Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Early Renaissance French Lance

Here we have a completed unit of French Gendarmes, based and ready for action.

The flags are hand drawn and painted, I have gone for France Royal and a cross of St.Denis with the livery colours of Louis XII. This design is replicated in a number of commercially available flags and a couple of old wargames articles as a flag of 'Louis XII Gendarmes' though I must admit I have not seen the design in a contemporary image but it certainly seems probable and I liked the design so I chose it.

You can enjoy a closer figure by figure review in an earlier WIP post here.

In addition to the figures covered in that post I also worked on a final figure to bring the complement to 6 figures. I opted for a full caparison and skirted coat of blue/grey with inlaid dark blue damask and thread of gold trim.


This may look daunting to do but as with some of the designs discussed in the earlier post I find it's just a matter of putting the process into stages and dealing with each in turn. 

Using the horse as an example I painted the armour and areas of exposed flesh first in the normal manner. I then painted the caparison in the blue grey shade colour which was washed with a 1:1:1:1 mix of the shade colour, deep blue, black and water. Once dry I repainted the base colour leaving folds and creases in the dark wash colour which then gives an initial highlight.

I then mixed the wash colour without water and painted the damask design. I have found in comparison to geometric designs with clear lines that free flowing designs such as this can be a bit more forgiving with mistakes easier to correct. If you need to correct something just paint over with the shade base coat.

Then it's a case of building up the highlight colours on the inlaid areas with a final highlight around the design.

Hope that makes sense, you can get a better impression of this process in the close up above.

In addition to painting these figures I have been keen for quite a while, since December 2014 in fact (I'm a slow worker) to try and represent what a French Ordonnance lance would have looked like in the early renaissance period.

I began by compiling something of an essay post of historic sources, current opinion and the thoughts of fellow gamers, you can view it here. The conclusion being 1 gendarme/man at arms to 2 archers with some speculation about exactly what the archers were. I settled for a mid ground of 1 as a lightly armed mounted archer with bow (an early dragoon) and 1 as a lance armed medium cavalryman or what the English would refer to as a demi-lancer. 

I also threw in a coustillier (chap in blue with the mounted archers) to complete the look. 

I based the gendarmes 3 figures to a base to represent jostling for position in the en haye line of battle, these then followed by the archer cavalry on 2 figures to a base, here's the result.

For comparison, here's the image that sparked my imagination to do this mini project.

This is now my blueprint for future units of French cavalry, whether it's right I don't suppose we'll really know but It certainly feels and looks about right. In creating this unit I have thoroughly tested my painting and sculpting abilities but hopefully it was worth it - I'm sure they'll be disastrously wiped out in their first venture on the table.

All the best



  1. Beautifully done! The work on the barding is amazing and I love the muted colors.

  2. Fantastic unit, individually and as a whole, just a beautiful job and nice visual representation of what a lance was circa 1510.
    Best Iain

  3. Fantastic work, the figures work really well together and they really capture that early 16th century feel.

    I was sure I had seen a contemporary image of the "Louis XII Gendarmes" flag and had a look through the images I have collected but as far as I can tell you are right. There are contemporary pictures of red and yellow flags for Louis XII but not in that design and the Ravenna engraving has flags that are very similar in black and white.

  4. Immensely impressive on every level Stuart - the work of a mad man or a genius!!

  5. Superb unit !!
    I like particulary the paintjob on Gendarme's caparisons.


  6. Superb collection, one of the very best I've seen in terms of quality painting and converting.

  7. Hi Stuart,

    Awesome technique and colour as ever.

    I'm party way through painting a Louis XII, based on the image you have previously posted of him preparing to attack Genoa. The bees around the hive seemed such fun that WoRs work has been waylaid.

  8. There are contemporary pictures of red and yellow flags for Louis XII but not in that design and the Ravenna engraving has flags that are very similar in black and white I liked your blog, Take the time to visit the me and say that the change in design and meniu?