Saturday, 10 February 2018

Archers of the Dorset retinue and a brief study of early Tudor livery coats

My first project of the year has been to complete my existing retinue of the Marquis of Dorset by adding some supporting archers.

You can review the creation of Dorset's retinue in the original blog posting here

I completed the bill for this retinue back in 2016, this was the first unit I created after figuring out how to convert and sculpt coats on to the Perry WOTR plastics so it's been interesting to compare the new figures to the old. I've certainly got better at the sleeves and hair and moreover creating a production line and reducing waste in the green stuff as well as a couple of other details which I shall explore below.

The bases comprise 10 figures as follows;

3 converted using my dollies
2 converted with gambesons showing
5 fully converted figures in coats

This has proven to be a good formula to maximise variation and to push my abilities. There are 2 character figures of which I am particularly proud and also took the time to take some photographs so hopefully you'll be able to better appreciate how they were put together.

Rather than just having a base of archers doing what archers do I was keen to create something of a mini vignette within one of the bases and this chap was the basis for that. Perhaps he's shouting something to a nearby friendly unit or possibly abuse at the enemy.

To achieve this pose I used a trumpeter arm from the WOTR set along with one of the expressive heads from the Ansar set. I mention it each time but this set has really been instrumental in achieving variety and life in my collection, particularly as it features a considerable proportion in soft caps for which the heads make for easy conversion.

I also wanted to have the coat open for further interest as well as a quiver. I made the quiver first using the arrows from the WOTR set as a base. After this I then sculpted the coat and pushed the quiver into it whilst it was drying, finally I then sculpted the girdle which attaches it to the belt. 

At this stage I decided the figure was most definitely shouting abuse and required a friend to help him.

This was a bit harder than I thought to create, the gesturing arm is from the WOTR set but it was too high and needed to be cut down and re-modelled to get the right look, after some practise I decided the fingers needed to be at or slightly higher than the eye-line, this hobby has some interesting avenues ! To achieve this after a lot of failed attempts at kit bashing various arms and parts thereof I eventually went with cutting the hand off and modelling the rest of the arm from scratch.

Note, I know this gesture is dubiously associated with archers taunting the French. However if you're as interested in researching historical hand gestures as I was you'll find it's nonetheless still offensive as a variant of giving the finger so it's win win however you look at it.

As a vignette they work rather well together and after basing they really made the unit;

The rest of the figures were similarly modelled in coats though much less complex especially for those which utilised one of the dollies as a base;

In painting the figures aside the uniform coats I added elements of Dorset's livery of Mulberry and white to the clothing and quivers of some but not all of the figures, altogether they really complement the original unit.

With all this talk of coats I thought I'd add a couple of interesting historical details on that subject. Thanks to the inheritance of a full war chest this army was perhaps the finest Henry put into the field throughout his reign and yes they really were almost entirely in uniform.

First up here we have an account by a Venetian Ambassador commenting on 9 April 1513 on the fleet leaving England;

"69 ships sailed out of the Thames in Holy week, 10 or 12 of 300 to 1000 tonnes. 10 others were in Southampton. Besides, 6 rowbarges, bettwe for landing than galleys. 16,000 soldiers and 32,000 mariners. Captains, pilots, soldiers and mariners have jackets and coats of white and green."

Secondly many thanks to Nigel for sending me this wonderful German account of Henry VIII's meeting with Maximilian on 14th August 1513:

"He had not many mounted men, but had his footguards or halberdiers with him, of whom about 300 all clad in one colour ran with him on foot. [From a tower the King showed the Emperor] what belonged to the town (the town of Therouanne and state of the siege). Whilst both lords were on the tower the King had placed all his people who were in camp in lines everywhere three or four deep. He conducted the Emperor through to inspect this. They are really big strong men having a captain to every hundred, and their pennon on a long spear as our horsemen carry them. It is carried with both hands in front against the breast. Some have English bows, some crossbows, certain of them maces with long handles and certain of them long spears; and almost all are clad in long white coats edged with green cloth and wear breast plates, and steel caps on their heads. For their field music they have a fluteplayer (schalm) and a bagpiper (sackpfeiffer) who play together and certain of them a trumpet."

Lots in there to think of, not least the bagpipes !

Lastly the main sources in English referencing coats and other items are the letters and papers mentioning the cost of such items, here they are featuring in the lead up to the anticipated Scottish incursion;

‘Paid for wages, coats, and conduct money for the retinue of the Earl of Surrey, for one month, beginning 20 Aug. 4 Hen. VIII.; viz. for 500 coats of white and green at 4s. each; to Lord Surrey, for himself 5l. a day; to Lord Barnes, marshal of the Army, 6s. 8d. a day; 10 petty captains 2s. each a day; 22 demi-lances, 9d. each a day; one spear 18d. a day; 162 archers 8d. each a day; 2 surgeons 8d. each a day; 1 trumpet 16d. a day. Wages &c. for the treasurer of the wars and 15 men of his retinue; viz., a coat of white and green for the treasurer, 4s.; wages of the treasurer at 6s. 8d. a day, for 42 days from 5 Aug. to 17 Sept.; a coat of white and green for Thomas Warton, clerk of the wars, 4s.; his wages at 2s. a day for 40 days; for coats of white and green, for 13 soldiers at 4s. a coat; their wages at 8d. a day. To Wm. Butteler, sergeant-of-arms, for coats of white and green for himself and 2 soldiers; his wages at 2s. a day; his 2 soldiers at 8d. a day’

Note that these are for soldiers in Royal Livery being part of Surrey’s contingent then thereafter you have coats for some men of office and a few others. Uniforms were not provided for the rest of the Northern army so livery badges and in some cases (Stanley) livery coats were used though I suspect some may still have worn white for identification.

As for the French campaign here is a log of 1514 recording the return of arms and equipment from various sources following the French campaign;

‘11 June, 7,350 bowstrings, 1,900 stakes. Of Sir Sampson Norton, 28 July, 120 half-barrels of gunpowder, 100 gross of bowstrings, 2,000 iron and lead shot, 100 ditto, 500 marespikes (at different times) 3,691 ditto, 1,000 bills. Of Thos. Hart, 5 May, 21 lasts 6 barrels of gunpowder. Of Lord Lisley, by John Gelston, 10 June 5 Hen. VIII., 51 sheaves of arrows, 668 bills. From the customer of Pole, by order of the Bp. of Winchester, 3 brass guns, 1 iron gun. From Will. Bussheler, 4 April, 170 pair of harness and 12 cables. From John Hode, 12 April, 340 harness, 32 cables. Of John Blewbery, 9 Aug., coats of white and green cloth 638, white and green chamlet 13, white and green satin 4, damask’

There’s quite a lot to take from that but note the numbers and the different cloth used for the coats, you have the soldiers then the better fabric for the officers.

This time, same year but recording the navy;

‘Mr. Arthur Plantagenet for the Nicholas of Hampton and Ant. Poyntz for 3 Bristol ships. Coats, white and green, 80 to the Michell Compton, and 558 (including 1 of damask, 4 satin and 13 chamlet)’

I'm now about halfway in modernising the infantry via conversion;

NB that's not all of them, as I write I'm looking up at another cannon and some English Pike....oops

Next up could be a number of things as I have a few concurrent projects, perhaps a brief face tutorial as I've had a few requests for that, watch this space.

All the best



  1. Beautiful toys always.
    I am always impressed by your solid dedication to this really shows in the constant improving quality of the miniatures.

    All the best. Aly

    1. Thanks Aly, encouragement from people such as your good self has really helped that come on leaps and bounds

  2. A great post and a splendid job as usual Stuart, wonderful looking archers!

  3. Amazing conversions, Stuart. They look marvelous.

  4. As usual Stuart brilliant stuff!

    Allan Davy

  5. Replies
    1. I agree with L'empereur.. your faces are superb, and the figures as a whole are works of art, pure and simple..

  6. Your modeling and painting are superb, Stuart. I enjoy following your project.

  7. Good job Stuart... Wonderful job !

    1. Thanks Stephane, Good to hear from you mon ami !

  8. That’s some tremendous work again Stuart! Painting and conversion is top drawer stuff.

  9. Fantastic work and a very interesting post; thanks.

  10. that is one beautiful looking force. Can you suggest any good books or doc's to learn more about this campaign and era?

    1. I know I asked before along time ago, but how long would these coats be in fashion? They should work for Flodden if not mistaken. Seeing as how that was in 1513.

    2. Thank You. Army Royal by Cruickshank, An Ill raid for the Englishmen by Ellis Gruffudd, Flodden by Nial Barr, The Anglo Scots Wars by Gervaise Phillips and Henry VIII’s military revolution...that should keep you busy for a while !

    3. The coats would definitely be relevant for Flodden though to a lesser extent as not all were in uniform. In this style they were in use to the late 1520’s after which they get shorter and head toward the style of the 1540’s which you can see in the Cowdray House engravings of the 1544 Boulougne campaign

    4. Thanks! I will get to work tracking some of those titles down.

    5. Oh and one last question, around what time did those coats come into style? Trying to figure the earliest I can field them.

    6. There are 2 early mentions referring to the Yeomen of the Guard in Coats of this fashion, 1497 & 1501, whether the regulars did is guesswork, A’s is when the transition from livery tabard to coat took place

    7. I would imagine that the regulars would only look so uniform, if their lords and captions had the time and money to order costs.
      So most likely a towns post conflict guard would also be well represented.
      On a side note, I was reading a little bit about Richard Dr la Pole and his 1514 army might make for an interesting "what if campaign" if peace was not declared between England and France in 1514.

    8. Most definitely, a 1514 French backed invasion with De La Pole at the head of a Landsknecht army could have caused some serious problems for Henry. The Last white rose is a good book which compiles all of the rebellions in Henry’s reign

    9. Sorry for the last post being disjointed. My phone autocorrected the hell out of it.
      But on the bright side another book to add to the list. ha
      I am thinking at the end of the month I might put in an order for a few of those dolls you posted up awhile ago, and maybe some of the Tudor dice if you have any left. Look at the ones with the Dragon and rose.
      My interest in this era has been peaked. And reminded me of a project I was meaning to start back in 2014 but got side tracked. Seems that one of my ancestor's 3 times removed as a footmen of the guard to Henry the 8th. Apparently pulled his head out of a stream when if fell and almost drowned. He later became a Captain and Bailiff of Dover Castle in 1534 and when he retired in 1540 he was giving a Grant of Arms and a pension. Born in 1495, he might have been just young enough to miss that action in France sadly.

    10. Wow, well it would be rude not to. Drop me an email i’ve Found a few Flodden liveries for you.

  11. Superb post Stuart, redoing the Archers in the correct coats is certainly proving worthwhile, they look spectacular en masse.

    I love all the references to the coats that you have found. Out of interest have you found references for them in any other colours as by the 1544 Campaigns they were in a whole variety of different coloured coats?

    1. There’s two of note that I can remember; the first is that returning soldiers sent to support an uprising in the Low Countries were clothed in red coats by a thankful Margaret of Burgundy. Second not quite the same but Richard de la Pole’s bodyguards wore grey and blue and yellow coats

    2. "Richard de la Pole’s bodyguards wore grey and blue and yellow coats"
      That would make an interesting group to paint.

  12. Gorgeous! Another fine historical study and beautiful handiwork.

  13. I think these are some of the best you've done Stuart, absolutely lovely work.


  14. Really nice work as always and now I need to get livery coats for Flodden!
    Best Iain