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