Thursday 7 March 2024

Filthy Rebels !

The painting desk is back in business !

I recently moved home and this unit s the first from the new set up, I now also have a gaming space too so hopefully the creative output shall increase.

The next addition to the collection is a unit of Tudor rebels, very much inspired by the latest and i'm told, expanding range of German Peasants Wars figures from Steel fist miniatures.

Whilst these were commissioned using contemporary woodcuts and drawings of german peasants as a primary source I felt with a tiny bit of tweaking that they could be suitable for use as English peasants.

I particularly considered the packs of standing figures to be ripe for a first attempt at conversion which was simply to add longbows and quivers / arrows along with a couple of head swaps from the Perry miniatures wars of the roses bow and bill set as well as some of their Tudor heads.

These were simple but effective conversions, I like the nonchalant poses, lots of these appear in conversation.

When it came to painting I was particularly keen to ensure these figures looked right and invested in a copy of The Typical Tudor, a recent release by The Tudor Tailor. This is a deep dive into contemporary sources from wills, to woodcuts, carvings, paintings and surviving items to present a study of what ordinary tudor people wore. Of particular note were some excellent reconstructions with detailed photographs as well as pie charts detailing the colour and type of fabrics used which I found to be fascinating. In addition there is also The Kings Servants which though smaller offers a similar dive into the clothing of Henry VII's early court. I heartily recommend these books and know I will return them regularly.

It was easy to just go for a muted palette but I think these show quite a bit of variety in various tones of wool and cloth,  they were relatively quick to paint and the faces in particular really stand out.

If you're looking for some more palette inspiration I also recommend looking at the detailed paintings of Breugel which depict various aspects of country life in the mid sixteenth century.

Peasant Dance, 1568, Pieter Breugel the Elder

Banners presented something of a challenge. For this command I was loosely basing them around the Cornish rebellions of 1497. It is recorded that the rebels carried religious banners, perhaps specially made but equally likely to have been taken from supporting churches. Whilst none survive from this period (though the 5 wounds of Christ is a banner carried in later rebellions) I wanted to try and find some surviving pieces as a reference point.

These came in the form of wood carved church bench ends, while on holiday in Cornwall I came across some great examples in the church of the holy trinity in St Austell, dated to around 1480;

I thought these would make great simple banners and sought out more information. I landed upon this in depth study by Ed Fox. Incidentally who is also author of The Commotion Time which I recommend for a great read of the Cornish Rebellion of 1549. There is also a re-enactment group of the same name with an active Facebook group which is very much worth a look. To quote from the above study;

'Bench ends give us a truly unique insight into the lives of the rural people who lived in the West half a millennium ago. Each church commissioned its own bench ends to be carved and in many places we must assume by their nature that the parishioners themselves had some input on the designs chosen. In many cases there are mere decorative patterns or tracery, but other designs naturally include a lot of religious symbolism and images of saints which can tell us about how they viewed religion, or more secular designs representing local trades, people, and popular stories. As a collection of relics bench ends are the most incredible window into the lives of the commoners of Tudor England.'

E.T.Fox, Tudor bench ends of the west country.

Using two examples from the bench ends in St Austell (which are typical across the West Country) I came up with these interpretations. 

The crowned 'M' represents St Mary the Virgin. I wanted this to look like a processional / service banner taken straight from a church.

The hammer and tongs are symbols of the passion though i thought they may also be dually emblematic of the Cornish miners to whom rebelled at raised taxes and the crown stopping the operation of its tin mining industry. I wanted this to look more like a standard banner perhaps made for the march on London.

Note, the white cross of St Piran on a black field was not a symbol of the Cornish rebels nor indeed Cornwall. The first use of this dates from 1838. 

The command group with drummer, banner bearers, a friar and bodyguard. All Steelfist miniatures with the exception of the friar which is from Perry miniatures.

Here's the unit based up and ready to go;

These mix in well with my existing units of unliveried bill and bow (below), you can read about these conversions here.

I enjoyed working on these figures and look forward to doing some more.

It's great to be back in a creative space again.

More figures are on the workbench and coming up very soon.

All the best



Saturday 25 November 2023

Landsknecht Pike Block

This project has been in my mind for quite a while and stayed kicked firmly into the long grass for fear of its enormity but I finally took the plunge to re-base my standing Landsknecht Pike.

The first reason was one of gaming versatility, the pike I had were based on 120x60mm diorama type bases which made for great little vignettes but committed a lot of figures to one base and limited their use as either Imperial or in French service, here's a couple of images from the archive;

Landsknechts in French service, painted 2016

Imperial Landsknechts, painted 2013

I reasoned that if I split the command from the pike figures I could field a large pike unit with a choice of interchangeable commands and I also wanted to have the pike as densely packed as I could whilst not losing their individual character and detail. 

This would require me to paint some more figures and once that ball started rolling I just kept on going so I actually ended up with more figures than I intended which has made for an even bigger pike block potential.

Here's some photographs of the latest painting prior to basing;

Figures are predominantly Wargames Foundry with a couple of Warlord figures and also the additional plumes are from Steel Fist Miniatures.

These were all painted using contemporary sources, in particular The First Book of Fashion by Matthaeus & Veit Konrad Schwarz is an absolute must have. In this father and son catalogue their outfits in a series of painted drawings which log the changes in fashion from 1496-1561. I cannot recommend it enough if you want to gain an understanding of the Landsknecht dress.

In painting these figures I used Citadel contrast paints as washes to achieve really deep vibrant colour, the process is as follows;

  • black undercoat
  • shade tones painted, I use Foundry's triad pots (shade, mid, highlight)
  • armour wash where relevant
  • flesh wash (foundry scarlet shade, foundry bay brown shade, contrast gulliman flesh, water)
  • contrast wash applied to primary colour, thinned for tonal variation
  • wash applied to everything else ( a generic brown wash of a mix of contrast skeleton horde, foundry bay brown and a little water)
  • shade tones re-applied as a mid tone
  • actual mid tone
  • highlight
  • extra highlight
This takes a little more time, especially with stripes, probably coming in at 3-4hrs per figure but I'd say these are the best Landsknechts I've painted.

Then the tense process of removing figures from bases, fixing any damage that you might do in the process - re-gluing pikes in the main. this took a day.

Then sorting the figures into composition and re-basing on 60x60mm square bases, 9 figures to a base for the pikemen and 6 figures to a base for command. - I found putting the newest figures in the front ranks gained the most pleasing arrangement.

Here's the result, neat, colourful ranks of pike with interchangeable command. I'll probably do a further command base for Imperial and French whilst I still have the Landsknecht enthusiasm.

Landsknechts with Imperial command bases

Landsknechts with Swiss / French command bases

In addition to splitting them between commands I can also group all the figures into one allegiance, here's a force of Imperial Landsknecht pike with arquebusiers in support;

And finally, the real end goal I've been striving for, a dense pike square with the front ranks preparing to charge or receive the enemy, 160 figures in all spanning 22 years from the oldest to newest painted figure - quite an undertaking !

Imperial Landsknecht pike square

Detail of the standing bases, packed in deep ranks but still showing off individual character

Close up of the same square with French Flags

I'm not quite done here, as I mentioned i'll do a couple more command bases, possibly some further bases of supporting arquebusiers or perhaps work on a marching column.

You can never have too many Landsknechts !

All the best



Saturday 13 May 2023

Landsknecht Pike

Well, it's been a while hasn't it !

Life has been rather busy and unpredictable for a while and unfortunately in my case the hobby is often the first casualty though equally when I return to it it's a comforting sign of things getting back to normal.

All is well and i'm very happy to be presenting another unit.

What better unit to reinvigorate the collection than some colourful Landsknechts !

I like to return to Landsknechts from time to time and especially so if I feel my painting style has improved or changed somewhat so I've quietly had this little unit very slowly being worked upon over the last year or so - yes i did say very slowly.

This unit with pike at the 45 will complement my existing pike though equally can be used as a unit in its own right as in fact I have done only yesterday in a game.

The unit consists of 36 figures with a mix of figures from Steelfist miniatures, Wargames Foundry and Warlord. With the exception of a couple of head swaps all were painted straight out of the packs and assembled with 100mm pikes available from Steelfist Miniatures.

Here they are prior to basing;

All were painted using Wargames Foundry Paints and thinned Citadel Colour contrast paints mixed with Foundry paints as washes which achieved some really vibrant results that I was very pleased with. 

Each figure is based upon a contemporary source, most notably borrowing from the magnificent coloured drawings in The First Book of Fashion from the collection of  Matthaus Schwarz.

Based up and ready for action, the bases are 60x40mm available from Warbases

I will at some point add some command to go with them.

Here you can see how they fit in with my existing collection of Imperial pike, I've wanted this missing link from pikes upright to pikes levelled for quite a while and seeing them together was a great moment.

The whole block of Pike, 120 figures in all, the oldest figure in the unit was painted in 2001 

Arquebusiers in support 

Looking at the whole unit together some of the older bases need cleaning up a bit and I may (gasp) re-base some of the standing figures to pull the command out on separate bases that way I can field a large Landsknecht or Swiss block with their commands.

If I awake with this madness still in my mind i'll no doubt do a few more standing figures just to marry all of my styles together, and possibly add some newer flags too. We shall see.

Bye For Now :)


Friday 17 June 2022

Early Tudor Mounted Archers, updated June 2022

This unit has been a long time coming. When the Perry Miniatures Light Cavalry set was released I had these in mind but at that time I was working on my collection of French cavalry so the first attempt at conversion was some ordonnance archers to add to the Lance I was working upon. You can read more about that and enjoy some rather nice pictures here.

That was back in 2017, it's been interesting to see how my sculpting has developed from there, there's definitely a bit more life in these I think. Here's how I put this unit together:

Stage one, sculpting and assembly.

The unit was built from parts primarily from the Perry Miniatures Light Cavalry 1450-1500 plastic set along with some of their early Tudor Heads and some of the bucklers from the Bow and Bill set.

To begin, detail from the belt down to the knee on each rider is scraped away to make room for the coat. If you don't do this the coat will look really voluminous. I then glue the rider on to a completed horse minus the head as it gets in the way while working on it. This is so you have something to push against whilst sculpting and more importantly so the coat can sit naturally. 

If you're confident you can pretty much do all of the coat in one sitting, you just need to be really careful not to touch the green stuff on one side while working on the other - hold the horse rather than the rider. I did side one, then the front of the coat, then side two, leave to dry. Add the various accessories then do the straps and the fastening on the coat breast. For the straps, roll out a long thin sausage of green stuff and leave it for a bit then cut and apply from the bow across the chest or over the shoulder, flattening/shaping thereafter.

Here's a figure fully completed and ready to be painted;

note the fastening on the chest

glue the bow on first then the arrow bag.

Here are some more examples of the completed figures prior to painting;

the purse is from the Warlord Landsknecht box, this was gently pushed into the completed coat while the green stuff was curing.

The archers have a mix of livery coats with short and long sleeves, the latter require less work as you can see here.

Gently push the sword on to the coat while it is curing so it sits more naturally.

Lots of kit on this chap ! The arms are from the Perry Mercenaries command sprue, the right hand had a sword which was carefully trimmed away

Stage two, painting

With these essentially now being one piece figures there were a couple of challenges to the painting. I found it easier to paint the shade tones on the horse and rider first, apply the respective washes (more on that below) then paint the horse first and rider second. For the horses it really helps to have a good photographic reference source for the colours. Mine is The Ultimate Horse by Elwyn Hartley Edwards, it's a good hardback with a lot of photographs and presently going rather cheap on Amazon. Here's a few that I photographed prior to basing:

I really like the way the skirt of the jacket sits on this figure, it came out nicely to a lick of paint. The horse was painted in Foundry Buff Leather, shade then washed with a brown mix of Foundry Bay brown shade, Citadel contrast skeleton horde and a bit of water. The rider was painted in shade tones and washed at this stage also. When dry I re-applied the Buff leather shade, mid and highlight to the horse then washed a blue/grey mix (Foundry British blue grey shade, Granite shade, tiny bit of black) on the legs, rump and nose. I added water to some parts to thin it and the darker parts were left, use the brush to add and lift water off at this stage to create a tonal effect. While the wash was still wet i added spots of buff leather highlight to represent dapples. When dry I re-highlighted some areas on the head and socks then painted the tack and brass fittings.

The flag is Pete's Flags, I asked for a sheet of St George banners and streamers of varying dimensions and Pete kindly obliged. The Horse was painted using Wargames Foundry Tan, shade mid and highlight. The whole horse was painted in the shade tone then washed with a mid-brown mix of Foundry Bay brown shade, Citadel contrast Cygor Brown and Technical Medium. When dry the shade mid and highlight were re-applied.

This chap is carrying a lot of kit which came out nicely

I used a Red Kite feather as a reference to paint the feather in the cap

This figure has a simpler white coat without the green fringe

I think another reason for the wait on this unit is that to do it properly they really need a dismounted version as well as some horse holders which i'm sure we shall see in due course. In the interim the certainly make for an impressive unit. As I predominately game skirmishes I'm sure they'll get a lot of use as well.

Initially I decided to give the unit a simple banner of St. George for versatility and as there were two worthy candidates for the leader that I couldn't decide between. 

Both commanded a body of mounted archers in 1513 and details of these actions survive to show how they were used in a similar fashion of ambush in the Scots and French campaigns of 1513. Both of these are yet to be gamed so there's still a chance that I may well choose to add these commanders to the unit.

First up is Sir William Bulmer  (1465-1531)

Sir William Bulmer was descended from a long-established Yorkshire family, he earned his knighthood in the Earl of Surrey’s Scottish campaign of 1497. Sixteen years later Thomas Ruthall, bishop of Durham, singled him out for praise after his part in the ill raid and Flodden. Thereafter he was increasingly employed both by Ruthall and his successor Wolsey, and by the crown, as a soldier and administrator. He also served as one of three knights entrusted with the King’s security at the Field of Cloth of Gold.

I'm not 100% on the heraldry above, this features in two Flodden books and some flags i've seen but there could be possible alternatives.

For my particular interest on this occasion it is Bulmer's command of a body of Mounted Archers in the summer of 1513 that takes my attention;

Bulmer was ordered by Surrey on 1 July 1513 to take a force of 200 mounted archers to watch the border.

In early August  Alexander Lord Home gathered a force of some 7000 of his Scots borderers to carry out a raid into Northumberland which proved very successful and a source of much plunder for his men.  Bulmer was not able to prevent this raid but used his numerically inferior force to lie in ambush at Millfield on the expected route of return.

After a successful foray, Home was returning with substantial booty when, on 13th August 1513, he was ambushed by Bulmer's archers who had formed up either side of the road to enfilade Home's force as he passed through. According to Hall, the archers 'shot so wholly together' that they  killed some 500-600 Scots in the opening arrow storm, a panic and flight ensued as the raiders scattered for cover with Bulmer's men in pursuit, no doubt all the better for being able to mount up. The archers took 400 prisoners including Home's standard bearer and put the rest to flight.  The English recovered all the booty taken and Home’s foray became known as the ‘Ill Raid’.


In June 2022 The aforementioned 'ill raid' was gamed and I couldn't resist having Bulmer.

There is no effigy that I am aware of so Bulmer's command is at best guesswork. I opted for him still wearing a surcoat and earlier armour as was common for lesser nobility.

His banner bearer is straight from the Perry Miniatures border horse command set and has had minimal conversion, i had to file away some of the existing saddle and add an arrow bag.

The banner was painted free hand, I like the slight variation as would be the same for the real item.

As I was adding Bulmer's command I also created another base of archers to keep the numbers up so I can now field two units of mounted archers. (6 bases, 12 figures in total). 

Our next candidate takes us to France:

Sir John Giffard (c. 1465-1556), of Chillington in Staffordshire was a soldier, courtier and member of  Parliament. 

Giffard's military career saw him in the King's army in the 1513 Invasion of France, a member of the King's bodyguard at the Field of Cloth of Gold, he may also have served in the invasion of 1523 and was sent to quell the rebels during the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536. A typical career soldier and from what I've found rather skilled with the Longbow. 

In 1513, aged 48 he was the King's standard bearer as his ward rode out of Calais to join the army besieging Therouanne and would distinguish himself playing a key part commanding a troop of mounted archers in the Battle of the Spurs . He was Knighted later in the campaign at Tournai.

Halls Chronicle recounts the opening phases of the Battle of the Spurs after scouts had reported that a body of French Gendarmes were approaching ;

'Then  euery man  prepared  hym  selfe  to  battayle  resortynge  to  the  standarde,  the  horsemen  marched  be- fore the  footmen  by  the  space  of  a  myle,  still  came  curroures  berynge  tydynges  that  the Frenche  armye  approched.  

The  kynge  bad  sette  forwarde  and  to  auaunce  hys  banner  in name  of  God and  Sainct  George.  The  Almaynes  seynge  this  (to  what  purpose  it  was  not knowen)  sodainly  embatteled  them  selfes  on  the  left  hande  of  the  kyng  and  left  the  brest  or fronte  of  the  kyngs  battayle  bare.  As  the  kyng  was  thus  marchyng  forwarde  towarde  the battaile,  to  him  came  the  Emperour  Maximilian  with.  30  men  of  armes  he  and  all  his companye  armed  in  on  sute  with  redde  crosses:  then  by  the  counsayll  of  the  Emperour  the kynge  caused  cei  taine  peces  of  small  ordinaunce  to  be  laied  on  the  toppe  of  a  long  hill  or banke  for  the  out  skowerers:  thus  the  kynges  horsemen  and  a  fewe  archers  on  horsebacke marched  forwarde.  The  kyng  woulde  fayne  haue  been  afore  with  the  horsmen,  but  his counsayll  pcrswaded  him  the  contrary,  and  so  he  taried  with  the  footmen  accompanied  with themperour.'

Maximilian advised Henry to send small pieces of field artillery along with some mounted archers ahead to take a ridge in the path of the French.

'The  Frenchmen  came  on  in.  iii.  ranges,  36.  mens  thickenes  &  well  they  perceiued  the kynges  battayle  of  footmen  marching  forward:  the  erle  of  Essex  capitayne  of  the  hors- men, and  sir  Iho  Peche  with  the  kynges  horsmen  and  the  Burgonyons  to  the  nomber  of  a 600.  stode  with  banner  displayed  in  a  valey.'  

400 English & Burgundian Horsemen alongside 100 mounted archers commanded by Gifford advance to the top of the hill to take first sight of the advancing French;

'The  lorde  Walonne  and  the  lord  Ligny  with bastarde  Emerv  and  there  bende  to  the  nomber  of.  400.  horsmen  seuered  them  selfes  and stode  a  syde  from  the  Englishmen  with banner  displayed  remoued  vp  to  the  toppe  of  the  hill,  and  there  they  mett  with  sir  Ihon  Gyl- forde  a.  100.  talle  archers  on  horsebacke,  which  had  askryed  the  Frenchemcn.' 

The Burgundian and English horse make themselves known to the French while the archers dismount using a hedge as cover;

'Now  on  the topp  of  the  hill  was  afayre  plaine  of  good  groundc,  on  the  left  hand  a  lowe  wodde,  and  on the  right  hand  a  falo\ve  felde.  The  lord  Walonne  and  the  Burgonions  kept  them  a  loofe, thenappered  in  sight  the  Frenchmen  with  banners  and  standardes  displaied.  Then  came  to thecapitaynes.  of  Thenglishmen  of  armes,  an  English  officer  of  armcs  called  Clarenseux  and sayde,  in  Gods  name  sett  forward,  for  the  victorie  is  yours  for  I  see  by  them,  they  will  not abide,  and  I  will  go  with  you  in  my  coate  of  armes.  Then  the  horsmen  set  forward,  and the  archers  alighted  and  wore  set  in  order  by  an  hedge  all  a  long  a  village  side  culled  Bornye [Bomy]:'

The French horse take the bait and advance into a volley from the archers followed swiftly by a charge from the English horse;

'the  Frenchmen  came  on  with  33  standardes  displayed,  and  the  archers  shotle  a  pace  and galled  their  horses,  and  the  English  speres  set  on  freshly,  cryegsainct  George,  &  fought  va- liantly with  the  Frenchmen  and  threw  downe  their  standards,  the  dust  was  great  and  the crye  more,  but  sodainly  the  Frenchmen  shocked  to  their  standards  and  fledde,  and  threw away  there  speres,  swerdes,  and  mascs  and  cut  of  the  bardes  of  their  horses  to  ronne  the lighter,  when  the  hinder  parte  saw  the  former  fly,  they  fled  aiso,  but  the  soner  for  one cause  which  was  this.'

Having visited the battlefield, the path of the French advance is rolling fields, the French horse approached down a gentle slope seeing the English /Burgundian Horse at the other side but it is unlikely they would have immediately seen the light artillery nor archers thus the first volley would have come as an unpleasant surprise and softened the charge immediately prior to the English/Burgundian counter-charge.

I found Giffard's coat of arms (above) and also his standard which seems almost perfect in his role as commander of a troop of mounted archers;

However, upon further reading I found that Giffard was not granted this standard until 1523, this and the family crest both relate to an incident involving a Panther which had escaped from his menagerie of exotic animals at Chillington Hall.

The Panther had escaped from its cage into the Forest of Brewood.  Sir John and his son Thomas took their longbows and went in search of it, finally catching up with it about to pounce on a woman and child. Sir John took his longbow and  as he shot, it was his son shouted “Prenez haleine, tirez fort”, Take breath, pull strong.

A waymarker still stands at the lodge of Chillington Hall marking the supposed spot of the incident.

From this incident the first of the family's two crests were granted.  The first, granted in 1513 no doubt at the start of Giffard's interest in the Panther, is a; 

Panthers head couped full-faced spotted various with flames issueing from his mouth”.  

The second granted in 1523, is a; "demi-archer, bearded and couped at the knees from his middle, a short coat, paly argend and gule, at his middle a quiver or arrows or in his hands a bow and arrow, drawn to the head ” with the motto “Prenez haleine, tirez fort”.

The inherent dangers of exotic animals immortalised in heraldry !

*  *  *  *  *

I predominantly game with a bespoke set of rules based upon Lion Rampant, here's the unit profile and special rules for Mounted Archers:


Mounted Archers





Attack Value




Defence Value




Shoot Value / Range

5+ / 12”



Maximum movement




Special Rules


Models per unit: 6

Special Rules, Mounted Archers & Mounted Arquebusiers

Movement; the unit can make a single mount or dismount at the start or end of a movement phase and must dismount to fire. A unit cannot mount, move and dismount and must mount to move.

Evade, upon a successful roll of 7+ the unit may perform an evade action when charged with a -1 shoot value and moves a half move as cavalry. This represents the unit firing then quickly mounting to escape.

(Arquebusiers) Shot: Unless in cover all units count as -1 Armour against Shooting by this unit in half range or less.

*  *  *  *  *

Something of a bumper post for you there, I hope it was an interesting read and I look forward to seeing more of this unit and its future exploits on the battlefield.

I'm not sure what will be next as i'll be having a bit of a festive hiatus so it'll be 2022 which shall herald the next unit for the collection. If you can't wait that long to see what I get up to I have a Facebook group for the blog by the name of Army Royal, all are welcome to share and chat all things Tudor.

Bye for now and all the best to you and yours