Saturday 3 December 2016

Papal Command Base

This is probably my last post for the year. I am currently gearing up to start the challenge of yet another massive pike block, this time the excellent Landsknechts that The Assault Group have released for the 1490s to the first decade of the 1500s. A glutton for punishment I may be but I can't wait to see what they will look like painted up and arrayed under the ragged saltire of Maximilian! I am also about half way through some Tudor Archers to accompany my 1513 billmen, they should hopefully be completed first.

As a bit of a break in between bigger projects I have painted up a couple of the Steel Fist 16th century dismounted knights that came from a recent Kick Starter. The first is shown here on a command base. For this little scene I was keen that the figures could be used for my very early Italian Wars armies, for the War of 1499-1504, so you will notice that none of the figures are in later Landsknecht style slashed and puffed clothing. While the slashed and puffed clothing was indeed worn at the very start of the 16th century, it was done in a different and less extreme fashion than that which was to develop in the 1510s. As far as I know the harness the man-at-arms himself wears would be state of the art for 1500, some of the other figures for this range are for a few years later. These figures are all now available here: I also backed the Steel First mounted 16th century knights Kick Starter and look forward to painting them up some time next year.

The other figures on the base are by The Assault Group apart from the chap at the back wearing a grey hat, who is a Perry plastic figure. The banner is interchangeable, so I can use the base for various commanders up until the mid 1520s, but in these pictures they march under a conjectural pattern bearing the arms of the "Warrior Pope", Julius II. They are from one of the excellent sets that Pete has done for Julius IIs armies: I think at some point when I have prepared all the Papal banners and standards part of my collection may have an outing as an entirely Papal army, this time Della Rovere rather than Borgia. I am yet to photograph my Italian Infantry and more generic pike blocks in a big army set up.

Command Base with a Dismounted Knight from Steel Fist Miniatures

Command Base marching under the banner of Julius II

Command Base under the banner of the "Warrior Pope", Julius II

Saturday 12 November 2016

Tudor Billmen 1513

This is the first unit for my 1513 Tudors. Having already dipped into the Tudor armies of the 1540s I'm jumping back a few decades to the armies of Henry VIIIs youth. It's an army I have attempted twice before, once in 15mm and once in 28mm. Both armies being sold on Ebay long ago. These earlier attempts, the lack of really good figures for the English and the fact it's an army that Stuart is covering in such incredible depth and so beautifully on his blog,, meant that I was going to give the English for this period a miss and focus on some of the other Western European armies of the era.

My hand was forced however when Pete produced some excellent flag sheets specifically for the English campaign in France in 1513, These are simply superb and although none have actually been used on this unit they will really add to the army. Being a Wars of the Roses reenactor, for my sins, I've always had a love of the swallow tailed standards with the St Georges cross at the hoist (whether or not they were actually used on the field is a debate for another day!) so I simply could not resist having a go a this army for a third time......

Already having a large Italian Wars collection, with changeable banners and standards, means a lot of the figures for the army are already done. Blocks of Landsknechts and the heavy Low Countries Men-at-Arms that Henry hired from Maximilian to augment his forces are no problem, I can simply use the figures from my existing collection. The troops needed are blocks of Billmen, of course English Archers and maybe some "Northern Staves", the Border Horsemen that Henry brought over and performed well in the 1513 Campaign.

For the Billmen I already had an idea of which figures could be used. Having studied the figures on Stuarts blog for ages I wanted to do something a bit different. Also the fact that I am hopeless with greenstuff and don't have Stuarts endless patience meant that I was going to have to find another way around the problem that no one manufactures good miniatures for the English in 1513. I fell back on what have become my classic go to figures, the Italian Swiss/Papal Guard by The Assault Group. I have used these figures so many times for various projects recently I should maybe rename the blog as "How Many times can you reuse 4 figure poses". Pete from The Assault Group very kindly let me buy them in Unit Builder sets to assemble a large collection of them. Some simple head swaps, the addition of bills and various other polearms along with the odd steel buckler on a few of them and they suddenly look like Tudor Billmen. I am aware that the base coats aren't one hundred percent like those Stuart has sculpted, they don't have the short sleeves that characterise them, but this was something I felt I could overlook.

Having the figures in Tudor base coats sorted the unit needed variation. I did not want any figures in Wars of the Roses style livery coats or to have so many late 15th Century styles within it that it looked like a Wars of the Roses retinue. A few specific poses from the Wargames Foundry Landsknechts, some not even needing head swaps, helped to add more "fashionable" soldiers to the block, most of them wearing doublets in Tudor colours. All of them had their Katzbalgers replaced with late medieval swords to bring them more into the Tudor style. A sprinkling of Perry Men-at-Arms in late 15th Century harnesses or half armours along with some more humble troops in padded jacks were added. Again with a few head swaps these fitted in well with the other troops.

Initially I was going to base them four to a base, like my Italian Infantry. This just didn't look imposing enough however and they looked as though my pike blocks, which are very densely based, would simply role through them. So of course the project expanded, I decided it would be six to a base, the same as the pike blocks. I considered painting the base coats maybe just white, or perhaps white and red as it seems there were variations on this theme during the 1510s and 1520s. In the end I've gone with the classic white and green with the St Georges cross in red as it is so representative of the Tudors. As Surreys unit at Flodden was also in a white and green livery this means they would also be suitable for this battle.

A couple of other different things were tried while working on these. One was the blackened armour on a Men-at-Arms shown in an image below. I was watching a lecture on youtube by Tobias Capwell,, where he explains that the polished, shiny finish of plate harnesses could often amount to up to 80% of their cost! This has made me rethink how many figures I will paint in bright shining armour! Obviously it was done, as the lecture cleary demonstrates, but soldiers would often be in much duller armour that had not been polished. The figure was simply drybrushed in a dull metallic silver and then given two washes of black ink. You may notice the same technique was used on a few of the bills and helmets.

The second experiment was to try sticking small paper crosses onto some of the padded jacks of the Perry miniatures to represent the St Georges Crosses that had to be worn by the English troops. The aim was to make them look like cloth crosses that had been stitched on, although padded jacks could also simply have the crosses painted on as well. I am fairly happy with the results, although it was such a fiddly job doing them. The tiny pieces of paper were a nightmare to try and glue in place.

So here they are, seventy figures in total with a ridiculous 55 head swaps. The Perry Wars of the Roses plastic sets are endlessly useful for converting these figures. I haven't actually ordered the newer Tudor flags from Pete yet, so they are shown here under some of the flags from his mid Tudor sets, St Georges crosses and the standard of Sir Charles Brandon who took part in the 1513 French invasion and commanded during the 1523 and 1544 invasions. The larger flag is from Redoubt Enterprises. The flags are removable and the unit will look better with the addition of another swallow tailed standard.

The next question is how to convincingly do the archers? I have already painted some up for this period, but they are not in Tudor Livery. I may do a set of those old citadel figures again, in Tudor colours, but mixing some converted Foundry Landsknechts and Perry Plastic Wars of the Roses longbowmen together could make quite a convincing unit of marching bowmen as well. Let me know if you have any other ideas of how to represent the archers?

Tudor Billmen 1513 under the standard of  Sir Charles Brandon

Tudor Billmen and command

Tudor Billmen with a few Men-At-Arms stiffening the front ranks 

This base uses Perry, Assault Group and Wargames Foundry figures.

Again Perry, Assault Group and Foundry miniatures. Note the addition of the buckler to the soldier in the centre.

The centre figure is meant to represent an older veteran carrying a poleaxe. His head has been swapped with a Foundry Landsknecht miniature

Some mean looking Tudor Billmen

One of the command bases - The figure holding the banner on the left is from Steel Fist in late 15th century armour.

The second command base, behind these three are a trumpeter and a drummer

Some more Tudor Billmen

Note the paper cross on the padded jack on the left, this is meant to represent a stitched on cloth cross.

I experimented with painting blackened armour on the central Perry figure

Tudor Billmen

Note the stitched on cross on the jack on the left and the "Welsh Hook" being carried by the central figure

A picture from the back of the above base to show the stitched on cross on the back of the padded jack on the left

Finally a picture of the unit from behind - a lot of red crosses!

Sunday 2 October 2016


This post is simply to show how the Mantlet and Gabion bases I completed back in August,, look with my artillery bases. Although they are of different depths all my artillery bases have an 80mm frontage, and of course the gun is always in the centre of the base. This means that the Mantlets fit in front of all the artillery bases and can be swapped for variety.

You may notice a wooden tower in some of the photos. This is a terrain piece from Magister Militum I painted up a while back. In this period such wooden defences were quite common, used by defenders and besiegers alike. I have included a few examples of them in contemporary images. The first two are of a block house, I think its meant to be the same building in each image, that temporarily holds out against Maximilians forces in his Weisskunig. You can see the defenders meet a rather grisly end when they are finally burnt out. The second image is a salient reminder that these depictions were as much propaganda as they were efforts to "document" the Holy Roman Emperor elects campaigns. A warning to those who opposed the might of his armed forces. That is, of course, as long as he could temporarily borrow enough money to raise those forces!

A block house under attack in the Weisskunig.

The destroyed block house, by the looks of things Maximilian was not too happy with the efforts of the defenders!

The third image is a sketch by Paul Dolstein (another favourite of this blog along with the Weisskunig!) showing the siege of Montfort in 1491. As Dolstein was a bridge builder from Torgau I wonder if he served in these campaigns alongside the Landsknechts as much as a military engineer as a soldier. It is interesting that he included these images of sieges and the accompanying earthworks, in my last post I included his sketch of the Siege of Älvsborg. It does hint to me that he was involved in this aspect of campaigns regardless of whether he fought as a Landsknecht or not. All sorts of wooden towers and stockades can be seen in the below sketch and this is what I was trying to achieve with the wooden tower. I am not entirely happy with it though, it seems to look a little out of place.

A sketch from the diary of Paul Dolstein, showing the siege of Montfort 1491. All sorts of temporary defences can be seen , it's hard to tell which are the defenders and which the besiegers.

The set up in the below photos is a French force besieging the Venetians, I am guessing around late April, May 1509. The French are mopping up Venetian positions in the Terra Firma following their spectacular victory over the Serene Republic at the Battle of Agnadello, but basically its just a chance to show how the guns look combined with the siegeworks! I am happy with the results, they create little miniature dioramas when all the artillery bases and Mantlet bases are linked together. I was worried that perhaps the guns would be a little far from the Mantlets, as in contemporary images the barrels are often shown blasting out right underneath the Mantlets, but they seem to work pretty well.

Behind the attackers siegeworks

A bombard and supporting lighter guns fire as an assault goes in on the town walls.

The siegeworks

An Italian town under siege

The siegeworks from the defenders viewpoint, the wooden tower is on the left.
Mantlets and Gabions form defences for the gun crews behind

The siegeworks

Three of the French guns fire as Stradiots sally out of the town to attack the besieging force. I made the mistake of putting two bases next to each other with identical figures - the chap in the grey coat holding his bonnet in the centre of the photo appears twice!

The above  three guns from the defenders view point

The Venetian defenders crew a light gun in their earthworks

Saturday 24 September 2016

A Bombard

This is a piece I finished a while ago, but didn't deem dramatic enough for post number 100! It is the Perry Miniatures Wars of the Roses Bombard with a few tweaks to the crew to make it more suitable for the start of the 16th Century. I was having a look at contemporary images while I was working on this, and my mantlets and gabions. It was a surprise to discover that, alongside the more "modern" culverins and basilisks, bombards seem to have seen use well into the first two decades of the 1500s. I included some images to demonstrate this in a recent post Some more images follow to further highlight this.

The first is a great sketch of the Siege of Älvsborg by Paul Dolnstein, a favourite soldier artist of this blog, which quite clearly shows an older style bombard in use alongside other guns on carriages. Secondly Maximilians Zeugbuch of 1502 has a wealth of detail in terms of guns in the early 16th century. In a previous post I linked it in the comments but in case you haven't seen it here is the link again. Have a look as it really is a goldmine of images: What is interesting about a lot of the bombards in the Zeugbuch is that they seem rather more "up to date" than the Perry miniature, being cast in bronze and in a style more of 1500. They look to be whole cast guns rather than iron staves linked together by iron hoops. It would be great to see a manufacturer sculpt one of these pieces.

This is a Sketch from Paul Dolnsteins Diary in 1502 showing the siege of Älvsborg in Sweden. Note the old style bombard at the bottom of the sketch, just left of the centre. Apparently the text at the top right hand is a recipe for Pidgeon written by someone else!

Bombard from Maximilians Zeugbuch 1502.

Another Bombard from the Zeugbuch 1502.

Bombards from the Zeugbuch, these two look slightly older than the others shown above.

The final three contemporary images are from the Weisskunig, another favourite source of images for this blog, detailing siege guns in the mid 1510s. While in the first image the central guns look like older style bombards, what is interesting about the following two images is that the guns being used without carriages look as though they may well be simply culverins in use without carriages. This makes sense as in siege warfare where some of the guns could afford to be relatively static I can imagine these pieces being used without the need to have a carriage.What is also evident from the images shown here, and in my mantlets and gabions post, is that the bombards are always shown in use alongside guns on carriages. I am guessing the guns on carriages were included as much to defend the besiegers in a sally as to further damage the walls or earthworks that were under siege. They could quickly be moved to fire on attackers from the fortifications if need be.

Image from the Weisskuning, 1510s, showing bombards in use in the centre

Another image from the Weisskunig showing what looks to be a more contemporary barrel being used without a carriage in the top right.

Again more contemporary guns being used without carriages.

Some images of the bombard and its accompanying mantlet follow. It really is a beautiful kit but it is also quite clearly for the late 15th century. In order to bring it into the 1500s you will notice I have head swapped the gunner with the linstock and have switched one of the crew for an old Citadel Miniature who is more suitable for the early 16th century. One of the chaps hauling up the mantlet has also had a head swap. I didn't go too overboard on the crew though as I imagine that a lot of the men working on the bombard would simply be civilians pressed into service and not always the most "fashionable".

I have also added some bits and pieces from Front Rank. A wood axe leans on the blocks of wood behind the gun to prevent recoil. I got this idea from Simon who did a beautiful job on this miniature for his Burgundian and Hundred Years war collections I did toy with the idea of basing the crew on sabot bases like he has done as well and painting four Landsknechts as the alternative crew. Maybe one day I will do another gun as I can use the 15th century crew for other projects, they are really useful figures.

The mantlet is on a separate base, the same size as the other mantlets I painted up. They are all interchangeable and can be switched to other artillery pieces as I have based all my guns on an 80mm frontage. I have taken photos of some of the other guns as part of some siege works and will hopefully get these images up in my next post.

The bombard as part of some siege works.

The front of the bombard.

Image without the mantlet.

The bombard and mantlet.

The gun from behind showing the detail of the crew.

Monday 5 September 2016

Landsknechts and Gendarmes, Blog Post Number 100

So this is my 100th blog post. Unbelievable though it may seem I have managed to find one hundred different, well slightly different, things to ramble on about in relation to collecting miniatures for the 16th century. It's actually my 101st post as I did write one supporting the Pro Gloria Plastic Landsknechts Kickstarter which never happened in the end so it was deleted. I'm not sure if that project will ever see the light of day, or if the figures were entirely accurate either to be honest, but they would have been brilliant for conversions at the very least.

I have really enjoyed writing the blog so far, and have found it's really focused my efforts to a greater extent than if I was just painting and not posting up pictures of stuff I was working on. For example the rebasing may never have happened had I not had a blog. That's an undertaking I am still scarred by! Please let me know in the comments if there have been any particular projects or posts that you have enjoyed, or disliked for that matter. The great thing about blogs is the way everyone can share ideas and inspiration, perfect for a hobby like miniature painting.

Despite 100 updates so far, there are still at least another 100 projects in the pipeline! I am currently working on some English Billmen for my early 16th century Tudors. Petes awesome 1513 English flags were what finally forced my hand to have a go at this army: The Billmen may not be up to the incredible standard of Stuarts 1513 English and French figures,, but I am quite pleased with the 6 I have completed so far. The archers will be more tricky I feel. Also In the pipeline I have the fantastic dismounted 16th Century Knights by Oliver at Steelfist Miniatures to tackle at some point. Ideally I would like some kind of command or unit base for each figure, which means other figures to accompany each knight will be needed. I am also keenly watching his current Kickstarter, the mounted Gendarmes,, and will be working on some of them if it funds.

Then there are the early Landsknechts that The Assault Group have had in the pipeline for a while now, Of course a large block of these will be required to add to my early Italian Wars Spanish army. Some "Northern Staves" or "Border Horse" for the early Tudors will be necessary. Some more artillery would be nice as well as some casualty bases, for some reason I have been putting off casualty bases for years despite having figures for them. Who knows, one day I may even have a wargame with some of these figures and do a post on that!

To mark my 100th (or 101st) blog post I thought I would show some pictures of what I feel is the classic wargamers Italian Wars Army, lots of Landsknechts and lots of Gendarmes. The pictures below are of an army intended to represent that of Maximilian I, for the 1510s, although to be honest they would also be fine for the start of Charles Vs reign as Holy Roman Emperor. If you have read this blog for a while you will know I love to set the various units out together to really try and give a feel for a certain army and era. Landsknechts and Gendarmes always seem to get more attention than any other infantry or cavalry in a lot of the contemporary images so maybe it's no wonder miniature manufacturers have focused more on them in the past. Once lots of banners bearing Habsburg Saltires and Imperial Eagles have been added to the figures the army really does start to look like those seen in many of the woodcuts from the early 16th century and I guess for me that's what it's all about.

The Imperial Army of the Holy Roman Emperor Elect, Maximilian I

Lots of Landsknechts and Gendarmes

Imperial Light Cavalry behind the artillery

Fuggers Landsknechts follow up behind the skirmishing Arquebusiers

The army in front of the town gates

Marching Landsknechts follow up behind the mounted crossbowmen

An Imperial Commander

The mounted Crossbowmen

Standing Landsknechts

And lastly a view inside the town