Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Rhys ap Thomas and Demilancers


This unit has been a long time in the making, perhaps longer than I'd have liked but that's the way it goes sometimes. I'd considered putting this across two posts as it's a bit long but hopefully the bumper issue was the right choice, you're in for a treat.
Work on the Tudor army continues. Though I have a lot of ideas for further units I feel I've reached a natural pause with the infantry so it's time to move focus to the cavalry.
I've been meaning to do this for a while but have waited until I'd developed an idea of where I want to take them and what my aims are. 


Henry VIII with Spears and Demilancers
Demilancers Charge

Initially I wanted to re-base the existing Demilancer cavalry but this returned to the niggling issue that I have been using men at arms figures and also gaming with them as such but perhaps ignoring the fact that Demilancers were not heavy cavalry. 

When I started my collection almost a decade ago as with a lot of things in the first incarnation of this army I merrily used the figures at hand to cobble together units of horse which in hindsight look a bit too heavy. However I now feel I have the ability and inclination to re-think these troops and do them justice. As ever some convincing conversions and kit bashing would be required to create a convincing unit but there's definitely plenty out there now and not too much required to achieve the right period feel.

I returned to the original sources to get a better understanding of their status, use and role on the battlefield.

For the 1513 campaign Henry raised a range of medium to light cavalry from across the realm of which the heaviest were the Demilancers followed by the Border Horse and to a lesser extent Mounted Archers. This was no mean feat and as with other aspects of this campaign it's evident that the whole country was scoured to fulfil the obligations of war. The insufficiency in heavy cavalry was filled by hiring Burgundians on the continent. 
Man at Arms 1498, Durer.

The term Demilance is curiously English and goes back to the late 15c. Initially I assumed that the etymology was concerned with the shorter or demi lance that they were armed with however one of the suggestions I've come across for the origins of the term 'demi-lance', is that the archetypes of that class came alone to muster, i.e. without custrel and page, as would be the case with a 'lance' (or 'spear') or man at arms proper. So 'part-lance/half-lance' may be the root of the term.

The man at arms at 12d a day disappeared from around 1492, the 'man at arms' proper now got the old 24d 'knight rate' (to help finance his mini-retinue and spare mounts), while the demi-lance just got the 9d rate formerly paid to 'foot men at arms' (who did have a horse) and 'scowrers' etc

Also It shouldn't be read that demi-lancers didn't become associated with their lighter or shorter spears over time, nor that a chronicler coming across the term for the first time did not just make an assumption that demi-lance referred to their weapon of choice.

One may be forgiven to think that it applies to cavalry from later in the 16c as this is when the term and indeed the troop type is adopted across Western European armies but within English sources it has earlier beginnings. The above painting is fairly close to their appearance in the early 1500's and the woodcut below are what they became toward the later 16c

From the mid 16c in reaction to the evolution and arms race of the battlefield Men at arms began the transition from heavily armed lancer to the lighter lance and pistol and eventually just pistols. During that time they were often catch-all referred to as Demilancers. It is this image that perhaps initially comes to mind when one considers the term or indeed tries to find out more as I have found.
The following from Rebellion and Warfare in the Tudor State by AJ Hodgkins outlines the Demilancer of the early Tudor period;
'Demi-lances had been a longstanding feature of English armies and were essentially lighter, faster, and more mobile versions of the men at arms, carrying similar equipment and intended to perform near-identical tactical functions. 
Their name derived from their eponymous weapon, a long spear intended for use on horseback, and they too would also have carried swords and similar weapons for sustained fighting.
Demi-lances were less protected than the men at arms, having only three-quarter length armour and lacking the horse barding of the former troops, but compensated for this with greater manoeuvrability, which enabled them to avoid undesirable confrontations.
Despite their uniquely English name, similar troop types, such as the squires within French companies d’ordonnance, operated throughout Europe, illustrating the universality of lancers equipped to support men at arms and other forces in battle. In England these soldiers were commonly provided by retinue leaders, who were often unable to equip their followers as men at arms but could meet the cost of demi-lance service, a capacity recognised by the 1542 Warhorse Act which obliged those with sufficient resources to furnish suitable steeds.
Neither men at arms nor demi-lances were formally trained, but instead derived their skills from their unofficial military education and participation in battle, both of which were assured because of their wealth and status.'




More specifically for my interest there's a letter by Wolsey from September 1512 regarding the forthcoming war with France. It's effectively his draft for the size and composition of the army that should be raised, and with Henry's inherited full treasury it was almost fulfilled to the letter. 

For my interest amongst other things it illustrates how the Demilancers fell in to the English understanding and use of cavalry on the battlefield;


'The army should consist of 30,000 fighting men, sufficiently armed, viz.1,000 horsemen "bardid," each with a page and custrell able to fight; 1,000 horsemen "not bardid," and full armed, each with a page and custrell; 3,000 demi-lances, whole armed with light armour except the legs, of whom 500 should be "Yrysmen" [irish horse]; 10,000 archers on foot; 4,500 bills and marispikes, English and Welsh; 5,000 Almaine marispikes, 500 gunners, 1,000 pioneers in the retinue of the master of the Ordnance. 4th. The whole to be under such captains as the King shall appoint.'


As an aside the mention of Irish horse is interesting, it may well refer to native Irish though perhaps due to the lack of mention thereafter note Oli's thoughts in the comments below, it may more likely to be simply another term for Border Horse.

What this source sets out is that the Demilancer was at this time a medium cavalryman in full 3/4 armour with open face sallets rather than armets. 

In my efforts to illustrate this I have depicted the figures in older armour and riding boots. Being lesser gentry most if not all would not have been able to afford the latest fashion and in some cases they may even have had it issued to them by their captain or parish. Here's my interpretation;

The figures were assembled with parts from the Perry Miniatures Men at arms and Light cavalry plastic sets using bodies from the former and legs from the latter. I found that it's best to get the fit right first then glue the legs to the saddle and then the body thereafter with a bit of GS filling at the join if needed. I then created a more Tudor feel for some of the riders by adding a converted head from the Ansar set topped with a cloth cap and feather;



There are quite a few continental references depicting cavalrymen with slashed doublets over their armour so for a more ambitious conversion I thought I'd give it a go with a cloth cap tied around the neck for extra interest;



For another I went for slashed doublet and hose painted as rich black velvet;




I really enjoyed returning to the books and putting these figures together. Here's an extract from a letter of April 1513 regarding Sir Edward Poynynges; 

'Received on the 21st his letter of the 13th, referring to another letter, not received, willing him to be ready with 500 persons, viz., 50 demi-lances, 200 archers, 100 marispykes and 150 bills. There are but few demi-lances in Kent, where he dwells, and few men expert for the same. Offers 6 men of arms and 9 barded horses.'
This illustrates the difficulty some areas found in raising men equipped and able to fulfil Wolsey's requests, this issue is repeated across most of England at this time.
In other examples you can see men mentioned by name as here in a May 1513 muster of the retinue of Sir Sampson Norton;
'Lances: Andrew Wellis, William Nicolson. Demi Lances: Richard Breverton, Thomas Hassell. Also 107 archers.'
Records of payment offer further detail. Following the 1513 campaign there's a surviving account of the retinue of Sir Rhys ap Thomas, which included 300 'demi-lances' paid at 9d a day. In relative terms the provision of 300 Demilancers was a sizeable contribution, especially as they are part of a  retinue numbering 2993 mustered from across Rhys' lands in South Wales. 



Rhys ap Thomas' Demilancers
As nobles go Rhys was distinguished but by no means comparatively wealthy to those at court. To furnish his men in harness he loaned £900 from the King which he promised to repay by Whitsun 1515. There's also an interesting mention of him and his son Gruffudd depositing £3000 worth of gold, silver and plate in Calais upon arrival to ensure his retinue was provided for. This was typical of a lot of nobles who in some cases bankrupted their estates to serve their King in this campaign.
Rhys' Order of the Garter stall plate in Westminster
Rhys is mentioned in a number of scouting and skirmishing incidents across the 1513 campaign most notably so at the Battle of the Spurs. His cavalry were in action throughout the day which ended with him capturing the Duc de Longeville and two others for which he received 500 marks from Henry.
Of this the Welsh poet Tudor Aled wrote;
'it was the Raven that routed the hillside of Therouanne. With his shinning spear and cannon.
Next after God and the King that day. Rhys and his ravens did bear the sway.'

By the number of mentions within the state letters and papers Rhys undoubtedly played a prominent role in this campaign as both advisor to the King and a competent cavalry commander. Like many others in the army he's also one of the old guard who served in the Wars of the Roses so he's quite a character. Both he and his Son Gruffudd were a natural choice to be represented in miniature to lead these units of Demilancers.





I have chose to represent Rhys in transitional harness with a nod to earlier aspects featured on his effigy below and a later armet with plumes.



The effigy is interesting as whilst it was completed in 1525 it nonetheless depicts Rhys in a surcoat and armour more attributable to his appearance at Bosworth in 1485 than Therouanne in 1513. This may not necessarily be an indication that he wore earlier armour in 1513 or indeed 1525 but perhaps he was comfortable in armour which had served him well or simply couldn't afford or did not have the inclination to buy an expensive new harness in the latest style.

It is worthy to note that whilst fashion was moving on the use of the heraldic tabard during the early 16c was not unusual for the English knight.

For those strapped for cash but keen to keep up with fashion the transitional harness offered a middle ground. These combine old and new pieces / styles to create a more contemporary look on a budget. This 1528 effigy of another Welsh noble Sir Christopher Matthew of Llandaff depicts a late 15c harness with wide tassets, pauldrons with neck guards, bear paw sabatons and gauntlets of the early 16c.

To accompany Rhys I added a standard bearer with his heraldic standard


Finally, another noble in heraldic tabard, Sir John Wogan;






The heraldry was not easy on the eyes, I think I may have to invest in an optivisor perhaps? If you're interested to know more about Wogan there's a biography here

For Rhys' Son Gruffudd I chose to depict him in an earlier harness for the reasons described above and also as I really like this figure.








The figure is a metal rider mounted on a plastic horse both from Perry Miniatures. The plumes on the horse are from Steel Fist Miniatures. The saddle required a bit of filing and re-working and the figure is pinned in position but it was otherwise a fairly straightforward assembly.

I was particularly pleased with the way the armour came out. I painted it using Foundry's armour triad which was then washed lightly with a mix of blue grey and granite shade colours and water which was then re-highlighted with the highlight tone. The light grey/blue sheen really helps the armour appear to have a brilliant finish.

To accompany Gruffudd here we have a much lighter equipped rider carrying the Ap Thomas raven livery banner;



The rider is converted from a Perry Miniatures plastic light cavalryman. I added the buff coat with green stuff and used a converted head from the Perry Ansar box which is topped by a feather from Steel Fist Miniatures. The flag is from Pete's Flags. Here's a photograph prior to painting which details the conversion;

Here's some more images of the unit and individual bases. I really liked having a 2 base command with 2 bases of lancers without banners. It definitely adds to a better unit feel and enables me to field two distinct units of 6 figures to separately represent Rhys and Gruffudd. In addition the bases without banners also work fairly well as French Ordonnance archers as shown in the last photographs. 






With the Rhys Ap Thomas sheet of flags available from Pete's flags from which these banners were taken I think I may add some infantry to represent the remainder of Rhys' sizeable retinue. I've managed to find a list of the infantry captains and lesser nobles so it's going to be fun to create units with named individuals.

With what I hope is a well rounded consideration of the demi-lance I created the following troop type for this medium cavalryman for use in games of Renaissance Rampant. Here they are in comparison to the heavier English cavalry of the early Tudor period;

UNIT NAME
Kings Spears
POINTS
6
Attack
5+
Attack Value
3+
Move
7+
Defence Value
5+
Shoot
N/A
Shoot Value / Range
N/A
Courage
3+
Maximum movement
10”
Armour
4
Special Rules
Wild Charge / CC

UNIT NAME
English Men at Arms
POINTS
5
Attack
5+
Attack Value
4+
Move
7+
Defence Value
5+
Shoot
N/A
Shoot Value / Range
N/A
Courage
4+
Maximum movement
10”
Armour
4
Special Rules
Wild Charge / CC

UNIT NAME
Demilancers
POINTS
4
Attack
5+
Attack Value
4+
Move
6+
Defence Value
5+
Shoot
N/A
Shoot Value / Range
N/A
Courage
4+
Maximum movement
12”
Armour
3
Special Rules
Counter Charge

They compare marginally favourably in armour to the French light lance armed Ordonnance Archer;


UNIT NAME
Ordonnance Archers (with lance)
POINTS
4
Attack
5+
Attack Value
4+
Move
6+
Defence Value
5+
Shoot
N/A
Shoot Value / Range
-
Courage
4+
Maximum movement
12”
Armour
2
Special Rules
Counter Charge

How they'll perform for me on the battlefield is another matter !

I'm really pleased with how these have turned out and also that the previous figures that I was fielding as Demilancers can now be more convincing Men at Arms. These will also get a makeover and re-base at some point.

It. never. ends.

All the best

Stuart



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