Sunday, 25 January 2015

Louis XII Guard Archers Complete

I am pleased to unveil the first unit of Louis XII guard archers!

You can read about the development of this unit including initial sculpting and contemporary references in the preceding blog post.

Suffice to say in creating this unit I have very much embarked upon a journey of self taught intermediate sculpting. You can really see the development as the figures in this unit were worked upon.

I began with dismounted Perry MAA as dollies and sculpted skirts upon them, this involves first filing and/or cutting away the area from the waist to just above the knee so that an under-layer of green stuff can be added. 

Once this had dried the skirt was then sculpted, front then back with drying in between, thereafter the arms were added and sculpted individually, ensuring the first was dry before work began on the second.

I am very satisfied with how these look though my practice does show an improvement in each successive sculpt;

1. First attempt, each fold in the skirt was defined, it looks like heavy cloth, quite satisfied though the shape feels a little puffed, also I was not fully satisfied with the right arm.

2. Second attempt, arms a bit better and the skirt has some movement, the folds are also a bit more natural. I was really pleased with this and really pushed myself in creating the porcupine and crown; this was done by sculpting the green stuff on my work mat then gluing onto the breast plate when almost dry.

3. Third attempt, I was very satisfied with the skirt, in fact I'd say I nailed it; it appears as it should with nice defined heavy pleats yet still part of a single garment rather than appearing separate. Again, pleased with myself I pushed on and created a war coat / waffenrock (appropriate French word welcomed if you know it). The right sleeve isn't quite there where the sculpting meets the elbow but I'm being picky now.

Rear. The way this garment appears to sit looks natural, the confident not too bobbly pleats were much easier to paint. 

4. As these archers were dismounted the horse required some attention in building up the saddle and adding some stirrups. I got quite a bit of inspiration from the following sixteenth century saddles, note the padding on the rear and for the rider's legs;

The Best advice I have had during this project was from Oliver of Steel fist Miniatures; get the shape right first before adding detail. it's a simple notion but I must admit that I initially paid attention to each fold rather than considering all of the front or back of the skirt as one, as in the last figure. This felt like a breath of fresh air and made this last attempt so much easier, and quicker. Other than that it's just a matter of practice and patience and plenty of reference material for how garments appear in different poses.

I'm very much eager to do many more skirts and waffenrocks in this manner, there's now a whole new area of potential which I feel could be achieved with these almost infinitely versatile Perry plastics.

I will certainly do at least two more bases of these, I have no idea whether Louis' guard archers were in the vicinity of Therouanne during 1513, at best some may have been with de Piennes or perhaps acted as some of the messengers who delivered news from the King to the garrison, who knows - I do like them though.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Ordonnance Archers WIP part 2

Part two in this series has me tackling some guard archers of Louis XII.

The depictions that I have so far been able to find have them in red and yellow livery with a crowned porcupine on their breast and back plates.

As a challenge I have decided to create a dismounted unit, here are the fruits of a fortnight of patient sculpting;

In every depiction I can find they are shown in sallets, with or without a visor and occasionally with plumes on the front so there's plenty of scope for some more variation with the rest of the unit.

The 'dolly' is a Perry plastic foot knight with archer arms added.

To begin the fauld and tassets required some deep filing, then the area from the mid waist to just above the knees was filled with green stuff.

Once this was dry I then sculpted the skirt front and back.

There's some more detail on this process here.

Another drying phase and the arms were done individually. It was quite hard but once you're in the zone so to speak it gets addictive. The best advice I have had is to be very patient, and to get the right shape first then sculpt detail. Other than that it's just practice.

So above is a completed dismounted figure, here are some more reference points;

From a basing / gaming perspective I have considered these to be an early dragoon. They were essentially used as mounted infantry leading up to 1513, or rather they are depicted so for sure in 1507 so I guess further to my last post on the French Ordonnance archer of 1513 I have made another distinction. I will still have some mounted versions of these to mingle in with the other sculpted mounted chaps in the last post.

Anyway, all dragoons / mounted infantry require a horse holder;

I still have one sleeve to sculpt and I might try my hand at a porcupine emblem on the breast plate but it's going well so far.

Cheerio for now


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Ordonnance Archers WIP part 1

David and Bethsabee, Le rassemlement des chevaliers c.1517-1520
Gendarmes and Archers - note older armour of the archers 

With some long awaited leave I have begun work an equally long awaited project; French Ordonnance Archers. 

Not to be confused with the 'Franc Archer' which, if you're interested an earlier blog post covers this subject; Franc Archers of Picardy

Here I'm considering cavalry,or rather the Archer and Coustillier - the remainder of the combatant French lance after the man at arms.

My period of interest, as you may have guessed is 1513, in this post I hope to summarise my findings on the subject and give you a look at some early work in progress on some figures.

David and Bethsabee, Le rassemlement des chevaliers c.1517-1520
Archers and Coustillier 

To any painter or gamer interested in the Italian Wars this troop type soon proves itself to be a an enigma, so in my usual manner I have tried to gather as much as I can before committing to the brush with any confidence.

Depending on what rules or army list you look at Ordonnance Archers are deemed as medium cavalry, heavy cavalry or an early dragoon, the reasoning being that their armament and use is somewhat difficult to pin, this is due to both their organisation and the period or campaign that you may be interested in. 

They began life as a mounted archer as part of the French lance, as time moves into the early to mid sixteenth century their chief armament changes in line with the arms race and their role on the battlefield, they soon do away with the bow to replace it with a light  / demi-lance, there is no exact point in time that this happened, it was organic.

Equally, their role on the battlefield changed from support cavalry to eventually being part of the 'en haye' line of shock gendarmes, possibly in the first line, possibly in the second, it varies, the fact is they were used as required by topography, generalship, doctrine and availability. 

For a collector and wargamer I'd say representation of these troops comes down to the following considerations;
  • Base with gendarmes or separately
  • arm with bow, lance, crossbow, arquebus or a mixture
  • heavy, medium or light armour

I've researched this subject on and off since my interest in the period began my favoured resource is Renaissance France at War by David Potter from which I will briefly quote;

'Archers remained integral to the formation of the gendarmerie. Companies of men at arms had originally been designed to provide combined forces of cavalry and archers - the proportion of archers to men at arms varied widely - in the early years of the 15th C. 

Bournonville's companies were fairly evenly balanced. From 1498 each lance was to include one man at arms and two archers. With the reorganisation of pay in 1533-4 lances would contain 100 men at arms and 150 archers. At what stage did archers evolve from real bowmen to slightly less heavily armed cavalry men? Balsac's treatise of the 1490's assumes that archers should be just that and deplored that so many 'cannot shoot'. But there are records of companies of archers actually wielding their bows in the Italian wars. In 1515 the King (Louis XII) decreed that the main cities should maintain armourers to manufacture bows for the archers of the ordonnances and that captains should ensure that there would be 'a good number of archers and crossbowmen drawing the bow well from the saddle or on foot.' 

This requirement was repeated (by Francis I) in 1526.The archers have been described as 'second class' or 'medium' cavalry, armed slightly less expensively than the men at arms but sharing the same social prestige of the gendarmerie and crucially lighter and more flexible. Their task was to follow the first wave of attack and in skirmishing, not unlike the chevau-legers.'

Company of Beraud Stuart, seigneur d'Aubigny c.1509?
Gendarmes are depicted left and archers with bows on the right.

Reading this it does make me wonder whether 'Argoulets' (mounted crossbowmen / arquebusiers) were not a troop type but merely missile armed ordonnance archers ?

With this in mind I then considered views from some fellow enthusiasts and friends of this blog as to how to approach these troops in terms of appearance and use;

Jim Hale ( LAF contributor aka arlequin)

Officially the composition of the 'Lance' did not change at all, at least between 1445 and some point in the 1520s that I'm not certain of. Unofficially is a different matter and certainly there was also a change in the 'who', which resulted in the 'Archers' becoming filled with people who could not be Gendarmes, for a variety of reasons. This was far more pronounced in the early 16th Century than it was in the 1470s, when this change was just becoming noticeable and commented upon. By 1513 I suspect there were few 'Archers' who weren't of an equivalent social class to most of the Gendarmes, but were either too young, or couldn't get the kit together to be paid as one.

In a way it wasn't much different with what was going on in the English army of the time. Instead of the earlier mass of generic 'Men at Arms', which covered anyone with a fair to full amount of armour, who didn't carry a bow, a division between 'demi-lances' and 'true' Men at Arms, like the 'Gentlemen Pensioners', became increasingly commented on after 1485. It probably started earlier, but we just don't have the documents to support that before Henry VII.

In the French army the 'Archers' already existed as the most numerous group of the 'not fully armoured mounted men', so what would have been called demi-lancers elsewhere, were called 'Archers' in French service.

Jean Marot, La voyage de Genes (Louis XII's Genoa Campaign 1507), guard archers can be seen dismounted in the middle distance.

What they did is a different matter and quite confusing as you've found out. In battle they were seemingly separated from the Gendarmes and in 1495 still dismounted to use their bows and crossbows to support the attack of the Gendarmes. They also seem to have been increasingly used as 'heavy cavalry' too, as well as performing 'light cavalry' roles in lieu of there actually being any light cavalry. At some point between 1495 and 1520-ish, the bow and crossbow were completely ditched and they all had 'lances' .

I can't give a concrete answer, but if it was me, I would divide a 'company' into a ratio of; one unit of Gendarmes, to two of Archers, each unit being the same strength. What few illustrations survive of that period show the Archers as carrying bows, but as none of them concentrate on the Archers as a subject in their own right, it is difficult to see if their front ranks are lance-armed or not.

However the Coutilier, Coutilleur, Gros Varlets, Valets de Guerre, or whatever they were actually called, still existed, but are the 'invisible men' of the companies. These were armed with light spears or demi-lances and depending on what you believe their role to be, can either back the Gendarmes 1:1, or be divided between the two units of Archers in the same proportions.  

I believe that the 'Coutilier' just became absorbed by the 'Archers', especially as their roles became increasingly similar, or perhaps even that lance-armed Archers steadily replaced them. This pretty much gives you the excuse to field some of your 'Archers' as lance-armed however.

The only other option that springs to mind is that they at some point carried light lance and bow. Bows could be slung when mounted and the lance used, while the lance could be left with the horse-holders if they dismounted. If they were increasingly used as cavalry, the bow would become redundant and eventually just not be carried at all. The French weren't exactly short of other missile troops, so 'lancers' might have been far more useful.

For 1513 though, I honestly don't know. Change is usually a gradual thing, so if we have 1 gendarme, 1 'lancer' and 2 'bowmen' at the end of the 15th Century and 1 gendarme and 3 'lancers' in the 1520s, it is possible that in 1513 it might be a case of 1 gendarme, 1-2 'lancers' and 2-1 'bowmen' being a rough ratio, despite all of the latter being called 'Archers' throughout.
Stephane Thion (friend of Army Royal)
The 20th January 1514 ordnance tell us that a company count 8 horses : 4 for the men at arm and 4 for the 2 archers. The 2 more horses will be "garnis de coustilliers" (mounted by coustilliers). Which mean that a company count 3 men paid by the king : one men at arm and 2 archers and up to 5 men (1 page, one valet and op to 3 coustilliers) which are not paid and so, not intended to fight.The page and valet are a young men of 17 or 18 years old, not in age to be a gendarme or archer but who will train with the bow. Here are some articles, in french, of this ordinance :
« toutes les compagnies de ses ordonnances soient fournies, entières et complètes d’hommes d’armes et archers, en tel nombre qu’il leur est ordonné, garnis de coutilliers ainsi qu’il appartient. (…) Ils tiendront huit chevaux pour lance fournie : c’est à savoir hommes d’armes, quatre, et les deux archers, quatre ou tel nombre qu’il leur plaira, à la discrétion toutefois du capitaine ou lieutenant ».
« Dorénavant, lesdits hommes d’armes ne tiendront aucuns valets ou pages s’ils ne sont de l'âge de dix-sept ou dix-huit ans, et au dessus : lesquels ils feront apprendre à tirer de l’arc, pour les mettre és ordonnances, si bon leur semble, quand ils seront en âge compétent pour servir ».

This ordinance order the wear of livery for archer, coustilliers and pages (which also means that it archer uses already to wear livery of their captain but not always), in order to recognise soldiers who robber and llot  :
« Le roy ordonne que les capitaines desdits gens de guerre fassent toujours porter à tous archers, coustilliers et pages de leurs compagnies hoquetons à leur devise, tant à la ville qu’aux champs : et sera la livrée de chacun capitaine envoyée par les sénéchaussées et bailliages, à fin que quand ils feront les maux, que l’on puisse connaître de quelle compagnie chacun sera, pour en faire réparation ».

An other ordinance of the same date tell us than cities have to recruit archers (bowmen) use to archery and shooting with crossbow, from foot or horse :
« tirant bien à l’arc, et des arbalétriers qui soient bons pour tirer soit à cheval ou à pied ».

Now, here are the scarce evidence of archers equipment. As you write : Archers could be armed with crossbow from at least 1465. And there is an example, in 1500, of an archer firing crossbow from horse :
« un archer de la compagnie du seigneur de Saint-Prest, avec une arbalète bandée, pour plus droit assener quelqu’un de ces Allemands, lâcha la rêne de la bride de son cheval, et là, hasarda tant sa vie, sous l’assurance de la conduite de celui-ci, qu’entre ses ennemis soudainement l’emmena, lequel à coups de hallebardes fut sur le champ assommé ».

They can be armed with demi-lance, like an archer of the company of Bayard in 1509 who fight with such an armed against a stradiote.
In these years, the main role of archers is to be "coureurs" (runners). So i think, for such a mission, they will be mainly armed with demi-lances, the others being armed with crossbow. I think archers would be equipped with bow only for sieges. For example, we can see the archers of the king with bow during the siege of Genes in 1507. [see above]
However, in 1509, distances are mainly estimate "à la portée de jet d'arc" (in bow firing range). So some archers will probably be armed with bow when necessary.
BUT at Ravenna, in 1512, archers and guidons are grouped in a single light horse formation wich probably fought with demi-lance (the arm they use is not written in the relations of the battle, so it is a supposition). However, at Ravenne, the archers de la garde (of the guards) fought with their mace and not with demi-lance. Which can be interpreted as being armed with mace and bow rather than demi-Lance....

Finally, on pages, valets and coustilliers : they will usually not fight but there is some examples of coustilliers and valet bringing prisonners (like in this relation of 1499) :
« Tel homme d’arme français y avait, qui cinq ou six Lombards à sa merci qu’ils tenaient prisonniers ; tel archer, quatre ou cinq ; tels coutilliers et valets, deux ou trois ».

I suggest you have one man at arms, 2 archers in livery armed mainly with demi-lance and some with bow. I have chose to add a bow on the back of some demi-lances. And you can add some pages, valet, and coustilliers at will but it is not necessary.
Daniel S ( TMP Renaissance contributor)

The mounted archers were as far as I can tell never mounted crossbowmen, Potter makes an error when he refers to them as such when referring to the 1515 regulations. Having read the original document it is so obvious that I suspect that it is a case of an unintentional editing error while reworking the text or a change made by an editor rather than Potter misunderstanding the original text.

Archers were armed with longbow/warbow and dismounted to fight in battle. (Ravenna 1512 is a good example of this as is Fornovo) They always possessed some ability to fight mounted but were not fit to face heavy infantry or true cavalry on their own.

The change from mounted bowman to lancer is sadly obscured by the gaps in the sources. Don't have my notes next to me but IIRC the first reference to Archers fighting with lance is to be found in the 1530's and it took even longer for the regulations to reflect this change.

My personal theory is that the massive losses at Pavia finally ended the French use of the bow but an alternate possibility is that they were pressed into service as emergency cavalry during the numerous charges against the Swiss during the battle of Marignano 1515.

Personally I would field the archers on foot up to 1515, between 1515 and 1525 dual use but without lance and post-1525 as lancers.


Only one source and a few opinions but I hope this represents a fairly reasoned view. There's a lot to consider but some interesting similarities, so for 1513 I have decided to opt for;
  • archers based separately from the gendarmes; I like the notion of the gendarmes being the first wave and archers following up, it seems to make sense in terms of ability and lighter armour and equipment for archers to mop up and exploit gaps made after the initial shock.
  • medium to light armour for the archers and light to none for the coustilliers, armour to be older harnesses or of munition quality.
  • arm with a mix of demi-lance, mace, and bow and crossbow, some coats in livery.
I'm tempted to also base a unit of dismounted archers and a horse holder, not sure - how would you represent this in a wargame?

For reference, English mounted archers are just that, the word archer in the primary sources of the 1513 campaign appears interchangeable as mounted or dismounted, it was simply a way to move them around the battlefield quickly, they did not fight on horseback and for good measure, demi-lances are very clearly identified as are heavy cavalry.

Anyway, here are my first efforts;

The figures are from the Perry mounted men at arms set with Foundry (Perry sculpted) head swaps from their Landsknecht range as well as additional plumes taken from the Perry Swiss heads. All heads are drilled and pinned for extra stability. In addition I have also sculpted skirted coats which I'm quite pleased with.

In adopting this approach there is a balance between the older harness and the renaissance dress which distinguishes these from the gendarmes. When I come to the bow armed troops I may also sculpt riding boots.

This unit will take some time as I will base bow armed men with these lance armed figures, the forthcoming Perry light cavalry box will help me here so there will be a delay and more WIP's to come but I hope you have enjoyed my essay on the Ordonnance archer of 1513.

Cheerio for now and Merry Christmas to you and yours.


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