Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Mid-16th Century Landsknecht


It's taken longer than anticipated but to start off the new year here is my 1540s Landsknecht Pike block. The figures are predominantly converted "Royal Swiss" from The Assault Group's Valois French range with a smattering of Steel Fist Miniatures and Warlord Games Landsknecht also thrown in. I was going to use most of the poses in this pack of Wargames Foundry figures to form the rear ranks: https://www.wargamesfoundry.com/collections/early-16th-century-renaissance/products/ren011-mercenary-characters. They were also sculpted by Nick Collier who did the TAG figures and they have a slightly later period feel than the other Foundry figures in that range. I painted some of these up but they didn't fit in with the look I was going for with the unit and in the end I used more figures from The Assault Group.

As discussed when I completed the shot for these mid-century Landsknecht: http://camisado1500s.blogspot.com/2018/10/landsknecht-arquebusiers-mid-16th.html I have converted the figures from Swiss to Landsknechts by adding katzbalgers, the characteristic Landsknecht short swords, to nearly all of the figures. The Warlord Games plastic Landsknecht set has lovely plastic ones that were great for this but I also used metal ones from TAG. I added moustaches and beards using green stuff to lots of the figures as most of the TAG sculpts tend to be clean shaven and a quick look at contemporary images of Landsknecht from 1530 to 1550 will reveal that beards and big moustaches were certainly the thing, the chaps in the images below being great examples.

Códice De Trajes, 1547 Habsburg Soldiers. The Assault Group Landsknecht have armour and helmets that match the figure on the left. The Standard Bearer wears a mail "Bishops Mantle" and is in a clothing style that would not seem so out of place in the 1520s.

I have included a smattering of contemporary images in this post that I hope show how Landsknecht fashions were changing as they reached the middle decades of the 16th century. It's a tough one as the very early Landsknecht have a quite distinctive, more medieval, style of dress which I covered in detail here: http://camisado1500s.blogspot.com/2017/03/wip-early-landsknechts.html . Similarly from the late 1550s onwards once they seem to universally start wearing pluderhosen, with characteristically later 16th century hats and helms, they are again very distinctive. When considering what I would call the "classic" Landsknecht appearance from around 1510 through to the 1550s it is harder to gauge the changes. Things definitely change while at the same time there is also more continuity, or at least there appears to be more continuity, with some of the styles. I hope the contemporary art work included here helps to demonstrate this.

Having a look at the first contemporary image, shown above from the Códice De Trajes, and the two images below from Jacob Koebel's "Das Reichs Fahn" you can hopefully see how the armour changes from the ealier 1500s. The helmets in particular start to slowy evolve into the styles more familiar in Elizabethan times and later into the 1600s. The helmet style that later becomes the "Burgonet" is clearly developing. As a side note the whole of "Das Reichs Fahn" is online and it is a great source, not only for the mid-16th Century Landsknecht fashion but also for various colour schemes of Landsknecht clothing: http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/0005/bsb00059192/images/index.html?id=00059192&groesser=&fip=193.174.98.30&no=&seite=7. It is well worth having a look through this if you have the time, and a decent bandwith! What is also interesting is how popular mail continued to be into the mid-16th Century, especially the "Bishops Mantle" or large mail collar. A surprising amount of mail is worn in contemporary images, even a quick scan of the ones I have posted here should demonstrate that.

The more eagle eyed amongst you may recognise that some of the helmets shown in this art work are available from Steel Fist's 16th Century range of Landsknecht, https://www.steelfistminiatures.com/product-category/italian-wars-1494-1538-product_cat-19/. They have a variety of different heads, some of which are great for the 1540s. The Steel Fist Landsknecht cover a few decades, some being in clothing suitable for 1500 with others being in outfits or armour that is more suited to the 1530s into the 1550s. I have used a few of their figures in later styles of clothing and armour as halberdiers in this block, shown below, and also head swapped some of the heads onto TAG figures for greater variety. The Steel Fist Landsknecht paint up really well and at some point I will certainly be visiting that range to paint up some more for the 1520s. After all you can never have enough Landsknecht in a 16th century collection.

Standard Bearer from Das Reichs Fahn published by Jacob Koebel 1545, note the armour and helmet.

Another Standard Bearer from Das Reichs Fahn published by Jacob Koebel 1545, again he has a distinctive style of helmet and armour.


Steel Fist Landsknecht Halberdiers. The helmets and armour work well for the 1530s-1540s. The figure on the right has a plastic head from the Warlord Games plastic Landsknecht set.

The armour and helmets give perhaps the most distinct change in appearance as we move into the 1540s. With the clothing it is tricky. As stated above at the start and end of the roughly 100 hundred years that Landsknecht marched across European battlefields and beyond they have more unique styles, it's during the middle years that the changes in these styles are harder to spot. I have included some images here to show how some styles of dress look little different from those of 1515, I think the Niklas Stör and Heintich Aldegrever pictures below are good examples of this. The big hats and baggy slashed doublets are still worn. A few of the chaps in the Stör images are still wearing the classic close fitting skull caps or coifs so popular in earlier decades. A couple of the TAG 1540s Swiss figures are sculpted in these and this lead me on a mission to check if they really were still worn in the mid-16th Century. There seem to be plenty of images with them still in evidence.

A word of caution to note when attempting to track the evolution of these fashion in the 1500s is that "The Landsknecht" was a very popular motif in the 16th Century and it is of course still an image that endures to this day. A trend in medieval art which persisted into the 16th Century was for artists to use other artists sketches and compositions, as well as their own (Dürer's "Knight, Death and the Devil" directly taken from his "Soldier on Horseback 1498" is a good example of this). The reusing or adoption and adaptation of existing art was not frowned upon at all and artists workshops would share all kinds of motifs for their production of paintings, woodcuts and altar pieces. When looking at the images of Landsknecht from the mid-16th century, and there are a lot, I can't help feel that sometimes they may simply be reused older images as they were so popular with their contemporaries, or perhaps notorious may be a more appropriate word!

Hans Doring's two portraits of Landsknecht Officers, see below, are quite clearly based on the same initial sketch of a figure. The more I have looked at the art from this period the more that kind of thing pops up. It does make me wonder how up to date the images may always really be. It may well have been printed or painted in the 1540s but was the artist using an earlier picture from the 1520s or earlier perhaps? It is something worth bearing in mind.

Council of war during the Schmalkaldic War 1546. Note how the hose are starting to move towards the style more familiar in Elizabethan clothing and how the style of hats is also evolving.

The caveat about the art aside and noting the fact it seems hard to spot the changes in clothing as they develop we can see things changing, perhaps in some images more than others. The image of the Council of War in 1546, shown above, hints at some of the styles of head wear beginning to change and certainly a more "Elizabethan" style of fashion, especially with the hose, starting to be perceptible. The tight fitting part of the hose is getting higher, with more of the knee being visible, and a more puffed and baggier top part of the hose is developing. The hose worn by the standard bearer in the last contemporary image from "Das Reichs Fahn", shown below, are a good example of this. Of course the adoption of the pluderhosen in the mid-1550s would radically change this move towards the "Elizabethan" style of hose, the Landsknecht never could follow the more universal Western European changes in fashion!

Landsknecht, Niklas Stör c.1538. This chap looks very much like Landsknecht from images of c.1515 through to the 1520s. Note he is wearing one of the cloth "skull caps" or coifs that were fashionable in earlier decades.

 Niklas Stör 1530s. Again these chaps fashions haven't changed that much from earlier decades. Mail "Bishops Mantles" and cloth "skull caps" under their hats are still evident.

Landsknecht, Heintich Aldegrever 1540. This chap wears no armour save his "Bishops Mantle" and he looks little different from Landsknecht of the 1520s.

A technological development that clearly defined the mid-16th Century was the appearance of the pistol. A close look at the Reinhard V. Solms image below will show that tucked in by the Mounted Officer's leg is an early form of pistol. While these were certainly not the weapon of the common Landsknecht they were starting to be carried by the more wealthy Landsknecht Officers, probably if only for the fact they were new and rare as much as anything else! I was really keen to use the Warlord Games Officer carrying a pistol, not only because he brings the unit nicely into this period with the pistol but also because he is clearly modelled on the Landsknecht Feldwaibel by Hans Doring, see below. The miniature has been sculpted with a pistol instead of a halberd but other than that he is pretty much an exact copy. Of course this meant I had to try and paint him to match the art as closely as possible as well. Have a look below and see what you think.

Landsknecht Captains. The figure on the left is from Warlord Games and carrys a pistol, see the image below that the sculpt is based on but with a Halberd rather than an early pistol.
Hans Doring - Landsknecht Feldwaibel c.1545. Have a look at the miniature on the left above, apart from the change of weapon it's a pretty close copy.

Hans Doring- Landsknecht Hauptmann c.1545. Note the polearm as commanders weapon/symbol of office and also the similarity in pose to the above image. It's a good reminder that artists often copied their own or others images and shows that an extra element of caution must be added when trying to date how the fashions changed.


 Reinhard V. Solms, 1540. Note how the officer has a pistol by his leg, wealthier Landsknecht were carrying these by 1540.

As with the Landsknecht Feldwaibel I also felt that one of the Warlord Games Standard Bearers bore a striking resemblance to one of the chaps in "Das Reichs Fahn". I have tried to recreate him in his red and green to match the image as closely as possible. To his left is one of the Steel Fist 16th Century Foot Knights, a superb miniature. The harnesses that reflect the puffed and slashed Landsknecht clothing tend to be from around 1520 onwards and certainly this officers helmet is more suited to the mid-1500s than earlier. For this reason he had to be in this unit and I think fits really well into it. It's such a great miniature that I may have to use this command base with my 1520s Landsknechts from time to time as well.

While I have tried to place this unit as accurately as possible in the 1540s I understand for many wargamers any Landsknecht is suitable for the whole 16th Century. This is fair enough, I think it just depends on what you are trying to achieve with your collection. I made the effort with this block because I wanted a unit that would complement the other mid-16th Century figures I have completed, see: http://camisado1500s.blogspot.com/2017/11/1540s-tudor-english-rebased.html and http://camisado1500s.blogspot.com/2016/07/marching-arquebusiers-and-mid-16th.html. Of course it also helps feed my Landsknecht addiction, if The Assault Group have been brave enough to sculpt such great figures for a rarely catered for period, that being the 1540s, then of course it would be rude not to paint some of them up!

 The mid-16th Century was an era of intensive warfare, even for the English who had managed to keep out of European Warfare for nearly two decades up to the 1540s, and I love the idea of having a collection that I can refight the engagements of the Enterprise of Boulogne and the Rough Wooing with. Another long term goal, furthering the Landsknecht megalomania, is to do a unit of Landsknecht for every shift in style during their 100 years or so of notoriety. The 1500s, 1520s and 1540s are all done. I just have to paint another 70 or so in pluderhosen at some point! That is a way off for now though. As always I have 101 other projects to be working on at the moment but I think some more stuff for the 1540s will be coming soon.

Happy New Year.

Landsknecht command base, the figure on the left is by Warlord Games and painted to match the image below. The superbly sculpted armoured figure is by Steel Fist.

A Standard Bearer from Das Reichs Fahn published by Jacob Koebel 1545. Note how the hose are starting to look more "Elizabethan" in style.

1540s Assault Group figures with added Katzbalgers and head swaps. The 2 figures on the right have heads by Steel Fist Miniatures while the other 3 have plastic heads from the Warlord Games plastic Landsknecht box set.

One of the bases of Landsknecht Pike, note the beards that have been sculpted on with green stuff.

Armoured Landsknecht Pike.

70 Landsknecht Pikemen suitable for c.1530 to c.1550.

1540s Landsknecht Pike.

The Landsknecht from the side giving a better view of the more colourful outfits worn under their armour.

The block from the rear.


24 comments:

  1. A great post beautifully illustrated with gorgeous minis!

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  2. Very thoughtful information on such stunning troops. Great job painting as well.

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    1. Thank you Pancerni, I am glad you enjoyed the write up.

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  3. Excellent post and very very informative. As for the unit what can one say, well done and some great painting as is to be expected.

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    1. Cheers Robbie, I always love rambling on about Landsknecht!

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  4. Oh wow, lovely work Oli! And thanks again for the history and art lessons!

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    1. Cheers Peter, I love including the contemporary artwork as I find it a real inspiration.

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  5. Yes, stunning. Reminds me so much of the old Funken books.

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    1. Thank you Springinsfeld, I am glad you enjoyed it.

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  6. Fascinating work as always, Oli. Your attention to detail and accuracy inspires!

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    1. Cheers Dean, I always go back to painting Landsknecht, its an addiction.

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  7. Wonderful pike block and wonderful history lesson!
    Thank you!

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    1. Thank you Jonathan, I am glad you enjoyed it.

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  8. Bravo for the figures and thanks for the text very interestring!
    :-)

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    1. Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed my ramblings on the subject!

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  9. Great material with much food for thought, and, of course, wonderful troops!

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    1. Thank you Peter, I am glad you enjoyed it.

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  10. Excellent work Oli. The subtle conversions work really well and the minis are all great. The figures blend rather nicely too, have TAG got a bit chunkier? I remember their Spanish figures being really slender. I know this has been a labour of love and it certainly shows, you should be justly proud of these.

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    1. Cheers Stuart, yes this unit was a pretty big project but I am fairly pleased with the result, as you know I can never say anything is finished! Yes the TAG figures have definitely got a bit chunkier since the War for Naples early Italian Wars range.

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  11. Great minis and wonderful documentation!
    Have a nice 2019!

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  12. Lovely looking pike block and fantastic research,Im afraid I'm one of those who tends to group all the landsknechts together but I admire your attention to detail and conversions and also your desire to document landsknechts in every decade in 3d!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thank you Iain, I don't think there is anything wrong with your approach I am just more into the painting than gaming so having a chance to explore the Landsknecht as they changed throughout the 16th century is right up my street!

      It can be bloody hard to spot the slight changes though from 1510 through to 1550 or so.

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