Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Tudor Bow and Bill 1513

Here is the next addition for the 1513 English invasion of France. Ten bases of archers and another two Tudor command bases. As with my previous attempt at early 16th century archers,, I have once again been back on Ebay searching for old Empire Citadel miniatures to strip of paint and convert into Tudor archers. Most were picked up for a decent price although I did have to pay over the odds for a few to complete the numbers. Of course as soon as I had bought these some very cheap lots came up which I jumped on so I will be fielding some more of these figures. These will be on Skirmish bases to represent bowmen in a looser formation.

The flags are all from Pete's excellent France 1513 Tudor flags range, They are based on research done by Stuart for his superb collection of 1513 Tudors, . I wouldn't have had another attempt at an Early Tudor army without these flags. I think they are Pete's best work to date and they really complement the figures and bring out the flavour of the English in this period. In fact they have even had me contemplating collecting Wars of the Roses armies again but that will have to wait!

Tudor Archers under the standard of Sir Henry Willoughby

Tudor Archers, 1513 under the standard of Sir Henry Willoughby

The first couple of photos show just the archers and the new command bases under the standard of Sir Henry Willoughby. He accompanied the Marquess of Dorset on his Guienne campaign (if it can be called that!) of 1512 as well as serving in the rearward in the 1513 invasion of France. I was rushed for time to get these photos and had some issues with the light so I hope they look bright enough.

As with my first attempt at these old Citadel figures I have made a few head swaps, added some Perry swords and bucklers to them and changed a few hairstyles and beards with green stuff. I have also added quivers to a few of the figures. Quivers don't seem to have been carried by English archers in the 15th century but came back into fashion in the early 16th. As all these miniatures already have a few arrows tucked in their belts I didn't want to add quivers to all of them but felt half a dozen or so would be a suitable addition. The quivers are metal pieces from Front Rank, they are quite large but that works well with these miniatures as they are about the same size as Front Ranks 28mms. A couple of pictures below show the quivers and a few of the other changes.

 A base of archers showing the added swords and a quiver

A base of archers showing the quiver added

Of course I could not resist pairing the archers up with the recently completed billmen to see how they work together. The old citadel figures are quite large but that doesn't seem to show too much when they are all based up. While the billmen are six to a base the archers are in a looser formation of three to a base, they just don't look right in a closer formation. The first standards in the below photos are for Sir Charles Brandon, who fought in the Kings ward in 1513 as well as commanding English armies in France in the 1520s and 1544. For the 1520s campaigns these figures would still be suitable. For the 1540s however fashions and warfare had changed and the troops would look more like these:

The other block of bill and bow marches under the standards of two commanders present in 1513. Sir Richard Carew, Captain of the Calais Garrison and Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset who led the earlier Guienne expedition and campaigned in Scotland in the 1520s. I prepared these standards first as these commanders provide scope for Skirmishes in the Calais Pale in the case of Carew while Greys men could be seen aiding the Spanish in Guienne or raiding the Scottish borders.

Bill and Bow under the standards of Sir Charles Brandon

Archers and Billmen under the standards of Sir Charles Brandon

The command base, the front two figures are conversions of old Citadel Miniatures

While scouring Ebay for these bowmen I picked up some other old Citadel figures to use for the command bases. The chap pictured above holding his sword out stretched is an old Empire Artillery crewman with the linstock replaced with an Assault Group sword. Granted his head gear is a little Germanic but I couldn't resist including him in that base coat. The chap next to him is a very old Citadel fighter miniature with the sword and plume replaced. I think he works really well as an early 16th century man-at-arms in half harness.

As mentioned above I will work on some skirmishing archers for this collection. It also needs a few Border Horsemen and some artillery with the crew in the Tudor Base Coats to complete it. Possibly some marching bowmen as well as I have a few different figures in mind for this. When accompanied by some Landsknechts and Gendarmes they should make quite a force!

Bill and Bow under the standards of Sir Richard Carew, captain of the Calais Garrison and Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset

Tudor Bow and Bill, the front standard is for Sir Richard Carew

Tudor Bill and Bow, the front, yellow and black standard, is for Sir Richard Carew, while the rear standard is for Thomas Grey.

The two blocks of Bow and Bill

The Archers and Billmen for 1513

Tudor Billmen and Bowmen for Henry VIIIs army of 1513

Monday, 2 January 2017

Another Command Base

To start off the New Year here is a quick post to show the second of the Steel Fist miniatures I've completed from the 16th century dismounted knights kickstarter. I have used this figure, along with a few others that did not make it onto bases during the great rebasing of 2015 to create a second command base. Unlike last months post this base is for slightly later - around 1510 to the 1520s. The idea is that a dismounted commander, accompanied by a valet with his banner, is discussing plans with some Landsknecht Captains. I have tried to make the composition demonstrate that they are in conversation with each other. The banner is from Petes fantastic flag range but as normal my flags are interchangeable so I have painted the figures up as generic officers. This means the base has plenty of potential uses, just change the flag for the corresponding commander.

As a brief aside, from what I have read about armies during the Italian Wars it seems that the overall command structure could be fairly informal. An army commander, normally a high ranking noble, would be appointed in the absence of a monarch as the operational commander, so to speak, but many of the decisions would be made by a more informal committee. This was composed of other nobles, appointed in command of the cavalry and infantry sections of the armies various "native" troops, and of the leaders of the various mercenary forces which made up the army, often constituting a major part of it. An example of this is in Blaise de Monlucs memoirs where he talks of the meetings between himself and the other captains during the Siege of Siena in the 1550s. From what I can recall, despite being in a nasty siege, they seem to find a lot of amusement from the fact that Monluc has to redden his face artificially to create the impression of being in better health than he actually is when addressing the soldier! The problems of this kind of command are however clearly demonstrated by battles like La Bicocca where the Swiss captains under Albert Von Stein demanded a head on immediate attack of the Imperial position, against Lautrec, the overall French commanders wishes. This of course led to disaster.

I want to make the most of every figure from the first Steel Fist kickstarter so will try and do a different base for each, they won't all be command ones. I think I will use some of the more action posed knights for attacking halberdier bases of Landsknechts or other infantry that can be fitted into the Pike Blocks. I haven't decided yet. I have also received the Gendarme figures from the second Steel Fist kickstarter and they are magnificent sculpts. It will be a while before they get painted though. Hopefully I will have some more English up next as I am making some pretty good progress on a set of English Archers for the 1513 campaign.

Happy New Year!

Command Base using one of Steel Fists dismounted 16th Century Knights

Command Base under a Papal Banner of Julius II

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Papal Command Base

This is probably my last post for the year. I am currently gearing up to start the challenge of yet another massive pike block, this time the excellent Landsknechts that The Assault Group have released for the 1490s to the first decade of the 1500s. A glutton for punishment I may be but I can't wait to see what they will look like painted up and arrayed under the ragged saltire of Maximilian! I am also about half way through some Tudor Archers to accompany my 1513 billmen, they should hopefully be completed first.

As a bit of a break in between bigger projects I have painted up a couple of the Steel Fist 16th century dismounted knights that came from a recent Kick Starter. The first is shown here on a command base. For this little scene I was keen that the figures could be used for my very early Italian Wars armies, for the War of 1499-1504, so you will notice that none of the figures are in later Landsknecht style slashed and puffed clothing. While the slashed and puffed clothing was indeed worn at the very start of the 16th century, it was done in a different and less extreme fashion than that which was to develop in the 1510s. As far as I know the harness the man-at-arms himself wears would be state of the art for 1500, some of the other figures for this range are for a few years later. These figures are all now available here: I also backed the Steel First mounted 16th century knights Kick Starter and look forward to painting them up some time next year.

The other figures on the base are by The Assault Group apart from the chap at the back wearing a grey hat, who is a Perry plastic figure. The banner is interchangeable, so I can use the base for various commanders up until the mid 1520s, but in these pictures they march under a conjectural pattern bearing the arms of the "Warrior Pope", Julius II. They are from one of the excellent sets that Pete has done for Julius IIs armies: I think at some point when I have prepared all the Papal banners and standards part of my collection may have an outing as an entirely Papal army, this time Della Rovere rather than Borgia. I am yet to photograph my Italian Infantry and more generic pike blocks in a big army set up.

Command Base with a Dismounted Knight from Steel Fist Miniatures

Command Base marching under the banner of Julius II

Command Base under the banner of the "Warrior Pope", Julius II

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Tudor Billmen 1513

This is the first unit for my 1513 Tudors. Having already dipped into the Tudor armies of the 1540s I'm jumping back a few decades to the armies of Henry VIIIs youth. It's an army I have attempted twice before, once in 15mm and once in 28mm. Both armies being sold on Ebay long ago. These earlier attempts, the lack of really good figures for the English and the fact it's an army that Stuart is covering in such incredible depth and so beautifully on his blog,, meant that I was going to give the English for this period a miss and focus on some of the other Western European armies of the era.

My hand was forced however when Pete produced some excellent flag sheets specifically for the English campaign in France in 1513, These are simply superb and although none have actually been used on this unit they will really add to the army. Being a Wars of the Roses reenactor, for my sins, I've always had a love of the swallow tailed standards with the St Georges cross at the hoist (whether or not they were actually used on the field is a debate for another day!) so I simply could not resist having a go a this army for a third time......

Already having a large Italian Wars collection, with changeable banners and standards, means a lot of the figures for the army are already done. Blocks of Landsknechts and the heavy Low Countries Men-at-Arms that Henry hired from Maximilian to augment his forces are no problem, I can simply use the figures from my existing collection. The troops needed are blocks of Billmen, of course English Archers and maybe some "Northern Staves", the Border Horsemen that Henry brought over and performed well in the 1513 Campaign.

For the Billmen I already had an idea of which figures could be used. Having studied the figures on Stuarts blog for ages I wanted to do something a bit different. Also the fact that I am hopeless with greenstuff and don't have Stuarts endless patience meant that I was going to have to find another way around the problem that no one manufactures good miniatures for the English in 1513. I fell back on what have become my classic go to figures, the Italian Swiss/Papal Guard by The Assault Group. I have used these figures so many times for various projects recently I should maybe rename the blog as "How Many times can you reuse 4 figure poses". Pete from The Assault Group very kindly let me buy them in Unit Builder sets to assemble a large collection of them. Some simple head swaps, the addition of bills and various other polearms along with the odd steel buckler on a few of them and they suddenly look like Tudor Billmen. I am aware that the base coats aren't one hundred percent like those Stuart has sculpted, they don't have the short sleeves that characterise them, but this was something I felt I could overlook.

Having the figures in Tudor base coats sorted the unit needed variation. I did not want any figures in Wars of the Roses style livery coats or to have so many late 15th Century styles within it that it looked like a Wars of the Roses retinue. A few specific poses from the Wargames Foundry Landsknechts, some not even needing head swaps, helped to add more "fashionable" soldiers to the block, most of them wearing doublets in Tudor colours. All of them had their Katzbalgers replaced with late medieval swords to bring them more into the Tudor style. A sprinkling of Perry Men-at-Arms in late 15th Century harnesses or half armours along with some more humble troops in padded jacks were added. Again with a few head swaps these fitted in well with the other troops.

Initially I was going to base them four to a base, like my Italian Infantry. This just didn't look imposing enough however and they looked as though my pike blocks, which are very densely based, would simply role through them. So of course the project expanded, I decided it would be six to a base, the same as the pike blocks. I considered painting the base coats maybe just white, or perhaps white and red as it seems there were variations on this theme during the 1510s and 1520s. In the end I've gone with the classic white and green with the St Georges cross in red as it is so representative of the Tudors. As Surreys unit at Flodden was also in a white and green livery this means they would also be suitable for this battle.

A couple of other different things were tried while working on these. One was the blackened armour on a Men-at-Arms shown in an image below. I was watching a lecture on youtube by Tobias Capwell,, where he explains that the polished, shiny finish of plate harnesses could often amount to up to 80% of their cost! This has made me rethink how many figures I will paint in bright shining armour! Obviously it was done, as the lecture cleary demonstrates, but soldiers would often be in much duller armour that had not been polished. The figure was simply drybrushed in a dull metallic silver and then given two washes of black ink. You may notice the same technique was used on a few of the bills and helmets.

The second experiment was to try sticking small paper crosses onto some of the padded jacks of the Perry miniatures to represent the St Georges Crosses that had to be worn by the English troops. The aim was to make them look like cloth crosses that had been stitched on, although padded jacks could also simply have the crosses painted on as well. I am fairly happy with the results, although it was such a fiddly job doing them. The tiny pieces of paper were a nightmare to try and glue in place.

So here they are, seventy figures in total with a ridiculous 55 head swaps. The Perry Wars of the Roses plastic sets are endlessly useful for converting these figures. I haven't actually ordered the newer Tudor flags from Pete yet, so they are shown here under some of the flags from his mid Tudor sets, St Georges crosses and the standard of Sir Charles Brandon who took part in the 1513 French invasion and commanded during the 1523 and 1544 invasions. The larger flag is from Redoubt Enterprises. The flags are removable and the unit will look better with the addition of another swallow tailed standard.

The next question is how to convincingly do the archers? I have already painted some up for this period, but they are not in Tudor Livery. I may do a set of those old citadel figures again, in Tudor colours, but mixing some converted Foundry Landsknechts and Perry Plastic Wars of the Roses longbowmen together could make quite a convincing unit of marching bowmen as well. Let me know if you have any other ideas of how to represent the archers?

Tudor Billmen 1513 under the standard of  Sir Charles Brandon

Tudor Billmen and command

Tudor Billmen with a few Men-At-Arms stiffening the front ranks 

This base uses Perry, Assault Group and Wargames Foundry figures.

Again Perry, Assault Group and Foundry miniatures. Note the addition of the buckler to the soldier in the centre.

The centre figure is meant to represent an older veteran carrying a poleaxe. His head has been swapped with a Foundry Landsknecht miniature

Some mean looking Tudor Billmen

One of the command bases - The figure holding the banner on the left is from Steel Fist in late 15th century armour.

The second command base, behind these three are a trumpeter and a drummer

Some more Tudor Billmen

Note the paper cross on the padded jack on the left, this is meant to represent a stitched on cloth cross.

I experimented with painting blackened armour on the central Perry figure

Tudor Billmen

Note the stitched on cross on the jack on the left and the "Welsh Hook" being carried by the central figure

A picture from the back of the above base to show the stitched on cross on the back of the padded jack on the left

Finally a picture of the unit from behind - a lot of red crosses!

Sunday, 2 October 2016


This post is simply to show how the Mantlet and Gabion bases I completed back in August,, look with my artillery bases. Although they are of different depths all my artillery bases have an 80mm frontage, and of course the gun is always in the centre of the base. This means that the Mantlets fit in front of all the artillery bases and can be swapped for variety.

You may notice a wooden tower in some of the photos. This is a terrain piece from Magister Militum I painted up a while back. In this period such wooden defences were quite common, used by defenders and besiegers alike. I have included a few examples of them in contemporary images. The first two are of a block house, I think its meant to be the same building in each image, that temporarily holds out against Maximilians forces in his Weisskunig. You can see the defenders meet a rather grisly end when they are finally burnt out. The second image is a salient reminder that these depictions were as much propaganda as they were efforts to "document" the Holy Roman Emperor elects campaigns. A warning to those who opposed the might of his armed forces. That is, of course, as long as he could temporarily borrow enough money to raise those forces!

A block house under attack in the Weisskunig.

The destroyed block house, by the looks of things Maximilian was not too happy with the efforts of the defenders!

The third image is a sketch by Paul Dolstein (another favourite of this blog along with the Weisskunig!) showing the siege of Montfort in 1491. As Dolstein was a bridge builder from Torgau I wonder if he served in these campaigns alongside the Landsknechts as much as a military engineer as a soldier. It is interesting that he included these images of sieges and the accompanying earthworks, in my last post I included his sketch of the Siege of Älvsborg. It does hint to me that he was involved in this aspect of campaigns regardless of whether he fought as a Landsknecht or not. All sorts of wooden towers and stockades can be seen in the below sketch and this is what I was trying to achieve with the wooden tower. I am not entirely happy with it though, it seems to look a little out of place.

A sketch from the diary of Paul Dolstein, showing the siege of Montfort 1491. All sorts of temporary defences can be seen , it's hard to tell which are the defenders and which the besiegers.

The set up in the below photos is a French force besieging the Venetians, I am guessing around late April, May 1509. The French are mopping up Venetian positions in the Terra Firma following their spectacular victory over the Serene Republic at the Battle of Agnadello, but basically its just a chance to show how the guns look combined with the siegeworks! I am happy with the results, they create little miniature dioramas when all the artillery bases and Mantlet bases are linked together. I was worried that perhaps the guns would be a little far from the Mantlets, as in contemporary images the barrels are often shown blasting out right underneath the Mantlets, but they seem to work pretty well.

Behind the attackers siegeworks

A bombard and supporting lighter guns fire as an assault goes in on the town walls.

The siegeworks

An Italian town under siege

The siegeworks from the defenders viewpoint, the wooden tower is on the left.
Mantlets and Gabions form defences for the gun crews behind

The siegeworks

Three of the French guns fire as Stradiots sally out of the town to attack the besieging force. I made the mistake of putting two bases next to each other with identical figures - the chap in the grey coat holding his bonnet in the centre of the photo appears twice!

The above  three guns from the defenders view point

The Venetian defenders crew a light gun in their earthworks