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


Thursday, 28 March 2019

Building project part 2 and some other bits

I've been finishing a few ongoing little projects so I thought I'd cover them all in one post. First up is another house build / kit conversion. 

This began life as a Dutch 2 storey house from Sarissa Precision which I thought could be a good basis to convert to a simple brick building, I used this 15c French house as inspiration for the windows in particular;

Using the kit as a basic shell saves time and as I've found with previous house builds the MDF seems to take the air drying clay quite well. To begin I established which windows I wanted to keep and which I would cover. 

In doing so I then decided I'd cut out the windows which were to go so that I'd then have some spares for another build, the hole that was left was then filled in with card. The main face lift was the front which required me to remove all of the windows and add two back in a central position.

To this I then applied a layer of PVA followed by a rolled out sheet of DAS air drying clay into which I cut out holes where the windows were - just add the whole thing and feel for the windows to cut out. I did a front and side, allowed to dry then repeat.

Next was the tedious bit, scoring the brickwork. I started with the quoins on the four corners, then the windows then finally the walls. Though tedious it requires a lot of concentration so for the more complex parts I measured and drew with a pencil first.

The roof tiles (Wills rounded tile sheets HO scale) were then glued on to the existing MDF roof of the kit. I've found with this and the last kit that I converted that there's a bit of an overhang at the back which looking at the photograph now I'll have to remember to trim off if I do it again.

Finally the painting; the whole building had a ochre undercoat followed by a wash of raw umber. The white bits were a blend of ochre and white which was then treated again with a thinner raw umber wash. The whole thing was then finished with a light dry brush and highlighting.

Overall I'm quite pleased with it, the roof overhang is a bit of a distraction but it's all part of the learning process I guess.

I decided to keep the doors at the side which works quite well, it's quite a useful little multi-purpose piece. The white finished stone gives it an air of being a more well to do home or perhaps an administrative or ecclesiastical building.

The last notion gave me the impetus to paint up these two chaps from Perry Miniatures;

Next up, a couple of battered markers for Lion Rampant. I put these together for a specific scenario which requires 2 prisoners on the run but they also look great as battered markers to show the disintegration of a unit following combat.

With the exception of the purses, dagger and one of the heads they're almost complete builds from the Perry Miniatures Ansar box which I trimmed down and used as dollies;

Both figures had loincloths which were cut away and filed down ready for the skirt to be sculpted on top. The arms are bare so I sculpted a shirt on one figure and doublet on the other. The purse and knife on one is from the Warlord Landsknechts set and the other is from an old Citadel Empire kit, it's a bit on the large side but fits OK.

Here they are running away from their unit, they look great don't they !

I think I'll definitely do a few more of these as little side projects to be getting on with.

Last but by no means least is a recommendation for you. I recently treated myself to one of these;

It's a Carson Pro magnifier deluxe. click on the link to see more pictures and a video.

I've been curious to get one of them for a while and of late I've had a bit of eye strain, I wear glasses and I'm not getting any younger so I got one. At £35 it's pretty reasonable and I must say it has really revolutionised my painting. The faces on all of the figures above were painted using it. You can flip up the lenses when you're not doing fine detail work, the LED light is great and it's just made fine work far more easier, faster and neater. 

I wish I'd got one sooner. The wife and daughter think it's hilarious - which it is, especially with massive eyes on the highest magnification lens, it's worth it just for the comedy value. Anyway, if you want to hone your fine work a bit I thoroughly recommend it.

All the best


Sunday, 17 March 2019

Sir Edward Poynings

My bias to the Tudor army continues with the addition of Sir Edward Poynings and other nobles.

This was somewhat influenced by a forthcoming game with Oli which will feature action during the 1511 siege of Venlo. He took a retinue of 500 men to France in the 1513 campaign so he also fits neatly into my army.

Poynings was something of a career soldier, born in 1459 he declared for the Lancastrian cause and was implicated in an attempted rebellion under Edward IV. He fled to Brittany to join Henry VII and returned with him where he would fight at Bosworth in 1485.

In 1492 Henry VII sent soldiers under Poynings to aid Maximilian quell a rebellion as the said rebels were fitting out ships to prey on English commerce. Poynings cleared the sea of the privateers and then assisted Maximilian's forces lay siege to their stronghold at Sluys. Later that year he served in Henry's little known and short lived invasion of France following which in 1493 Henry appointed him as Governor of Calais. His next military appointment was as Lord Deputy of Ireland where Henry sent him to repel Perkin Warbeck and his Irish supporters.

He was regularly employed in military commands and diplomatic missions by Henry VII and VIII. His most important diplomatic mission alongside Sir Richard Wingfield was the successful negotiation of the Holy League alliance in 1513. He died in 1521.

He certainly led a full life and there's a few ideas there for gaming various aspects of his military career.

As I mentioned the focus for this unit was the Venlo campaign. In 1511 Henry sent 1500 archers under Poynings' command to aid Margaret of Savoy against the Duke of Guelders. The English acquitted themselves well in this venture and a grateful Margaret issued the returning soldiers with coats of red, yellow, green and white combining the Tudor livery with her own - wouldn't that be cool to represent!

Over to the figures.

I considered creating a unit of archers with Poynings at their head but my army has no shortage of those so I chose to have him alongside other Tudor knights.

As with the rest of my collection I made a conscious effort to use figures in both up to date and earlier armour as this typical composition lingered on in England for much longer than in Europe with only the richest of nobles being able to afford the latest armour from the continent. This juxtaposition represents a snapshot of knights and their equipment in the development of the early Tudor army.

I wanted to see if Poynings was accompanied by any other nobles for the Venlo expedition but I couldn't find that much so I chose the aforementioned Sir Richard Wingfield which was a real challenge for the eyes;

However for further inspiration Oli found this reference in Hall's chronicle;

[Henry VIII] 'appointed Sir Edward Poynings, knight of the garter, a valiant captain and noble warrior to be the lieutenant and conducter of the said 1500 archers which accompanied with Sir Matthew Browne, Sir John Digby, Richard Wethrill and diverse tall gentlemen and yeomen well known and tried.'

I had Digby's heraldry so he was to be the second knight in a surcoat.

It was fun choosing the figures and getting the base just right, I'm really pleased with how the unit looks and works to the narrative.

Here are the figures in individual detail.

First up here's Poynings in the latest continental armour along with some hunting hounds. The figures are from Steel Fist Miniatures and were a joy to paint.

For the armour on all figures I used the armour palette from Wargames Foundry followed by a light wash of deep blue mid tone mixed with granite shade. When dry this was re-highlighted with the armour light tone which really sets it off with an almost polished finish.

Poynings is accompanied by two more nobles below; Sir John Digby on the left and Sir Richard Wingfield on the right. Both men were seasoned soldiers who also began their military careers on the battlefields of the Wars of the Roses.

Heraldic surcoats feature on tombs and church brasses into the 1540's, most feature the complex quartering of the Tudor age however finding that Digby's heraldry was almost plain in comparison was most welcome !

Both figures are from Perry Miniatures War of the Roses range.

To bring further colour to the unit I added two banner bearers; Poynings on the left and England / St George on the right. Both Perry Miniatures.

Banners are from Pete's Flags, they really are excellent works of art in their own right. You can get in touch via his blog and/or find his range on Ebay.

Last but not least is a trumpeter of the Royal Household. This is a conversion by sculpting a base coat over the body of a Warlord Landsknecht with the arms from the Perry WOTR set and an Ansar head. The coat was sculpted.

I painted this figure last year and this unit was a great opportunity to put it to use.

It's been fun putting this unit together with so much colour, armour and heraldry. I'm presently working on another building which will hopefully be done soon. It's been quite a creative few weeks for me.

Oli will no doubt be putting more information about the siege of Venlo on his blog after our game at the end of the month so keep an eye out for that, I'm certainly looking forward to it.

All the best