Sunday 13 December 2015

WIP - Pike Block

A couple of posts back I mentioned that I was working on some more generic pike to swell the ranks of my Spanish, French and Italian infantry. This is my progress so far, 72 figures, making 12 bases of pikemen. I had already completed 9 bases, predominantly of figures by the Assault Group. I had been waiting to see if any other manufacturers released more figures that I could use to represent early 16th century infantry that don't look like Landsknechts or Swiss. As this hasn't happened I decided to bite the bullet and have a go at swelling the ranks using more Assault Group figures as well as a big mix of late 15th century miniatures.

So the aim here is to paint up a big block of pikemen that don't look like Landsknechts but don't look too medieval either, they need to have plenty of details that will tie them into the early 1500s and not look like a Swiss Kiel from the 1470s! Ideally I would have liked to have been able to say some are distinctly Spanish, some French and some Italian but for the moment I am just going to go for a more generic look. I may however base them up with this goal in mind, so more Italian style troops will all be on the same base for example.

I have included some pictures from the Wiesskunig (would any of my ramblings be complete without a few!) to give an idea of what I am aiming for. In the first two images Landsknechts can be seen in combat with infantry that look distinctly less "modern" than them, with more 15th century style armour. The longer skirted coats can also be seen in evidence - I have a dozen or so figures in these yet to paint from the Assault Group that will form the back ranks of the block. I am aware that when these woodcuts were completed c.1514-1516 the opponents may have deliberately been made to look more archaic than Maximillians heroic troops, those in the first picture especially look to represent some kind of town guild from the banner they carry. Reservations aside images from the early 16th century focus so heavily of Swiss and Landsknechts that it's great to see some depictions of other infantry.

The third image of the crossbowmen at the edge of a pike block again shows that while the clothing has changed the armour looks much the same as that of the late 15th century, with Sallets and Kettle Hats or War Hats being depicted. Finally I have also included one of Paul Dolnsteins great sketches showing a Swedish Knight in combat with a Landsknecht from around 1500 ( I think I have shown this picture on the blog before). Apart from the rounded sabatons the knights harness is very much that of the late 1400s and I have included a few men at arms in the block in some older harnesses, some complete and some in three quarter harness wearing boots.

Image from the Wiesskunig depiciting what looks to be Guild Militia in combat with Maximilians Landskenchts

Another depiction from theWiesskunig depiciting Landsknechts in combat with infantry in a different style of clothing. Note the figures drowning in the cracked ice in the foreground!

Crossbowmen from the Wiesskuning, note how their armour has changed little since that of the late 15th century.
Landsknecht in Combat with a Swedish Knight from a sketch by Paul Dolnstein c.1500.

The figures painted so far can be seen below. Apologies for the photos, it's very overcast today and I cannot get great light. I have used lots of figures from the Assault Group as they were sculpted specifically for the Neopolitan campaigns of the late 1490s to early 1500s and help to stop the block looking too medieval. Some Perry late medievals have made it into the ranks as well, they are excellent sculpts, the only problem being that they are so perfect for the 1470s-1480s that the ones in coats and doublets need to be hidden amongst the ranks as they are such distinct 15th century styles. I have also added some really old Wargames Foundry figures, a bit of a nostaglia thing for me. I really like these old figures sculpted by the Perrys and could not resist having some of them in the ranks. I think some of them in the half or three quarters armour work really well for this project as they have that feel of the infantry in the wood cuts. The Foundry figures are shorter than the more recent TAG and Perry figures so you may notice I have raised their bases using plasticard - its a good trick and is not noticeable once they are all based up.

So this is the progress so far, still loads of figures to do, as well as the dreaded pikes to cut and paint. I will also paint up halberds and other polearms for some of the miniatures. I have done a few head swaps and added beards and plumes of feathers to some of the figures just to bring them more into the 1500s. This is going to be a big block, or a series of smaller blocks, say 9-12 bases each, that can represent different bodies of infantry.  I am potentially aiming for 30 bases when added to the 9 I have already completed, so too much converting will mean it takes forever, not forgetting that I still loathe using green stuff. I swear I am getting worse rather than better at using it!

Some of the figures who will form the front ranks of the block.

Some officer types and a drummer from the Pike block

A handful of the mass of pikemen!

72 figures completed so far.......

Thursday 12 November 2015

Italian Infantry

Here are the Italian infantry I have been working on for a while now. I really enjoyed painting them, especially once the horror of painting the shields was over. The shields were made much easier by the use of the old Citadel transfers as described in a previous post. Some were painted free hand but the transfers have really helped to show a few more complex designs. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know I loathe painting heraldry, or more correctly attempting to paint heraldry! Although these aren't heraldic shields, surviving examples show all kinds of motifs which are what I have attempted to reproduce here. I originally had 5 bases of these chaps and have completed another 7 to make quite a formidable group.

They are meant to represent Italian infantry for the 1490s into the 1500s, suitable for use from the French Invasion in 1494, through the French and Spanish campaigns in Naples, up until Agnadello in 1509, though at a pinch I would use them for a bit later. I have seen these troops described as "Rotularii", a kind of Italian assault infantry. They are a useful unit to have as Italian troops were, unsurprisingly, heavily involved in the Italian Wars. They could be found either fighting for the Italian states as mercenaries or militia, here they are shown in Milanese service, or as mercenaries in the service of France or Spain.

I have used Perry Miniatures with a dozen or so Assault Group figures mixed in as well. The pictures below, the first two of which I have shown before on this blog, give an idea of the kind of infantry they are meant to represent. Unfortunately for those of us trying to create miniature armies for this period, fashions at the end of the 15th century changed very quickly so while these may look great for 1490-1500, by 1515 Italian infantry, I would hazard a guess, showed more influence from Landsknecht style dress, though still retaining distinct differences that would have been recognisable at the time. Add to this the regional differences in Italian dress and it gets even more complicated.

Vittore Carpaccio, Arrival in Cologne, from the Legend of Saint Ursula, early 1490s

Detail of the St Ursula Cycle, Martyrdom of the Pilgrims, early 1490s

Infantry from Cronaca della Napoli aragonese c.1498

So in attempt to give a specifically Italian flavour to this unit I have added a few extra plumes of feathers to the headgear. The feathers I picked up from Simon at Je Lay Emprins,, a while ago and they have proven extremely useful for all sorts of small conversions. From the contemporary pictures above it is clear that the Italians were very keen on such plumage! I have also given a few of the polearmed troops bills as these seemed to be a characteristic weapon of the Italians, see the image above. The bill was not solely the preserve of the English Infantry. While probably a little out of date by 1500 I have included lots of Perry Miniatures with "mazzocchios", the fabric stuffed rolls that they wear around their Barbute helmets. Whether they would have been worn or not at this time they are excellent for adding to the Italian "feel" of these infantry.

Finally I don't understand how the polearmed troops could have used their polearms while also carrying those enormous shields! My guess is that a primary role of these troops was in assaulting enemy positions, similar to the Spanish Rodeleros. While the sword and buckler armed men would probably have retained their shields or bucklers for combat, perhaps those with polearms would have discarded their shields or shouldered them once the threat of projectiles had reduced and they had got to grips with the defenders.

In support of such a theory take a look at the below image, which is actually of Swiss infantry leading an assault in the early 1500s. They can clearly be seen using large shields to defend themselves as they scale the ladders, while some of the troops have them slung over their shoulders on straps. While Swiss not Italians in this picture, I would guess the Italian troops fought in a similar fashion. As a nod to this you will see that many of the miniatures armed with pole weapons have their shields over their backs and a strap added to hold them. The straps were just simple pieces of thread glued on before the undercoat was applied.

Swiss infantry assaulting a fortification using large shields

Milanese Infantry for the early Italian Wars

Italian Infantry

Italian Infantry for the early Italian Wars

A shot from behind to show the detail of the shields slung over the soldiers backs

Another photo showing the infantry from the back

Monday 26 October 2015

Landsknecht Obrist

This is my second command base. I have entitled the post "Landsknecht Obrist" but this chap could also represent a dismounted high ranking French or Imperial commander from about 1515 on into the 1530s. Only one of the Landsknechts is a newly painted figure, the others are all from the "figures with no home" box that I am left with after rebasing the collection! The Landsknechts are by Wargames Foundry and the page, who carries the commanders helmet, is by the Assault Group. I am finding the Assault Groups pack of Italian/Swiss Papal Guards really useful for these kind of vignettes as they wear characteristic early 16th century coats and come open handed which means they can be used for all sorts of roles.

The Commander himself is the Götz von Berlichingen character that was made by Pro Gloria, sadly currently unavailable at the moment, but as Warlord have bought the range I am sure he will be rereleased at some point. The left arm is his prosthetic limb but he could simply be another captain wearing only one gauntlet. It's certainly a suitably dramatic miniature, even if his eyebrows may be a little over the top! In the last picture I have shown the base with von Berlichingen's coat of arms flying, one of Pete's fantastic Sixteenth Century flags.

I have also finished the Italian infantry that I painted the shields for, shown in a post a month or so ago. I will get them photographed and posted up in the next few weeks. I want to wait until I can combine them with the other Italians I have already completed before I take the photos.  I'm currently working on more generic early 16th century pikemen, to represent Spanish, French or Italians, mixing and matching figures from a few different ranges but I'm still not entirely happy with the results at the moment. It's hard to make late 15th century figures look more suited to the 1500s, especially when the are armoured. I may post an update of my progress in a week or two.

Landsknecht Obrist with Imperial Troops

Landsknecht Obrist under the Banner of Saxony. The page behind carries his Sallet.

Götz von Berlichingen

Thursday 1 October 2015

The French c.1512

I know I have done a few "full army" style posts recently where everything is set up, since the rebasing they are much easier to do! Over the summer I was keen to photograph the collection covering my whole 8' by 4' table. For these photos I decided to use the figures to depict a French Italian Wars Army, referring back to an earlier post from 2012, There have been some big changes since that post, notably the banners and bases.
The figures shown here are meant to depict a French force from roughly 1512, the Battle of Ravenna. The heraldic flags displayed are for Frenchmen who fought at Ravenna with lots of more generic French or Louis XII period flags also on show. The French employ Landsknechts as oppose to Reisläufer as well as Italian Cavalry and Infantry. The native French Infantry comprises Crossbowmen, Archers and Pike. I was worried the French Archers I completed a few months ago wouldn't fit in well but I really think they look the part in these photos. I will leave exactly who they are meant to represent for another discussion!
This was also a chance to add the Convent from Grand Manner to the Italian town pieces I have collected so far and some of the photos focus on the town. I think the Convent makes a great centrepiece for the town and fits in nicely with the other buildings. At some point in the future I would like to do a large scale siege set up but I think there are a few more bits and pieces I need before I try this.

French Gendarmes behind Light Cavalry

The French Cavalry

The French Cavalry

French Horse c.1512

The Banner of Gaston de Foix can be seen between two French Royal Standards

Landsknecht Skirmishers

Landsknechts in French service

French Heavy Guns

The French Artillery

Italian town with the French in front.

A view from above the town.

A view from above the tower.

Landsknecht reinforcements in the town

Inside the town.

The French Infantry

French Light Guns, Aventuriers and Archers

The infantry under Adrien de Brimeu (Humbercourt)

The French Infatry

The French Light Guns

The French Infantry c.1512

The French Aventuriers and Archers

French infantry in front of the town.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Mourning their Captain

Following on from my command base I could not resist having a go at some more little vignettes on round bases. This is the first "casualty" style base I have done, I intend to do more, probably on smaller bases for most of them though. It shows three soldiers in Italian style armour and clothing mourning their Captain who has breathed his last. The three mourning figures are from Perry Miniatures, I have had them for ages and knew they would come in useful one day! Their deceased Captain is an old Wargames Foundry casualty figure with a Perry plastic scabbard added. He originally had a rather "Henry V" style cropped haircut so I have modelled a later 15th century style with green stuff. Two plastic helmets from the Perry kits have also been added.

A Condottiere is mourned by his followers

The hair style on the casualty figure has been remodelled as it was originally too early 15th century for my liking

While on the subject of Condottierri and Italian styles I thought some of you may be amused (and maybe even concerned!) that my Italian Wars obsession has started to influence my reenacting kit. I still take to the field as a lowly billmen in Wars of the Roses reenactments, despite the fact there don't actually seem to be any 15th century records for billmen - are they the preserve of reenactors and wargamers? They are certainly in later Tudor records in the Sixteenth Century but does that really mean they were there in the Fifteenth! It does seem puzzling.
Anyway off field I am now sporting distinctly Italian style doublet and hose. The outfit is based on a frescoe by Piero della Francesca from the late 1450s early 1460s, shown below. This surprises me a little as it certainly looks as though it would not be out of place for an Italian in the 1490s or even very early 1500s but I may be wrong. It was made by a friend from my reenactment group, Vicky from Aquerna Fabricae, and I think she has done a fantastic job! The eagle eyed of you may notice it does need a couple more buttons added to the bottom of the doublet. As it is perfectly fitted it also means I will have to watch the fast food and beer drinking if I want to wear it for next season!
I managed to attend four events this season, which is pretty good going for me. It started with an event at Raglan Castle in May, a brilliant location and fantastic castle even if much of it is ruined. It must have looked spectacular in the 15th Century. I also attended Tewkesbury Medieval festival in July, Bosworth in August and a reenactment of Mortimers Cross at Croft Castle a couple of weekends ago. Bosworth enjoyed the typical English reenacting weather of it being far too hot with downpours every now and again all in the same weekend. It was fun though and I enjoyed watching Destrier doing the full contact jousting in incredibly expensive harnesses as well as the foot tourney they held in the evening. This involved the challenger touching a shield to designate which weapon they wished to fight with before each combat, fantastic stuff and also very funny at times. All this has meant little progress painting wise but I am keen to get some Italians painted up to carry the shields from my last blog post so will be pressing on with them next.

Frescoes from "The History of the True Cross" by Piero della Francesca, c.1455-1466