Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Tudor Arquebusiers



In this post I am moving away from the early 1500s, where this blog has been focused so far, and having a jump of a couple of decades into the 1540s. This is the first batch of figures I have completed from The Assault Groups excellent Mid-Tudor range. I backed the Kickstarter they launched to fund this range which sadly didn't succeed. Luckily these figures had already been sculpted and they have produced them anyway. They are fantastic miniatures with a real wealth of detail. Pete has also done some excellent sets of Tudor flags, most which are appropriate for these figures, though some are more specifically Elizabethan http://thegreatitalianwars.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/more-english-elizabethan-tudor-flags.html which was a further reason to persuade me to have a go at painting some up.
This is an army I have tried before, using figures from Redoubt Enterprises. I didn't really get that far and they have now been sold on ebay. Henry VIII's reign is a strange one to collect armies for as the army changes quite significantly, not so much in its composition but certainly in its look. In the early part of his reign, for the campaigns of 1511, 1513 and 1522-3, the armies look much like those of the Wars of the Roses, even carrying the swallow tailed standards familiar to anyone interested in that period. A spectacular example of one of these armies can be seen on Stuart's blog: http://stuartsworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/ where he has painstakingly researched and beautifully painted the army that took part in the Battle of the Spurs in 1513 and besieged Therouanne and Tournai.
The figures that The Assault Group have produced are for a couple of decades after this, by which time the look of the armies had changed, although in terms of composition they were still predominantly made up of billmen and archers. The fashions had changed and Henry had made a move to have his troops dressed in an early form of uniform. We have a good idea of what these troops looked like from copies of the murals from Cowdray House. The originals were destroyed in a fire but this was not before accurate copies of them had been made which are shown below:

Copy of the Cowdray House Mural showing the departure of Henry VIIIs Middle Ward from Calais in 1544

Copy of the Cowdray House Mural showing Henry VIIIs army suffering the effects of a storm in camp at Marquise on 25 July 1544. 

Copy of the Cowdray House Mural showing the siege of Boulogne in 1544

The incredible detail of these pictures clearly shows the uniforms worn by these men and the different troop types in the English army. In the particular campaign depicted in the above three pictures, the army was still divided into the traditional medieval three "battles", of Vanguard, Battle (the middle division) and Rearguard or Rearward. The Vanguard were dressed in coats of blue guarded or trimmed with red while the Battle and Rearguard were in coats of red guarded yellow. Depending on which campaign you want to use these troops  for there is actually quite a wide variety of colours for the uniform coats that you can choose from and not deviate from what was actually worn, or at least what we think was worn.
In his excellent Armies of the Sixteenth Century: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Scotland-Provinces-Netherlands-1487-1609-Sixteenth/dp/1901543005/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397412649&sr=8-1&keywords=armies+of+the+sixteenth+century , Ian Heath has the following to say about the uniforms in the Mid-Tudor period: 'more usually only the coats were uniform, all other items of apparel varying from individual to individual: surviving details of the colours used in the Cowdray pictures, for instance, tell us that men wore assorted hosen, some white, red or yellow, others with white left leg and red right, or black left leg and yellow right. Other uniform colours are note by Blaise de Monluc, a participant in the French attack on Boulogne shortly after its fall, who reported the English soldiers (he calls them pioneers, therefore doubtless militiamen) were seen wearing coats of red and white, black and yellow, and green and white. Devonshire soldiers in Boulogne's garrison in 1545 had white coats guarded in green, yellow and red and white coats guarded in green are recorded being worn on other occasions too'. Heath goes on to list some other examples of the colours used for these coats such as red worn by the army that took part in Somersets Scottish expedition in 1547, and would have fought at Pinkie Cleugh. Yellow worn by the infantry gathered to fight the Norfolk rebels in 1549 and white worn by rebels and royalists in Wyatts rebellion.
Boulogne in 1544 is probably the best known campaign for the which these figures could be used, when Henry decided to spend the money he had raised from getting his hands on the Catholic churches property in England following his break with the Papacy in Rome. He raised an enormous army and invaded France, allied to Charles V of Spain. There are quite a few options though for using these troops in other Tudor Campaigns.
In order for Henry VIII to be able to invade France in 1544 he first had to ensure his northern border with Scotland was secure, not wanting a repeat of earlier in his reign when the Scots had invaded in 1513. The Scots were defeated at Solway Moss in 1542, more of a rout rather than an actual battle, and James V of Scotland died shortly after this. This led to the Rough Wooing, an attempt to gain the Scottish throne by marrying the infant Mary Queen of Scots to the infant Prince Edward, who would later become Edward VI. Under Henry VIII the goal seems to still have primarily been victory in France with keeping the Scots quiet a more secondary aim. However following Henry's death real control of the country fell to the kings uncle Edward Seymour, Protector Somerset. Already a veteran of war in Scotland and France, Seymour's real interest lay in the conquest of Scotland, an aim he hoped to achieve by establishing a series of garrisons to impose English control. The English initially won a victory at Pinkie Cleugh in 1547 but were eventually pushed out of Scotland, and Boulogne. The French took advantage of England's war on two fronts and sent troops to aid the Scots in defeating the increasingly beleaguered garrisons established in Scotland.
This was an intense and prolonged period of conflict for the English, far greater than the early campaigns of Henry VIII's reign and these figures are spot on for representing what the English soldiery would have looked like in these wars. An excellent of overview of the campaigns in the 1540s as well as English and Scottish tactics and armies is provided by Gervase Phillips book on the Anglo-Scots wars, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anglo-Scots-Wars-1513-1550-Military-History/dp/0851157467/ref=la_B001KIKD30_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397740798&sr=1-1 . I cannot recommend this book enough if you are interested in collecting armies for this period. It was in fact an article in Miniature Wargames Magazine by Gervase Phillips on the Rough Wooing that began my interest in this period. It led to my first attempt to build a late Henrician army out of Redoubt figures. His book follows the campaigns in Scotland closely but also covers some of the English activity in France. The Scottish campaigns are followed in such detail that skirmishes involving a handful of men are discussed as well as much larger encounters. Phillips details the fate of the English garrisons and the arrival of the French, along with the wide variety of mercenaries that both sides employed. Another good book on this period is Marcus Merrimans "The Rough Wooings" http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rough-Wooings-Queen-Scots-1542-1551/dp/186232090X/ref=la_B001KDTI68_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398203312&sr=1-1, this focuses more on the politics than the military aspect from what I can remember although it does have some good sketches of the English fortifications.
Although being specifically for the 1540s these figures could also be used as government forces against the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 as well as more suitably for troops facing Kett's Rebellion and The Prayer Book Rebellion, both in 1549. I also think they would be useful as English troops in the Irish Pale facing Silken Thomas's Rebellion in 1534-35, when the 10th Earl of Kildare led the FitzGeralds in an uprising against the English crown. The FitzGeralds unsuccessfully besieged Dublin and were later besieged themselves in Maynooth. This would be a good excuse to get these figures out and fighting some Kern and Gallowglass, although I doubt the English would have fielded many arquebusiers like those shown here in that specific campaign. I am tempted to paint up a small Irish force, another project that I have already done before but I am keen to have a go at again, to face these guys. I picked up a few figures for this possible Gaelic war party at Salute last weekend but I am still not sure if I will go in that direction with the collection. I think for the later Elizabethan campaigns in Ireland these figures would be too early.
The troops on board the Mary Rose when she sank in 1545 are likely to have been dressed in a very similar fashion to these figures, if not just like them, as she sank during the war with France which started in 1544. The latest campaigns I would be happy using these figures for would be as English in the Hapsburg armies of the 1550s, when Mary I was married to Philip II of Spain and for the fall of Calais in 1558. Personally I think the fashions change too significantly for them to be used much beyond the 1550s but from this ramble I hope I have shown that there are a variety of campaigns they can be used for as well as some very different opponents they can face.
This leads me to what I am going to do with them. So far I have bought about a company of figures, around 100. This consists of the traditional Bill and Bowmen, with more modern Pike and Shot also being represented. I am going to paint them up in white coats with a red lining as white seems to be one of the most common colours, English soldiers often being known simply as "white coats" in this period. My thinking at the moment is that I want them to be able to represent English soldiers that fought in Ireland in the 1530s and also France and Scotland in the 1540s and as white seems one of the most common of the uniform colours I have stuck with this.
Initially I was going to paint these arquebusiers in more drab hose and doublets. On looking back through Phillips "Anglo-Scots Wars" and looking at the Osprey on Henry VIII's army it seems clear that the arquebusiers were very often foreign troops, typically Spanish or Italian. Phillips gives an example of how in Scotland these foreign troops could fight within "English" infantry companies composed of more traditional Bows and Bills. With this in mind I have opted to paint them in quite colourful clothing and have even given a couple some plumes of feathers. The Assault Group figures have the St Georges Cross sculpted on the front of the figures. Looking back at the Cowdray House images it is clear that a lot of the English troops wore the St Georges Cross on the back of their coats as well. As a result, on the figures in the uniform coat I have painted the cross on the back as well, as shown below. What are described as "Militia Arquebusiers" by The Assault Group are actually in more fashionable clothing than the uniformed troops. I have decided to paint them still in white, but in coats of their own styling so while they are in white with red linings the cut and style of the coats are very different and they don't all have the red cross on the back. Indeed many of the figures in the Cowdray images don't have a cross on the back of their uniforms and the Osprey book on Henry VIII's Army has a good example of a foreign arquebusier in his own version of an English Uniform. There are 28 figures as shown below:

Tudor Arquebusiers 1540s

Tudor Arquebusiers

From behind showing the St Georges Cross on most of their coats

As I mentioned earlier the detail on these miniatures is spectacular. I particularly love the command group, with the nobleman in his Tudor coat and Petty Captain with a boar spear and doublet lined with mail. They are spot on for the 1540s. Even the shoes on the figures have designs cut into them, as was the contemporary fashion. The shoes on the figures in the last 2 photos show this quite clearly. The next part of the company is going to be dressed in a slightly more sober fashion, it's the Billmen.

Tudor Command Group 1540s

Tudor Arquebusier in uniformed coat

Tudor Arquebusiers in their own styles of coat


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Wagon Train


After many months of laboriously painting wagons and carts here they all are on the march. Taking inspiration from the many contemporary woodcuts and illustrations that depict this theme, a few of which are shown below, the wagon train crosses the table headed by a dozen men at arms. There are two blocks of Landsknechts, four carts, two oxen pulled wagons, a four horse wagon and finally twelve mounted arquebusiers at the end of the column. The wagons and carts are all by Perry Miniatures, the rest are a mix of old Wargames Foundry, TAG, Old Glory and Pro Gloria miniatures. The Pro Gloria civilian packs really help make the scene. I have filled some of the Perry carts with individual baggage pieces from Front Rank. These were part of my Wars of the Roses baggage train for a collection that has now nearly all been sold off on Ebay.
With the increase in the size of armies in the late 15th/early 16th century and the increasing professionalisation of large bodies of infantry such baggage trains winding their way through war torn areas of Europe became a more and more common sight. They were also a sight villagers and townsfolk would dread! As the non combatants and various hangers on could often outnumber the fighting forces themselves and could be the size of large towns it is no wonder they attracted the attention of contemporary artists. For anyone interested in how these "towns on the move" functioned I would recommend "Women, Armies and Warfare in Early Modern Europe", http://www.amazon.co.uk/Women-Armies-Warfare-Modern-Europe/dp/0521722373/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396468227&sr=8-1&keywords=women+in+early+modern+warfare. It gives a fascinating insight into the often overlooked role of women in these armies and the communities and mini economies that developed within the camps. Circumstances could often mean that campaigns in this era rapidly degenerated into a strategy that revolved around simply keeping these soldiers and their followers fed rather than seeking any grander result.

Hans Burgkmair Triumph of the Emperor Maximilian I

Hans Burgkmair Triumph of the Emperor Maximilian I

Triumph of the Emperor Maximilian I

Imperial Men at Arms lead the Wagon Train

The Wagon Train stretches out behind the Men at Arms

Landsknechts march under the banner of Bamberg

Landsknechts on the march

Worried villagers look on nervously!

The column passes a small farm

Camp followers

Women and children accompany the Wagons


A Landsknecht officer and his dogs

Camp followers

The rear column of Landsknecht pike has come to a halt

Landsknecht officers discuss the hold up


The entire column
The halted Landsknechts


As I mentioned above, I think the Pro Gloria Miniatures sets of towns people and villagers are great for these kind of set ups. Below is a great example of the attention to detail that they have shown to contemporary images. The sutler selling shoes is a very close copy of Hans Burgkmair's depicition of such an individual following the troops in one of Maximillians' baggage trains.

A sutler tries to sell his wares to a Landsknecht

Hans Burgkmairs depiction of a sutler on the march

Some adjustments to the load are made as the train comes to a halt



Camp followers refill their drinking vessels as the train temporarily halts

A troop of mounted arquebusiers protect the rear of the column

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Neapolitan Men at Arms

Neapolitan Men at Arms

I really enjoyed painting the Spanish Gendarmes I worked on previously, http://camisado1500s.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/spanish-gendarmes.html , so I decided to pick up a few more packs of Wargames Foundry Men at Arms and put them on TAG Horses. Unlike the previous figures most of these were not ones that had been lying in a draw for about 15 years so it was a rather more expensive project! I decided to mount these figures on horses with slightly more decorative trappings than the first lot. This includes the horse that TAG make for Henry VIII, shown in the first picture below. While I am pleased with the figures I think I preferred the more simple group that I painted before. They are shown here with Petes Flags for the Kingdom of Naples, representing the Men at Arms and Knights that defended, or perhaps failed to defend might be more accurate, Naples against the French Invasion in 1494. Seeing as over half of them in are in gothic armour its probably not a very accurate depiction but I wanted to use these great flags.
I have done a few head swaps and removed the plumes on some of the miniatures, the results of which I think are ok but not perfect. One the of the figures I still had from many years ago was wearing a late 15th century style tabard. I turned my hand to the dreaded greenstuff and made an attempt to change the tabard into the longer style of skirted coat that was worn in the 16th century. It was not a pleasant experience, I still find that stuff a nightmare to use, but I think the result is passable, especially once the figure is painted as shown below.

Wargames Foundry Men at Arms on TAG Tudor Horse

An attempt with the greenstuff!


I think these are extremely useful figures as while they are in essentially late 15th century harnesses, some of the gothic ones especially, at the start of the 16th century it seems Men at Arms were still armed in these styles. I am unsure as to exactly when they started looking like the plumed and skirted Gendarmes that appear in woodcuts and paintings of the Italian wars but I thought I would add a few contemporary sketches and pictures that show that in the first decade of the 16th century at least they were still being depicted in styles more akin to the late 15th century.
In Paul Dolnsteins wonderful sketches from the very start of the 1500s he depicts his Landsknecht comrades facing Men at Arms that would not look far out of place 20 years earlier. Similary the painting by Juan de Borgona of the Conquest of Oran from c.1514 depicts the Spanish Gendarmes supporting their Jinetes in fairly simple unadorned harnesses. Finally the detail from the Schweizerkrieg of c.1500, illustrating the Swabian war between the Hapsburgs and the Swiss Confederacy, shows mounted men who are already in the skirted coats that become familiar in the 1510s and 1520s but are still wearing Sallets and plate that would not have looked out of place decades earlier.
I think when these figures are mixed with the Foundry and TAG Men at Arms that I have already painted they will be excellent for representing Gendarmes for the very early Italian wars or perhaps the less heavily armed mounted archers that supported them.

Paul Dolnstein - Knecht und Ritter

Paul Dolnsteins sketch of Men at Arms attacking Landsknechts

Detail showing Men at Arms from the Conquest of Oran 1509, Juan de Borgona c.1514

Detail showing Men at Arms from the Schweizerkrieg c.1500

While I am on the subject of Men at Arms I thought I would briefly mention my current reading, The Soldier in Later Medieval England: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Soldier-Later-Medieval-England/dp/0199680825/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393672866&sr=8-1&keywords=the+soldier+in+later+medieval+england . While I appreciate this book is not cheap, I am about two thirds of the way through and I have found it excellent so far. The database of English and foreign soldiers who fought for the English Crown from 1369 to 1453 has been evaluated and examined and the first findings and trends discovered are discussed. The level of detail and the information they were able to find is remarkable and I have found it fascinating. It is full of tables based on this information, so for example 92% of the English Peerage during this period engaged in military service with 37.5% of them being between 16 and 20 when they first served. 10.6% were under 16 when they first served. With regard to the Archers I was surprised to learn that in very small retinues they were often related to the Men at Arms leading the retinues, that some archers were the younger sons of gentry families and that there was a fair bit of movement between the rank of Archer and Men at Arms especially in some of the longer serving garrisons in the 1400s. Hopefully the price will come down but for anyone interested in the Hundred Years War I would highly recommend this book.

Neapolitan Men at Arms c.1500

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Another Ox-drawn Wagon


So here is another Perry Miniatures Wagon, this time an empty one. I have some bits and pieces by Front Rank that I may put in it but, like the carts I posted a week or so ago, it's staying empty for now. Again I have used a chain to join the front yoke to the wagon and I am pleased with the result. I think that's enough carts and wagons for now. When I get a chance I will get some pictures of the entire baggage train. Two Ox-drawn wagons, one four horse wagon and four one horse carts should make a hell of a train, especially with the addition of the TAG and Pro Gloria civilians I have painted up.

Perry Miniatures Ox-drawn Wagon

Ox-drawn Wagon

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Two Carts


The baggage train keeps growing with two more of the excellent Perry Miniatures carts completed, one with wicker sides and the other a simple wooden framed cart. I have some bits and pieces that I may put inside them but for now I will not glue anything in and leave them empty. The only change made to these miniatures was a head swap for one of the drivers. The hat he was wearing was a little too medieval so I gave him a Tudor style cap.
I am nearly finished with all these carts and wagons but I liked the Ox-drawn Wagon so much that I am currently painting up an empty one.

Perry Miniatures one horse carts