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 I guess wheeled artillery could simply be rolled up to fire and then withdrawn again before being reloaded, it would recoil a fair way anyway.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

Monday, 1 August 2016

Maximilian Mounted Crossbowmen

After my foray into the mid-sixteenth century the blog is now back into the early 1500s. I was thinking about adding another unit of mounted crossbowmen to the collection as the one I have completed so far is very much Late Medieval Italian in style with some of them wearing Giorneas over their doublets and Mazzocchios around their helmets. Something a little more Northern European was needed. I picked up some boxes of the Perry Light Cavalry at Salute 2015 and was going to use one of these to make up another unit, but I felt they would still look very late medieval rather than early 16th Century.

I changed my mind about using the Perry figures when I saw this post by Daniel S on his excellent blog Kriegsbuch: It shows images of a painting from 1502 illustrating a conflict between the city of Nuremburg and the forces of Kasimir von Bradenburg-Kulmbach. This painting is fantastic in highlighting the dress and armour of German troops at the start of the 1500s. It clearly shows lots of light horsemen wearing painted or cloth covered sallets and clothing over their plate armour. Also included in the post were pictures from another German painting of the 1490s again showing the same style helmets and clothing worn with the plate. I have included some of these images below, but take a look at Kriegsbuch for more detail. It is certainly worth a look.

Detail from a painting of 1502 showing a battle between the forces of the the city of Nuremburg and Kasimir von Brandenburg-Kulmbach

Light Horseman in painted armour

Detail from a painting c.1490 by an anonymous Swabian Master showing cavalry in painted sallets

Detail from a painting c.1490 showing a cloth covered or painted sallet and cloth covered armour

Daniel also notes the similarity between the dress of the light horse and the men shown in Dürers Paumgartner altarpiece, an image I have posted on this blog before when discussing the "French Archers"  or lighter Gendarmes that Eureka Miniatures made some years ago. I have included it again below along with a picture from the Schilling Chronicle showing similarly dressed horsemen from the early 1500s. This got me thinking that it might look good to convert some of these miniatures into mounted crossbowmen. Granted the images discussed so far are not actually of mounted crossbowmen but some contemporary illustrations do show mounted crossbowmen in plate armour. A good example of this is the character shown in one of Paul Dolnsteins diary sketches of 1502.

Albrecht Dürer's Paumgartner altarpiece c.1500 commissioned by the Paumgartner family of Nuremburg

Detail from the Illustrated Chronicle by Diebold Schilling showing cavalry in painted sallets and cloth covered armour

Armoured mounted crossbowman c.1502 from Paul Dolnsteins diary

So here are the finished horsemen. Apologies for the quality of the photos I was having some serious lighting issues and will take some more of them accompanying other troops when I get the chance.  They are mix of Eureka French Archers and Perry Miniatures plastics - the crossbows, quivers and head swaps. The Perry Miniatures Light Cavalry boxed set includes loads of great bits and pieces that can be used for mounted crossbowmen and I think they have worked well on these figures. The Eureka figures come with a lance armed arm and an open handed arm so it is really easy to add the crossbows. I wanted to use only figures that are based on those from the Paumgartner Altarpiece, so basically none with puffed sleaves. I was particularly anal and did a special order from Nic at Eureka who kindly provided the requested figures rather than providing them randomly. This cost a little extra but there was no postage to pay as I picked the figures up directly at Salute this year.

In the contemporary paintings red and white seems to predominate, and I have gone for a similar theme but as this is for the early 1500s I have gone for a few other colours as well. I wouldn't want these chaps outfits being out done by their Landsknecht brothers on the field! I didn't attempt the more detailed painted sallets from the artwork or surviving pieces. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will no my loathing of attempting to paint anything too detailed on shields, banners or barding and some of the designs on those helmets certainly fall into that category.

What do you think of the results? I think with hindsight I would have done a few more headswaps. I wanted all the figures to have their visors up but I think some of the Perry plastic heads from the men at arms sets with sallets and bevors would have looked great on these figures. I am tempted to do some proper light horsemen from the images above in the future and have them all with visored sallets, spears and based in closer order but we will see. I also really think I should have included a standard. On a lot of my lighter, skirmish style troops I don't add them but I think with these cavalry they are sufficiently well accoutred to have warranted a nice banner. Again possibly something to add later, for now they will have to make do with an officer and trumpeter.

The mounted crossbowmen

I think this chap in the red is one of the closest resemblances to the figures in the contemporary artwork

The officer and trumpeter

All the figures have crossbolt quivers.

I think these two fit the bill well as early 16th century mounted crossbowmen

Friday, 1 July 2016

Marching Arquebusiers and the Mid 16th Century Troops so far

Apologies for the catchy title, it hardly rolls off the tongue! To follow on from my last couple of posts here are some pictures of a few more Arquebusiers to accompany my Pikemen and Skirmishing Shot for the Mid 16th Century. The figures are all by The Assault Group and the only change I have made to them is to remove the Fleur De Lis badges that they were all wearing. This is simply because I want to be able to use them for more generic infantry rather than specifically as French Troops.

While the first set of Shot were based as skirmishers these chaps are in far more sedate poses and based in closer order. My intention is for them to accompany the Pike as the "sleeves" of Shot that were beginning to develop in the mid 1500s, to become the Pike and Shot formations more familiar to the Late 16th and 17th Centuries. I have also included a picture of the whole Mid 16th Century collection so far, I am yet to rebase my 1540s Tudors.

I will be returning to this blogs more familiar territory of the earlier 1500s for a while although at some point I would like to return to this collection and add some more to it. I was hoping Warlord Games might release some suitable figures but I am a bit unsure of the figures for the 1560s they have released so far. We will see.

Mid 16th Century Arquebusiers

Pike Block and Arquebusiers 1540s-1550s

Pike Block and Arquebusiers by The Assault Group

The Mid 16th Century Collection so far

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Skirmishing Arquebusiers - Mid 16th Century

Following on from my last post of the mid 16th Century Pikemen by the Assault Group here are the first of the Arquebusiers to accompany them. They are based in Skirmish order and accompanied by some officers, a targeteer and halberdier to ward off other skirmishers they encounter. I suppose with the inclusion of these other figures they could also be suitable for the "Forlorn Hope" or "Les Enfants Perdus", sallying out in front of the pike or leading an assault on fortifications.

There is no real conversion work here, they are beautiful figures and don't need much changing. The only thing I have done is to remove the Fleur De Lis that all of the Arquebusiers have embroidered on their doublets or sewn to their leather jerkins. This would have shown their alleigance to Valois France in the Mid 16th Century. I like the fact that they have been sculpted onto the figures but as I wish them to be more generic rather than specifically French I have removed them. As you can see in the photos these figures are skirmishing out in front of Habsburg Pikemen so the Fleur De Lis would not have been appropriate here.

I am currently working on some shot in closer order who will form the "sleeves" that accompany the Pike Block. I think after that it may be time to return to the earlier part of the 16th century again.

Skirmishing Arquebusiers c.1535-1560

Skirmishing Arquebusiers by The Assault Group

The line advances in front of the Pike

Skirmishing Shot with Pike behind

Skirmishing Arquebusiers and Officer

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Imperialist Pike II

A few decades deviation from the early 16th century today. A while back I painted up some of The Assault Groups Mid Tudor figures to form a small pike block: . I was really impressed with the figures, especially the detail that had been put into sculpting the armour and the buckles, straps and laces that it was worn with. When The Assault Group expanded the range to add the Valois French I was keen to pick some up and create a much bigger block. I took advantage of a deal TAG were offering at SELWG in October where I think it was 20% off any preorders to be picked up at the show. 

So here they are, 70 figures in total, including most of the original 20 from the first post. They are a mix of The Assault Groups Tudors and Valois French with no head swaps or conversions this time. I would argue the figures can be used as fairly generic pike from the 1530s through to the 1560s, though by the 1560s some of the clothing styles and armour may be a bit dated. They would be fine to represent pikemen in the early French Wars of Religion or even the start of the Dutch Revolt at a pinch. I have painted them up so they can be used to represent different nationalities, they are shown here as Habsburg troops. The flags are by Redoubt Enterprises, I think they are intended for the Thirty Years War but are also suitable for troops fighting for Charles V in the mid 16th century. In fact, carrying these flags, these figures are great for the troops who fought in the later Habsburg Valois Wars in battles such as St Quentin in 1557 and Gravelines in 1558.

So far for this project I have this unit and the mounted arquebsiers: . I am currently working on some shot to accompany the pike. I am going to paint some skirmishing arquebusiers and some marching ones as well. This is more of a side project to my earlier collection though, so I think I will return to the earlier 1500s after that. Saying that I would like to rebase all the Tudor figures I painted up a while ago at some point as well!

Habsburg Pike c.1530-1560

Mid 16th Century Pikemen by The Assault Group

The centre of the block has the drummers, ensigns officers and halberdiers

The block from the side - note the officer at the back with a 2 handed sword

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Hook Guns, Hail Shot or Hand Cannons?

The pictures below are of another small project I have worked on in recent months. I already had some of these Grenadier figures, they call them Giant Handgunners, and posted them on this blog a few years back: I spotted some more packets of these figures at a stall at the SELWG show last year and here they are, based up and added to the original sets. 

There have been quite a few head swaps and a couple of TAG figures accompany them on two of the bases. The figures are intended to be for fantasy but I think they fit rather well into the early 1500s when gunpowder weapons were far from standardised and all sorts of different types were in use at the same time. This style of weapon would probably have been quite dated by the 16th century, more suited to the 15th century, although saying that they do remind me a bit of the Hail Shot pieces that were retrieved from the Mary Rose which sank in 1545. As you can tell from the title I am not really sure what to call these guns. Let me know if you think there are a little too early or too fantasy in style.

With the head swaps and addition on the TAG figures I have tried to make them suitable for the 1490s into the 1510s. I doubt they would really have taken to the field in some kind of unit as shown in the first three photos. That is if they took to the field at all, they look like they would be far more suited to firing from defended positions which is of course how the Spanish preferred to deploy their shot armed troops in the early stages of the Italian Wars. I have shown them integrated with other Arquebusiers which I think works really well and also within a Spanish Infantry formation as a whole. In the last few photos the pikemen are flanked by shot armed troops who are supported by sword and buckler armed Rodeleros. I think the new bases work well with the other figures, the fact there are only two of them on a base doesn't seem to harm the overall look when mixed with the more densely based miniatures which I am glad about.

A small block of Spanish pike supports the gunners 

Spanish Arquebusiers
Spanish Arquebusiers for the early Italian Wars

Spanish Arquebusiers as part of a larger Spanish Infantry formation
Spanish Pike, Rodeleros and Arquebusiers
Spanish infantry for the early Italian Wars