Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Tudor 'hagbutters'

Here's a sneak peek at part of the rotation of figures presently on my workbench; some Perry mercenary handgunner figures which I have tweaked slightly. The boxed set has a few bits and bobs for the pikemen and crossbowmen but no equipment as such for a handgunner though I suppose their equipment would be a bit more fiddly than a quiver or windlass.

Anyway, here are my efforts with some fuse wire, spare wire pikes, stiff foil from the top of a bottle, pliers and green stuff. Somewhat fiddly but not difficult with some woodcuts and illustrations as reference to keep me right.

From said references note the spare cord around the arm or gun and the belt of cartridges, images of which can be found in woodcuts of the early 1500's and they do offer a nice finishing touch.

The DBR army list has no mention of any English arquebusiers pre 1544 but it does list a potential for a small proportion of Italian arquebusiers which I have concluded could be a misinterpretation; there is mention of orders for 'hackbutts' being sent to Brescia and Florence in 1511,12 & 13 but these were for the guns and their equipment, there is no mention of any mercenaries (why order the guns seperately?). Conversely, there is no surviving muster listing of any handgunners in the retinue of any captain of the 1513 campaign but there is comment of their combined use with longbowmen at the siege of Therouanne. 

These could have been landsknecht but that's not to say that there were not English troops trained in their use, a small number at that but the munitions were bought so one must assume there was an intended use as they weren't cheap. 

The first time Italians are mentioned as being on the pay roll is for the 1544 Bolougne campaign. Spanish arquebusiers were also paid for service in the campaigns of 1522-4 and 1544.

In conclusion I have amended the small proportion of Italian shot to English 'hackbutters', 4 bases in all as a nod to the efforts of Henry's quartermasters.



  1. They're looking very good.

    It's possible that only the guns were ordered, the benefit of the handgun/arquebus/musket over bows is that it requires so little training and any weakling or gaol scouring can use one. There were English people capable of using them in the 1460's, but not making the weapon if they were being imported in the 16th Century. Having said that, imported Spanish bow staves were preferred to domestic ones in the 15th Century.

  2. Lovely conversions yet again and a real labour of love.

    It's always of real interest to me to see the meat and bones of how an army progresses and with the description of why made the choices that you did just adds to the enjoyment of reading the blog.

    I'd love to see whe woodcuts and illustrations if at all possible Stuart?


    1. Hi Darrell

      the sources I used were;

      the medieval soldier, embleton & howe
      artists & warfare in the renaissance, hale
      medieval military costume in colour photographs, gerry embleton
      arms & uniforms, the age of chivalry part 3, L&F Funcken

      Also, Henry VIII's military revolution, james raymond, is of particular note for background to the notion of early tudor arquebusiers.

    2. Anytime, the last book is v good by the way, sadly it's not illustrated but still very good.

  3. Very nice conversions, realy like the "12 desciples" you added to the minis.

    Nice to hear some background to.

    Best regards dalauppror