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



  1. Astonising! Great work, both in the research and the modellism.

  2. Great stuff, I had been watching this on facebook and had no idea it was for your collection. I look forward to seeing the walls with the figures. Careful with the fortifications bug though, since I started collecting bits and pieces I have found it hard to stop!

  3. A beautiful piece you should be very proud of. Great work by David - a masterpiece!


  4. Fantastic work and research. Its already spectacular, and I am sure adding miniatures will make it even better :-)

  5. Tis a wonderful piece, very well done - having seen it for real and close up - very nicely set off by your bed sheet!
    Looking forward to seeing some French-types with crossbows and arquebuses on those walls.

  6. Stunning, absolutely stunning.

    Thank you for sharing the work-in-progress images.


  7. Blimey! That, sir, is absolutely amazing...

  8. They are lovely! A unique bit of terrain.

  9. That is mind-blowingly stunning! Fantastic research and execution!