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

Saturday, 24 September 2016

A Bombard

This is a piece I finished a while ago, but didn't deem dramatic enough for post number 100! It is the Perry Miniatures Wars of the Roses Bombard with a few tweaks to the crew to make it more suitable for the start of the 16th Century. I was having a look at contemporary images while I was working on this, and my mantlets and gabions. It was a surprise to discover that, alongside the more "modern" culverins and basilisks, bombards seem to have seen use well into the first two decades of the 1500s. I included some images to demonstrate this in a recent post Some more images follow to further highlight this.

The first is a great sketch of the Siege of Älvsborg by Paul Dolnstein, a favourite soldier artist of this blog, which quite clearly shows an older style bombard in use alongside other guns on carriages. Secondly Maximilians Zeugbuch of 1502 has a wealth of detail in terms of guns in the early 16th century. In a previous post I linked it in the comments but in case you haven't seen it here is the link again. Have a look as it really is a goldmine of images: What is interesting about a lot of the bombards in the Zeugbuch is that they seem rather more "up to date" than the Perry miniature, being cast in bronze and in a style more of 1500. They look to be whole cast guns rather than iron staves linked together by iron hoops. It would be great to see a manufacturer sculpt one of these pieces.

This is a Sketch from Paul Dolnsteins Diary in 1502 showing the siege of Älvsborg in Sweden. Note the old style bombard at the bottom of the sketch, just left of the centre. Apparently the text at the top right hand is a recipe for Pidgeon written by someone else!

Bombard from Maximilians Zeugbuch 1502.

Another Bombard from the Zeugbuch 1502.

Bombards from the Zeugbuch, these two look slightly older than the others shown above.

The final three contemporary images are from the Weisskunig, another favourite source of images for this blog, detailing siege guns in the mid 1510s. While in the first image the central guns look like older style bombards, what is interesting about the following two images is that the guns being used without carriages look as though they may well be simply culverins in use without carriages. This makes sense as in siege warfare where some of the guns could afford to be relatively static I can imagine these pieces being used without the need to have a carriage.What is also evident from the images shown here, and in my mantlets and gabions post, is that the bombards are always shown in use alongside guns on carriages. I am guessing the guns on carriages were included as much to defend the besiegers in a sally as to further damage the walls or earthworks that were under siege. They could quickly be moved to fire on attackers from the fortifications if need be.

Image from the Weisskuning, 1510s, showing bombards in use in the centre

Another image from the Weisskunig showing what looks to be a more contemporary barrel being used without a carriage in the top right.

Again more contemporary guns being used without carriages.

Some images of the bombard and its accompanying mantlet follow. It really is a beautiful kit but it is also quite clearly for the late 15th century. In order to bring it into the 1500s you will notice I have head swapped the gunner with the linstock and have switched one of the crew for an old Citadel Miniature who is more suitable for the early 16th century. One of the chaps hauling up the mantlet has also had a head swap. I didn't go too overboard on the crew though as I imagine that a lot of the men working on the bombard would simply be civilians pressed into service and not always the most "fashionable".

I have also added some bits and pieces from Front Rank. A wood axe leans on the blocks of wood behind the gun to prevent recoil. I got this idea from Simon who did a beautiful job on this miniature for his Burgundian and Hundred Years war collections I did toy with the idea of basing the crew on sabot bases like he has done as well and painting four Landsknechts as the alternative crew. Maybe one day I will do another gun as I can use the 15th century crew for other projects, they are really useful figures.

The mantlet is on a separate base, the same size as the other mantlets I painted up. They are all interchangeable and can be switched to other artillery pieces as I have based all my guns on an 80mm frontage. I have taken photos of some of the other guns as part of some siege works and will hopefully get these images up in my next post.

The bombard as part of some siege works.

The front of the bombard.

Image without the mantlet.

The bombard and mantlet.

The gun from behind showing the detail of the crew.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Landsknechts and Gendarmes, Blog Post Number 100

So this is my 100th blog post. Unbelievable though it may seem I have managed to find one hundred different, well slightly different, things to ramble on about in relation to collecting miniatures for the 16th century. It's actually my 101st post as I did write one supporting the Pro Gloria Plastic Landsknechts Kickstarter which never happened in the end so it was deleted. I'm not sure if that project will ever see the light of day, or if the figures were entirely accurate either to be honest, but they would have been brilliant for conversions at the very least.

I have really enjoyed writing the blog so far, and have found it's really focused my efforts to a greater extent than if I was just painting and not posting up pictures of stuff I was working on. For example the rebasing may never have happened had I not had a blog. That's an undertaking I am still scarred by! Please let me know in the comments if there have been any particular projects or posts that you have enjoyed, or disliked for that matter. The great thing about blogs is the way everyone can share ideas and inspiration, perfect for a hobby like miniature painting.

Despite 100 updates so far, there are still at least another 100 projects in the pipeline! I am currently working on some English Billmen for my early 16th century Tudors. Petes awesome 1513 English flags were what finally forced my hand to have a go at this army: The Billmen may not be up to the incredible standard of Stuarts 1513 English and French figures,, but I am quite pleased with the 6 I have completed so far. The archers will be more tricky I feel. Also In the pipeline I have the fantastic dismounted 16th Century Knights by Oliver at Steelfist Miniatures to tackle at some point. Ideally I would like some kind of command or unit base for each figure, which means other figures to accompany each knight will be needed. I am also keenly watching his current Kickstarter, the mounted Gendarmes,, and will be working on some of them if it funds.

Then there are the early Landsknechts that The Assault Group have had in the pipeline for a while now, Of course a large block of these will be required to add to my early Italian Wars Spanish army. Some "Northern Staves" or "Border Horse" for the early Tudors will be necessary. Some more artillery would be nice as well as some casualty bases, for some reason I have been putting off casualty bases for years despite having figures for them. Who knows, one day I may even have a wargame with some of these figures and do a post on that!

To mark my 100th (or 101st) blog post I thought I would show some pictures of what I feel is the classic wargamers Italian Wars Army, lots of Landsknechts and lots of Gendarmes. The pictures below are of an army intended to represent that of Maximilian I, for the 1510s, although to be honest they would also be fine for the start of Charles Vs reign as Holy Roman Emperor. If you have read this blog for a while you will know I love to set the various units out together to really try and give a feel for a certain army and era. Landsknechts and Gendarmes always seem to get more attention than any other infantry or cavalry in a lot of the contemporary images so maybe it's no wonder miniature manufacturers have focused more on them in the past. Once lots of banners bearing Habsburg Saltires and Imperial Eagles have been added to the figures the army really does start to look like those seen in many of the woodcuts from the early 16th century and I guess for me that's what it's all about.

The Imperial Army of the Holy Roman Emperor Elect, Maximilian I

Lots of Landsknechts and Gendarmes

Imperial Light Cavalry behind the artillery

Fuggers Landsknechts follow up behind the skirmishing Arquebusiers

The army in front of the town gates

Marching Landsknechts follow up behind the mounted crossbowmen

An Imperial Commander

The mounted Crossbowmen

Standing Landsknechts

And lastly a view inside the town

Monday, 8 August 2016

MantIets and Gabions

"Mantlets and Gabions", the title sounds like the name of an overpriced London pub. Anyway this is a project I have had on the back burner for a while now. I have completed nine bases of Mantlets to place in front of the different artillery pieces in the collection. Unfortunately the guns are all in storage at the moment so this post is just on the completed defences that will go in front of them. As soon as I get the chance I will take some photos of them with the guns - I am very keen to see how they work together myself!

The idea was to create some defences that look akin to those seen in the contemporary art. I have included a few below. One from the Kriegsbuch of 1496, another from the Weisskunig a couple decades later and an early 16th Century picture that I don't know the source of. In the old book I got it from it says it is by Dürer but to be honest I am not sure. They all show Mantlets and Gabions being used to protect the artillery. You may notice it is only guns that are not on moveable carriages that are protected in this way in the images. I guess wheeled artillery could simply be rolled up to fire and then withdrawn again before being reloaded, it would recoil a fair way anyway.

Siege from the Kriegsbuch, Philipp Mönch, 1496 showing lots of Mantlets in use.

Detail from the Weisskunig, mid 1510s, showing Mantlets in use during a siege.

Detail from an Early 16th Century Image showing an assault on a town.

The Mantlets are by Old Glory, really great pieces but I did have a small disaster when constructing them. On the picture on the US Old Glory site, one is shown constructed the wrong way round, the supporting horizontal planks are shown facing the oncoming fire. When talking about one of their gun miniatures in a previous post I thought it was constructed incorrectly in the image on the website. I am pretty certain the same is true here. Annoyingly I glued four of them together like this before realising my mistake. They were glued so strongly that a couple of them didn't survive my attempt to correct them. When correctly put together and painted up I really feel they look the part though.

I am well aware that men of the early renaissance loved painting stuff so really I guess the Mantlets should have Habsburg Saltires, the Papal Crossed Keys, Venetian Lions or French Fleurs de Lis on them depending on what besieging army they are in. I dread this kind of painting however and more importantly I wanted them to be far more generic so I have gone with some in plain wood and others painted red or black which I feel works well. The ropes to swing the mantlets are just fuse wire cut and bent into the correct shape. I was worried this was going to be a nightmare to do but it was surprisingly simple and achieves a quite natural looking rope effect. The fact this was easy to achieve made up for the earlier gluing disaster!

The Gabions are two packs of the Renedra plastic Gabions sprues. They were quite a lot of work as the tops are just circular bits of plastic, just like tiddlywinks really. To improve on this they all have gravel glued and painted on the top to represent the earth. The wicker work also needed a fair bit of trimming and filling in where the halves glue together. They are oval in shape rather than perfectly round and because of the size of the bases I was using, an 80mm frontage to match the frontage of all my artillery bases, I generally had to base them up with the join showing. This is a little annoying as they definitely look better where you can't see the join but I am happy they fitted the bases well with the Mantlets.

For the men swinging the Mantlets open, or waiting to do so, I have used a mix of Perry Miniatures and Pikemen by The Assault Group. There are a fair few head swaps in there, I wanted the men looking up at the mantlets as they raised them or at each other as they prepared to swing them open. I would have rather not have had so many chaps in back and breast plates crewing them but to be honest I was at a loss as to what figures to use for the task and the pikemen were in the most suitable poses. As always with my collection I was also keen to not make them look too medieval, I am aiming for a 1500-1520 sort of look, if such as thing is possible. The fashions changed extremely quickly in this period.

So here they are, some are left without crew, I was imagining the gunners may be in the process of reloading the gun and then some of them will raise the Mantlet after. I went for more closed ones as in reality they would be open for only a very brief space of time. I think my favourites are the two where they are about to open them, I have a feeling they will look great in front of the guns where a crewman is holding the linstock and shouting, getting them to swing it open as he is about to fire! I do realise that the guns will be quite a distance from the Mantlets and Gabions. In contemporary art they are often shown literally underneath the Mantlets as they open. This was the compromise I had to make however if I wanted the defences to be interchangeable with different artillery pieces and for my artillery pieces to still be useable as guns on the field without any defences.

My next post will be number 100 so I think setting up some suitably ridiculous siege scene may be the best way to celebrate number 100 and show the guns and their defences working together.

Soldiers lifting the Mantlet

Soldiers lifting the Mantlet with their Halberds resting on a Gabion

Another raised Mantlet

Mantlet being swung open

Mantlet being swung open, the crew are from the Perry Wars of the Roses Bombard

Soliders waiting to raise a Mantlet

A civilian auxiliary conscripted as a pioneer tops up a Gabion while the guns reload

One Soldier looks on through the Mantlet while another waits for the gun crew.

Closed Mantlet, note the ropes on either side.

Soldiers about to raise a Mantlet at the gunners command

Six of the Mantlets together, this gives and idea of what they will look like with the guns

Mantlets for a battery of three guns