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




  1. I always run short of superlatives when I visit your site - both in regards to the painted figures and the information you provide. Once again it's been a joy to see what you're doing and I wish you well in your new set up.
    Thanks, Stephen

    1. Thanks Stephen, it’s been a long time coming and I’m very happy 😊

  2. These are fantastic Stuart - I am looking forward to seeing them in action on the tabletop!

    1. Cheers Oli, ground into mincemeat at first activation I reckon 😆. Looking forward to gaming with you

  3. Splendid stuff Stuart…
    Beautifully painted and a lovely choice of colours.
    A painting and gaming space…There will be no stopping you now.

    All the best. Aly

    1. Cheers Aly, I can’t wait and hopefully see you later in the year to game with whatever I paint, hopefully a Scots theme I think.

  4. amazing work. love the subtle conversions an the clean painting job. Love it!

    1. Thanks Jaeckel, lots more to come

  5. They look fabulous, really got a 'Tudor' look about them and not just some figures repurposed from the Wars of the Roses or an Italian Wars range. Are you going to play the mini-campaign of the 1549 Prayerbook Rebellion in Miniature Wargames #13? It looks great fun.

    1. Thanks Rob, the 1540’s have so far eluded my collection but I daresay it’s inevitable really, so much to do !

  6. Excellent paintjob !!! As always !!!