Saturday, 1 August 2015

Longbows/Warbows in the early 1500s


The Longbow or Warbow seems to always generate quite a lot of historical debate, even whether to call it a Longbow or not has caused argument! I have been interested in it's use in the early 1500s and was keen to paint up some figures armed with bows for my collection. Whenever you read about the campaigns of this era there are mentions of archers, but often little discussion of how they were deployed or what they looked like. Stuart has recently finished some of his spectacular French Ordonnance Archers over on Army Royal:  http://stuartsworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/ordonnance-archers-complete.html and has also written up a great piece discussing them: http://stuartsworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/ordonnance-archers-wip-part-1.html . 
The French and the English are the obvious armies where these kind of troops would be deployed but I have also come across references to them appearing in other forces. De Gaury's "The Grand Captain", for example, mentions Gonzalo de Cordoba having two regiments of Basque Archers under his command when he was tasked with dividing up Naples between the French and the Spanish in 1501. Now this is a dated work, published in 1955, and certainly not up to the standards of historical writing today but it is interesting to think that the Spanish may have fielded these troops. This is a complete guess but if the Spanish did field Basque Archers, as the Basque Country is in Northern Spain I would assume they were more likely to be men carrying the Longbow/Warbow rather than the smaller recurved bow popular in the Mediterranean. David Nicolle in the Fornovo Osprey book mentions Italian infantry in the 1490s called arceri who were modelled on the English Longbowmen. I think this is the only reference to these type of troops in Italian Armies that I have come across.
What further interested me was when I had a closer look at images from the Wiesskunig, the book Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I had commissioned to chronicle his life and depict him as a paragon of Chivalry. It was completed in the mid 1510s and interestingly has quite a few depictions of archers, which I have posted below. The archers are shown being transported in a ship as part of the Imperial army and in combat in four of the woodcuts. In two of these combat scenes it looks like they represent the English at the Battle of the Spurs in 1513 when Henry VIII and Maximilian's forces routed some French cavalry. The two images below these I am not so sure of, unfortunately I don't know the full story of the Wiesskunig although I am aware it follows Maximilian's historic adventures but gives them a gloss in which he always comes out looking great! He was very keen on his propaganda after all. What is particularly odd is that in the last combat woodcut both armies are fielding archers who are dressed in the Landsknecht style. This is unusual as normally in the woodcuts they are depicted in long coats. I would be keen to know what is being represented here although it may not be an actual historical event. The final two images from the Wiesskunig show the archers more as guards, they can clearly be seen watching the grisly beheadings (the Wiesskunig is very keen on showing this kind of thing!) and then as part of a royal bodyguard in the final image. Maximilian's father in law Charles the Bold had chosen archers as his royal bodyguard as of course did the French Kings.

Image from the Wiesskunig showing archers being transported in a ship

Image from the Wiesskunig depicting acrhers in battle, I think this depicts the English archers at the Battle of the Spurs in 1513.

Archers follow up the Men at Arms, as they accompany Billmen I would guess these are also English. Note the sword and bucklers they carry.

Archers face charging Men at Arms in the top left of the this image from the Wiesskunig

Archers are depicted in Landsknecht style clothes in this rather curious scene from the Wiesskunig

Archers watch and guard a series rather grisly ship board beheadings

In this scene from the Wiesskunig the bows of the archers can be seen in the background, it looks as though they are part of  Maximilian's bodyguard

So where am I going with this ramble on archers in the early 1500s? I have always been a fan of the old citadel Empire range that the Perrys sculpted back in the 1990s. Over the years I have slowly picked up a sizeable force of the bowmen from this range on Ebay. This was made much easier when I learnt how to strip old painted figures of paint with Dettol so they look like new. You can pick up the old clogged figures pretty cheaply while the unpainted ones can be expensive. Some of these figures were in my old Tudor army, most of which has now been sold, and are shown in their previous incarnation below. I spent ages trying to decide whether to do them all as English archers but in the end decided against this, mainly for the reasons above, that it seems archers with the Longbow/Warbow were fielded by other nations in the early 16th century. I wanted a group that could be used to depict the English (ok so they should really be wearing the red St Georges cross even if they are not uniformed) or dismounted French Ordonnance Archers or archers in the pay of Maximilian. For this reason I have painted them in different coloured coats rather than in any particular liveries. I think once an English swallow tailed banner, a Red and Yellow banner of Louis XII or a Hapsburg saltire is seen flying above them they will look convincing, the long coats certainly look the part. I am not sure they could pass muster as the Basque archers or Italian arceri however!
A few things have been done to the figures. The Perrys sculpted 6 poses in the long coats so for variation I have changed hairstyles and added some beards with green stuff. I have also made a number of headswaps. This was a bit of a nightmare as I thought I would easily be able to add Perry Tudor heads or heads from their Wars of the Roses plastic sets. This doesn't work as they are big figures, about the size of Front Rank figures to give an idea. Adding Perry heads just did not look right so in the end I had to get back on Ebay and pick up some old plastic Empire heads from Citadel. These fitted much better although I did do some further converting of them. A lot of the plastic empire heads and the original heads of these figures are wearing a Landsknecht style skull cap either on its own or under another hat. While I didn't mind a few of these I certainly didn't want a whole load of archers in them so they were removed or long hair was modeled over them.
The original Citadel figures did not carry any side arms so all the figures have had plastic swords or swords and bucklers added from the Perry late medieval kits. One of the woodcuts above shows an archer carrying a sword and buckler. The addition of the swords really helps the figures look more three dimensional as well, the swords break up the rather stiff poses of them all leaning or firing forward. The figures all already wear archers bracers and have the arrows tucked in their belts so there was no need to do any further converting.
I also had a bit of a basing disaster. Initially I thought they should be the same as the crossbowmen and arquebusiers that I have based in closer order, four to a base. I glued them all to the bases like this and added all the gravel only to realise the next day that they were way too close together, none of them would have been able to loose any arrows! As mentioned before they are big miniatures. So in the end they ended up three to a 45mm by 45mm base and I think this looks about right.
So here they are, thirty figures on 10 bases that could represent English from the Calais Garrison or an invasion force, English in Imperial pay, dismounted French Ordonnance archers or even Scots Archers of the French Royal Guard who have become bedraggled and non-uniformed on campaign. I would say they fit for around 1500-1530, although I suppose the 1510s is when they are most accurate for. I already have some more generic command bases that could go with them and will probably work on a few more. I think they need a flag to fight under and am quite keen to see what they look like under a swallow tailed English flag.

An earlier attempt at these figures, I painted them up to represent archers in Henry VIII's army of 1513.

The archers

A close up of some of the archers

A picture from the back showing the long coats and the addition of the plastic swords

One of the archer bases, the two figures on either side have had headswaps

Another base, the closest figure has had a feather added to his hat and the two figures behind have had beards modeled on with greenstuff

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Fähnlein


There aren't really enough Landsknechts in this block to constitute a real Fähnlein, certainly not a full strength one, but I could not resist posting up some photos of the massed Landsknechts now they have been rebased. The previous giant block, http://camisado1500s.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/forest-of-pikes.html, was 256 figures. The new block totals a terrifying 292 figures (terrifying when I think how long each figure took me to paint, I could probably have done a PhD in the time it took to paint this lot!). Despite there being more figures I think it takes up less space than the other block as they are based much closer together now. There are 14 ranks of 21 figures each, 49 bases of 6 figures per base. A couple of the command bases have 5 instead of 6 figures so there are 292 miniatures in total.
Lest the Landsknechts take all the glory I also had a chance to form up my Reisläufer block for the first time since I have rebased them. It's 118 figures in all, 10 ranks of 12, but again the command bases only have 5 figures. Although the Artizan Reisläufer figures have simply been painted up, the Old Glory and Foundry figures have had a lot of conversions done to really give this block a different feel from their professional competitors the Landsknechts.
If the Landsknecht block will get any larger remains to be seen. I suppose it depends if anyone makes any more 28mm Landsknechts and I am still hoping that one day a manufacturer will make some suitable for around 1495-1505 that will fit well with my really early Italian Wars stuff. You can never have enough of these colourful chaps in a 16th century army!

The front of the Landsknecht Pike Block

Arquebusiers skirmish in front of the pike

Skirmish screen of Landskencht arquebusiers

The pike block from the side

Landsknecht Pike

The back of the block

From above


Reisläufer

Swiss pikemen

Swiss pike block

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", http://warsinminiature.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/nuevo-proyecto-guerra-de-granada.html.
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.

Jinetes

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: http://camisado1500s.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/mounted-arquebusiers.html, 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, http://www.theassaultgroup.co.uk/french-valois, especially the infantry. I am also keeping an eye of what Warlord Games are producing for the 1560s-1570s, http://store.warlordgames.com/collections/wars-of-religion. 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

Stradiots

Venetian Crossbowmen

Cardinal and Priests

Civilians