Thursday, 12 November 2015

Italian Infantry

Here are the Italian infantry I have been working on for a while now. I really enjoyed painting them, especially once the horror of painting the shields was over. The shields were made much easier by the use of the old Citadel transfers as described in a previous post. Some were painted free hand but the transfers have really helped to show a few more complex designs. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know I loathe painting heraldry, or more correctly attempting to paint heraldry! Although these aren't heraldic shields, surviving examples show all kinds of motifs which are what I have attempted to reproduce here. I originally had 5 bases of these chaps and have completed another 7 to make quite a formidable group.

They are meant to represent Italian infantry for the 1490s into the 1500s, suitable for use from the French Invasion in 1494, through the French and Spanish campaigns in Naples, up until Agnadello in 1509, though at a pinch I would use them for a bit later. I have seen these troops described as "Rotularii", a kind of Italian assault infantry. They are a useful unit to have as Italian troops were, unsurprisingly, heavily involved in the Italian Wars. They could be found either fighting for the Italian states as mercenaries or militia, here they are shown in Milanese service, or as mercenaries in the service of France or Spain.

I have used Perry Miniatures with a dozen or so Assault Group figures mixed in as well. The pictures below, the first two of which I have shown before on this blog, give an idea of the kind of infantry they are meant to represent. Unfortunately for those of us trying to create miniature armies for this period, fashions at the end of the 15th century changed very quickly so while these may look great for 1490-1500, by 1515 Italian infantry, I would hazard a guess, showed more influence from Landsknecht style dress, though still retaining distinct differences that would have been recognisable at the time. Add to this the regional differences in Italian dress and it gets even more complicated.

Vittore Carpaccio, Arrival in Cologne, from the Legend of Saint Ursula, early 1490s

Detail of the St Ursula Cycle, Martyrdom of the Pilgrims, early 1490s

Infantry from Cronaca della Napoli aragonese c.1498

So in attempt to give a specifically Italian flavour to this unit I have added a few extra plumes of feathers to the headgear. The feathers I picked up from Simon at Je Lay Emprins,, a while ago and they have proven extremely useful for all sorts of small conversions. From the contemporary pictures above it is clear that the Italians were very keen on such plumage! I have also given a few of the polearmed troops bills as these seemed to be a characteristic weapon of the Italians, see the image above. The bill was not solely the preserve of the English Infantry. While probably a little out of date by 1500 I have included lots of Perry Miniatures with "mazzocchios", the fabric stuffed rolls that they wear around their Barbute helmets. Whether they would have been worn or not at this time they are excellent for adding to the Italian "feel" of these infantry.

Finally I don't understand how the polearmed troops could have used their polearms while also carrying those enormous shields! My guess is that a primary role of these troops was in assaulting enemy positions, similar to the Spanish Rodeleros. While the sword and buckler armed men would probably have retained their shields or bucklers for combat, perhaps those with polearms would have discarded their shields or shouldered them once the threat of projectiles had reduced and they had got to grips with the defenders.

In support of such a theory take a look at the below image, which is actually of Swiss infantry leading an assault in the early 1500s. They can clearly be seen using large shields to defend themselves as they scale the ladders, while some of the troops have them slung over their shoulders on straps. While Swiss not Italians in this picture, I would guess the Italian troops fought in a similar fashion. As a nod to this you will see that many of the miniatures armed with pole weapons have their shields over their backs and a strap added to hold them. The straps were just simple pieces of thread glued on before the undercoat was applied.

Swiss infantry assaulting a fortification using large shields

Milanese Infantry for the early Italian Wars

Italian Infantry

Italian Infantry for the early Italian Wars

A shot from behind to show the detail of the shields slung over the soldiers backs

Another photo showing the infantry from the back

Monday, 26 October 2015

Landsknecht Obrist

This is my second command base. I have entitled the post "Landsknecht Obrist" but this chap could also represent a dismounted high ranking French or Imperial commander from about 1515 on into the 1530s. Only one of the Landsknechts is a newly painted figure, the others are all from the "figures with no home" box that I am left with after rebasing the collection! The Landsknechts are by Wargames Foundry and the page, who carries the commanders helmet, is by the Assault Group. I am finding the Assault Groups pack of Italian/Swiss Papal Guards really useful for these kind of vignettes as they wear characteristic early 16th century coats and come open handed which means they can be used for all sorts of roles.

The Commander himself is the Götz von Berlichingen character that was made by Pro Gloria, sadly currently unavailable at the moment, but as Warlord have bought the range I am sure he will be rereleased at some point. The left arm is his prosthetic limb but he could simply be another captain wearing only one gauntlet. It's certainly a suitably dramatic miniature, even if his eyebrows may be a little over the top! In the last picture I have shown the base with von Berlichingen's coat of arms flying, one of Pete's fantastic Sixteenth Century flags.

I have also finished the Italian infantry that I painted the shields for, shown in a post a month or so ago. I will get them photographed and posted up in the next few weeks. I want to wait until I can combine them with the other Italians I have already completed before I take the photos.  I'm currently working on more generic early 16th century pikemen, to represent Spanish, French or Italians, mixing and matching figures from a few different ranges but I'm still not entirely happy with the results at the moment. It's hard to make late 15th century figures look more suited to the 1500s, especially when the are armoured. I may post an update of my progress in a week or two.

Landsknecht Obrist with Imperial Troops

Landsknecht Obrist under the Banner of Saxony. The page behind carries his Sallet.

Götz von Berlichingen

Thursday, 1 October 2015

The French c.1512

I know I have done a few "full army" style posts recently where everything is set up, since the rebasing they are much easier to do! Over the summer I was keen to photograph the collection covering my whole 8' by 4' table. For these photos I decided to use the figures to depict a French Italian Wars Army, referring back to an earlier post from 2012, There have been some big changes since that post, notably the banners and bases.
The figures shown here are meant to depict a French force from roughly 1512, the Battle of Ravenna. The heraldic flags displayed are for Frenchmen who fought at Ravenna with lots of more generic French or Louis XII period flags also on show. The French employ Landsknechts as oppose to Reisläufer as well as Italian Cavalry and Infantry. The native French Infantry comprises Crossbowmen, Archers and Pike. I was worried the French Archers I completed a few months ago wouldn't fit in well but I really think they look the part in these photos. I will leave exactly who they are meant to represent for another discussion!
This was also a chance to add the Convent from Grand Manner to the Italian town pieces I have collected so far and some of the photos focus on the town. I think the Convent makes a great centrepiece for the town and fits in nicely with the other buildings. At some point in the future I would like to do a large scale siege set up but I think there are a few more bits and pieces I need before I try this.

French Gendarmes behind Light Cavalry

The French Cavalry

The French Cavalry

French Horse c.1512

The Banner of Gaston de Foix can be seen between two French Royal Standards

Landsknecht Skirmishers

Landsknechts in French service

French Heavy Guns

The French Artillery

Italian town with the French in front.

A view from above the town.

A view from above the tower.

Landsknecht reinforcements in the town

Inside the town.

The French Infantry

French Light Guns, Aventuriers and Archers

The infantry under Adrien de Brimeu (Humbercourt)

The French Infatry

The French Light Guns

The French Infantry c.1512

The French Aventuriers and Archers

French infantry in front of the town.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Mourning their Captain

Following on from my command base I could not resist having a go at some more little vignettes on round bases. This is the first "casualty" style base I have done, I intend to do more, probably on smaller bases for most of them though. It shows three soldiers in Italian style armour and clothing mourning their Captain who has breathed his last. The three mourning figures are from Perry Miniatures, I have had them for ages and knew they would come in useful one day! Their deceased Captain is an old Wargames Foundry casualty figure with a Perry plastic scabbard added. He originally had a rather "Henry V" style cropped haircut so I have modelled a later 15th century style with green stuff. Two plastic helmets from the Perry kits have also been added.

A Condottiere is mourned by his followers

The hair style on the casualty figure has been remodelled as it was originally too early 15th century for my liking

While on the subject of Condottierri and Italian styles I thought some of you may be amused (and maybe even concerned!) that my Italian Wars obsession has started to influence my reenacting kit. I still take to the field as a lowly billmen in Wars of the Roses reenactments, despite the fact there don't actually seem to be any 15th century records for billmen - are they the preserve of reenactors and wargamers? They are certainly in later Tudor records in the Sixteenth Century but does that really mean they were there in the Fifteenth! It does seem puzzling.
Anyway off field I am now sporting distinctly Italian style doublet and hose. The outfit is based on a frescoe by Piero della Francesca from the late 1450s early 1460s, shown below. This surprises me a little as it certainly looks as though it would not be out of place for an Italian in the 1490s or even very early 1500s but I may be wrong. It was made by a friend from my reenactment group, Vicky from Aquerna Fabricae, and I think she has done a fantastic job! The eagle eyed of you may notice it does need a couple more buttons added to the bottom of the doublet. As it is perfectly fitted it also means I will have to watch the fast food and beer drinking if I want to wear it for next season!
I managed to attend four events this season, which is pretty good going for me. It started with an event at Raglan Castle in May, a brilliant location and fantastic castle even if much of it is ruined. It must have looked spectacular in the 15th Century. I also attended Tewkesbury Medieval festival in July, Bosworth in August and a reenactment of Mortimers Cross at Croft Castle a couple of weekends ago. Bosworth enjoyed the typical English reenacting weather of it being far too hot with downpours every now and again all in the same weekend. It was fun though and I enjoyed watching Destrier doing the full contact jousting in incredibly expensive harnesses as well as the foot tourney they held in the evening. This involved the challenger touching a shield to designate which weapon they wished to fight with before each combat, fantastic stuff and also very funny at times. All this has meant little progress painting wise but I am keen to get some Italians painted up to carry the shields from my last blog post so will be pressing on with them next.

Frescoes from "The History of the True Cross" by Piero della Francesca, c.1455-1466

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Italian Infantry Shields

One of the things I feel is currently missing from my earlier Italian Wars collection is enough of the Italians themselves. They fought for their own states during these wars as well as serving as allies or Condottieri with France, Spain and the Imperialists (the last two powers would of course later be unified under Charles V). I have plenty of Italian skirmishers, shot, crossbowmen and archers, but I have very few close quarter troops, just the five bases shown below.

Italian Infantry

I was keen to do some more of these troops. Their appearance at the start of the Italian Wars is clearly shown in many of the great illustrations that accompany the "Cronaca della Napoli aragonese", a manuscript from c.1498 which depicts events in the Kingdom of Naples and the French invasion of Naples in 1494. It can be viewed here: . I have included a few images from it below that show this style of infantry, armed with swords or various polearms. They also clearly show the shields they carry. The shields have put me off doing more up until now. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know I hate painting things like shields freehand. I find it really frustrating and it often involves countless attempts to repaint the designs!
A month or so ago I was having a check through the attic as I wanted to sell some stuff on Ebay and I found some old Games Workshop transfers from about 20 years ago, I tested one of them and was surprised it still worked fine. I remembered they had done Empire and Brettonian ones as well and had a look on Ebay for some. There are still plenty of these on Ebay and they have solved the horror of the shield painting for me! I have still done a few bits freehand and a few St Georges Crosses as these were very popular with many of the Italian Cities such as Milan, Bologna, Padua and Genoa.
I want the infantry to be clearly Italian but not troops tied to a specific state so the shields carry all sorts of designs, there seems to have been a wide variety. A few 15th century examples are shown below and some very nice replicas can be seen on this Italian reenactment groups site: . These give an idea of the way I wanted the finished shields to look.
I decided to tackle the shields before the men who will carry them and painted them up in two batches of 15. I don't intend to use all of them but this gives plenty of choice for when the figures are complete. I have gone for various patterns and borders using the transfers for most of the primary motifs on them. They do look a bit shiny at some angles and I did have to paint over some of them once dry. I really like the result, way beyond anything my painting skills alone could achieve. While they may not be perfect under close scrutiny I think once they are glued on the figures they will make a really colourful addition to the army. Next I am going to paint up some Perry Miniatures late 15th Century Italians with polearms and swords to be the bearers of these shields.

15th Century Italian Shield

15th Century Italian Shield

15th Century Italian Shield

Infantry Fighting in the Cronaca della Napoli aragonese c.1498

Infantry in Naples c.1498

Infantry of the House of Aragon in Naples c.1498

Sforza Infantry and Cavalry c.1498
Italian Infantry Shields