Wednesday, 9 October 2013

La Bicocca 1522

La Bicocca 1522

I have to admit the title of the post is slightly misleading. This is not a battle report or even a history of the battle of La Bicocca in 1522. Instead its an excuse for me to show the collection in its entirety for my 50th blog post. When I started this blog I did a post called Hapsburg vs Valois which contained the entire collection as it stood then: . For the 50th one I couldn't resist having a look at what everything I have painted so far looks like when arrayed on the tabletop.
I wanted some kind of theme to the set up and decided for a few of reasons that arraying the two armies for this particular battle in 1522 was a good choice. Firstly at La Biccoca the French, employing large numbers of Swiss Pikemen, around 16,000, and backed by the Venetians faced an Imperialist force containing Spanish, Landsknechts and Papal troops allied with the Milanese. I felt this could kind of justify me getting everything onto the table in one of the various factions although I doubt that the Venetians actually fielded any archers at La Bicocca as I have in this! Secondly I have most of the main commanders flags for this battle so the set up would allow me to show these various characters on the field as well as using lots of my Venetian, Swiss and Milanese Flags. Finally I have a set of earthworks, they seem to feature in most of the early Italian Wars battles, so I could use them to help create the scene. I know there is no sunken road or crisscrossing of irrigation ditches as there was at La Bicocca but they help create a good scene.
So this is the collection as it stands at the moment. There are a few guns and artillery crew that aren't present as well as all the standard bearers that featured in the last post. I think I would have gone overboard on banners if I had had them ready for these photos although in the future I am tempted to set it all up again with twice as many flags which is what I reckon there would be if the other figures had been done! I have tried to copy the set up James Roach did for the battle: . This is only fitting as his was one of the blogs that inspired me to have a go at collecting this period.

View of the Imperialists behind their earthworks

The photos have a pattern of some sorts starting on the Imperialist right flank, held by the Milanese and then working along to the left flank which is secured by an artillery position in front of the farmhouse. They then focus on the French starting with the mounted Crossbowmen and Arquebusiers and Giovanni De' Medicis Black Band on the left and working along to the Venetians on the French right. So following this order the below 3 photos are of the Milanese, mainly Perry Miniatures and figures by The Assault Group.

Milanese Contingent

The Milanese on the Imperialist right

Another view of the Milanese

Inside the earthworks are the Imperialists, with Landsknecht Pike on either side of a Spanish Pike block. The walls of the earthworks are manned by Spanish Arquebusiers and supported by Landsknecht shot just behind them. These troops with fire arms are meant to represent the ranks of arquebusiers that decimated the Swiss pike who became stuck in the sunken road in front of the Imperial position. As well as Spanish, Papal and Landsknecht banners those of the Imperial Commanders Georg von Frundsberg, Lannoy, Colonna and Fernando Francesco D'Avalos can all be seen behind the defences.

From behind the earthworks with the Swiss in the distance

Landsknechts behind Frundsberg

The Imperialist centre

The Imperialists facing two huge blocks of Swiss Pike

Arquebusiers defending the Imperial Earthworks

Georg von Frundsberg in command of the Landsknechts

The earthworks from the front (not sure about the lighting!)

Camp followers behind the earthworks

Spanish Arquebusiers supported by Landsknecht Pike

The Imperial Artillery with the Swiss in the distance

Imperialist Light Horse Skirmishing in front of the defended position

A gun emplacement in front of the country house

The Imperial guns from above

The Imperial left flank.

The two armies deployed

The next set of photos goes through the French army in detail. The troops in the photo below are meant to represent the Black Bands of Giovanni De' Medici. They carry a Medici banner however I am not sure this is what they would have carried or looked like. In Maurizio Arfaioli 's excellent study of these troops, , he explains that although many were Arquebusiers they also had supporting pikes and halberds and that they carried black banners bearing Devils and blasphemous slogans such as "In spite of you Christ"!
Following these light infantry is a large block of 120 Swiss, the one I photographed for a post a couple of months ago. Behind them is Jacques de la Palice with Gendarmes and supporting lighter French lancers. The centre is held by French crossbowmen under Pedro Navarro who by this stage in the Italian wars was no longer a Spanish commander and had entered the employ of France. The Old Glory Landsknecht crossbowmen have been drafted into this rag tag bunch, I think they are my least favourite figures in the collection.

Arquebusiers under Giovanni  de' Medici

Swiss Pike with Mounted Arquebusiers and Crossbowmen on the French left

Swiss Pike block

Jacques de la Palice and his Gendarmes 

The French centre, artillery followed by Crossbowmen under Pedro Navarro

This next Swiss block shown below is even bigger than the other containing 144 Landsknechts who with a simple change of banners have become Reisläufer for the day. The yellow banner with the red cross and black eagles is that of Anne De Montmorency who along with other French noble and gentlemen dismounted and attacked the Imperial defences amongst the Swiss in order to gain honour and glory. This highlights an interesting change in the status of the infantry, probably started by Maximillian when he stood amongst his Landsknechts and shouldered a pike with them. It's hard to imagine the French High nobility doing this kind of thing before the Italian wars, although they fought on foot at times in the Hundred Years War I don't know of examples where they deliberately joined a specific infantry type in order to gain glory.
Behind them fly the banners of Le Chevalier Bayard and Odet de Foix, Vicomte de Lautrec, Lautrec being the French commander at La Biccoca.

The second Swiss block with Anne de Montmorency on foot and amongst the Reisläufer. Bayard and Lautrec are with the Gendarmes behind

The French army from the Venetian position on the French Left

The Venetians

Finally the French right flank is held by the Venetians under the oak tree banner of Francesco Maria Della Rovere, Duke of Urbino. Most of my Stradiots are deployed here along with some Elmeti and Venetian Crossbowmen and Archers. As mentioned above I really doubt these were the type of infantry deployed by the Venetians but I was trying to field everything and they had to fit in somewhere! I think I need more generic style pikemen to represent the Italians and French, I am sure this is a project that will be attempted at some point!
The last few photos are of the whole set up again. I think I need a bigger table if I am going to set it all up but it was interesting to see it all together. I think at some point I need to do a huge siege scene and of course the various takes on Spanish, Venetian, Milanese, French and Imperialist armies that can be made out of the collection. I have a few projects currently lined up and some good ideas for the Perry Plastic Light Horse when they are released so I am afraid at the moment the collection will only continue to grow.

Venetian Horse on the French right flank

The Venetians under Francesco Maria Della Rovere, Duke of Urbino

Venetian Stradiots

The Venetians

Venetian Infantry

The two armies

The battle lines

The Swiss prepare to assault the Imperialist position

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Renaissance Banners

Kingdoms of Spain

There are no newly painted figures in this post its more a of a review of the flags that I have used in my collection. This is my 49th post and I recently took a load of photos of the entire collection for my 50th blog post. While I was doing this I decided that I am no longer happy with my hand painted flags. This is a shame as I have spent hours on them but they just can't match the ones I have bought and when the armies were set up I found my banners too bright, rigid and large. I think anyone who has been collecting and painting miniatures for a while will know that everything is always a work in progress and is never really finished. Your ideas change and opinions on how stuff should look change, for me this is all part of the appeal. As a result I have reflagged ( or whatever word you would use) all the horsemen and infantry standard bearers that were carrying my hand painted banners. This was around 35 infantry and 15 horsemen. Initially this was quite a daunting prospect, but once I had a routine worked out it only took about a week of evenings to do. As I do on all my standard bearers now I used the excellent tip suggested by James Roach that allows the flags to be interchangeable. It takes a little longer but is a great tip as it gives so much more flexibility. Some of the infantry are shown below without the standards:

Landsknecht, Spanish and Italian Standard Bearers

The flags in my collection are predominantly from Pete, his cloth flags are by far the most spectacular and well researched available: . The first picture in this post is of ones from his Neopolitan and Spanish sets, while below is his Venetian Agnadello set, in its entirety . Following on we have a Swiss standard bearer with the flag of Basel, he used to carry my hand painted Uri banner, which is why he is in the yellow and black cantonal colours, I have a better version of the Uri flag he will normally carry. After that are the flags of the man who sacked Rome in 1527, Charles Duke of Bourbon.
Next are a couple of Malatesta banners. The Malatesta were more prominent in 15th Century Italy, however Pandolfo IV Malatesta fought as a condottierre in the early 16th century and was on the Venetian side at Agnadello in 1509 so the family coat of arms should be fine in my Venetian Army. Following this are a couple of Eureka miniatures mounted archers, one bearing a Milanese flag.
When I removed the flags I had painted I gave a couple of the figures trumpets from The Assault Group: . Up until now of all the cavalry I had painted the only ones carrying trumpets were the 2 Wargames Foundry figures that come with the excellent Gendarmes the Perry Twins sculpted so I was keen to add a couple more mounted trumpeters to my collection. The last picture of flags by Pete is the French Royal standard and Louis XIIs livery badge of a Porcupine. The other flag in this picture is from the Perry Mounted Wars of the Roses Knights kit. Its just a simple cavalry flag that was used by the French in the late 15th early 16th century, I wanted to see how it would fit with my other flags. Petes stuff is excellent and has enhanced my collection greatly, I am keen to see what is next in the pipeline!

Venetian Agnadello 1509 Flags

Basel Banner

Charles, Duke of Bourbon

Malatesta Banners

Milanese Cavalry Flag, the Visconti Serpent

Arms of France, Louis XII Livery Banner and a French Cavalry Standard

The 3 flags below are from Adolfo Ramos, . They are all for the Spanish Army that fought the French in Naples in the very early Italian wars. I like these flags, they are good quality and don't shine like some of the commercially available flags. I particularly like the cavalry one which bears the motto 'Tanto Monta",,_monta_tanto,_Isabel_como_Fernando , a motto of Ferdninand and Isabella who ruled Spain at the start of the Italian Wars. These will fit perfectly into my armies for the War for Naples, , one replaces a version I had painted myself. If you order any of these I would recommend the 30mm ones for 25mm figures as the 25mm ones are pretty small.

Spanish Flags, early Italian Wars

 The next 3 banners are by Flags of War, . These are nice flags and I like the size of them, they are great for Landsknechts. Again, like the Adolfo Ramos ones, they are good quality and don't shine. These represent the Fugger coat of arms on the left and the Wittelsbach Family of Bavaria in the centre and right. The Fugger one will go well with the Fuggers ones I have already cut and glued up .

Fugger Coat of Arms and Wittelsbach Banners

The next 2 pictures are of flags from Redoubt Enterprises: . These aren't as good as those discussed above but they look fine when glued up. The first 3 are for Landsknechts in French service, these replace similar ones I had painted for my French army. Pete has recently done a set of these which I will invest in at some point: , you can never have too many Landsknecht flags! The ones below them are for French Infantry, again they replace similar flags I had painted. The Redoubt flags are a bit shiny. The cavalry ones, none of which I have bought, are interesting as they do 2 sizes on the same sheet, one size for wargamers and one smaller size of the same flag for a more realistic cavalry guidon.

Landsknechts in French Service

French Infantry Flags

The Gendarmes below carry flags by Freezywater, available from Vexillia: . Like the Redoubt ones they tend to be a bit shiny but look fine when glued up. Freezywater focus more on the Hundred Years War and Wars of the Roses. What I do like about them is that they do lots of  Heraldic flags for the early Italian wars on the few flag sheets they do which no one else really focuses on. The Great Italian Wars French and Italian sheets seem to focus on the commanders for La Bicocca in 1522, while the Italian Wars French 1 and 2 sets are for French nobles at Marignano in 1515. They follow the Lance and Longbow Society research on this battle. I am not keen on the sets of Landsknecht Banners they do and better versions are availble from other manufacturers. The middle figure carries another trumpet from TAG.

The Standards of  Adrien de Brimeu or Humbercourt and Jacques Ricard de Genouillac

This final miniatures picture is one I took a while ago to give an idea what these banners can look like when set up. The more complex heraldic banner and the livery flag with the wheel are for Louis de la Tremoille, one of the great French commanders of the era. he fought a the Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier in 1488 where Brittany was defeated by France and took the towns of Dinan and St Malo in the same year. He fought at Fornovo 1495, Agnadello 1509 and was commander of the French army at Novara in 1513. Following this defeat he fought at Marignano in 1515 and was killed at Pavia in 1525. A real veteran who lived through an era of radical change in the history of warfare. His 2 flags are by Freezywater and the others are all from this French flag set .

Gendarrnes under the flags of  Louis de la Tremoille and French Royal Banners

So ends my brief review of what flags are available for 28mm Italian Wars Armies to march and fight under. As with collecting miniatures for these armies and even to an extent with the material for researching them a lot is available its just a matter of finding it. With stuff from different manufacturers the period is now pretty well covered but its not all available from one place. Of course my strongest recommendation is for Petes flags.
On a different note, now that the re-enacting season is over I thought I would post a picture of myself, looking uncomfortable as ever, dressed as a Yorkist billman at the Bosworth Re-enactment this year. I am normally a pretty lazy re-enactor and only do a couple of shows a year but this year I managed four, which is a lot for me: an event at Avoncroft Museum, Tewkesbury, Bosworth and Mortimers Cross. Tewkesbury was in July ( I am aware it was really fought in May) and it was ridiculously hot, people were fainting before we had even got on the field! In my opinion Bosworth was the best event this year. Its always a special one to do and this year there were around a dozen horsemen in full harness which looked spectacular. The fighting was particularly manic, which always makes it fun. On the Sunday re-enactment I was knocked off my feet by heavily plated Stanleys crashing into us ( I was in the Yorkist Vanguard) and fell a few feet from a downed Richard III! 
Finally I have some ebay lots finishing tomorrow, its an early Tudor army I painted about 10 years ago and a few of my early attempts at Italian Wars stuff, if you are interested have a look:

A York, A York!