both in terms of armament and ability; in the case of the former they tend to be deemed as ineffectual with their performance at Guinegate crystallising that notion; the battle was partly lost due to them turning their attention to Maximilian's baggage train but prior to this they defeated their opposite number of Burgundian and English archers, captured the Burgundian artillery and began firing into their flank with it - not bad going for an 'ineffectual' unit.

The defenders of Therouanne are noted to have been tenacious, well led and determined. No doubt this has something to do with being besieged rather than any real test of open warfare but could this perhaps also reflect that Picardy was a frontier region with its franc archers having much more experience than their comrades in other parts of France? worthy of consideration for anyone wishing to game the siege.

On to the miniatures, you can see the initial ideas and my notion of these troops potentially being equipped with pavises in this post from when the first unit of pike was completed;

As with the earlier unit just about every figure has been converted to hold the pike and pavise in a standing position. To fully realise this you'll need to get the Perry WOTR and Mercenaries boxed sets, the archer arms in particular have some good right angle poses. Often I have used the closed hand from one arm drilled and glued to the arm of another.

Following earlier experiments with green stuff upon some crossbowmen I have tried again with two of the front rank giving their hacquetons puffed and slashed arms which I'm fairly pleased with, this chap being my favourite of the two;

You'll also notice a TAG Tudor figure in the front rank, very nice figures indeed and slightly less slender than the earlier Spanish and Italian ranges, he wears upper armour of almain rivet which would have been commonplace to both sides, particularly Henry's.

In this unit I have opted for a loose colour scheme of red and white reflecting de Pisseleu's livery as well as a few 'national' red coats with the cross of St. Denis.

The Pavises bear the white cross also as well as France Royal (which upon reflection may be unlikely ....but it looks good!) and two heraldic references to the town of Heilly (see below) from where de Pisseleu hails. These I then weathered with a dark brown wash.

Last but by no means least, you'll notice that my collection of real estate has begun with two buildings from the 4ground high medieval and renaissance ranges. I was surprised at the level of detail, build quality and value of these and will definitely be getting some more. My only concern is that perhaps I could do something with the roof of the Tudor framed building, maybe thatching or some smaller, irregular tiles to give it a better period feel for the 1500's.

I'd also like to modify some of these to represent homesteads which were ripped down or partially destroyed by the French prior to the siege.

Overall, I'm really pleased in achieving my first square of French pike, it's been a long journey since I first started thinking about how to do them and as usual I've really enjoyed learning about the organisation and background of the men who served and the nobles who led them. The assembly, sculpting and painting all adds to the fun but it feels that bit better when I can see that I've got a unit which I think have the right look about them and are noticeably different to the English while using the same figures - at least I hope that anyway.

Bye for now


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Picard command group

I am currently working upon another unit of pike for the garrison of Therouanne, this one represents the 1000 infantry under the command of Guillame de Pisseleu, lord of Heilly.

Something of a theme for the French nobles is that I know very little about them, anything you can add would be much appreciated. What I have been able to find is that Guillame's family acquired lands in Picardy through marriage in the fifteenth century, his father must have been very keen to continue this as he apparently lived to 115 and had 30 children. Guillame also used marriage to gain influence at court via his daughter, Anne de Pisseleu who became a favourite of Francis I.

Also, his son, Adrien sieur Heilly joined court in the 1530's and would soon gain a reputation for commanding infantry.

Back to Guillame, in 1513 he was appointed by Louis XII to raise 1000 infantry for the defence of the region, something which he repeated for Henry's second invasion in 1521.

I have used a mixture of Perry & The Assault Group figures for this unit, the drummer and Guillame are TAG figures from their Renaissance Italian range which painted up rather nicely as French. Guillame wears maximilian armour which I have decorated with gilding and a painted cross of St. Denis for recognition. This appears in a few contemporary images of gendarmes. 

I have painted the drummer in somewhat national allegiance with the cross of St. Denis on his coat and the red and yellow of Louis XII's livery, which is also that of the town of Heilly (more on that in the next post).

Standard bearer #1 (you can never have too many flags).

This chap proudly carries the banner of the Picardy region, the cross of St. Denis on a red ground. This was also used by the French as a national symbol and can be found frequently in paintings of the period.

I have continued the red and yellow livery with his hose which also have a cross of St. Denis sewn on. This figure is a conversion using the torso from the mercenaries command sprue with the legs from the infantry sprue. He's a bit on the tall side but I think that adds to the overall appeal of the group.

Standard bearer #2

Here we have the second banner bearer, holding aloft the arms of the Pisseleu family, the photograph captures the reverse mirror image of the flag, the other side is as below;

....note to self, make sure the composition is the right way round for the unit.

The unit is quite close to completion and features lots more conversions but I couldn't resist a WIP teaser for you.

Bye for now


Monday, 30 December 2013

Picard Infantry


After a very long hiatus I have finally completed the crossbowmen to add to my burgeoning force of the Therouanne garrison.

It feels like I have been working on these figures for an absolute age but I'm afraid life has got in the way. You can see my work upon these converted figures over the last few posts. I have just started to convert some more pike along a similar theme so there's more French to come in the new year.

I must mention a couple of notable Christmas presents;

First, 'Fatal Rivalry' presents an analysis of the houses of James IV & Henry's VII & VIII leading up to the Flodden campaign. It's a really engaging and detailed analysis with a lot of detail and quite a good focus upon the Scottish court and James IV of which I previously knew very little. 

Second, 'Henry VIII, Arms & the man' something of a reward for myself this year. This book accompanied a 2009 Royal Armouries 'dressed to kill' exhibition which I missed but the book is well worth it if you're a Tudor nut like me. The essays don't really tell me anything new but the photography and pull out inserts are fabulously detailed and well worth £50 if you can find a copy.

This year has been one of mixed emotions for me; the spring into summer was very much an exciting period with the anniversary of the 1513 campaign, the culmination of my Tudor project and some limelight (and a cracking day out) with the Wargames Illustrated article. 

Thereafter my productivity frustratingly dropped to almost nil as I felt the effect of juggling a young family with study and a full time job, time has simply melted for me this year and it's ironic that i couldn't find any time for the hobby that is an instant stress relief for me so that's a balance I'm going to try and redress.

This has always been a slow burning project and I thank you all for your encouragement, contributions and comments as they've kept me engaged when I couldn't quite get to the painting desk. 

All the best to you and yours for 2014.

Cheerio for now, I'll be back soon !


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Army Royal Photoshoot

Here we have the photography highlights from my article in Wargames Illustrated issue 314. 

As these have been published I can share them here, i've sat on them patiently since April just bursting to show them off - they are as much a credit to the Editor's photography as they are to my efforts.

You can see the full accompanying article in the magazine with some more additions via the WI website.

Thanks for all your support over the last four years - the army royal is still growing and the French are just starting so here's to another four years !

The following images are individual group shots within a makeshift light box to remove any shadow which gives a daylight feel - these are perhaps the best my figures have ever looked.

Best Regards

Stuart Mulligan

Monday, 18 November 2013

WIP French Crossbowmen II

I was going to wait until these figures were integrated with some others and based before I revealed them but considered them worthy of their own post as quite a bit of work went into them.

The figures are from the Perry mercenaries boxed set and pretty much assembled straight out of the box but with a mind for sculpting. All were inspired by a single image of from a contemporary tapestry of 1513 depicting a French crossbowman defending the walls of Dijon;

It's been a while since I had last had a foray with some green stuff so I thought this a good opportunity to have a go and see what I could come up with. These guys are loose interpretations with this image as a starting point. In fact, none of them wear a woolen hat so there's still plenty of scope for some more. I'll probably have a go at some pike to beef up the Therouanne garrison figures I have.

These earlier WIP photographs show where i've made some additions;

They were relatively easy sculpts but they did require a bit of thought and patience; each arm was sculpted in a separate sitting so that the detail wasn't squashed or obscured as I worked.

In addition to the above image I also scoured various woodcuts and re-enactor photographs for some extra help as to how cloth would sit or move.

Here are a few individual shots;

I'm quite pleased with the way they've turned out, quite a simple step to pulling the figures into the early 1500's which I think i'll repeat.

Bye for now.

P.S. there's a nice meaty blog post on its way in a couple of weeks :)