Sunday, 8 July 2018

New Terrain and more Border Horse

Continuing with the theme of the new terrain, here are the river tiles. They form quite a sizeable river which can cross the table in a variety of ways, an example of which is shown below. These pieces add another really useful element to my terrain and will mean I can game all kinds of scenarios. The river also has the potential to be used as a moat for my fortifications which is excellent. I wanted it to look like a river that could either be very deep and difficult to cross but could also potentially only be waist deep and crossable and I think David Marshall from TM Terrain,  has done a great job on it. Now I just need to invest in some different bridges to cross it!

The table with the river tiles.

The table with the river tiles and no other terrain on it.

I have also finished a new unit, another set of Border Horsemen. I have already completed one set of specifically English Border Horse,, but wanted to do a unit that could be either Scots or English. I am slowly putting together a Scots army and these cavalry will combine with the Irish who can act as Highlanders and lots of "Generic" Pikemen who can serve as Scots with a simple change of banners. I have not made these horsemen specifically Scottish as I like the idea of being able to combine them with the English Border Horse that I have already. This gives potentially two dozen Borderers for my Early 16th Century Tudor Army.

As with the previous unit I have used plenty of targes and given some of the men beards and caps to bring them into the early 1500s. The only real difference with this unit to the first set of Border Horse is that this set don't have any of the stitched on St George's crosses that the first unit had. I've also poached a couple of heads from the Warlord Plastic Landsknecht sprues for this unit. Below each of the bases is shown and I have included some photos of them combined with my previous Border Horse and all riding under English Flags on the banks of the river. When combined they make an impressive force of Light Cavalry!

Scots Border Horse Command.

Charging Border Horse.

A Veteran Borderer with a younger relative supporting the charge.

A Border Captain with a trumpet.

Grizzled Border Veterans!

Border Horsemen with a "latch" crossbow and warbow.

Combined with the English Borderers they form quite a force.

The English Border Horse

The English Border Horse - note all the targes.

While photographing the Border Horse I set up the last unit I completed, the generic early 16th Century Infantry, with a complementing set of archers. Below they are shown under the banners of the Stanley family who contributed men to both the Flodden and French Campaigns of 1513. I am aware they are not wearing the Claw and three Crowns livery badge that the Stanley Troops are meant to have worn at Flodden but I hope you will agree that the new polearm troops work well as English Billmen, especially when in support of the traditional English Bowmen. At the moment I am working on a unit of levied English Bill, complete with stitched on St George's crosses and some supporting Men-at-Arms with Poleaxes. When these are finished I should be all set for some early 16th Century Anglo-Scots Border warfare with the Scots and English catered for.

Northern Troops raised for Border Warfare by the Stanleys.

An English "Bill and Bow" unit.

Monday, 25 June 2018

New Terrain: The Spanish Army on the banks of the Garigliano 1503

A momentus post today; I have a new set of modular terrain! Following my games at Stuart's using his modular boards I decided to bite the bullet and invest in a set myself. They have been made by David Marshall of TM Terrain and he has done a great job on them. Due to the nature of my collection I was keen to have a set that was as flexible as possible with some hill tiles, a coastal tile, a dry ditch or sunken road (as of course I am obsessed with sets of earthworks!) and a river. There are some plain grass tiles and some plain earthern tiles that merge with these that I can put my other terrain pieces on. Some of my existing terrain will need to be partly repainted to match the lighter earth on the tiles and I will probably get around to that soon. The pieces will look much better in a lighter earth colour than the very dark brown I painted them in about 15 years ago!

Of course I was keen to set out my figures and see how they looked on the new boards and I haven't done a large army post for ages so to showcase the coastal tile and ditch tiles in particular I set up my very early 16th Century Spanish Army, which now has early Landsknechts to join it. 2,000 of these troops were sent by Maximilian I to aid the beleagured Spanish when they were besieged by the French in Barletta during the War for Naples. What I have attempted to show here (through my usual odd photography with lots of strange angles!) are Spanish forces defending the banks of the River Garigliano in the Winter of 1503. 

The full table set out.

The coastal tile is useful to represent the banks of the Garigliano.

Gonzalo de Cordoba, the Spanish general, had besieged the French in Gaeta following his victory over them at Cerignola in April 1503. The French had succesfully reinforced the garrison of Gaeta forcing Gonzalo to retreat and defend the coastal route to Naples against an advancing French army by holding the banks of the river Garigliano while the inland route to Naples was defended by determined Spanish garrisons. A stalemate developed in which the French attempted to force their way across the river using a pontoon bridge but the Spanish doggedly defended the banks using trenches and earthworks, which is what I have tried to represent here. The stalemate was finally broken by the Spanish surprise attack, and subsequent Battle of Garigliano, after they had built their own pontoon further upriver.

In the photos above I have used the coastal tile to represent the banks of the large River Garigliano. I think I will put up another post to showcase the river tiles seperately. The photos below show the Spanish army defending the trench with artillery, mantlets and gabions. I am really pleased with how it all works together, I think the ditch and guns combine to give some idea of how the Spanish liked to defend positions in the early 1500s. I can already envisage all sorts of uses for the tiles in the future when combined with various parts of my collection...

Spanish guns defending the trench.

The Jinetes form a skirmish line in front of the trench.

German, Italian and Spanish Infantry defending the earthworks.

The Spanish Army with the infantry manning the earthworks and the cavalry waiting in the wings.

The Spanish trench.

The Spanish Infantry line.

A view from the trenches!
Behind the Spanish trench.

Italian Mounted Arquebusiers and Crossbowmen wait in reserve.

The well defended position bristles with guns.

The Spanish earthworks with light horse and infantry on the flank.

The Spanish Men-at-Arms supported by Italian Mounted Crossbowmen. A hill tile with a slope can be seen in the background.

Early Landsknecht Pike sent to aid the Spanish by Maximilian I wait behind the Arquebusiers in the trench.

The Artillery Crews.

A close up of the Earthworks.

Spanish Arquebusiers wait in the trench. Note the hill tiles at the end of the board.

Spanish Guns in the foreground with the Infantry top left and the Cavalry top right.

Landsknechts sent by Maximilian I and Italian mercenary infantry under a Colonna banner.

The Jinetes patrolling the banks of the river.

The guns behind the trench.

More guns further down the line.

A view from the other end of the trench.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Gaelic Command Bases

My 16th Century Irish Army is pretty much finished until Michael Perry sculpts some cavalry as he mentioned on Facebook a while back. In the meantime I couldn't resist using some of the Perry Irish Command pack figures for a Chieftan's base. This was partly inspired by the image from Derrickes "The Image of Ireland" showing a Horseboy holding his Chieftan's steed. The Irish Standard Bearer from the Command pack cried out to be used for this and one of the Redoubt Irish horses is obviously modelled on this image. I missed a trick in not sculpting on the strap across the "cushion" style saddle in green stuff as in the print but otherwise I am really pleased with the composition of the base. The Priest is from the Perry Miniatures Crusades range.

I also had a couple of Claymore Castings figures left over who I have combined with a Perry Miniature and one from Old Glory to make another Command base that could be placed at the head of a Scots Highland or Western Isles unit or alternatively leading a force of Galloglass. I think the leader looks more suitable as a Scots Chieftan. I have quite a few Highland banners for Flodden so this base will be useful for my slowly growing early 16th Century Scots force. I am currently working on a unit of Border Horse for this army which hopefully will be finished soon.

Horseboy from John Derricke's "The Image of Ireland" 1581, this image served as inspiration for the Irish Command Base.
Irish Chieftan discussing tactics with his Kern Captain and Priest while one of his Horseboys holds his horse.

Highland or Western Isles Command Base, the standard is for the MacLeans of Duart who would have fought under the Earl of Argyle at Flodden. This base could equally be used for a Galloglass unit with a different flag.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Early 16th Century Infantry

For my latest unit I have attempted to create a set of figures that represent infantrymen armed with polearms for the first quarter of the 16th Century. As I have often talked about on this blog it is the Landsknecht and Swiss, or Reisläufer, that get most of the attention in 16th Century Art and we rarely find depictions of all the other types of infantry who we know from the sources also fought in this period in large numbers. For this unit I wanted to create a set of troops that could pass muster as English, French or Scots. At a pinch they could also do as Spanish although they perhaps have more specialist infantry while similarly the Italians are quite different and I have covered them already: I am aware that regional differences would have been important in this era so for example even within the "French Infantry" you would have Gascons who may well have looked very different to the Picards but we simply don't know in what way they differed.

I have posted up some depictions on these perhaps less "glamorous" infantry to give an idea of what they may have looked like. Using these images combined with remaining pieces of munitions armour from the early 1500s it possible to build up an idea of how such troops may have dressed and armed. With regard to the armour I would recommend "The Medieval Armour from Rhodes" as it is superb for highlighting armour that was in use at a particular snapshot in time; Rhodes fell to the Ottomans in 1522 and this collection of armour was discovered there in the 19th Century. The collection is a fascinating mix of pieces from all over Europe ranging from mid 15th Century armour to pieces that would have been very new at the time of the second Turkish siege. It seems that this was some of the armour that was being used by the defenders, and often mixed and matched, during the siege. Of course the force defending Rhodes was fairly international in its composition but we know from Elis Gruffydd that the Calais Garrison was similarly international in it's make up as were the armies serving in Italy in the 1500s so there is no reason to doubt such variety of armour was not seen in other forces. If you can find this book I would certainly recommend it.

Detail from Breydenbach's Pilgrimage to the Holyland, 1522 edition. Crusaders at Damietta, note in the top right these chaps are described as Aventuriers. While their clothes are clearly of early 16th century fashion their armour has changed little from the late 15th century.

Detail from Jean d'Auton, King Louis XIIs entry to Milan October 6 1499. 

Jean Marot "Le Voyage de Gênes" first quarter of the 16th Century.

By 1500 munition quality armour had become common place and from the collection of images shown here it seems clear that in the early 1500s plenty of armour was worn by infantry of the various European nations. It's often easy to think of an era where gunpowder weapons were in the ascendance as one where armour was becoming worn less and less but this is far from the case. By the mid 16th Century, when the size of armies had grown to unprecendented levels, more armour was worn, "Corselets" being a term commonly used to describe Pikemen by the Mid 1500s. For this unit I was trying to depict troops from the early 16th Century who were not quite as uniformly equipped as later 16th Century infantry would be, or were at least meant to be.

The images show a lot of plate armour, often still very similar in style to that of the late 15th Century as in "Le Voyage de Gênes", the Crusaders at Damietta in the 1522 edition of Breydenbach, both shown above, and in "The Nancéïde", shown below. Relatively basic munition style armour is also shown as in the Jan Joest and Gerard David images, also both shown below. As a word of caution I would add that soldiers from Biblical scenes in this period are often depicted in quite "fantastical" or "ancient" armour, or at least a 16th Century idea of what ancient armour might be. Sometimes they appear in a mix of both contemporary and fantastical. This should be borne in mind when looking at these works for evidence of how they dressed. That being said the armour shown here doesn't seem particularly fantastical in any way.

"The Art of War" Bérault Stuart, seigneur d’Aubigny, first decade of the 1500s.

"The Nancéïde", Pierre de Blarru start of the 1500s. Is the chap with a halberd in the centre perhaps wearing a hair net?

Theuerdank c.1517. Notice how the infantry in this image look very similar to those in the two images above and below.

Detail from The Prayer of Jesus on the Mount of Olives, Betrayal of Judas, Innsbruck 1500-1510.

Detail from a resurrection scene, Jan Joest, Auferst.1506-08.

Detail from Gerard David, Christ on the Cross, 1515. A point of caution for images depicting Biblical scenes is that the artists sometimes try to make the soldiers look a little more "exotic" or "ancient" which can make it difficult to tell what is contemporary or not! Note the simple arm harness, sword and buckler and helmet worn under the hat of the figure on the right.

Unfortunately just as in the contemporary art it's the Landsknecht and Reisläufer that get all the attention the same is true for miniature manufacturers! There aren't really any miniatures that look like the soliders depicted in the art work above, well not a speficic range at least. There are however plenty of individual figures as well as bits and pieces that can be used to get something close to how these infantry may have looked.

The below photo shows the unit before it was painted up. I used figures and parts from Steel Fist Miniatures, Wargames Foundry, Warlord Games, The Assault Group, Mirliton, Perry Miniatures and Stuarts Tudor Dolls to put it together. In fact I think the unit may have taken longer to build than it did to paint if the time taken to see what worked and what didn't is taken into consideration! My skills with green stuff are still very basic so I was limited by the figures to how closely I could get something resembling an early 16th Century infantry unit. It was a similar situation when I worked on my generic pike,, a couple of years ago. Since then the addition of the Steel Fist casts, specifically the 16th Century Foot Knights, late 15th Century Munition Armoured Swiss Front Rankers,, and a couple of carefully selected figures from their Landsknecht range as well as Stuarts Tudor Dolls,, have meant I have been able to get closer to the look I wanted than was possible when I worked on the pike blocks.

The infantry assembled, this picture shows all the bits and pieces used to make this unit.

French Polearmed Infantry c.1500-1520.

So does it work as a convincing unit of early 16th Century infantry? I will leave that up to you to decide. The unit has a mix of late 15th Century armour, a lot of which I have left black to further demonstrate that it is of munition quality while some of the soldiers wear 16th Century armour and helmets. The elaborate and shiny early 16th Century harnesses have been reserved for the units leaders. The early 1500s style "base coats" are well represented thanks to the Tudor Dolls and figures from The Assault Group. The contemporary art work shown above clearly demonstrates that these coats were a feature of dress for many soldiers of the early decades of the 1500s. The various 1500s caps and hats also help to define the unit, again these can be seen in a lot of the images above.

For polearms I tried to use a many different variants as possible but avoided Bills. These seem to have been a particularly, though not exclusively, English or Italian weapon and while I could have included a couple I decided against them. My reasoning for this is that I will probably do a very similar unit to this one that will be specifically English Levied Billmen who will be carrying Bills of various varieties and wearing the St Georges cross. I have also included Brigandines, these can be seen in use in the Jean Marot image above, and some padded jacks for the less well armed members of the unit. The padded jacks are particularly suitable for using these troops as Scots or English as they were worn in the British Isles into Elizabethan times.

The photos show how versatile these troops can be, with a simple swap of the flags they are French, Scots or English infantry. They should also work well bolstering the ranks of my generic pikemen and the two command bases could be used in lots of different units in my collection. I was initially somewhat disappointed with the finished unit though, as all the forward pointing polearms make it very difficult to put one base behind the other and I felt that they were perhaps simply too generic and as such not that convincing. Once they were finished I painted up a couple more bases of 16th Century Archers, to give me three units of Bowmen for Lion Rampant, these can be seen in the last two photos. When added to the polearmed troops and under the English flags they help to make quite a convincing English unit despite the fact the figures are so generic and none of them even carry Bills. This has restored my confidence in the unit and I think once placed with the rest of my collection they will work well. I also have a feeling that because they are so generic they could be seeing an awful lot of action on the gaming table!

One of the command bases, under a French Banner. This will be a useful base that could be used for lots of units. The Man-at-Arms with the sword is in a very late 15th Century harness while the soldier on his left is in a more "modern" harness but of munition quality.

A unit of Scots of the Graham family.

The second command base, under the banner of William Graham, Earl of Montrose. This is a base that will have lots of uses. Note also how the two Men-at-Arms are in very up to date and fashionable harnesses for the early 16th Century

Billmen (ok there aren't actually any Bills there!) and Archers under the banners of Edmund Howard.

Unliveried English troops under the banners of Edmund Howard, perfect for the English right at Flodden.