Saturday 6 December 2014

Following the Herd

Something a bit different for this blog today. I am currently deciding where to go with my collection next and also whether I should attempt to rebase at least some of it. As part of the rebasing idea I thought I would have a go at a herd of cattle as a test for different basing materials. The figures are also really useful and could be used for a whole variety of periods as well as raiding or baggage train scenarios.
The cattle are by Irregular Miniatures. When I was looking online it seems a lot of African style cattle are availble in 28mm as are Long Haired cattle but I didn't really want either of these. The ones Irregular make now don't have horns but Irregualr very kindly cast up some of their old style ones with horns and I think they fit the bill perfectly. They are quite small, which is of course correct for cows in the later middle ages/1500s, they hadn't been bred into the huge beasts of today at this date. They are also really good value, costing around £1.05 each, a herd this size from some manufacturers would cost a small fortune! As the miniatures were all in the same pose I butchered them slighty (excuse the pun!) and altered the angles of the heads of a lot of them to give some variation. The pigs are by Gripping Beast, they are miniatures that are full of character, and a great addition. The cattle driver and swineherd are Perry late medieval figures. Seeing them all on the move inclines me to set up the baggage train again as these would look great being herded along with the wagons.
With regards to the bases I am still not completely satisfied with them. This style works on smaller bases but doesn't look as good on the large ones. I am tempted to move towards larger bases as I love the vignettes that can be created on them and I would also be more inclined to actually have games if the bases were larger as its so much easier to move everything around. On the pigs I used a lighter drybrush which I think looks better and on all the bases I used little tufts of grass which i really like the look of and have ordered some more since. I think next I will base up my artillery and crew as I don't like the figures all individually based. I have loads of bits and pieces, cannon balls, wheelbarrows, gabions and barrels, that I can use to make these interesting so I am looking forward to trying this.

Swine and Cattle

Irregular Miniatures Cattle

Pigs by Gripping Beast

Wednesday 5 November 2014

A Tudor Infantry Company

Here is the finished company of Tudor infantry that I started back in February this year. The figures are all by The Assault Group. The first set up is of 100 miniatures representing an English Infantry Company of the late 1540s. I say late 1540s as most of the English troops in this decade were still fighting with the traditional English weapons of the warbow and the bill. The 1540s was a particularly bellicose decade for the Tudor army, one that saw them fighting on two fronts, France and Scotland, after nearly two decades of relative peace (a serious rebellion in Ireland and the Pilgrimage of Grace could have caused far greater problems than they did). It was during this return to more sustained warfare that Tudor Military tactics evolved. This intense period of warfare was possible as Henry VIII had taken over the Churches property in England which meant he could raise armies and hire mercenaries on a scale not previously possible.
By the end of the 1540s the Tudor military machine had adapted to the continental adoption of Pike & Shot in its own unique fashion, which these troops demonstrate. The formation is based on one in Gervase Phillip's excellent Anglo-Scots Wars,, which I have mentioned before. In this he explains how by the late 1540s the English had fitted Pike & Shot into the traditional English fighting style of bowmen and men-at-arms. During the Rough Wooing, England's attempt to conquer Scotland by forcing the marriage of Edward VI with Mary Queen of Scots, the Tudor Army under Protector Somerset occupied the Scottish Lowlands and attempted to hold them through a number of garrisons. In February 1548, a company was formed from the garrison of Broughty Craig, that was to land from ships and harry the Scottish countryside. It was a force formed of English troops and foreign mercenaries, numbering 308 in total. They were captained by an Italian Mercenary named Tiberio. The exact composition of this raiding force has survived. It contained 20 arquebusiers and 20 bowmen as skirmishers. A main battle of 4 ranks of arquebusiers, 7 ranks of Pike and then 4 ranks of Billmen at the rear. This main block then had two wings of a total of 40 bowmen supported by 20 sword and bucklermen or targeteers, these were the "Whifflers" I described in an earlier post.
While I don't have 308 figures here I thought it would be interesting to set the troops up to demonstrate this formation. So below you will see a mixed skirmish force of arquebusiers and bowmen, supported by a block with more arquebusiers in the front ranks backed up by the pikemen with the billmen at the rear. Unfortunately I only have 2 Whifflers carrying Swords and Bucklers so the "wings" of the battle are comprised only of further bowmen. While not being an exact representation of the landing force it clearly demonstrates the formation they used and shows how the continental styles of warfare were being adapted to fit in with the English fighting traditions. These troops would have been contemporaries of those that sank on the Mary Rose and having seen the size of some of the warbows that were brought up from the wreck I have no doubt the archers would still have been formidable opponents even if the archers time was coming to an end. Of course having firearms which were no harder to manufacture than a good warbow, could be used with very little training, required far less physical strength and packed a greater punch (no matter what physical condition the user was in) would soon mean that by the end of the 16th century the bow was no longer part of an English Infantry company.

A Tudor Infantry Company of 100 men

Pike & Shot and Bow & Bill

The centre of the company, arquebusiers in front of pike and billmen

The last photos are of an English company, possibly depleted by disease and desertion and the fact the captain has a lot of "deadpays" on the muster, with the traditional Bow & Bill. I think The Assault Group have done a fantastic job on these figures and I am keen to see what they release next for the mid-sixteenth century. I have also noticed that some of the Pro Gloria figures that may follow the plastic Landsknechts, if they get funded, will be carrying pistols and dressed in a style more suited to the 1540s than the 1520s so they may also be a potential source of figures for this period. The middle of the 16th century is really pretty badly served in 28mm despite the fact it is when some of the biggest clashes in the Hapsburg Valois Wars took place.
I like the look of the figures when they are all together. Strictly speaking the pikemen should have St George's crosses on their harnesses but as I may use them for other armies they have been left off. I much prefer the basing style I used for the archers, and will continue to experiment with my basing. I think when the figures are all on the terrain the different bases are not too obvious, which is a good thing as I think rebasing the entire collection is too much to face!

More traditional Bow & Bill

English Archers and Billmen

Archers and Billmen 1540s

English Archers and Billmen 1540s

Saturday 25 October 2014

Tudor Archers

This is the last group of figures that I have completed for my company of Tudor infantry from the 1540s, the archers. I decided to go for more toned down colours than I used for the Arquebusiers, who were far more likely to have been Spanish and Italians employed by the English Crown and thus perhaps in more colourful clothing, and I am pleased with the results. Some of the figures are in the white uniform coats while for others I have decided to depict them in their own coats or doublets with the St Georges Cross sewn on and a red trim added. I really like the resulting look of the group. While they are not all uniformed, which for some reason I feel gives a bit too much of a "Toy Soldier" look with these white coats (have a look at the billmen to see what I mean, there is still uniformity.
You may notice a difference from my earlier figures with the bases. The bases have been a thorn in my side for a long time. When I initially started my Italian Wars collection, years ago, they were a stop gap while I decided how I wanted to base my figures and how many I wanted to go on a base. The problem was as I kept painting and hadn't come to a decision more and more figures ended on on the flock bases and the whole collection was based the same! When I painted up the Perry Wagons I realised that they would look terrible on just plain flock bases, as the bases have to be large, so I did something different with them. The Wagon bases still fit in fine with the other figures in my collection, especially when on the terrain boards so this led me to have a go with a similar style of basing with these figures. I hope you will agree they are a big improvement although saying that I have ordered some other basing bits and pieces and may now embark on a period of experimentation to find something suitable. It's always a work in progress and I am still undecided how I will do the bases from now on. With regard to the entire collection I think rebasing the lot would be an enormous task but I may do some of my favourite troops like the Swiss pike block I converted and painted. Redoing all the Tudors would not be a huge task and as they are a distinctly different period from my Italian Wars stuff this would probably be a good idea.
At the moment I am in the rare position of not having much to paint! I have a couple of little bits and pieces to do that should show up here in the next few months and I have one more big terrain piece to complete, I haven't got the terrain bug out of my system quite yet. Really I am waiting for the Perry Light Cavalry, 1450-1500, for which I have ideas of at least three different troop types I want to use them for, some requiring more conversion work than others. I am also keen to see how the Pro Gloria Miniatures Plastic Landsknecht figures turn out, the crowd funder for which starts next Sunday 2 November. The completion of both of these plastic kits, could be many months off however. I love this 1540s-1550s stuff by The Assault Group and will keep and eye on the releases for this range as well as there are meant to be more in the next couple of months and I do need some opponents for my 100 or so Tudor Infantry. When I get time I will get some shots of the whole company set out on my terrain board. I am keen to see what they all look like when set out together.

Tudor Command by The Assault Group

Tudor Bowmen

Tudor Archers

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Northern European Castle

I know I have done a few posts of various castles/town walls recently but collecting and painting up these buildings quickly became a big side project over the summer. Building them is quite addictive as when I think I am finished I always find some other piece that I want to add. My last two fortification related posts showed Italian or Southern European style fortifications. The following pictures are of a more Northern European style. At a glance it probably looks like I have largely used the same pieces which is to an extent true. The large square and pentagonal towers have another outing as do the walls and towers with wooden hoardings, these are all really useful pieces. However the Keep, round towers, uncovered walls and Gatehouse are all different. I did a similar set up to this a few years ago using an old Citadel Mighty Fortress, , but I am sure you will agree swapping out the Games Workshop pieces and adding the resin Battleground pieces from Magister Militum really makes a big difference in terms of realism.
A big inspiration for this castle was the great artwork of the 1500s. Maximilian's Weisskunig has loads of dramatic battle scenes which more often than not feature fortifications. I included a few of these images in my original "Northern Fortress" post and indeed the Camisado Blog header is one of these images but I couldn't resist including a few more as they really help set the scene I am trying to create. I have also included a more realistic image by Albrecht Dürer of Innsbruck in 1495. I love the way various spires and towers jut out from these towns, they have an almost organic look to them. I am still on the look out for some buildings with spires to add to my collection so this is probably not the last you have seen of these walls!

Albrecht Durer's Innsbruck c.1495

Vicious melee from the Wiesskunig with a fortress in the background

Lansknechts assault a fortress in the Wiesskunig
One of the big problems I have when painting up these sets is what colour to go for? I want some of the pieces from the two sets, Southern and Northern style, to be interchangeable, which I am aware is probably already a compromise as the colours would undoubtedly have been very different. I think my favourite set of 28mm fortifications I have seen is Simon's beautifully converted Hudson and Allen pieces; and , these pieces look like they have come straight out of a 15th century manuscript! More recently these pieces by TM Terrain have also really impressed me; . The plastered walls are certainly authentic, and look fantastic, but I have not got the talent or time to plaster the pieces I have. Saying that the walls I used did have arrow slits in them which I thought was odd as they were only on one side of the walls and the walls are certainly not thick enough for some one to stand in them and still be of any use defensively so I filled these in.
In defence of the unplastered stone walls it seems many castle and town walls were often in a terrible state of repairs and would not have looked as spectacular or impressive as we may imagine. I am currently reading Jonathan Sumption's excellent epic narrative of the Hundred Years War (these are huge books but they are a joy to read) and it seems in the 1340s and 1350s many of the castles and walls of French towns were in a terrible state. For example in the Duchy of Aquitaine the walls of the town of Blaye were inspected in 1337 which "revealed rotting gateways, crumbling masonry, collapsing roofwork, trenches eroded by goats, moats non-existent or filled up with rubbish". Similarly when discussing the walled towns of the provinces of south-western France in the 1340s he describes how "Their walls usually dated from the twelfth century, the last period in which the region had suffered from persistent warfare. In most places the defences followed an irregular course around the circuit of the town, with sharp angles and blind corners. Gaps pierced for paths, chicken runs and houses were hastily blocked up with rubble. The watchman's view was liable to be obstructed by suburban buildings and vegetation, while access to the walls from within could be difficult and slow as the lanes were narrow and blocked by carts, animals and rubbish". While I am well aware that these examples are from a couple of hundred years before the period covered here I do feel they illustrate how easily the fortifications could fall into disrepair, that this was in the 14th century in fact demonstrates the point even more clearly of how walls and towers could be derelict or in need of repair by the 1500s! Certainly by the early 16th century fortifications were often a mix of towers or walls that were centuries old and in various states of repair combined with more modern and up to date additions and renovations. In times of danger suburbs were pulled down, moats cleared and walls patched up, but this would not always mean they looked very good. I have read how as gunpowder weapons came to dominate, crenellations and stone walls would be covered with bedding, sacking and other padded materials in an attempt to stop the lethal hail of shrapnel that could be showered on the defenders when cannon balls struck the stone or brick defences.
So here is the North European castle in its current state. The different crenellations on the walls and rounded Gatehouse, Keep and towers clearly take this out of Italy and more into Northern France, the Low Countries or Germany. The Gatehouse is an impressive, chunky piece of resin and looks suitably formidable. I particularly like the tiled rooves of the two round towers. In fact I am tempted to get tiled rooves scratch built for the Keep, Gatehouse and square towers as well. Please let me know if you have any recommendations or would be interesting in doing this for a suitable fee as I would love to have rooves made for the whole thing, it would really make it look the part. 
It's a relatively peaceful scene of some wagons and a guard of light horsemen arriving at an Imperialist Castle which is held by a garrison on Landsknechts. The garrison captains talk with the horsemen from the Gatehouse roof as they prepare to open the gates. The buildings inside are all scratchbuilt ones I bought off Ebay years ago. I think they go nicely inside the walls. The Keep is from Hudson and Allen, round towers, tall rooves, Gatehouse and walls are by Battleground and the hoarded towers and walls were off Ebay. Of course the tricky question now is how on earth do I convincingly model a moat?

The gatehouse in profile

Gatehouse from above

The Landsknecht garrison adress a troop of Imperial Light Horse

The horsemen outside the castle

Castle interior with the rear window of the gatehouse

The castle from the other side

A large round tower

A large round tower

The courtyard

Farming outside the castle walls

The complete castle

Monday 1 September 2014

Ruvo 1503

 Following on from my post showing the Italian style fortifications I have been working on here they are representing part of an Italian walled town at the start of the 1500s. I am particularly keen on collecting the forces that took part in the War for Naples, 1499-1504, as I love the mix of late medieval and early renaissance clothing and armour from this era. I thought it would be interesting to set these up to represent the assault Gonzalo de Cordoba led on the town of Ruvo during this war in February 1503.
I would love to know more about this battle as it sounds fascinating but information seems rather scarce. Outnumbered by the French, under Louis d'Armagnac Duke of Nemours, in southern Italy, Gonzalo de Cordoba had retreated into Barletta while he awaited reinforcements. As his supplies dwindled Gonzalo took advantage of Nemours punitive action against the town of Castallaneta whose people had attempted to surrender the town to the Spanish, being incensed by the conduct of the French garrison imposed on them.
Learning of Nemours absence Gonzalo marched by night from Barletta to Ruvo. After a short cannonade he breached the walls of the town and two columns, one under himself and one under Diego Garcia de Paredes, assaulted the town. The French, under Jacques de La Palice put up stiff resistance, defending houses and streets, but they were eventually forced to surrender.
La Palice along with many of his men at arms and infantry were taken prisoner. The Spanish also captured a large quantity of supplies, essential for them maintaining their foothold in Italy. Reinforced these troops would later march out of Barletta in April and defeat the French at Cerignola, where Nemours was killed.
The photos below show a Spanish storm party of rodeleros, arquebusiers and dismounted men at arms assaulting one of the breaches in Ruvo. I don't know what type of troops La Palice had under his command in the town but there were obviously gendarmes as he was captured with many of his men at arms. To represent this there are gendarmes who have had time to mount counterattacking on one side and some dismounted ones under La Palice leading an assault down the other street. The rest of the French defence is made of French and Italian crossbowmen with a few arquebusiers and small artillery pieces.
I think the resin pieces make quite a convincing little town, well a corner of one! I could probably do with a few more town buildings but I imagine everyone thinks that when they try and do these kind of set ups. I like the breached wall section, its a very handy piece. At some point I would like to do a really big siege scene with the heavy artillery behind gabions and earthworks on one side and a fortified town on the other. I have my Tudor Archers to continue working on for now.

The Spanish pour through the breach

The Spanish assault

Spanish Rodeleros and Arquebusiers lead the assault

French Gendarmes and Crossbowmen attempt to stop the attack

Fighting on the Ramparts

The Spanish Pikemen support the storm party 
French defenders on the walls

The Gendarnes charge the attackers down the streets

The French defenders rally using wagons as barricades

The Spanish attackers

French crossbowmen in a lofty tower

Another tower defended by the French

Jacques de La Palice attempts to rally his forces

The Spanish storm in against the hastily made French barricade

Saturday 2 August 2014

Imperialist Pike

After what seems an eternity, in fact 3 months, I have finally finished The Assault Group Pikemen I started work on in May. They are fantastic figures, my favourite out of the Tudor range the Assault Group have done. They are also the most versatile as they are not in the mid Tudor Uniforms like the Billmen and Arquebusiers I have already completed. For this reason I have not painted the red cross of St George on them but have left them as generic pike. At a pinch these figures could be used from around 1535 up to the 1570s, and could represent Italian, English, Spanish or French troops. With an eye to what The Assault Group have on the way in terms of the French mid 16th Century stuff these could be the start of a collection that will represent the later Hapsburg Valois wars, the fighting in Northern France and Italy that Blaise de Monluc was so involved in. I could also see them being great for the Siege of Malta in 1565 or the Venetians defending Cyprus in 1571. It's an era that, apart from Redoubt Enterprises a long time ago, no one has really done figures for in 28mm so its great to see these.
For some reason I have this idea that as the 16th century wore on the colours become more muted and the troops less flamboyant. As Landsknechts were still very much on the scene I am not really sure where I got this from but I do know that black was the fashionable colour of the European nobility at this time. As a result of this you will notice these chaps are a bit more toned down in colour than the other 1540s figures I have done. I feel this will help them to fit more easily into the 1560s and 1570s. This also lets their harnesses stand out more and TAG have done a fantastic job on the armour. The arm straps, ties on the pauldrons and buckles are all clearly sculpted as is the detailing of the armour itself. The ridges and lines on some of the harnesses are brilliantly done. I would love to see the sculptor who did these do some full Maximilian suits for the earlier 16th century. I have included a picture below of 4 of the pikemen to show closely how detailed the sculpting on the armour is.
The pictures below show the Pike as Imperialists under a simple Hapsburg Saltire and then as Tudor troops with an English flag. You will also notice that an old Redoubt Enterprises figure has snuck into the TAG ranks as the Ensign. The range he is from is pretty old now and a bit hit and miss to be honest but there are a few gems in it and this figure is one of them. He is quite large but fits in well as the Imperial ensign brandishing a pistol which at this time was still a very new weapon. I have removed the St Georges Cross from the Tudor drummer and added on old wargames foundry buckler to one of the Tudor officers to create a more generic command group which is shown below, although the ensign in the English uniform is obviously specifically English.
I now have the English Archers to complete, I have only done one so far, with another 31 plus command to do. I am keen to see what the whole group, Archers, Pike, Arquesbusiers and Billmen, look like as a whole when completed though. I am hoping the mix of some in Tudor Uniform Coats and others in their own versions of these or just in their armour will create a more realistic look than all of them being in the white and red uniforms.

Imperial Pike, mid 16th century

Tudor Pikemen, 1540s

Redoubt Enterprises Ensign

Detail of the pikemens harnesses

Tudor Command Figures, 1540s, by The Assault Group