Saturday, 4 July 2015

Perry Light Cavalry - Jinetes

Jinetes were the Spanish light cavalry who used tactics developed from centuries of fighting the Moors in Spain during the Reconquista. Converting a set out of the Perry Plastics has been a project I have wanted to do for ages. Originally I was going to convert them from the Men at Arms plastic set, as I did with my lighter cavalry, but when I found out the Perrys were working on a specific set of light cavalry for the late 15th century I decided to wait for these. There is not really that much conversion work in the figures in all honesty but a few little changes have been done to make them look like Jinetes. One thing I will note is that I think Jinetes actually rode their horses in quite a different style from Western European cavalry in the late middle ages. While these figures ride with their legs nearly straight, Jinetes would have ridden with shorter stirrups and bent knees. When working on these I also picked up some inspiration from Miguel's awesome work on "Wars in Miniature",
The first obvious thing about the figures is that they carry the typical Moorish leather shields, Adargas, while a few carry bucklers. The ones I used are from Redoubt Enterprises and Wargames Foundry and they really help to change the style of the figures. I have left some as undecorated leather while others are painted.
The horses have also had some green stuff added to change the trappings on some and alter the saddles on others. I feel this gives a more Spanish/Moorish flavour to the figures and was also a good chance for me to experiment a bit more with the dreaded green stuff. This was also used to give all the figures (whose faces can be seen) beards and/or long hair. I am definitely improving with the green stuff in this regard and it took me surprisingly little time to model these features on. I am not sure my photos are good enough to really show this but I hope some of the close up photos below will do the hair styling some justice!
I did think about javelins, their most famous weapon, and even bought some javelins in holders from Essex Miniatures. I decided not to use them in the end as I have not seen any contemporary images of Jinetes holding javelins in holders. I may do another set, as I have 2 more Perry plastics boxed sets of cavalry, and try putting javelins in their shield hands. I know they were meant to be expert horsemen but you do wonder how easy it was to ride with a arm holding a shield and a couple of spare javelins! 
Despite the lack of javelins I think the changes really help to give a distinctive feel to the figures. I reckon these figures could be used in Spanish armies from Ferdinand and Isabella's conquest of Granada that started in the 1480s all the way up to Italy in the early 1520s at a pinch.


Spanish Jinetes

Jinetes with Moorish influence

With the above figure on the left I wanted to include a turban as I like the idea that some of the Granadians would have continued with traditional styles of dress and this would be reflected in the Spanish armies. I was also influenced by the below painting by Vincenzo Catena in the National Gallery. The kneeling figure has European armour but wears a turban and his horse has trappings from Islamic Spain. I would hazard a guess that the artist may possibly have been influenced by Jinetes when painting this? If I do another set of Jinetes I think I will include a few more turbans as they also help to give a distinctive character to the horsemen.

"A Warrior adoring the Infant Christ and the Virgin", Vincenzo Catena 1520s.

Jinetes with adargas

Converted saddles

Captain and Trumpeter

While on a Spanish vibe I was lucky enough to spend last weekend visiting Granada with my brother. It was a fantastic trip with fantastic weather, tapas and probably a few too many cervezas, but it was a holiday! I joined the massed ranks of tourists to visit the Alhambra and although it was busy and we were herded around by our tour guide (who was actually very good) it really is a must see. I was amused that Charles V had put an enormous Italian Renaissance style palace (that was never finished) right in the middle of the place! He has also added his imperial eagle and motto "Plus Ultra" into many parts of the Islamic Palaces which is slightly incongruous as well. The 14th and 15th century Islamic parts of the complex are breathtaking, really like something I have never seen before. If you do visit you really need to book as far in advance as possible as the amount of visitors a day is strictly limited.
While in Granada I also made a pilgrimage to the much quieter Monastery of Saint Jerome, my brother and I were the only people in the enormous church which was silent and cool despite a scorching day outside. The reason we visited was to see the tomb of Gonzalo de Cordoba. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know that one of the parts of the Italian Wars that fascinates me most is Gonzalo's campaigns in Naples at the turn of the fifteenth century, culminating in the battles of Cerignola and Garigliano in 1503. His grave is a suprisingly simple marble slab, shown below. Apparently there was once a great tomb covered in momentos of his victories but this was destroyed during the French occupation of Granada in the 1800s. I also visited the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella in the Royal Chapel of the Cathedral (the trip wasn't as morbid as I am making it sound!) where they had some original flags from the conquest of Granada which 
were amazing to see but unfortunately photos weren't allowed in there. It is a great place to visit for anyone interested in the renaissance.

The Alhambra

Monastery of Saint Jerome, Granada

Tomb of "El Gran Capitan", Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba

Monday, 8 June 2015

Pedro de Gamboa and Mounted Arquebusiers

So finally I am back to painting again and have completed a troop of horsemen I started at the end of last year. They were put on hold while the great rebasing took place. They are a dozen mounted arquebusiers by The Assault Group. The miniatures are for the 1540s and 1550s but I would be happy to use them for the early French Wars of Religion and the start of the Dutch Revolt as well. With a few tweaks they can be used for quite a few different armies and campaigns. 
You may notice I have indeed made a few tweaks to the figures. Firstly all the Fleur de Lis badges have been removed. TAG sell them as Valois French Argoulets and so they wear small Fleur de Lis badges on their chests. As with most of my 16th century figures I want them to be more generic and so have removed the badges. A further conversion that was a bit more work was changing all the shoes the horsemen are wearing into riding boots. Apart from the Captain and standard bearer all of the figures are in very flimsy shoes, without spurs. TAG did the same thing with their Italian Wars Mounted Crossbowmen and Arquebusiers and it always strikes me as odd. Normally their miniatures are very well researched so I am not sure why they make these light cavalry in unsuitable footwear! While my skills with the green stuff are not good enough to model the spurs, it is a relatively easy task to change the shoes into riding boots. A couple of the pictures below show these. I also did a couple of head swaps for variety. There is a figure in an early Cabasset which I took off one of the old Foundry Wars of Religion figures.
When I painted up the TAG Italian Wars mounted arquebusiers:, I commented that I was not so keen on the figures firing from the saddle as I envisaged them more as early dragoons. By the 1540s however this style of cavalry were most definitley firing while mounted. A good example of this can be found when looking at the Spanish mercenaries led by Pedro de Gamboa who fought for Henry VIII and Edward VI. 

Pedro De Gamboa was employed by the English in the 1540s and saw service in France, England and Scotland. In 1545 he was posted in Newcastle with 1,300 Spanish mercenaries as a defence against any Scottish incursions while the English were at war in France. His mixed force of cavalry and infantry had a reputation for being unruly. They demanded lodgings, fuel, candles, salt, victuals and even laundry service off their hosts and killed two of the Kings subjects while posted there. In November of 1545 he was to lead his horsemen and infantry in a raid along with 1000 Border Horsemen under the Warden of the West March, Sir Thomas Wharton, but this raid never took place.
When posted in France it seems de Gamboa acted as the "Master of the Camp" over all Spaniards in English service, perhaps not such an easy job as these troops had a reputation for quarrelsome behaviour. Such behaviour in fact led to a high profile duel between two of his Spanish Captains in July 1546. Antonio de Mora had been in Henry VIII's service in Calais in April 1545 when he deserted to serve the French under Marshal du Biez, taking some of his men and 60 new handguns with him. This behaviour was considered traitorous as he was under contract during a campaign. Another of de Gamboa's Captains, Julian Romero, a man who would go on to fight at St Quentin in 1557 and find fame as one of the right hand men of the Duke of Alba in the opening of the Dutch Revolt, challenged de Mora as a result of this. The duel was fought at Fontainbleau in front of Francis I with victory going to Julian Romero. De Gamboa and two of his captains, Cristobal Diaz and Pedro Negro, had accompanied Romero to Fontainbleau to watch the spectacle. As Romero's commander de Gamboa was awarded the sum of £250! Although it may seem that de Gamboa and his men were an unruly and troublesome lot, which at times they evidently were, he must have proved his worth to the English as in January of 1547 he was awarded denization for his services by Henry, having already been Knighted in 1546, and given the lordship and manor of the rectory of Stanmer in Middlesex. A good example of how Henry liked sharing his spoils from the Catholic Church! It was to be following Henry's death, in the campaigns in Scotland, that Pedro de Gamboa and his men were really to come to the fore.
Under Edward Seymour, Protector Somerset, the focus of the English war effort swung to Scotland. In 1547 Somerset invaded and defeated the Scots at Pinkie Cleugh. De Gamboa led 200 "hackbutters on horseback" in the battle. These horsemen were used to ride past the Scots pike blocks, once they had been halted by the English heavy cavalry, discharging their firearms into the ranks while being safely out of reach of the pikes. Quite clear evidence that by this date mounted arquebusiers were firing from the saddle. De Gamboa was injured during the battle. His Spanish infantry also played a part in the invasion with 3 of his captains, Cristobal Diaz, Pedro Negro and Alonzo de Villa Sirga, being knighted at Roxburgh on 28 September, not long after the battle.
Following this victory over the Scots in September 1547 Somerset was determined to gain control over Scotland through a series of garrisons, having realised that although raids could devastate the land and population, they never achieved any lasting results. De Gamboa and his men would play a key part in this war of sieges, ambushes and raids. As professionals they were seen as essential once the French entered the war directly and landed men in Scotland to help defeat the English garrisons. His men were receiving twice the normal rate of pay in Scotland, Gamboa himself being allowed 22 deadpays, men he was receiving pay for who weren't actually serving. Elsewhere the English were attempting to stamp this practice out so the fact Gamboa was allowed this perk and the double pay for his men demonstrates the English confidence in their military value. Their skills were well demonstrated during the siege of Haddington (the following account comes from Gervase Phillips excellent "The Anglo-Scots Wars").
Haddington held an English garrison but had been surrounded by a force of Scots and French in 1548. A night time relief attempt was led by Sir Thomas Palmer who commanded a body of men-at-arms, demilancers, border horsemen and de Gamboa and his mounted arquebusiers, as well as English infantry. De Gamboa and his men were in the vanguard of this English force and were first to make contact with the besieging French. His mounted arquebusiers skirmished with 150 French horse who rode out to meet them. De Gamboa was confident he could defeat them and indeed the fire from his mounted troops began to drive the French back. They could have dismounted to fire on the French cavalry but as the vanguard seems to have been an entirely mounted force with four hundred mounted borderers supporting de Gamboa , I would guess they were probably firing while mounted, as they had done the previous year at Pinkie Cleugh.
De Gamboa forced his way through the French siege lines and spoke to the English on the ramparts of Haddington's defences. He was aware that the French were now alert to the relief and from the start had been nervous that the English heavy cavalry, the men-at-arms and demilancers, would charge too early and lead to a disordered mess. When he first engaged the French, de Gamboa had sent a message back to Palmer to "cause the squadrantes to remayne firm where they were", and as he stood at the ramparts of Haddington he again requested that the heavy cavalry remain in order, despite the fact his mounted arquebusiers had now come to sword strokes with the French horse. 
De Gamboa's fears were well founded, as the fighting developed the impetuous English demilancers and men-at-arms charged in. Initially driving off the French cavalry the heavy horse ran into a formed body of French infantry, possibly disciplined Landsknechts, as did the borderers who had followed them. The English foot were left exposed and as they and the English cavalry attempted to withdraw they took heavy casualties. In all the English lost around 700 men, killed or captured, as well as at least 72 "great horses", 100 geldings and the arms and armour their riders had carried. As the English had struggled to outfit heavy cavalry throughout the 16th century this was a real blow.
Although this was a defeat for the English I think it demonstrates the role of the mounted arquebusiers by the mid 16th century and also de Gamboa's professionalism, at least when he was on the battlefield! Unfortunately his advice was not heeded during the engagement and the disorder he had envisaged became a reality. He had stressed that the heavy cavalry should not have charged but that they "shud always have contynued at large together, and not breke, to have ben our refuge and savegard". The Scottish campaign was not the last service de Gamboa did for the English Crown. During August of 1549 he saw service in Norfolk when he accompanied Conrad Pennick's Landsknechts in the brutal suppression of Kett's rebellion. At the "Battle" of Dussindale around 3000 rebels were killed, hardly the most noble of actions for de Gamboa to serve in but of use to the English Government.

So here are the mounted arquebusiers. They may well be the start of a mid to late Sixteenth Century army as I really like the new TAG Valois French,, especially the infantry. I am also keeping an eye of what Warlord Games are producing for the 1560s-1570s, For now I have some  much earlier Italian Wars figures to work on but I will probably get tempted into this period, especially if more figures are released.

Mounted Arquebusiers in Hapsburg Service

Mounted Arquebusiers with riding boots modelled from Green Stuff

Trumpeter and Mounted Arquebusier

The Arquebusiers from behind

Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Remaining Horse.......

After 5 months the rebasing project is finally over. Here are the final rebased troops, my Gendarmes and supporting lighter horse, Stradiots and a small group of crossbowmen. There are a fair few painted troops that haven't been rebased, they've been held back for later projects or I just couldn't find how to fit them in.  A few groups of Landsknechts I have decided I will put on Ebay at some point. Other than these exceptions every unit in the Italian Wars collection has now been rebased. What is useful is that through these posts over the past few months I have been able to catalogue everything in the collection. Prior to this not all the various units had been photographed individually as some were completed before I started the blog.
As you will see from the last couple of photos I have also rebased a few civilians and clergy to accompany the troops. As with the armies I have quite a few civilian extras I haven't rebased yet as I am not sure how I want to use them but I am confident I will get round to them at some point. I am also keen to do some casualty bases as well.
Apologies for the photos, I couldn't get great light for all of them. I think a certain level of weariness is to blame for the photography as well as it feels like I have been rebasing this stuff for ages. I was keen to just get the last groups photographed and posted up so I could then move on to new projects. Since I started this at the end of December some interesting new releases have come out and I am keen to have a go at these. I'd been waiting for the Perry Light Cavalry that I picked up at Salute for years (literally) so I can't wait to have a go at them. I also have some other bits and pieces I have picked up on Ebay over the past few months that I want to make new units out of. The basing break has been good but I am glad to be back working on new stuff again now.

Imperial Gendarmes

French "Archers" or Lighter Gendarmes

"Light" Cavalry c.1500

Perry Miniatures Stradiots

The Assault Group and Venexia Stradiots


Venetian Crossbowmen

Cardinal and Priests


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Rebased Landsknechts

This was the rebasing task I was dreading the most - rebasing and reorganising the Landsknechts. I had images of wire pikes breaking and going everywhere as I pulled figures off their old bases and the size of the task alone put me off. The Landsknecht part of my Italian Wars collection is essentially an army in itself. There were a few breakages and I did manage to drop something at my painting desk and lean down to pick it up only to get a forehead full of 45 degree pikes (I'm glad they aren't sharp) but thankfully they are now all rebased. For a while I have thought about doing a blog post where I compare and talk about the different Landsknecht sculpts available in 25-28mm and this post also gives me the chance to do this. I have included links to the different manufacturers in case anyone wanting to collect landsknechts in this scale happens across this post.
The first couple of photos are all of Wargames Foundry Landsknechts,, sculpted by the Perrys (there is one pack not sculpted by them but these figures are tucked at the back of the Artizan block shown below). For me these are still the best available in terms of pose, variety and historical accuracy. I would date them from around 1510-1515 through to about 1525-1530, so they are perfect for many of the big Italian Wars clashes - Marignano, La Biccoca, Pavia. The marching arquebusiers at the front include some minor conversions I showed in an earlier post: . The Landsknecht guns and crew that the Foundry do are beautiful,, some of my favourite Italian wars miniatures, and are shown in an earlier post: .

Marching Landsknechts - Wargames Foundry

The next group are the standing Landsknechts, a mix of Pro Gloria Miniatures and Wargames Foundry figures. These Pro Gloria figures were some of the first they produced (they are now sold by Warlord Games: They fit perfectly with the Foundry figures both in terms of scale and date. In fact it can be hard to tell which is Foundry and which is Pro Gloria when the are all based up together. Unfortunately the Pro Gloria Arquebusiers (shown below) are not quite as good sculpts, which is a shame. Warlord have released some new figures for this range and have more on the way but they don't seem to be quite as accurate as these original pikemen and command figures. At Salute this year I picked up their "Landsknecht Looters" set. This is a beautifully sculpted set but anachronism does seem to have crept in a little - the figure holding a torch in this set is wearing Plunderhose (or maybe it's Pluderhose) the large baggy hose which didn't appear until the 1550s. This doesn't really sit well with the rest of the figures who are in clothing more suited to the 1520s-1530s. It depends how fussy you are about your Landsknechts and it is one of the problems of this troop type. They were around from the 1490s through to the end of the 16th century, during which they had many distinctive fashions. I am still waiting for a manufacturer to decide to do some early Landsknechts for 1495-1505, in the style of Paul Dolnsteins sketches, but I doubt we will see any soon!

Standing Landsknechts - Pro Gloria Miniatures and Wargames Foundry

Standing Landsknechts - Wargames Foundry and ProGloria Miniatures (now sold by Warlord Games)

Next up is a unit made again of Pro Gloria and Foundry figures. One of the advantages of rebasing everything was being able to mix the figures. When I originally painted the Foundry Landsknechts the Pro Gloria ones didn't even exist so it has been good to have a bit of a reorganisation and put them on bases together. If you look at the left hand of the front rank you will see the Pro Gloria Frundsberg figure has snuck in there, he was too nice to leave out!

Attacking Landsknechts - Wargames Foundry and Pro Gloria Miniatures

Attacking Landsknechts - Foundry and Progloria Miniatures

In total I have 7 bases of Foundry Landsknechts in the attacking pose below. I know it's not a popular pose with wargamers as the horizontal pikes are a bit of a nightmare to try and game with but they do look the part. A while ago I converted some of these figures to more closely represent Reisläufer, , and these are shown in contrast to the Landsknechts in the second photo. The Reisläufer will form the front rank of my Swiss block, the rest of which has already been rebased.

Landsknecht front rank - Wargames Foundry Miniatures

Reisläufer front rank - Converted Wargames Foundry figures

To follow are my Old Glory Landsknechts - 12 bases of 6 figures each, or . These are certainly figures where a touch of anachronism has crept in. I think they are meant to represent the same period as the Foundry Landsknechts, the 1510s to 1520s, but there are some very baggy hose which would be more suited to a few decades later and some fur hats and helmet styles that would also seem more appropriate later. That being said I think they capture the rakish feel of Landsknechts brilliantly and I love the big sun hats some of them wear as well as the hats that seem to be entirely made of feathers! For me they work fine to bolster the centre of my Landsknecht blocks but they are not as nice as the Foundry figures and the Pro Gloria Pikemen. They are less pricey than the other figures but require the hands to be drilled out to take the pikes which is a fair bit of extra work when you consider they come in bags of 30 miniatures.

Old Glory Landsknechts

Old Glory Landsknechts

The below Pike block is made predominantly of Artizan Landsknechts,, although there is also one base of Foundry Landsknechts, that weren't sculpted by the Perrys,, a few Assault Group figures,, and a few Old Glory figures tucked in there as well. The arquebusiers on the side are Pro Gloria and Old Glory. Again suitable for the 1510s-1520s the Artizan figures are quite large sculpts and the clothing doesn't seem as convincingly sculpted as it does on the Foundry and Pro Gloria figures. I'm really not keen on their Landsknecht arquebusiers and I think the 16 I painted will be destined for Ebay at some point. In contrast the command set I bought from Artizan, shown below, is really nice, the officer with his hat off is a miniature full of character.

Artizan Landsknechts with Shot by Pro Gloria and Old Glory

A block of predominantly Artizan Landsknechts with arquebusiers by Old Glory and Pro Gloria.

Following on from the Landsknecht pike are 8 bases of skirmishing Landsknecht Arquebusiers. They are a mix of Foundry, Pro Gloria and Old Glory miniatures - I think the different sculpts work well when mixed together. With my Landsknecht shot I wanted some in closer order, like the marching ones in the first photos, and some in looser skirmish order to go in front of the pike blocks. I chose the figures I liked the most to go on the skirmish bases, and also included a few halberdiers in suitable poses to accompany them. The remainder of the shot have made 6 bases of closer order arquebusiers, that can be seen in the above 2 photos on either side of the Artizan pike block. I'm not as keen on these bases but they look ok when next to the pikes.

Skirmishing Landsknecht Arquebusiers - Wargames Foundry, Pro Gloria and Old Glory Miniatures

Skirmishing Landsknecht Shot - Wargames Foundry, Pro Gloria and Old Glory Miniatures

The Pro Gloria light guns are shown below.  From contemporary illustrations and also from what I have seen in museums it seems these kind of proto-muskets where quite common in the first decades of the 16th century. I think that this was the first set Pro Gloria ever produced, a Landsknecht carrying a pig being the only miniature they had done prior to the Light Gun. I was unsure how to base these, and even considered round bases, but in the end I opted for the 90mm by 45mm base longways as it meant I could fit them in a block with the Arquebusiers if needed. To each base I added an Old Glory figure as well which I think helps to fill the base up more and adds a bit more dynamism to the bases as otherwise the crew poses are all the same. In fact had I painted these miniatures now I would have definitley done a few head swaps.

Landsknecht Light Guns

Landsknecht Light Guns - Pro Gloria and Old Glory Miniatures

The final 7 photos are of my Command bases, 5 for the infantry and then 2 round bases of mounted Landsknechts who can ride outside the blocks and look important! I am really pleased with how these all turned out, my only regret is that on the infantry bases some really nice fifers and drummers are obscured by the standards and commanders. Because of this, and because of the posing, some of these bases only have 5 figures rather than the standard 6 I have been putting on the close order pike bases. Under each photo I have listed the different manufacturers used on the base, I think these command sets in particular illustrate how the different manufacturers work well together, especially the Foundry and Pro Gloria figures. With the infantry there a 3 standing bases for the command, one that could be marching or attacking and one dynamic base that is very much leading the attack.
Getting the Landsknechts finished means that I am much closer to finishing rebasing everything, I have quite a lot more cavalry to do and a few other bits and pieces but I am well over half way - which is a relief!

Artizan and Old Glory Landsknecht Command

Landsknecht Command Group - Wargames Foundry

Landsknecht Command - The front figure is Foundry the rest are Pro Gloria

Landsknecht Command Attacking - Pro Gloria and Wargames Foundry

Landsknecht Command Marching - Wargames Foundry

Landsknecht Feldhauptmann - Wargames Foundry

Mounted Landsknecht Officers - Wargames Foundry