Monday, 21 November 2016

Work In Progress; Tudor Pike

Whilst painting some French & Landsknechts I have been working upon the next batch of sculpting. I was keen to return my focus to the Tudors and decided to begin work upon a unit of English pikemen.

As far as I am aware this campaign saw the first mustering and armament of home recruited English Pike. The use of pike however was not unfamiliar to the early Tudors; Henry VII was served very well at Bosworth by mercenary pike 'well trained and drilled in the Swiss fashion' and indeed went on to face these adversaries at Stoke Field.

Henry VIII sent a contingent of Landsknecht pike as part of Dorset's 1512 Spanish expedition and in the preparation for the 1513 campaign he was at pains to present a fully equipped modern army. Within the preparations for war the total ratio of pikes to bills for the campaign was proposed at 50:40;

'4500 bills and marispikes English and Welsh and 5000 pykes of the Almaynes [Landsknechts]'

Whilst this included mercenary pike the composition was an unprecedented major effort at modernity of the army. Add the proposed 10'000 archers and the 50:50 missile to staff ratio reasonably mirrors that of the Wars of the Roses though the subtle differences are notable.

For the French campaign 1000 English pike were recorded as being part of the Kings ward within the contingents of the wealthy elite of the court;

'30 June 1513, the King's ward passing out of Calais [toward Therouanne] pikes of the Lord Lisle [Charles Brandon], 900; pikes of the Duke of Buckingham, 100; pikes of the Lord Burgany [Bergavenny], 100. "All along the baggage meddled (mixed) with the ordnance.'

1000 men is reasonable enough to depict and no small affair, it's also interesting to note that there were less Landsknecht Pike within the King's ward at that time (800). Also when it appeared that the ward may have been attacked by French cavalry on the approaches to Therouanne Henry dismounted and stood within the ranks of the Landsknechts for protection, nothing like hedging your bets !

I intend to have a 24 figure square of English Pike with an outer shell of armoured soldiers, later comment on this was that they should;

'have white corselets whiche must be always clene kepte for it is a bewtifull sight in the battaile and a gret terror to the enemyes' and also that these men 'so armed and placed be in more jeperdie than other men be.'

The armour was no doubt some of the latest munition 'almayn rivett' specifically ordered for this campaign as mentioned in a document noting payments for war, November 1512;

'For harness. To Lewez de Fava for 800 harness at 8s. each, August, 1st year. To Will. Gurre, "bregandymaker," for making clean and workmanship of certain harness. To Leonard Friscobald for 577 pairs of harness called Almayn ryvetts, at 11s. a pair.'

Each set or pair of Almayn rivet armour consisted of breastplate, possibly backplate, tassets (thigh defences) and movable arm splints to fit the wearer.

On to the figures.

I have started by putting together the armoured figures for the unit, I began by working on some fairly straightforward builds from the Perry plastics ranges but really wanted to depict the Almain Rivett armour. I wasn't quite ready to sculpt it, largely as the task was somewhat daunting for the number of figures that I want so I turned to seeing if I could make some press moulds of armour from existing figures which after several attempts yielded some good results.

This group represents what I hope to achieve with the unit, left to right;

1.) Figure with quilted jack, arm splints and press moulded breast plate and thigh defences (separate moulds). The mould came out quite well with these after quite a few attempts. I've yet to clean it up a bit as well as adding belts and probably a back plate.
2.) As with 1 though the mould isn't as good, I'll see if I can make it better with some sculpted additions I'm hoping it will look OK when painted. The head and visor are also (annoyingly difficult) press moulds with sculpted fittings.
3.) As with 1 and 2 though using a different breast plate.
4.) Straight assembly to represent older armour with sculpted cap and hair over an Ansar head.
5.) Unarmoured pikeman not quite finished but there for comparison, I'll have quite a few of these.

If I were ever to turn my attention to the Scots this would be how I'd represent the more well off professional soldiers among the front ranks no doubt with the following addition for Flodden;

I'm hoping to get this unit done in the New Year so lets hope they take well to painting.

Bye for now.



  1. They already look quite impressive! I´ll be back for the final results! :) Cheers!

  2. Very impressive indeed. You really do always manage to get the 'look' I expect to see (from what little I know).

    There seems to be some confusion over what is meant by 'Maris', 'Morris', or as we would say 'Moorish' pikes. As one of your examples mentions them and just plain 'pikes', I suspect those who believe they were 'long spears' of between 10-12 feet, rather than the 16-20'+ Low Countries-Swiss-German types, may not be far from the mark.

    However the pike shafts, however long they were, were apparently imported from Spain (possibly why 'Moorish' was used as an appellation) and elsewhere, so their size would be whatever was normal where they originated. 16' and 24' were mentioned regarding an order made by Bruge (or Ghent?) in 1477.

    Harry VIII is noted as a prodigious user and you are spot on regarding his dad's use of them, but they weren't exactly unknown in England prior to that either.

    Richard III apparently ordered 1,200 pikes via Maximilian in 1483, which were fulfilled by weapon makers in Malines. These were to be about 22' long. Edward IV had ordered 400 'Morispikes' in 1475 too. In 1481 the Calais Garrison had 144 'Morispikes' and 360 'pike shafts' (length not given) in store, along with the heads for them; compared to an approximately even number of bills and similar weapons.

    1. To further add to the fray morris pikes were also used by the navy and the same term is used when referring to pike armed French Mariners but annoyingly also some French infantry and mercenaries in their service. I wonder if some of it may just be down to whatever the writer referred to them as ?

    2. I'm inclined to say they were 'half-pikes' as they were called in the Navy in later times; a 'long thrusting spear' as we would say in wargamer speak.

      The Calais entry I mentioned refers to morispikes and pikes in the same entry (along with three different types of bill it doesn't elaborate on either *sigh*), so there must have been a difference of some sort.

    3. I wonder if that may have put the English at an immediate disadvantage against any continental foe. I've seen brown and black bills mentioned which was a reference to a coating I believe. Though with that and archer potentially meaning mounted and/or dismounted archer it's all great fun.

  3. What you did not like tudor-miniatures TAG?

    1. They're designed for the 1540's so a bit late and I like a challenge!

  4. Those press mouldings really transform the figures - I've never have thought that they could be 'dressed' with armour - groundbreaking methinks. Fantastic and transformational... inspiration to have a go myself perhaps.

  5. Fantastic looking work as always, the armour has come out really well.
    Best Iain