Monday, 27 August 2018

Of Guns and Gendarmes

I was going to title this post 'What I did on my Holidays' but I've a feeling I'll want to refer to it at a later date so this makes it easier.

The 16 August was the 505th Anniversary of the Battle of the Spurs, a key reference for all of my efforts on this blog. Perhaps more significant in my life was the 23 August 2018, my 10th wedding anniversary which saw Mr & Mrs M get a rare chance for a week away while the in laws looked after our daughter. Paris awaited, here's my historical highlights.

We were to take the train from London so I thought this a great opportunity to pay a visit to Hampton Court, something long overdue for me. For me the highlight of that day was to get a closer look at 2 paintings depicting the Battle of the Spurs;

The Battle of the spurs, Flemish School 1513

The meeting of Henry VIII and Maximilian, Flemish School 1513

Both of these pieces have served as inspiration for my painting of English and French men at arms and it was a real pleasure to get a closer look to study the decorative horse armour in particular. The first gave an interesting insight to the French armour which I've drawn quite a lot from for my Gendarmes. The light wasn't great but hopefully you get the idea.



This Gendarme was based upon an amalgamation of the Gendarmes depicted in this painting


In the background of this painting are the walls of Therouanne, this and a number of other sources served as inspiration for my commission to have a section created in miniature.


Here are two slightly similar sections of the walls which faced Bomy where the Battle took Place. Of particular note are the bastions as well as the integrated houses both of which feature upon a number of paintings and drawings after this date.


It was rather cool to have the feeling that the commission was pretty much spot on



These are modular pieces which together form a wall of about 6ft or so, it's a great backdrop for both gaming and photography.

The second painting is of particular interest for a contemporary depiction of the English knights.




The caparison horse armour was of particular interest to me both for the mixture of decorative and armoured sections. Also the prominence of St. George crosses on the armour of the horses and the breastplates of the riders, these are undoubtedly the Kings Spears and you can also see a few dismounted Yeomen of the Guard in armour.

Horse armour of this period comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are examples of steel caparison armour over which decorative cloth was added or some which was left polished, Maximilian harness comes to mind in the last instance. Another less expensive and slightly lighter type is that which features in the paintings above, the second especially and that's boiled leather for which I was to get a close look at when I visited the Army Museum in Paris.




I'd often wondered whether the leather was a base for which cloth was added as various sources depict it as decorative but I'd never considered that the leather was painted, this was a real eye opener for me. It was a real pleasure to get a close look at this piece, the saddle and the split skirt on the rider were noted for future sculpting and painting. For the saddle I knew the front was armoured to protect the rider but I did not appreciate that this was in some instances also the case for the rear.



On to the artillery for which there were some fine examples from Louis XII's arsenal. I spent a long time ogling these beauties !



These got me thinking about doing a fleur de lys press mould so that otherwise plain artillery pieces could be personalised.


Also on display was this impressive 12 barrel organ gun.



This was a great week away. 10 years of blogging, painting and marriage - Mrs M's a patient girl !

Bye for now

Stuart

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The Battle of Beaulieu Abbey, 1513


Last weekend Simon Chick and I were invited to bring our collections for a Franco Tudor battle hosted by Michael Perry.

We had a great time and it was good to catch up over a game and beers thereafter. For me these annual games serve as a good pause to review a years work and indeed to focus the mind as to where I should concentrate my efforts going forward.

It was also really good to chat with Michael's wife Ninya about early 16c clothing and to have a look at her ongoing projects. Have a look at http://www.tudortailor.com/ for more information. I thoroughly recommend the books.

Unlike me Michael has had quite a few wargames and his write ups and photography really are a treat on the Perry Miniatures Facebook page. Here's his report of the game;

Initial set up

'Our annual Henrician wargame was played out this weekend. Our mates Stuart Mulligan and Simon Chick brought up their respective armies for a grand bash on Michael's wargames table. If you haven't seen their painting and conversion skills before, prepare to be amazed! Stuart has spent ten years now painting plus converting most of his army form mainly our War of the Roses range into troops of Henry VIII's 1513 French Expedition, modelling base coats and Tudor caps on most of them.

Some of the cavalry and the Landsknechts are from our old Foundry Renaissance range and there might be one or two Steel Fist miniatures in there as well! Talking about Steel Fist, the owner of that company, Simon Chick, brought forth his magnificent Burgundian horde (masquerading as French) to once more appose Henry.

Simon's army has about 180 cavalry although Michael had to cull them a bit for the game but even so they seemed overwhelming. Aly Morrison joined in and supplied three units of impeccably painted French Infantry. By coincidence, Ben Wootten, (a great New Zealand sculptor in the film business working for Weta) that we've known for almost twenty years was also visiting this weekend and was very easily drawn into the game.

Onto the game itself. Michael organized the game and set up the table. Unfortunately, there was only one proper clash during the 1513 campaign and that was more of a large skirmish so this was to be a made up action based on Henry's march to besiege Therouanne.

The aim of the game was that the French would attempt to stop the English advance as they broke camp early in the morning with their secondary goals to prevent the Abbey of Beaulieu being looted and bring back the cattle stolen by the Irish. The English objectives were the reverse i.e. to get off the far side of the board, keep the cattle and loot the Abbey (Henry actually ordered that there should be no looting on the campaign, but he had no sway with the Germans and Irish in his force).

Stuart, Ben and the legendary Dave Andrews played the English placing the English division of infantry forming up just outside the camp. Dave placed his two units of Border Horse ahead and to the left of the infantry. The rest of the divisions would issue forth from the camp on a dice role each turn, if there was room. The French, Simon, Aly and Alan, had initially two units of light cavalry (Stradiots and mounted crossbowmen) already bearing down on the Irish with the looted cattle in the centre of the table with the rest of the divisions appearing on a dice role two feet in at the far end of the table. The rules were a Rick Priestly adapted version of 'Hail Caesar'.

Irish kern returning to the English camp

The English won the toss to kick off and Ben led the way by sending his English infantry division towards the river and abbey. Dave, in control of the heavy cavalry, and Henry himself, trotted out with half the horse to the left of the field. 

Stuart managed to rouse the Germans but they were a little tardy and stayed within the camp boundaries while the other English/Irish division didn't wake from their slumbers as did the rest of Dave's horse. Michael rolled for the Irish cattle rustlers in the middle of the table and they headed towards the camp, not being tempted by the abbey's bling.


Henry leads his division of heavy cavalry

The English right begin their march

The Irish kern hurriedly returning to camp with their loot

The Landsknechts form up to leave camp

The main Irish auxiliaries break camp. They didn't play much of a part in the game but they do look great don't they !

The French initially failed to move their light cavalry in pursuit of the Irish but pretty much all of their divisions appeared on command dice rolls with, from the left, Aly's French infantry division on the far left opposite the abbey, then Aly's heavy cavalry, then Alan's infantry division followed by Simon's and on the extreme right, Alan's cavalry.

The next turn was very similar to the first for the English with Ben reaching the river and the Germans moving out of the camp and Dave's cavalry pushing forward. The French advanced at a reasonable rate (apart from Simon's infantry) with Aly's infantry moving to the right hand side of the abbey.

The French infantry move forward

The French reach the river in the middle of the board with the abbey in the background

Ben was keen to unlimber his guns this side of the river but was strongly advised to cross it and set up, which he did.

Alan's central division of French infantry were moving in column to reach the river quicker which spurred Dave to, what everybody thought was a rash decision, charge one of his Border horse units across the river and into Alan's infantry. Dave needed three moves so as not to end stationary in front of crossbows and artillery. He made it, ploughing through one unit of crossbow into the next, routing both.

Border Horse leap through the river to attack

The second unit of Border horse headed across the river to engage the Stradiots that were pushing forward but fell short. By this stage all divisions were on the board with the remaining cavalry and infantry of the English moving up to form a battle line their side of the river.

Ben pushed forward to capture the abbey at the same time as Simon's mounted archers but the English got there first. Dave held King Henry and his horse ready to counter charge Alan's heavies as soon as they crossed the river but Alan charged first although didn't reach, leaving them in the river.

French Ordonnance Archers

Aly had, by now, pushed forward an ominous division of heavy cavalry towards Ben's artillery with the intent to unleash them diagonally across the river into the centre of the yet unformed English line but started receiving artillery and small arms fire from Ben which recoiled one unit. The centre of the English line was then plugged by Stuarts German pike and shot which changed Aly's plan.

Organs guns and a culverin with bill in support prepare to receive cavalry

Landsknecht Pike form up to plug the centre

Henry's cavalry with landsknechts in support, their arquebusiers to their flank begin to move into firing positions


Ben forced his way through the abbey with a unit of bow and bill as well as foot knights and out the other side into a hail of arrows and Aly's artillery.

Another of Aly's horse units fell back being stung by arrows and gun shot which made up his mind to charge straight forward into Ben's three light guns. The result was predictable! The horse fell back in disarray exposing the last unit to more ranged fire which broke the division.

The organ guns unleash their volleys

Stradiots leave to fight another day

On the left flank Dave charged his horse, led by Henry. Alan counter charged. There were three units of heavy horse a side with the English having an advantage of two more in support plus one more commander i.e. Henry.

The initial cavalry charge and counter charge.

The first of the three clashes was a draw the second an English win but the third, with Henry in the fray, was a rout for the English. Henry was unharmed and quickly joined the English unit of horse that had won and second a round of combat was fought.

In this second desperate encounter the French narrowly lost but both sides were broken with English unable to pursue.

Henry is led away

All the cavalry on the field were now spent and the infantry were hardly engaged but a veil was drawn over the game as the pub was calling. The game was considered a draw although the Irish had managed to bring most of the cattle to the camp and the abbey was still contested but Henry was not going to push through to Therouanne easily...'


The game has given me resolve to push on with work on my Tudors, I'd like to work on some more artillery pieces and cavalry before I'm content for any more work on the French.

Seeing all of the infantry in their coats was a real boost and I'm very glad I decided to replace the previous units in my collection with these, they really add some period detail to the collection.

Of course a great contrast to all those white coats is the Irish, I think some auxiliaries would also be a perfect addition. It's coming up to almost 10 years since I started this army and my enthusiasm is just as great as at the start.

It never ends !

All the best

Stuart

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Marching Retinue Bowmen



I've been working on this unit for quite a while making steady progress in between other projects as each figure required a fair bit of conversion.

I must say that I'm really pleased with the results, I've definitely got the hang of sculpting coats and creating a sense of movement which I hope is apparent.  I've really enjoyed painting them too, the livery badges and other small details really make the figures stand out and as a group with their accompanying Pike they make for an impressive sight.




The figures began life as Perry WOTR marching bow and bill which I converted in the usual fashion. The 2 musicians required a bit more work by using plastic Ansar figures as dollies then working up with various bits.

You can read more about the accompanying unit of pike and some info on Brandon here.

Here are the figures prior to basing;



These were all converted from the Perry marching bow pack with the exception of the figure on the far right which was an open handed marching billman. The encased bow and arrow bag came from the Perry Light Horse plastic set.

All are in livery coats as laid down by Henry VIII for this campaign and each has Brandon's livery badge of a crowned lions head on the left sleeve. A surviving example of this badge can be seen on the terracotta fragment below from his residence at Suffolk Place, now in the V&A collection described as;

'This relief fragment in cream coloured terracotta formed part of a decorative frieze at Suffolk Place, Southwark, the palace of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, brother in law to Henry VIII. This and other reliefs were excavated on the site of the house in 1937.

Suffolk Place was a vast house built between 1518 and 1522 by Charles Brandon for his wife Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII. It is the earliest example of a Tudor courtyard house known to have carried this type of extensive terracotta decoration. This use of terracotta quickly became fashionable and appeared on other buildings commissioned by Henry VIII's courtiers, including Cardinal Wolsey's York Place (later Whitehall) and Hampton Court Palace. '

The relief is made of moulded clay that was dried and fired to create terracotta (literally 'cooked earth'), a material suitable for use as external decoration. Although building projects such as Suffolk Place were on a vast scale, by using a cheap raw material and a reproductive method of manufacture the buildings could be decorated economically and speedily.'




As the main command figures are in the accompanying Pike unit there are no banners or captains with these. I took a while to decide not to have an additional banner but I wanted the feel of them being part of a larger retinue. I did however decide to add 2 musicians and a billman as a guard.



Both of the musicians used figures from the Perry Ansar set as dollies. The drummer arms and drum are from the Warlord Landsknecht Pike plastic set which were fairly straightforward to add. The heads for both are also from the Ansar set with hair, bonnet and plumes added.

Here's the drummer prior to painting;



Drums of this type begin to make their appearance from Western Europe into the British Isles in the late 15c where they were described as swech 'swiss' drums. 

I thought I'd include one to add to the general din and as a nod to Brandon wanting the very latest in fashion for his retinue. 

In reading up on this I also found that James IV had a troop of Moorish drummers which could be fun to do, perhaps to accompany his herald arriving in the English camp. In English armies they become more commonplace into the mid 16c.


The piper was a challenging build. He was built in the same way as the drummer though I cut off the chest of the Ansar figure and added a chest from a Warlord figure to achieve the mail mantle. The Pipe was a scratch build using green stuff and brass wire.

I had to add the head first to dictate where the mouthpiece would be then sculpted the pipe from there. The hands took a while to get right using a number of variants which didn't quite work but I eventually found a great fit with the arms of a loading handgunner from the Perry mercenaries set, the fingers seemed to be in just about in the right place. Here's the figure prior to painting;



The idea for the piper came from this wonderful German account of Henry VIII's meeting with Maximilian on 14th August 1513:

"He had not many mounted men, but had his footguards or halberdiers with him, of whom about 300 all clad in one colour ran with him on foot. [From a tower the King showed the Emperor] what belonged to the town (the town of Therouanne and state of the siege).

Whilst both lords were on the tower the King had placed all his people who were in camp in lines everywhere three or four deep. He conducted the Emperor through to inspect this. They are really big strong men having a captain to every hundred, and their pennon on a long spear as our horsemen carry them. It is carried with both hands in front against the breast.

Some have English bows, some crossbows, certain of them maces with long handles and certain of them long spears; and almost all are clad in long white coats edged with green cloth and wear breast plates, and steel caps on their heads. For their field music they have a fluteplayer (schalm) and a bagpiper (sackpfeiffer) who play together and certain of them a trumpet."


Bagpipes were not peculiar to Scotland, within this period there are examples in English, Irish, French and particularly Breton as well as German and Swiss sources.


The figures are based in two stands of 5. All my archers are based in 5's to demonstrate that they generally operated in more compressed groups. This has the right look and works well for whatever games I use them in.


For my games of Renaissance Rampant I count the double base of 10 figures as 12 and roll 12 dice as standard with casualties recorded using a casualty marker like this;


Being of a slightly better standard with a noble magnate as their commander I will represent these as Retinue / Garrison bow as opposed to the standard Shire bow, here are the rosters that I use for comparison;

UNIT NAME
Retinue / Garrison Longbowmen
POINTS
6
Attack
7+
Attack Value
6+
Move
6+
Defence Value
5+
Shoot
5+
Shoot Value / Range
4+ / 18”
Courage
4+
Maximum movement
6”
Armour
2
Special Rules
Longbow*

*Ignore -1 at ranges of 12” or more

UNIT NAME
Shire Longbowmen
POINTS
4
Attack
7+
Attack Value
6+
Move
6+
Defence Value
5+
Shoot
6+
Shoot Value / Range
5+ / 18”
Courage
4+
Maximum movement
6”
Armour
2
Special Rules
Longbow*

I hope you enjoyed this post, it's definitely been one of my slower units to create, especially for a 10 figure net result given the time but it's certainly been fun for me. I'm sure they'll be slaughtered to a man on their first outing !

Bye for now

Stuart