Tuesday, 24 June 2014

French Herald Vignette

Next in my featurette series of vignettes we have a French herald flanked by a standard bearer and Landsknecht with Zweihander.

All figures are Pro Gloria Miniatures. In this composition I wanted to try and show that their ranges don't necessarily have to have an Imperial focus and are quite versatile for use in other European armies, I thought they'd make a great addition to my burgeoning French army.

I'm quite pleased with this one, it has something of a narrative to it; whether addressing a garrison prior to a siege, announcing new taxes or stating terms of engagement as here;

I have painted the Herald in the red and yellow livery of Louis XII's guard units (beneath the tabard), I'm not sure if this was the case as despite my best efforts I have not been able to find an image of a herald contemporary to this reign so I've taken a guess that perhaps they wore the same livery.

Behind him carrying the French Royal banner is a Landsknecht in French Service who has affirmed his loyalties with a painted white cross of St. Denis on his breastplate and red and yellow plumes in his hat. His katzbalger sheath also has white cross motif's on a red ground, possibly indicating Swiss origins.

I was keen to offer contrast to the red and yellow so I opted for a rich two tone garb of blue and white hose and breeches.

In contrast to both figures, the hired protection of the group, is a mean Landsknecht Doppelsoldner resting on his Zweihander. I have painted him in rich but slightly muted colours to indicate him as being part of the Black Band who were hired by the French under the command of English rebel the Duke of Suffolk during the 1513 campaign (and for a number of occasions thereafter).

I know that the Black band were merely that in name rather than an indication of a muted appearance but i think the palette works in this instance.

He wears a tough leather doublet over a rich red and black damask jacket with the black and red slashed sleeves of the doublet underneath showing through, the black doublet further 'slashed' with inlaid cloth of silver - this man is good at his job and has the wares to prove it - i love this figure, it has so much character.

I'm very pleased with this, to a painter and some time gamer these vignettes really appeal - it's not helping swell the ranks of my army and it wont gain any advantage on the table but these things add some character and focus.

Bye for now


Sunday, 1 June 2014


This unit has been a while in the making with the recent Landsknecht distractions but here we have a band of Stradiot light horse in French service.

I last visited this unit some time ago and had completed the four horsemen on either side of the base with the standard bearer, you can read more detail about their creation here.

To complete the unit I recently completed a standard bearer and another Stradiot;

First up, a Stradiot with crossbow;

As with the rest of the unit I was eager to try and use a primary source image as a reference point, the following contemporary wall painting was perfect inspiration for the colour scheme and pattern of the coat;

I liked the mute, rather drab colour scheme and patterning and exaggerated the width of the different horizontal stripes which worked really well on the sleeves, I had to guess what the rest of the coat would be like but I'm happy with the result and will probably experiment further with a different palette when I re-visit these troops (I intend to have a lot of them).

The standard bearer was fairly simpler in comparison, his shield is decorated with a sun device - not heraldic as such but more decorative - hand painted, second draft (the first one was a bit cross eyed).

As for the banner, I delayed over this for quite a while as this unit represent the Stradiots which were part of the Therouanne garrison - well, I've assumed that; Tudor sources mention several 'feats of arms and broken lances' were made with Stradiots during the siege but not in sufficient detail to work out whether there were some in the garrison or if these were part of the main body of 800 commanded by the Seigneur de Fontrailles in the relief army of Lord Piennes. I'd welcome any more information on this point from any French sources.

As I intend to represent Fontrailles in another unit I simply opted for a simple cross of St. Denis for these.

When it came to basing the unit I took the lead from James Roach aka Olicanalad who had the notion of basing light cavalry as a swarm to more closely represent their tactics and appearance in action.

I have to second that notion, there's definitely a wild thundering feel to a few bases of these together. I will probably do the same with my Tudor border horse - plus it makes for easier movement, packing and display.

Bye for now


Saturday, 10 May 2014

Landsknecht Vignettes

Continuining on a Landsknecht theme, here we have a couple of vignettes; first up a Provost on the heels of a deserter - these figures are actually from the Pro Gloria Miniatures hunters pack but as soon as I had these in my hands I immediately saw them as hunting down a deserter or thief.

The provost wears a good quality waffenrock and is lead by an Alsatian who has caught the scent of his quarry as has the scout who calmly loads a bolt.

I really liked painting these, particularly the contrast in the clothing of the scout and Provost, and of course the dog - the first canine to join my armies.

Next we have some gamblers, it's not looking too good for the drummer as his confident opponent prepares to cast his dice.

Again, lots of fun painting these, the slashings are very defined which makes for easy painting so you can just get on with working out what palette you want to use.

Both of these vignettes will feature in my next article for Pro Gloria Miniatures of which you can see the first here; http://progloria.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/how-to-paint-landsknechts-part-one/



Monday, 28 April 2014

Landsknecht Arquebusiers

Something of a long overdue addition to my ranks here we have some Almain, Landsknecht or Lansquenet arquebusiers depending upon which of my army generals pays the most.

These are a mix of Wargames Foundry and Pro Gloria Miniatures which mix quite well and I find the different sculpting seems to emphasise the variety in Landsknecht dress. The PG figures to my eye seem to represent Landsknechts of the 1520's whereas the foundry Perry's look a little earlier. I found them different to paint too, the PG for example are quite characterised as is typical of Paul Hicks' work and have very defined and broad slashing which makes for ease with stripes whereas the Perry's are a bit more fiddly as they're laden with kit - not a bad thing but something to give careful attention for a good result. I think they could integrate quite well so I may try a mixed unit in future as I have found the pike figures work well together.

I have based these in a fairly loose skirmish formation mainly so that each figure can be fully appreciated but from a gaming perspective and for some variety I intend to add to them with some much more closely packed arquebusier companies taking some inspiration from the Pavia tapestry;

this unit had an interesting development; I began with the Perry figures in something of an interpretation of the painted woodcuts of Erhard Schoene, you can read about this in depth over on my other blog here.

Whilst doing this I was approached by Stephan of Pro Gloria who asked me to paint a few figures and write an article for him about my approach to painting Landsknechts, so I added some Pro Gloria figures to this slowly expanding unit.

The arquebusiers I chose from the PG range below illustrate from left to right, simple through to complex, slowly increasing the palette and variety.

The article is still a work in progress and will feature a selection of their range - more on this soon.

Here's some more close ups, you can never have too many when it comes to Landsknechts;

These two figures (above) take inspiration from Schoene's work, particularly in the brim of the hat and the depiction of rich damaskened cloth on some doppelsoldners - a long process for an arm but worth it I hope.

I also used this as an opportunity to do a first (i think) Tudor / Valois skirmish mock up, the light isn't brilliant but may I present a scurrers eye view;

Bye for now


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