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

Saturday 5 September 2015

Italian Infantry Shields

One of the things I feel is currently missing from my earlier Italian Wars collection is enough of the Italians themselves. They fought for their own states during these wars as well as serving as allies or Condottieri with France, Spain and the Imperialists (the last two powers would of course later be unified under Charles V). I have plenty of Italian skirmishers, shot, crossbowmen and archers, but I have very few close quarter troops, just the five bases shown below.

Italian Infantry

I was keen to do some more of these troops. Their appearance at the start of the Italian Wars is clearly shown in many of the great illustrations that accompany the "Cronaca della Napoli aragonese", a manuscript from c.1498 which depicts events in the Kingdom of Naples and the French invasion of Naples in 1494. It can be viewed here: . I have included a few images from it below that show this style of infantry, armed with swords or various polearms. They also clearly show the shields they carry. The shields have put me off doing more up until now. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know I hate painting things like shields freehand. I find it really frustrating and it often involves countless attempts to repaint the designs!
A month or so ago I was having a check through the attic as I wanted to sell some stuff on Ebay and I found some old Games Workshop transfers from about 20 years ago, I tested one of them and was surprised it still worked fine. I remembered they had done Empire and Brettonian ones as well and had a look on Ebay for some. There are still plenty of these on Ebay and they have solved the horror of the shield painting for me! I have still done a few bits freehand and a few St Georges Crosses as these were very popular with many of the Italian Cities such as Milan, Bologna, Padua and Genoa.
I want the infantry to be clearly Italian but not troops tied to a specific state so the shields carry all sorts of designs, there seems to have been a wide variety. A few 15th century examples are shown below and some very nice replicas can be seen on this Italian reenactment groups site: . These give an idea of the way I wanted the finished shields to look.
I decided to tackle the shields before the men who will carry them and painted them up in two batches of 15. I don't intend to use all of them but this gives plenty of choice for when the figures are complete. I have gone for various patterns and borders using the transfers for most of the primary motifs on them. They do look a bit shiny at some angles and I did have to paint over some of them once dry. I really like the result, way beyond anything my painting skills alone could achieve. While they may not be perfect under close scrutiny I think once they are glued on the figures they will make a really colourful addition to the army. Next I am going to paint up some Perry Miniatures late 15th Century Italians with polearms and swords to be the bearers of these shields.

15th Century Italian Shield

15th Century Italian Shield

15th Century Italian Shield

Infantry Fighting in the Cronaca della Napoli aragonese c.1498

Infantry in Naples c.1498

Infantry of the House of Aragon in Naples c.1498

Sforza Infantry and Cavalry c.1498
Italian Infantry Shields

Tuesday 1 September 2015

A New Building.....

This post is basically just an excuse to show some pictures of a new (well newly painted) scenic item. Over the summer I had the chance to finish a project I started last November, painting up the fantastic Convent building that GrandManner make in resin . It was actually a fairly easy task, once it had been washed and all the excess resin trimmed off, although I am not entirely sure my painting skills have done it full justice. There was no way I was attempting stained glass windows or anything like that!
I will admit that I think the building it is based on was actually built in the early 17th century so there may be a little anachronism in the architectural stlyle! Despite this I really feel it looks the part for an Italian ecclesiastical building, be it an Abbey, Convent or Monastery. I have seen the same piece used in Medieval and Italian Wars games before at shows and I could not resist! It makes a great backdrop for the miniatures and also adds a certain depth to the photos that I wasn't expecting.
I have also had time to set up my full battlefield and of course had to take some photos of the new building with some miniatures. So below we have pictures of the early Italian Wars with a Spanish and Italian force arrayed in front of the Convent, the French and their Swiss mercenaries leading an assault.

The Spanish defend against a French Assault

Spanish and Italian Cavalry support the infantry block

Spanish and Italian Infantry

Italian Skirmishers engage the French

Italian Archers and Arquebusiers

The Church, Convent, Abbey or Monastery

Italian Archers in front of the Spanish Infantry

A view from the French lines

Spanish Jinetes

Spanish Jinetes

I was keen to see how the Perry Jinetes I converted a while ago fitted in to my Spanish Army and I am really pleased with the result. The Perry Light Cavalry kit allows for some very dynamic figures, I still have two more boxes to paint and feel another set of Jinetes may be the fate of one of them. They were certainly a mainstay of the Spanish armies in the early phases of the Italian Wars.
One of my favourite things when collecting this era is the mixing of late medieval and early renaissance figures. The pictures below show this well. They represent French Gendarmes (who don't seem to have had time to put on any barding!) for around 1500. A mix of late 15th and early 16th century Harnesses with the lighter equipped "archers" making up the supporting rank for the Gendarmes. There are Foundry, Perry, Assault Group and Eureka miniatures all mixed together and I love the result. No fully slashed clothing or Gendarmes in the style of Maximilians Triumph quite yet. I am tempted to get some of the Mirliton Condottieri to add to this mix, they have some particularly impressive helmet crests that may be a little more 15th century but certainly wouldn't look out of place in the early Italian Wars.

French Gendarmes c.1500

French Gendarmes

French Gendarmes

French Gendarmes

Swiss Pike Block c.1500