Friday, 15 March 2013

Yeomen of the Guard

Yeomen of the Guard c. 1513

This unit has been very long in the making ! I've had the majority of the figures for a few years but had held back on the painting until I'd gathered enough research. Being a focal point of the army I wanted them to be as historically accurate as possible.

Henry was proud of his guard, in fact 1513 was the very zenith of their splendour and size as a unit, they numbered 800 for this campaign and saw both considerable action and ceremonial duty throughout. They are mentioned at almost every key point.

In terms of appearance, 1513 was the beginning of the transition from the Tudor liveried white and green coats over to the perhaps more familiar red and black/blue coats. The former prevailed for quite some time, yeomen are depicted in this striped garb as late as the treaty of Amiens in 1527, after which the red jacket begins to prevail.

I have opted to depict them in their liveried dress uniform to anchor the unit in the early 1500's.

Unfortunately, there are no surviving illustrations from 1513 which show YOTG wearing their coats so I have taken a lead from the above description as well as relying heavily upon the following two contemporary accounts from the 1513 campaign;

The Chronicler, Edward Hall stated that when the guard left Greenwich to embark upon their journey to France, all were dressed in white gaberdines and caps.

This may have been their informal dress as there's no mention of their uniform or 'coats' (coats being the manner in which uniforms were described - captains were paid 'coat money' to equip their troops, the 'white coat' was also a term used to describe English soldiers in this period).

Perhaps the best source I have found is from an un-named French source describing Henry's triumphal entry into Tournai after its surrender where they are described as wearing tunics of white and green with collars and cuffs of cloth of gold and a red cross on front and back.

The use of the red cross was a key feature of the whole army, guardsmen also wore breastplates with painted crosses as is shown in the image below, this being another source of inspiration for this unit.

For the banners which the guard we return to Edward Hall who stated that the king had;

"the standard of the redde dragon, next the banner of our lady [the Virgin], and next after the banner of the Trinitie ... Then went the banner of the arms of England ... under which banner was the king himself."

The account also mentions several times the banner of St. George.

The unit looks especially complete alongside the Kings Spears and Henry, which is something that I've had in mind since beginning this venture so I'm somewhat pleased to present the whole royal entourage;

David Starkey's book on young Henry suggests that the example of Henry V, conqueror of France, was a very powerful influence on the king's mind as he prepared for his 1513 invasion. Hence it might be reasonable to assume that Henry's expedition, as organised by Wolsey, followed closely on the lines laid down by his predecessor, at least in terms of talismans and religious imagery.

Contemporary chronicler Seigneur de St-Remy described Henry V as having at Agincourt "the banner of the Trinity, the banner of St. George, the banner of St. Edward (the confessor), and the banner of his own arms."

The banner of the trinity was the same which Henry V carried, I was tempted to add some battle damage or to age it as it would have been almost 100 years old but decided against it in the end.

I have also added another personal banner which shows the union of Henry & Catherine of Aragon, interestingly this illustration was made for Arthur but is noted as also being used by the young Henry, I thought it quite unique and another chance at depicting russet or tawny again (i opted for a terracotta orange this time). Lastly, a loyal servant from Henry Guildford's retinue joins the throng to carry aloft his personal standard.

Every figure has had some sort of conversion which I hope lends some unique appeal; there are a couple of head swaps in there along with some bits of kit added, most have had the landsknecht katzbalger swords swapped and the yeomen standard bearer also has a (roughly) sculpted crowned Tudor rose on front and back.

Finally, the basing and consequentially tabletop use of this unit had me in a knot for a while; I wanted to lean more to historical depiction rather than clearly defined 'unit type/grade' so you'll notice that each base is a mix of shot and blade armed troops rather than artificially separating them into their respective weapon types. For gaming purposes (which doesn't happen much) I'll give each base the ability to shoot but without rear support (as each base actually represents two bases of 3 men) as well as being considered as halberd armed in close combat which I think is a good compromise without making them overly invincible.

I considered having some sort of caveat that did not allow them to be greater than a set distance away from the king but throughout this (and indeed other) campaigns they fought without this impediment though perhaps a +1 of some kind if they are defending the king could be something worth considering - discuss !

So there we have it, I hope I've struck the right balance with these.

I'm sure my last post mentioned a break from heavy detail.

I've also had some new glasses recently with a greater prescription so I think the miniature painter's slippery slope to blindness has started in earnest !



  1. Amazing figures, thanks for sharing them.



  2. Some of the best work I have ever seen. Beautiful details.

  3. Absolutely stunning!

    I'm going to have to rethink my painting system.

  4. Without a doubt, they are fantastic, just how I picture them!

  5. Outstanding work Stuart !!!

    Most impressive ! Love your work and are most impressed by your banners !

    Greate with the historican background .

    Best regards Michael

  6. Truly breath-taking effort. I am particularly struck with the patterned fabrics. A very detailed and valuable post also. Thanks.

  7. Gosh, possibly your best unit yet. I like this version of tawny more. Don't know which bits I like the most, if I had to choose it has to be the standards. As usual I was also impressed with the research.

  8. Absolutely fantastic figures and banners. I just stumbled onto your blog as I didn't have much interest in it until now and seeing what you have done with it. Please tell me what figures you use and from what range. I realize that you do a lot of conversions but what combinations do you use for head swaps, etc. thanks again, Bill

    1. Thanks Bill, the figures for this army are a mix of Wargames Foundry Renaissance range ( the older range sculpted by the Perries) and Perry miniatures wars of the roses and European armies figures. Most of the conversions involve plastic bits being added to metal figures or head swaps or some sculpting with green stuff - or a combination. I didn't really do much in the way of conversions when I started but the plastics really do lend themselves to it.

  9. What to say after such comments? Those figures are really impressive, beautiful, and I really enjoyed reading this post...Great, great work!

  10. A fantastic set of figures, changing the swords and adding the bucklers to the Landsknechts really helps to make them into early Tudors. The flags are outstanding!

  11. Those are splendid! Such research, such detail...

  12. My expectations are always high when I see that you've done another posting - but I think that this one surpasses everything done to date (and no doubt a future one will beat this one!). The standard of painting on figures & flags (alongside the conversions) and supported by the research is fantastically good. This must already be one of the most impressive armies currently being amassed.
    The commander's unit/bodyguard should be a star unit, as this one most certainly is!!
    Looking forward to seeing it close-up later this year.

    1. Thanks Simon, I painted Henry 4 years ago and I'm tempted to re-paint him as I think my experience has moved on a little, to the extent that his bodyguard look better than him but that would be a bit counterproductive!

  13. Amazing as ever the Yeomen...I have a good book about them...

  14. These workmanship that has gone into producing these miniatures is of the highest level Stuart. Even more admirable is the depth of research and the lovely painting!!