Monday 8 August 2016

MantIets and Gabions

"Mantlets and Gabions", the title sounds like the name of an overpriced London pub. Anyway this is a project I have had on the back burner for a while now. I have completed nine bases of Mantlets to place in front of the different artillery pieces in the collection. Unfortunately the guns are all in storage at the moment so this post is just on the completed defences that will go in front of them. As soon as I get the chance I will take some photos of them with the guns - I am very keen to see how they work together myself!

The idea was to create some defences that look akin to those seen in the contemporary art. I have included a few below. One from the Kriegsbuch of 1496, another from the Weisskunig a couple decades later and an early 16th Century picture that I don't know the source of. In the old book I got it from it says it is by Dürer but to be honest I am not sure. They all show Mantlets and Gabions being used to protect the artillery. You may notice it is only guns that are not on moveable carriages that are protected in this way in the images. I guess wheeled artillery could simply be rolled up to fire and then withdrawn again before being reloaded, it would recoil a fair way anyway.

Siege from the Kriegsbuch, Philipp Mönch, 1496 showing lots of Mantlets in use.

Detail from the Weisskunig, mid 1510s, showing Mantlets in use during a siege.

Detail from an Early 16th Century Image showing an assault on a town.

The Mantlets are by Old Glory, really great pieces but I did have a small disaster when constructing them. On the picture on the US Old Glory site, one is shown constructed the wrong way round, the supporting horizontal planks are shown facing the oncoming fire. When talking about one of their gun miniatures in a previous post I thought it was constructed incorrectly in the image on the website. I am pretty certain the same is true here. Annoyingly I glued four of them together like this before realising my mistake. They were glued so strongly that a couple of them didn't survive my attempt to correct them. When correctly put together and painted up I really feel they look the part though.

I am well aware that men of the early renaissance loved painting stuff so really I guess the Mantlets should have Habsburg Saltires, the Papal Crossed Keys, Venetian Lions or French Fleurs de Lis on them depending on what besieging army they are in. I dread this kind of painting however and more importantly I wanted them to be far more generic so I have gone with some in plain wood and others painted red or black which I feel works well. The ropes to swing the mantlets are just fuse wire cut and bent into the correct shape. I was worried this was going to be a nightmare to do but it was surprisingly simple and achieves a quite natural looking rope effect. The fact this was easy to achieve made up for the earlier gluing disaster!

The Gabions are two packs of the Renedra plastic Gabions sprues. They were quite a lot of work as the tops are just circular bits of plastic, just like tiddlywinks really. To improve on this they all have gravel glued and painted on the top to represent the earth. The wicker work also needed a fair bit of trimming and filling in where the halves glue together. They are oval in shape rather than perfectly round and because of the size of the bases I was using, an 80mm frontage to match the frontage of all my artillery bases, I generally had to base them up with the join showing. This is a little annoying as they definitely look better where you can't see the join but I am happy they fitted the bases well with the Mantlets.

For the men swinging the Mantlets open, or waiting to do so, I have used a mix of Perry Miniatures and Pikemen by The Assault Group. There are a fair few head swaps in there, I wanted the men looking up at the mantlets as they raised them or at each other as they prepared to swing them open. I would have rather not have had so many chaps in back and breast plates crewing them but to be honest I was at a loss as to what figures to use for the task and the pikemen were in the most suitable poses. As always with my collection I was also keen to not make them look too medieval, I am aiming for a 1500-1520 sort of look, if such as thing is possible. The fashions changed extremely quickly in this period.

So here they are, some are left without crew, I was imagining the gunners may be in the process of reloading the gun and then some of them will raise the Mantlet after. I went for more closed ones as in reality they would be open for only a very brief space of time. I think my favourites are the two where they are about to open them, I have a feeling they will look great in front of the guns where a crewman is holding the linstock and shouting, getting them to swing it open as he is about to fire! I do realise that the guns will be quite a distance from the Mantlets and Gabions. In contemporary art they are often shown literally underneath the Mantlets as they open. This was the compromise I had to make however if I wanted the defences to be interchangeable with different artillery pieces and for my artillery pieces to still be useable as guns on the field without any defences.

My next post will be number 100 so I think setting up some suitably ridiculous siege scene may be the best way to celebrate number 100 and show the guns and their defences working together.

Soldiers lifting the Mantlet

Soldiers lifting the Mantlet with their Halberds resting on a Gabion

Another raised Mantlet

Mantlet being swung open

Mantlet being swung open, the crew are from the Perry Wars of the Roses Bombard

Soliders waiting to raise a Mantlet

A civilian auxiliary conscripted as a pioneer tops up a Gabion while the guns reload

One Soldier looks on through the Mantlet while another waits for the gun crew.

Closed Mantlet, note the ropes on either side.

Soldiers about to raise a Mantlet at the gunners command

Six of the Mantlets together, this gives and idea of what they will look like with the guns

Mantlets for a battery of three guns

Monday 1 August 2016

Maximilian Mounted Crossbowmen

After my foray into the mid-sixteenth century the blog is now back into the early 1500s. I was thinking about adding another unit of mounted crossbowmen to the collection as the one I have completed so far is very much Late Medieval Italian in style with some of them wearing Giorneas over their doublets and Mazzocchios around their helmets. Something a little more Northern European was needed. I picked up some boxes of the Perry Light Cavalry at Salute 2015 and was going to use one of these to make up another unit, but I felt they would still look very late medieval rather than early 16th Century.

I changed my mind about using the Perry figures when I saw this post by Daniel S on his excellent blog Kriegsbuch: It shows images of a painting from 1502 illustrating a conflict between the city of Nuremburg and the forces of Kasimir von Bradenburg-Kulmbach. This painting is fantastic in highlighting the dress and armour of German troops at the start of the 1500s. It clearly shows lots of light horsemen wearing painted or cloth covered sallets and clothing over their plate armour. Also included in the post were pictures from another German painting of the 1490s again showing the same style helmets and clothing worn with the plate. I have included some of these images below, but take a look at Kriegsbuch for more detail. It is certainly worth a look.

Detail from a painting of 1502 showing a battle between the forces of the the city of Nuremburg and Kasimir von Brandenburg-Kulmbach

Light Horseman in painted armour

Detail from a painting c.1490 by an anonymous Swabian Master showing cavalry in painted sallets

Detail from a painting c.1490 showing a cloth covered or painted sallet and cloth covered armour

Daniel also notes the similarity between the dress of the light horse and the men shown in Dürers Paumgartner altarpiece, an image I have posted on this blog before when discussing the "French Archers"  or lighter Gendarmes that Eureka Miniatures made some years ago. I have included it again below along with a picture from the Schilling Chronicle showing similarly dressed horsemen from the early 1500s. This got me thinking that it might look good to convert some of these miniatures into mounted crossbowmen. Granted the images discussed so far are not actually of mounted crossbowmen but some contemporary illustrations do show mounted crossbowmen in plate armour. A good example of this is the character shown in one of Paul Dolnsteins diary sketches of 1502.

Albrecht Dürer's Paumgartner altarpiece c.1500 commissioned by the Paumgartner family of Nuremburg

Detail from the Illustrated Chronicle by Diebold Schilling showing cavalry in painted sallets and cloth covered armour

Armoured mounted crossbowman c.1502 from Paul Dolnsteins diary

So here are the finished horsemen. Apologies for the quality of the photos I was having some serious lighting issues and will take some more of them accompanying other troops when I get the chance.  They are mix of Eureka French Archers and Perry Miniatures plastics - the crossbows, quivers and head swaps. The Perry Miniatures Light Cavalry boxed set includes loads of great bits and pieces that can be used for mounted crossbowmen and I think they have worked well on these figures. The Eureka figures come with a lance armed arm and an open handed arm so it is really easy to add the crossbows. I wanted to use only figures that are based on those from the Paumgartner Altarpiece, so basically none with puffed sleaves. I was particularly anal and did a special order from Nic at Eureka who kindly provided the requested figures rather than providing them randomly. This cost a little extra but there was no postage to pay as I picked the figures up directly at Salute this year.

In the contemporary paintings red and white seems to predominate, and I have gone for a similar theme but as this is for the early 1500s I have gone for a few other colours as well. I wouldn't want these chaps outfits being out done by their Landsknecht brothers on the field! I didn't attempt the more detailed painted sallets from the artwork or surviving pieces. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will no my loathing of attempting to paint anything too detailed on shields, banners or barding and some of the designs on those helmets certainly fall into that category.

What do you think of the results? I think with hindsight I would have done a few more headswaps. I wanted all the figures to have their visors up but I think some of the Perry plastic heads from the men at arms sets with sallets and bevors would have looked great on these figures. I am tempted to do some proper light horsemen from the images above in the future and have them all with visored sallets, spears and based in closer order but we will see. I also really think I should have included a standard. On a lot of my lighter, skirmish style troops I don't add them but I think with these cavalry they are sufficiently well accoutred to have warranted a nice banner. Again possibly something to add later, for now they will have to make do with an officer and trumpeter.

The mounted crossbowmen

I think this chap in the red is one of the closest resemblances to the figures in the contemporary artwork

The officer and trumpeter

All the figures have crossbolt quivers.

I think these two fit the bill well as early 16th century mounted crossbowmen