Monday, 25 July 2016

The Battle of the Spurs, sculpting & terrain bumper bonanza !

In the last week or so I've had three events worthy of posting about, rather than doing them individually I thought it best to simply do a bumper summer blog posting.

Last year I commissioned David Marshall of TM Terrain to add to my existing terrain representation of the South West side of the walls of Therouanne. The nucleus of this commission was that this side faces the villages of Bomy and Guinegatte (Enguinegatte), the ground between which saw the Battle of the Spurs on the 16 August 1513, one of the key notable points of Henry's French campaign of that year, you can see a summary of the historical battle in an earlier blog post here.

Following the addition of the real estate the natural progression was some bespoke terrain to hold the walls; a road runs alongside with open terrain to the left and deep trenches skirt the walls, an eyewitness account of a Welsh soldier testified that these trenches were so deep that men were afraid to walk near the edge in case they fell in and their banks were set with impenetrable hedges, David's interpretation of this next chapter in the commission partnership can be seen in these photographs taken in his workshop;

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With a reasonable section of walls and accompanying terrain the Army Royal venture had reached a notable chapter in its 8 year history, a refight of the Battle of The Spurs seemed a fitting way to mark the occasion.

To help realise this notion Michael Perry and Simon Chick offered their assistance; Michael had the space, additional figures and considerably more terrain to fully represent the action whilst Simon stepped in to offer troops from his Burgundian armies to bolster my meagre French forces. The stage was set for a day of gaming and socialising.

Michael had done his homework in researching the action and set up the field of battle in advance, with his permission I have saved myself some writing and shall handover to his account and expert photography of the day's action;

The Battle of the Spurs (or Guinegatte) 1513

The Battle of the Spurs, otherwise known as Guinegatte was the subject of the game this weekend. Simon Chick with his large and impressive Burgundian Army and Stuart Mulligan with his equally stunning Henrician force were up for the game fest. We thought that the Burgundians would suffice for the French army with a few additional figures from Stuart and Michael. David Marshall of TM Terrain also joined us to see the walls of Therouanne, that he'd built for Stuart, in situ on the table. This is a beautiful piece of work as you can see by the photos. Dave Andrews, who's responsible for a large part of the terrain squares, was also here along with Aly Morrison and Rick Priestly, who remembered most of the rules. Michael took the photos unless otherwise stated.

Simon and Stuart have been working on their respective armies for years, converting many of the figures you see with 'Green stuff'. In fact this was the culmination of eight years work for Stuart, always aiming to recreate Henry VIII's siege of Therouanne and the associated Battle of the Spurs. Although, he now needs to produce the whole French army !

In 1513 Henry VIII and Maximilian I besieged the town of Therouanne in Artois. The French were determined to break the siege and a second attempt (the first being successful) of resupplying the town with bacon and gunpowder carried by Stradiots on their saddles was made on 16th August. Accompanying the Albanian cavalry were French cavalry with the intention of distracting the besiegers while the supplies were rushed around the flanks. Infantry were not deemed to be needed and were left 12 miles to the south. However, the French were surprised when cresting the ridge at the village of Bomy to find the English arrayed to meet them. English and allied cavalry and mounted archers went out to greet them. Henry, apparently, wanted to join in but was advised to stay back with the infantry and so kind of missing his one and only battle. The French cavalry waited a little too long and were caught changing formation and falling back. This ended in a rout for the French.

Michael included French infantry in the game set up so as to make a potentially more interesting punch up. Also he added a small French garrison that could attempt to sally out of Therouanne and attack the guns. We used 'Hail Caesar' with the troop stats shown in the previous battle report. For the French, Simon commanded the large infantry ward and the small reserve of cavalry, Aly took the large division cavalry, Alan the small infantry ward and medium sized division of cavalry and Michael the medium ward on infantry. For the English it was more of a committee approach with Rick generally ordering the the two divisions of cavalry and Stuart, David and Dave commanding the three infantry wards, one of which were Landsknechts and two of English troops. English and allied troops were placed first in behind the line indicated on the photo (below) and the French second.

The French won the toss and moved first. Aly went off at full steam, sending his huge amount of cavalry down his left flank to confront the English horse. If only he had some support, Alan's cavalry and infantry as well as Michael's were very tardy although Simon's ward in the centre made a slightly better show.

In response Rick arranged his first cavalry division in neat lines but held fast wait for his second division to enter the field, but didn't.

The Landsknechts,in the centre made a move to their right to try and worry the on coming cavalry the other English ward had some trouble moving and only advanced slowly. The third ward failed to enter the table.

Aly then sent out a small unit of skirmishing mounted crossbow to goad the opposing horse, scoring a 6 and forcing a morale test that made one cavalry unit flinch and fall back. He then proceeded to do the same in the next three turns! His dice rolling was certainly an improvement on the previous game.

Simon was making good progress in the centre but his right flank was only moving like a snail. Alan managed to bring up his horse in support of Aly and then fell back a little as the Landsknechts looked as if they attack.

The English managed to get their reserve cavalry and infantry on to the field, the cavalry supporting their comrades and the infantry moving up through Guinegatte.

Gradually, the two lines closed along the front and fire was exchanged while Aly made his first cavalry charge against a unit of Border horse, wiping them out and going into the next unit of horse.

Charging and counter charging by Rick's horse carried on for the next few turns but with the English horse only winning one of the combats. The Landsknechts did charge in against Alan's horse but unluckily threw bad dice and recoiled.

Meanwhile, the garrison had sallied out and made very slow progress across no man's land to attack one of two guns that were capable on firing on them. They managed to reach the gun despite being heavily mauled but came off worse in the fight and fell back.

The game was up, no wards or divisions were actually broken but both English cavalry formations were so close with the French still having one in reserve and the infantry in the centre would then be out flanked and so it was judged a French victory! So, it was a complete reverse to the original battle, but the French did have infantry this time.

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I was keen to create a unique unit for the game and considered the date to be a fitting opportunity to present my latest sculpting and painting with this unit of Tudor bill under the command of the Marquis of Dorset;

Individual studies

I shall draw to a close at this juncture as I'd like to write some biography on The Marquis of Dorset as well as outline how the unit came together and my plans for the future.

I hope you've enjoyed this extended post.

Bye for now


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Works in progress

I've presently got a couple of projects running concurrently and as it's been two months since my last post I thought I'd say a quick hello and give an update and a look at what's on the workbench.

First up we have an unexpected return of attention to my early Tudor army - thought I'd give a clue above.

This was not quite intentional, over the last couple of years I have made attempts at sculpting various renaissance bits on to the  Perry WOTR plastic bodies, effectively using them as sculpting dollies, the progress of which can be seen in past posts. I've had mixed results but generally tend to have something on the go to keep my hand in - there's a lot that doesn't make it !

The base coat, very much a key characteristic of the early Tudor army and to a lesser extent that of their French counterparts had frustratingly eluded me, I'd had reasonable results but I just wasn't happy with them, until;


I can't quite summarise how it happened, just practice and many failed attempts which in turn drove me to keep trying. This was about 3 weeks ago and now I've finally found a technique which yields a good result I've had a steady flow of bodies in various stages of completion on the workbench, the very latest of which (as of today) is this chap;

I shall continue to putty push basecoats for the foreseeable. I shelved a notion to re-base my Tudor collection some time ago but have returned to the idea as a vehicle to integrate some figures of this appearance with the others to help lift the units into the early 16th century, there may even be a few that end up weeded out and make their way to eBay. I also had a few more nobles that I was keen to represent before I called a halt to begin my French army so it's win win. More on this soon.

If you can't wait for that long, I tend to post figure by figure updates for critique on this Lead Adventure Forum thread which incidentally also shows my various sculpting projects over the last 2 years;

All is not lost for Louis however as green stuff takes time to dry and the brushwork needs to be equally exercised so I've also been steadily building a unit of Landsknechts in French service, here's a preview;

In addition, I also have a side project of some early WW2 British which are in various stages of completion though I must admit that with the latest sculpting breakthrough I have very much been focused on the Renaissance, this blog is back in business !

Bye for now


Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Walls of Therouanne Part III

This weekend I joined Simon Chick and Steve Hall at Leeds Royal Armouries to put on a repeat of Simon's award winning Agincourt game. Both have very nicely summarised the day on their respective blogs linked above. 

Whilst I was there I met David Marshall of TM Terrain to collect the latest stage of a rolling 1513 siege of Therouanne scenery and terrain project to complement my armies.

This phase is the second instalment of the west side of Therouanne's city walls. If you're interested to learn about the start of the project, background information and initial works have a look at these earlier posts covering the first commission and a follow up covering a small party of bespoke defenders.

In brief I am essentially working my way from the centre to the right of the 1537 painting below (part of a larger image of Charles V's siege of the town.) The octagonal tower, house and round tower were completed in the first phase and this phase completed an additional house and trailing edge of the wall, immediately prior to a gatehouse. 

There are a few good quality contemporary images of the town which all repeat particular features of the walls, most of which I have used as specifics for the commission.

The main point of interest in these walls are the integral buildings within the wall structure, a sign of less turbulent times perhaps. The images available depict buildings of apparent whitewash and/or brick construction with crowstep ends, other than these pointers the rest would be down to further research and artistic license. 

I wanted the buildings to have a distinctly Northern French / Flemish look typical for the region so I set about finding some reference images. The easiest platform for this was Pinterest and quite soon I had developed a sizeable french medieval buildings gallery to help David get a good feel for the design brief.

David kept me updated as he worked, here are the works in progress;

By far the greatest element of this phase was the house. I had stipulated brick sides and crow step facades. The brick had to be in Flemish bond, parts of which were to be in a pattern on each side, there were to be high clay chimney pots and a low arch over the doors on either side. The front and rear of the house were to be half timbered in a distinctly French style and dorma windows needed to be in the roof;

David's interpretation of the brief by far exceeded all expectations, as can be gathered by this candid shot;

Here are a few mock ups with some of the valiant French and mercenary garrison;

This is part of the new section of wall, I asked for some considerable damage to represent persistent bombardment from Henry's artillery. I particularly like the way in which the modelling shows the different layers of construction / destruction. It also provides some alternative cover for the defenders to fire their bolts, arrows and shot.

The city walls were described in eyewitness accounts as being 'well provided with artillery and expert cannoneers who took a regular toll on the besiegers.'

Here's the whole wall in situ, measuring just under 6ft.

The next stage of the project will be some bespoke terrain boards for the wall to sit on. Accounts of the siege describe the walls having ditches in front, 'so deep that men feared to fall in if they went too close to the edge,  [the ditch banks] covered in turn with impenetrable hedges.

Meanwhile I think I shall do some more defenders for the walls, an excuse to get the green stuff out and get back into sculpting.

Bye for now