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


  1. What do I think? I think they are gorgeous horsemen! I recently picked up a few Casting Room Miniatures' mounted crossbow and arquebus to add to my own collection. Anxious to see how they fit with the other figures.

  2. Those look good. I think you have got a very convincing early 16th C look there - so hard to do when there are so many changes going on at such a pace whilst older equipment (and maybe styles with the older, poorer or just less fashionable) continued to be used. I like the variety of poses too and the deep bases work well for skirmishing cavalry.

    The mounted crossbow men I have for my Italian Wars French army look very late medieval and boring by comparison so I'll have to follow your example and do some more clearly 16th C. ones too.

  3. The mix of heads looks great, and I agree that such a distinguished unit should have a banner! You've done a grand job of matching to the reference.
    Best Iain

  4. Great job, love this unit of horse crossbowmen, the head swaps have worked a treat too, and yes perhaps a nice banner, like the one in the durer painting you have shown!

  5. Really a wonderful addition to your force! So many figures, so little time.....

  6. Fantastic unit! The red is looking very good, very Maximillian. :) Very well done research!

  7. The mounted crossbow men look great! all photos of your painted figures/work look awesome!


  8. Your mounted crossbowmen look super. What a great resource Daniel S's post is. I had no idea about the painted sallets!

  9. You've definitely achieved a Germanic look there with some selective choices, conversion and painting. Toby Capwell has commented on these to the effect that particular units stuck to a scheme whether in simple colour or the more elaborate painted grotesques, there's a couple of French sources which suggest this to a lesser extent too. I do like your researched and commited approach, always a joy to read.

  10. Absolutely terrific work. I have a unit of the Eureka archers in the painting queue and now you have me thinking of possible conversions...

  11. These really look the part Oli