Sunday, 26 April 2020

Early Tudor Longbowmen

Under the current circumstances I find myself with some additional time so I thought I'd embark on a long overdue project for my early Tudor Army.

Oli Green and I wargame the period using adapted rules and army listings from Lion Rampant for which we have split longbowmen into two categories; 

Garrison Longbowmen
Attack Value
Defence Value
Shoot Value / Range
5+ / 18”
Maximum movement
Special Rules
*Ignore -1 at 12” or more

Shire Longbowmen
Attack Value
Defence Value
Shoot Value / Range
5+ / 18”
Maximum movement
Special Rules

These troop types often feature side by side in most of our games but up until now my collection only featured men in livery coats with no obvious difference which can occasionally cause confusion.

In the early sixteenth century Tudor armies were built around a core of infantry armed with bow and bill. Their organisation in principle did not differ that much from the late fifteenth century in that they were either paid professional soldiers or men from county militias liable for military service. 

Garrison Longbowmen 

Shire Longbowmen

The former category represents men who could be found in the garrisons of the Calais pale as well as at Berwick and some of the border fortresses. The latter represents those raised on a short term basis in time of conflict and/or for local defence. 

The rules were lifted with a minor alteration from Lion Rampant. In early testing we found that expert archers shooting on a 4+ did not represent what archers were becoming in the period so we decided to reflect their better experience and ability by removing the -1 consideration at long range.

My main focus when creating the unit was to make the figures visibly different and slightly less equipped in appearance. I did this by representing most without armour and all without livery. I also made the decision not to have them with a banner or commander to make them a bit more versatile. In this way they could be used as English, Rebels, Lowland Scots and potentially French or Breton troops

Most were converted by sculpting coats on to Perry WOTR figures as per this example from a previous unit;

An easier conversion can be achieved by using the Tudor Dollies from Steel Fist Miniatures with Perry arms to which you can add sculpted sleeves but you can also saw off and swap the legs which achieves futher variety.

Tudor dollies with Perry arms and heads, the two on the right have leg swaps 

Converted Perry figures

Brigandines and padded Jacks were still in use in this period and with suitable heads these Perry WOTR figures make for convincing early Tudors.

Perry figures with Tudor heads (the one in the middle is a Swiss head with cap added)

The completed unit

From a visual perspective they also make for quite a convincing larger body when intermingled with figures in livery. Here's a couple of mock ups somewhere in the borders;

a mixed host of archers

Lord Stanley's retinue

I also painted a casualty marker for the unit using a Perry Zulu as a dolly to sculpt upon;

I painted the figures in muted colours to reflect typical common clothing at the time;
  • Coats and jackets were principally tawny, black, grey and 'sheep colour'. 
  • Hose was predominantly undyed or to a lesser extent tawny or scarlet.
  • Caps are most often depicted as black. 
I found Tawny to be a bit of a challenge, it's a brownish orange but it took a couple of attempts to get it to look right.

For more information on this subject I thoroughly recommend The King's Servants book by The Tudor Tailor, it's a good source for an understanding of how Tudor men were dressed at the start of the 16c

I've really enjoyed putting this unit together, it's most definitely been a welcome distraction. I particularly enjoyed reading about typical clothing and interpreting that through working with a muted palette.

While the mood takes me it seems a natural progression to do some Shire bill in a similar fashion. I think I'd quite like to do a similarly attired command to go with them as well. The relative versatility of the unit and doing these border set ups also has me rather tempted to do one with a Scots banner, we'll just have to see.

I hope you like them

Bye for now and take care


Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Dixmude 1489 part 2, John Pearson

Of the few accounts of the battle I found the following really evocative;

'And also it is not to be forgoten, but to by had in ramenbrance, the goode courage of an Englyshe yoman called John Person, whiche was somtymes a baker off Coventre; which John Person, after that a gowne had borne away his foote by the small of the legge yet that notwithstonding, what setting and what kneling, shot affter many of his arows. And when the Frenshe men fledde and his felowes ware in the chase, he cried to one off his fellowes and saide: "Have thow thise vj arawes that I have lefte and folow thow the chase, for I may not", the whiche John Person died within few dayes aftir, on whose saulle Gode have mercy.'

From this I saw two potential conversions; the first part of an archer firing while kneeling or the second of him passing his arrows. I opted for the latter but I think I could still do both. Either way this makes for a great casualty or battered marker.

In terms of clothing the base coat in this cut and livery was a feature of Henry VIII's early reign but I want this to easily blend with the rest of my collection so that's the artistic license I'm taking 😃.

The figure was converted from parts from the Perry Miniatures Ansar, Bow and Bill and Mercenaries sets with dagger and pouch from the Warlord Landsknecht set. Here's the initial kit-bash and sculpting in progress;

Here's another converted casualty marker;

This writhing casualty used a Perry Miniatures Zulu body as a dolly. I opted to leave it free of weapons so it works for both bow or bill.

Prior to painting;

All the best


Dixmude 1489 part 1, foot knights

The day job, home, family etc has been quite hectic and i'll be honest I've just been exhausted in my downtime. It's been frustrating at times as I've been finding that when I'm away from the painting table I have a real urge to paint but can't and when I have time I often just don't feel it at all. Burnout.

However, the last couple of weeks I've put a bit of discipline into things and made a real effort to break the impasse. I've got various projects on the go which in itself can be a bit depressing as they sit there for months not being painted so I decided I'd add one more ! I wanted a quick result to kickstart things and opted for some foot knights as I considered I could get a good production line going and have fun assembling them.

The initial inspiration for these was the idea of creating a small early Tudor force for the battle of Dixmude 1489. There's a good article about it here. Henry VII sent a force of 1000 archers under command of among others Giles, Lord Daubeney, Captain of the Calais Garrison. 

I've got plenty of archers so for my part I just need to create some foot knights for the personalities and hopefully a few vignettes.

Daubeney was first up and needed some armoured colleagues. You can read more about Daubeney
here, he's got an interesting military career including putting down the Cornish Rebels at Blackheath which could be fun to represent.

These were all just Perry Miniatures foot knights assembled straight from the box, there's a lot of inspiration online for good assembly combinations and these were some of my favourites;

The armour is suitable easily up to around 1515 and beyond for many of the poorer nobles. There are a wealth of effigies depicting Tudor noblemen in older armour and heraldic surcoats.

The standard bearer is metal from a pack of Perry WOTR standard bearers, banner is from Pete's flags.

The painting process for these were as follows;
  • black undercoat
  • paint the armour in Foundry Metal mid-shade
  • wash with 1:2 mix of Games Workshop Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade
  • light drybrush of Foundry metal shade
  • Neatly highlight with Foundry metal mid-shade
  • light wash of a 1:1 mix of Foundry British Blue Grey shade and Granite shade with water 
  • Highlight with Foundry Spearpoint metal highlight 
They really 'pop' at the last 2 stages, the blue defines it and makes the metal appear brilliant. All other areas were then painted in the usual way. I had them on a production line and finished them over the course of a week, working in the evenings.

I've another base of foot knights to do so I have practiced enormous self control in not basing these figures yet. This way I can have a play around with which combinations work best.

Bye for now, there's another update straight after this.


Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Antoine de Crequy

Antoine de Crequy, Seigneur de Pontdormy.

In comparison to my Tudor army I've found it rather difficult to find many details of the French commanders so I've naturally shied away from them. Doing so for almost 10 years is not really an excuse though so here's a much delayed addition to the collection.

Antoine de Crequy was the commander of Therouanne when it was besieged in 1513. The noble family was established in Picardy along with other notables also involved in the campaign, principally Bournonville, Sercus & Heilly (to whom I've found equally scant information)

Antoine had the nickname ‘le Hardi’ (the bold) and died in 1523 at the siege of Hesdin apparently killed by friendly fire. He also commanded artillery at Ravenna and served at the Battle of Marignano and siege of Parma in 1523. He was known as one of the most illustrious captains of his day.

‘Nul s’y Frotte’ (none will touch them), is the motto of the Crequy family. The family had a castle at Fressin in the Pas de Calais which interestingly for this blog was almost destroyed by the English in 1522.

The Crequy coat of arms is a red wild cherry tree on a golden field. Jean de Crequy was one of the first knights in the order of the Golden Fleece.

If you have any further information on Antoine or indeed any of the French commanders during this period please get in touch.

On to the figures.

I've had this base in mind for a long time and wanted it to be a nod to Antoine being commander of Therouanne. I wanted to have him surveying the defences or speaking to his commanders so a slightly more informal setting was required.

I took a lot of inspiration from this scene from a tapestry depicting the events of the 1513 siege of Dijon. Here the commander of the town Louis de Tremoille speaks with the Swiss besiegers. Louis in the centre Note is flanked by other nobles and 2 guards wearing coats in his livery and bearing large badges of his wheel motif.

So I mixed the two ideas together to create a base of him speaking to one of the captains defending the town. He's flanked by a Landsknecht and 2 guards in his livery with one carrying his personal banner. To his left is another noble considering the news the captain is relaying.

For Antoine and the other noble I used two figures from Steel Fist, these are from a great set of 16c dismounted knights and really give a period feel to the base.

The captain wears older armour, this was a metal figure from the Perry Miniatures WOTR range with a headswap from the European Mercenaries plastic box.

For the guards in livery I sculpted skirts on to 2 Landsknechts from Wargames Foundry, I also added some hair to the figure with the halberd. I'm really pleased with how they look, i'll certainly do this conversion again as it's a great way to re-purpose the figures.

Note the small raisers on the bases, these are 28mm figures but they're somewhat shorter than the SF knights so I evened things out a bit so that the disparity isn't too great. 

I'm very pleased to be back painting again, an almost 4 month hiatus has not been welcome !

Have a great Christmas all.

All the best


Sunday, 29 September 2019

A few photographs of the collection

Landsknechts in French service

Just a quick hello, here are a selection of photographs of my collection from a recent game that I played in hosted by Michael Perry and friends. As ever it was a great weekend with good company, you can view the battle report on their Facebook page via this link

The games are large set pieces involving the collections of the participants. Michael is an excellent photographer and the blending work around the bases that he does with the images really makes a difference, they're works of art and really show off the painting.

Landsknecht skirmishing line 

Aided by some French allies

Landsknechts in French service begin their advance

Into the Tudor lines

Border Horse


Sir Edward Poynings

A confused scene, Tudor infantry hurry out of the way as heavy cavalry thunder in.

I've got 3 projects underway at present but unfortunately they're forlornly languishing on the painting desk. The work / life balance and family commitments have taken their toll of late. Hopefully the creative mojo will return soon.

All the best


Tuesday, 28 May 2019

French franc archer infantry

My focus has returned to my French army of 1513 with the creation of this unit of franc archers with polearms. They're all converted from a mix of Perry and Steel Fist miniatures along with a few extra bits of kit added from the plastic Warlord Landsknechts.

Franc archer infantry leave for the frontier

Franc archers, meaning free archers (in that their service exempted them from land tax) were locally raised territorial troops with an average age of around 32, they were something of a 'home guard' force.

They were originally created in 1448 as a standing force of regular infantry and the last notable occasion where they fought in any great number was at the Battle of Guinegate (a few miles from Therouanne) in 1479, after which a period of relative decline began. Sources get confusing at this point as they begin to get reorganised, suppressed and re-raised. To bring us up to date, after this relative hiatus 22000 were raised for frontier defence in May 1513, these were organised in 44 ensigns of 500 men each and stayed in being for 18 months. I'm convinced that the French defenders of Therouanne and some of the relief army must have been part of this decree.

Despite the name the armament of the franc archer in the early sixteenth century was very much reflective of the early renaissance; whereas previously they had been required to serve with brigandine, sallet,and predominantly bow and crossbow (though pike had been tried on the Swiss model in the late 1470's / 1480's) a decree of January 1522 required a levy of 24000 francs archers for campaigns in Italy, Guyenne and Picardy (the latter for a second invasion by Henry) to be equipped with , doublets, feathers, leather cape, shoes, corselets, mail gorgets, arm pieces, mail skirts and helmets. 2/3 were armed with pike and the rest were halberdiers, crossbowmen and arquebusiers. All were to serve in hoquetons (sleeveless coats) in the liveries of their captains and or towns / cities. They were paid month by month and stood down at the end of a campaign.

Franc archer halberdiers supported by crossbowmen, arquebusiers and ordonnance archers* the missile foot feature some livery coats, I think I may do the next unit all in livery coats with a captain as a nod to the above.

*confusing isn't it !ordonnance archers were the lightest combatant part of a cavalry lance, they began the 16c as mounted archers moving to lance armed medium cavalry from about 1515-25 on. If you'd like to see more of them I covered them in this blog post.

Based upon the equipment described up to 1490 and from 1522 (I have been unable to find anything for the 1513 muster) as well as descriptions of the skirmishing during the siege of Therouanne I have opted for a mid point for the French infantry in my collection to be 1/3 pike / polearms and the remainder missile armed. Here's the franc archer infantry in my army alongside some supporting field guns, some more missile foot are needed to even up the balance a bit.

It is also worth mentioning another staple of the French infantry; the adventurier. These were less disciplined, predominantly crossbow and arquebus armed infantry, the term adventurier meaning equally foot soldier and pillager.

These were more specifically raised for the Italian campaigns though Picardy was a recruiting region with recurring captains such as Bournonville, Sercus and Heilly becoming commonplace beginning a semi permanent formation soon referred to as the ‘bands of Picardy’ which would soon become known as the 'old bands of Picardy' during the reign of Francis I.

Various wargaming army lists seem to confuse the franc archer and adventurier both in terms of armament and ability; in the case of the former they tend to be deemed as ineffectual with their performance at Guinegate crystallising that notion; the battle was partly lost due to them turning their attention to Maximilian's baggage train but prior to this they defeated their opposite number of Burgundian and English archers, captured the Burgundian artillery and began firing into their flank with it - not bad going.

For my focus of interest the defenders of Therouanne are noted to have been tenacious, well led and determined. No doubt this has something to do with being besieged rather than any real test of open warfare but could this perhaps also reflect that Picardy was a frontier region with its franc archers having more experience than their comrades in other parts of France.

The principal inspiration for the figures in this unit came from my recent discovery of the illuminated manuscript 'Treatise on the art of war' by Berault Stuart, seigneur d'Aubigny.

Berault Stuart (note this painting is not from the book)

Berault Stuart 1452-1508 was a French soldier and later commander of the French royal bodyguard Garde Ecossaise. His military career includes leading the French mercenaries in the Lancastrian army at Bosworth and service in the early Italian wars at the battles of Fornovo and Seminara.

In 1508 he dictated his Treatise on the art of war, a brief practical discourse on warfare drawing upon contemporary works and his own military experience. In 1525 illuminated copies were created which include images of French and Swiss soldiers, here's a couple of the paintings from it;

French musicians and artillerymen are distinguishable by their coats and cloth caps

Here the French soldiers are firing the town and leading the livestock away

The main distinguishing feature of the French soldiers in this source are their cloth caps and coats of various colours and styles. This prompted me to review some more contemporary French sources for further inspiration;

From a c.1500 book of hours made for Henry VIII with paintings by a French artist. The figure wears a hocqueton - a sleeveless skirted coat. The 1522 decree required that all franc archers wear a hocqueton in the livery of their commander.

Detail from the traite d'guerre the men are wearing coats rather than hocquetons, note the difference in sleeves on each figure. It appears that these may be their own rather than livery coats as per the next example;

Detail from a tapestry depicting the 1513 siege of Dijon. In this scene Louis II de la Tremoille flanked by his personal guard wearing livery coats with his wheel badge on the breast is negotiating the surrender of the town to the Swiss. 

Detail from a series of paintings depicting Louis XII's invasion of Genoa in 1508 , the figure arming the knight wears a simple coat with puffed sleeves.

Falcon hunting scene showing various coats

With the art of war paintings as my primary source here's my interpretation in miniature;

They all wear coats of various styles, left to right the first figure wears a red and yellow short sleeved livery coat with the cross of St.Denis on the chest. This was converted from a marching Perry WOTR figure.

The second figure was also converted from a marching Perry WOTR figure in the same way but has a plain coat, slashed on the chest with puffed sleeves gathered above the elbow. Both of these were quite quick conversions. I really like the blackened sallet on this one.

For comparison here are some marching archers from the same range converted as Tudors in livery coats;

The third figure has a plain coat with voluminous sleeves slashed between elbow and wrist. This was converted from a Perry WOTR plastic figure with a metal Tudor head from the same range.

The fourth figure has sleeves puffed at the shoulder, this was also converted from a Perry plastic WOTR soldier.

The final figure has a coat with voluminous sleeves, this was converted using one of my Tudor dollies figures (available from steel fist miniatures) with the lower legs of a marching figure from the above mentioned Perry range and Tudor head.

These figures are accompanied by some soldiers in armour from the Perry Miniatures mercenaries set with minor conversions such as adding cloth caps, feathers and slashings at the knee. Here's two of them alongside a front view of 2 figures in coats one of which has a simple French field sign on the chest.

I added slashings at the knee and a bevor to the figure on the far right. If you want to try your hand at sculpting these were fairly easy additions to do. 

I wanted the armour to look a bit worn so I added a brown wash after the mid tone and highlighted the edges.

Here's the front view of the other figures in coats alongside a chap in a brigandine and puffed/slashed sleeves.

For the command group the two figures on the left are from Steel Fist Miniatures, each with converted Perry heads - the first one is a Swiss metal head which I added a wide brimmed cloth cap to and the second was made by adding a kettle helmet to one of the unarmoured heads in the mercenaries box. 

The banner is from Pete's Flags available direct from Pete via his blog

The unit commander is from the Perry mercenaries box, I also gave him a cloth cap and painted his armour with a bit more status and shine than his counterparts. The final figure has Swiss pike arms from Steel Fist Miniatures and converted chest and thigh armour. Of all the conversions I'm not 100% happy with this one as he has an odd gait but 11 out of 12 aint bad !

I took this opportunity and a rare day off to review my French infantry, first up here's a shot showing the evolution of both my sculpting and painting over the past few years. As my sculpting ability in particular got better I was more able to create figures much closer to the source material which previously seemed out of reach. 

The Picard pike on the left were the first figures I completed back in 2014 for the French army, for the most part they're a painting conversion of figures from the late 15c with some of the Perry Tudor heads and are intermingled with a few 16c figures, they look great as militia and can hold their own alongside the other later figures. If you're not keen on sculpting this would be the way to represent the French home raised infantry. Alternatively I think using some less flamboyant Swiss or Italian figures may work equally well.

In the centre are some mixed missile foot completed during 2015, a mix of figures in coats and doublets. On the right the latest additions in coats and armour. It really feels like things are coming together.

I hope you like them, I like the irregular look of the latest additions in their own coats and the difference that can be achieved from the Tudors using similar figures. To complete the French infantry I'll add some longbowmen in livery coats at some point. My army also desperately needs some commanders so there's lots of potential avenues for my current French focus to follow.

If you're interested you can get the art of war book via amazon but it's not that large and the paintings are a bit blurred. For the images search 'Berault Stuart d'Aubigny traite sur l'Art de la guerre'.

On a final note these were all painted using a magnification visor which has made a massive difference for me, they're much neater and were actually a bit quicker to paint than without it. 

Bye for now