Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Walls of Therouanne part II

Part II; the Garrison 

Here's an in-situ photograph of the wall section, lightly defended by a militia watch. 

My efforts over the last two months or so have concentrated upon building an in action set of defenders for one side of the wall; the renaissance artillery tower on the right, 16 figures in all with a medium artillery piece and some added pieces of interest. The figures have been drawn from Perry and Foundry as well as Pro Gloria and a Brother Vinni (I think - the figure in question was given to me).

All were selected to complement each other in a hopefully coherent display of a section of the wall in action. In doing so I have created 3 vignettes which interact with their part of the wall as well as giving a good overall image.

First up, a Franc Archer sergeant rests on the wall to shout obscenities;

This figure was a bit of a kit-bash from the Perry plastics with the addition of some feathers from the Swiss heads, it was a bit fiddly to get the left hand to rest neatly on the wall, but it's turned out reasonably OK. 

Next, perhaps my favourite, some more Franc Archers fire down from a damaged section of wall;

Creating a French army was fairly inevitable, whilst assembling the Tudors I slowly began to build a burgeoning gallery of reference material and it was this feature of a tapestry depicting the 1513 siege of Dijon which really caught my imagination;


As soon as I saw it I was determined to try and recreate the crossbowman leaning over the wall to make someones day.

This figure is assembled from the Mercenaries box with a Tudor head which also has some feathers from the Swiss heads added (shortened slightly and cut at an angle). The body is an advancing pose with the legs bent a little more in an effort to achieve a leaning pose. The arms are built up with sculpted green stuff. Finally the figure was painted as a liveried Franc Archer, his feathers confirm his allegiance to Therouanne and the black and white hose to Seur Bournonville.

The remaining figures are also Franc Archers as well as a local militia bowman;

All are based on pennies built up with filler and painted a matt grey, some of these could be blended fairly well with the infantry as skirmishers or to give some more movement to future photographs.

Next up; a master gunner cautiously exposes himself;

The top of the artillery tower is defended by a modern medium artillery piece, cast in bronze with a long range of fire to exchange hate with Henry's heavy guns.

The embrasures are low, the crew have taken extra precaution with the addition of gabions for protection from stray arrows and shot, lansquenets are also in action around them.

Inspiration for this set up, and indeed the design of the wall crenellations were taken from this and similar drawings of Henry VIII's coastal fortifications;

Unlike the militia garrison and the Franc Archers the artillerymen are from Louis XII's army, I have tried to reflect this in their appearance;

Louis XII's red and yellow livery is loosely represented as well as the cross of St. Denis, the master gunner wears a rich base coat with a richly embroidered porcupine, a heraldic device of Louis XII. Here's a closer look and a reference from the illustrated manuscript of the 1507 Genoa campaign;

The artillery piece and gabions. The latter are from Battlefront Miniatures I think, I've added extra pieces of kit, I'm really pleased with the bronze - I ended up spending more than I anticipated on it but it's worth it.

Aerial view of the gun in action;

Lansquenet arquebusiers are busy keeping the heads of the English archers down, firing in support of the gun crew and the French bows, here's a closer look at them as they are pretty chaps;

I just can't get enough of these, I get so much fun from painting them, they're a joy. What's made this even more rewarding is my recent - perhaps overdue discovery of Pinterest, a free online image library where you can 'pin' whatever makes you tick, here's my galleries which have inspired these and many more;

Last but not least is a pair of Lansquenets with a hackbut, a large calibre arquebus;

The firing miniature comes as a set with the gun but I thought it looked better with an injured second crewman.

Here's a final photograph of the whole section in action. I have roughly the same amount of figures to convert and paint for the opposite section of wall. Owing to the aforementioned Pinterest I'm hungry for Landsknechts at the moment so there will be a bit of a break before I press on but I hope you like this second instalment of the defence of Therouanne.

Cheerio for now


Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Walls of Therouanne, part I

Back in September I collected a rather special commission from David at TM terrain, I have since been working on the defenders and getting reasonably close to finishing them so the time is ripe to do a series of episodes to fully show off this commission.

So, for the uninitiated this blog and all of my painting efforts over the past five years have centred around Henry VIII's 1513 invasion of France. As time has passed I have specifically centred my focus around the siege of Therouanne, mainly as it featured the most skirmishing and was the backdrop to the Battle of the Spurs.

I decided it would be good to represent the walls somehow in my photographic arrangements and initially settled upon creating a painted backdrop - something which I may still do. This, however wouldn't really allow for the positioning of defenders and so on so I set about researching Therouanne's walls as unfortunately they're not there anymore; Henry, Maximilian and later Charles V have sadly made sure of that.

Therouanne was a sizable town in 1513 so I realised I would have to tackle it in sections, but what did it look like? I suppose we have the fact that it has been besieged a number of times as a bonus as it has led to a relative wealth of artistic representations; my focus soon settled upon a particular area of the wall;

The two highlighted sections above caught my interest initially as this was the side of the town which saw the first actions of the Battle of the Spurs and also took and delivered some considerable punishment during the siege.

In addition I was inspired by the evolution of fortification apparent in the structure; rounded artillery towers intermingle with earlier octagonal towers and a later domestic building with a renaissance crow-step roof can also be seen as part of the wall in both images (1537 and 1553).

This drawing of 1537 also shows these three aspects 

Also, in the background of this painting of the Battle of the Spurs (c.1513 or a little later) the same features can be seen. My mind was made up for my first foray into architectural display.

TM terrain was a no brainer; I had long admired David's work and from the outset he was most enthusiastic with the venture, he also kindly gave me work in progress updates as the commission developed;

I tried to give David as much information as possible, the contemporary images were merely a start as height, materials and use had to be considered. The height was roughly worked out from the paintings; these seemed to be structures of a late medieval / early renaissance mind so relatively squat but not quite Vaubanesque.

Close examination of the paintings and referral to contemporary descriptions of the fortifications (Cruickshank) made reference to Serpintines, Hackbuts, Culverins as well as heavier pieces of artillery - a real mix of long and mid range ordnance. Further reading revealed to me that Serpentines and Hackbuts could be housed upon lower levels as well as on the ramparts but heavier pieces tended to be on top to engage heavier besieging artillery at range and to minimise smoke, one can gather further appreciation of this from Henry VIII's surviving fortifications;


The beam decoration was an unexpected surprise but I was very pleased that David had done this in keeping with a Continental rather than Tudor influence.

The section is in three parts for ease of storage and for interchanging with future commissions, it is just under 3 feet. Here you can also see my other stipulation that the walls should look like they have seen some action.

In the next post we'll have some doughty French and Landsknecht defenders.

Bye for now


Monday, 6 October 2014

Wargame; Tudor Rebellion

Over the weekend myself and Simon Chick ( were hosted by Michael & Alan Perry and Dave Andrews for a Tudor Rebellion wargame.

The premise was a semi fictional notion based upon the Lambert Simnel / Perkin Warbeck rebellions of Henry VII's reign. Myself & Dave were the royalist coalition using my collection and Simon and Alan were the rebels with Burgundian support using the Perry's and Simon's collections, fairly large hosts on both sides.

For me this was a rather momentous occasion; to my memory I haven't gamed in around 14 years and my collection has never been used so it was really quite something to see this occur and to see those present enjoying the game, It was a pleasure and a privilege.

On to the game, The rules used were Hail Caesar with some small adaptions, Michael umpired and along with Dave and Alan guided myself and Simon through the setup. I found these to be relatively fast play with an excellent facility for the fog of war.

To begin, royalist scurrers entered the arena to seek out and engage their rebel counterparts.

Over the next few turns the royalists were relatively slow to emerge with the rebels taking the initiative and forming up early in their respective divisions, this was turn 3 I think;

Royalist bow and bill on the left with some yeomen of the guard stiffening, the royalist centre with three cavalry divisions, Henry on the hill with Kings Spears entourage and artillery battery, to the right were mercenary pike and demilancers.

Opposite from left to right were the pretender and a wing of bow and bill with scurrer screen, pike, artillery and shot in the centre with heavy cavalry in front and a further bow and bill wing on the far right. The game soon split to a bow and bill exchange on the left and more renaissance feel to the right. 

After some squaring up, the rebel horse formed intimidatingly close to their royalist counterparts, exchanges of long range fire followed and the royalists charged, here's the rebel perspective;

This soon began to look ugly for the royalists who broke and hurriedly moved their mercenary pike into position to plug the gap between Henry and the rebel cavalry. Insult was added to injury as my unlucky dice meant the royalist guns were very slow on the initiative, I quickly passed important dice rolling to Dave thereafter!

Demilancers moved to cover the right wing but things were looking shaky, much to the glee of the rebels;

Over on the royalist left flank, things were quietly developing behind a screen of scurrer activity;

Bowfire was exchanged as each respective division moved to engage the other, at this stage the scurrers had exhausted themselves, taking casualties requiring a morale boost from their commander who was engaged under a 'cloud of doubt' in a surviving regrouping element of horse defeated in the opening cavalry exchange.

Bolstered by the yeomen of the guard the royalists moved closer;

The Landsknechts now holding the royalist centre began to slowly move to their Burgundian counterparts with withering crossbow and arquebus fire soon assisted by enfilading artillery, things were crumbling and a division of bow and bill were moving rather close so the Demilancers were thrown in to try to stem the flow of the rebel advance, bounding over hedges into their flank, with scurrers joining in for good measure;

Events in the centre and right were beginning to look decisive and somewhat distracting whereupon the yeomen got very close to the pretender;

At this point the demilancers prevailed, somewhat phyrically but the rebel left broke, closely followed by the pretenders grisly end on a yeoman's halberd.

The game was very close, I enjoyed myself thoroughly and took my place among the yeomen;

In my post game deliberations I mused over my 14 year period in the non gaming wilderness and the last 7 years of building this army with only a blog to keep me going.

As a painter I may not be alone in this though I have always been at pains to have a proportioned and accurately represented army which I could only do using doctored army listings so there was always a gaming pretence. I suppose I in some way felt that as my interest was relatively niche there would be no-one to game with so I never really got myself out there as a gamer, being happy to paint the blog soon filled this gap and i've soon found a learned, interested and encouraging audience, equally concerned with the fine detail of costume and arms of the period, some of whom I eventually gamed with !