Monday, 27 August 2018

Of Guns and Gendarmes

I was going to title this post 'What I did on my Holidays' but I've a feeling I'll want to refer to it at a later date so this makes it easier.

The 16 August was the 505th Anniversary of the Battle of the Spurs, a key reference for all of my efforts on this blog. Perhaps more significant in my life was the 23 August 2018, my 10th wedding anniversary which saw Mr & Mrs M get a rare chance for a week away while the in laws looked after our daughter. Paris awaited, here's my historical highlights.

We were to take the train from London so I thought this a great opportunity to pay a visit to Hampton Court, something long overdue for me. For me the highlight of that day was to get a closer look at 2 paintings depicting the Battle of the Spurs;

The Battle of the spurs, Flemish School 1513

The meeting of Henry VIII and Maximilian, Flemish School 1513

Both of these pieces have served as inspiration for my painting of English and French men at arms and it was a real pleasure to get a closer look to study the decorative horse armour in particular. The first gave an interesting insight to the French armour which I've drawn quite a lot from for my Gendarmes. The light wasn't great but hopefully you get the idea.

This Gendarme was based upon an amalgamation of the Gendarmes depicted in this painting

In the background of this painting are the walls of Therouanne, this and a number of other sources served as inspiration for my commission to have a section created in miniature.

Here are two slightly similar sections of the walls which faced Bomy where the Battle took Place. Of particular note are the bastions as well as the integrated houses both of which feature upon a number of paintings and drawings after this date.

It was rather cool to have the feeling that the commission was pretty much spot on

These are modular pieces which together form a wall of about 6ft or so, it's a great backdrop for both gaming and photography.

The second painting is of particular interest for a contemporary depiction of the English knights.

The caparison horse armour was of particular interest to me both for the mixture of decorative and armoured sections. Also the prominence of St. George crosses on the armour of the horses and the breastplates of the riders, these are undoubtedly the Kings Spears and you can also see a few dismounted Yeomen of the Guard in armour.

Horse armour of this period comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are examples of steel caparison armour over which decorative cloth was added or some which was left polished, Maximilian harness comes to mind in the last instance. Another less expensive and slightly lighter type is that which features in the paintings above, the second especially and that's boiled leather for which I was to get a close look at when I visited the Army Museum in Paris.

I'd often wondered whether the leather was a base for which cloth was added as various sources depict it as decorative but I'd never considered that the leather was painted, this was a real eye opener for me. It was a real pleasure to get a close look at this piece, the saddle and the split skirt on the rider were noted for future sculpting and painting. For the saddle I knew the front was armoured to protect the rider but I did not appreciate that this was in some instances also the case for the rear.

On to the artillery for which there were some fine examples from Louis XII's arsenal. I spent a long time ogling these beauties !

These got me thinking about doing a fleur de lys press mould so that otherwise plain artillery pieces could be personalised.

Also on display was this impressive 12 barrel organ gun.

This was a great week away. 10 years of blogging, painting and marriage - Mrs M's a patient girl !

Bye for now



  1. Wow, now I need to go there! Wonderful pictures and as always inspiring research.

  2. Wonderful images of armor and weapons. Very impressive fortress walls too!

  3. Some grand pics. Love the castle walls!

  4. Great photos, love the organ gun!
    Best Iain

  5. Great stuff, Stuart! Thanks for letting me travel vicariously through you!

  6. Great images and some inspiration for painting own collection. Thank you sir!

  7. A great post and some great pics, I was looking forward to your write up of your trip

  8. Looks to have been a informative weekend.

  9. It's always a pleasure to read your posts.