Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Hungarian Horse Archers c.1500

The second unit for my early 16th century Hungarian army is a group of horse archers. As with the Hussars much of the inspiration for them has been taken from Gyozo Somogyi's "The Army of King Matthias 1458-1526" https://www.amazon.co.uk/Matthias-1458-1526-Gyozo-Somogyi-2014-05-04/dp/B01FKUVRR4/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=armies+of+king+matthias&qid=1604313164&sr=8-1. The superb battle of Orsha painting, which I discussed in last months post, has some great detail of these kind of troops which, while not Hungarians, bear a close similarity to those shown in Gyozo Somogyi's art work. I have included a couple of close ups from the painting below. Other than this I have struggled to find many contemporary images of these light cavalry. The Weisskunig has a great image of a king, I am guessing Maximilian I but frustratingly I am never sure what all of the plates of the Weisskunig are meant to be representing, riding along with Gendarmes and what appear to be Hungarian cavalry. In this image, again shown below, a couple of Hussars can be seen in the top left with what looks to be a glimpse of a horse archer with an extravagantly plumed hat in the top right.

Detail of Eastern European horse archers from the "Battle of Orsha, 1514", c.1520-1534.

Detail of Eastern European horse archers from the "Battle of Orsha, 1514".

Detail from the Weisskunig c.1514-16. Note the horse archer in the top right of the image and the Hussars in the top left of the image behind the Gendarmes.

In an attempt to represent these cavalry I have used a mixture of later 16th early 17th century Hungarian horse archers from the Assault Group, https://theassaultgroup.co.uk/product/hungarian-light-horse-with-bows/, with an Assault Group Cossack Trumpeter and a couple of Foundry Cossacks in the mix as well. To bring these figures closer to the late 15th early 16th century I have added the long sleeves typical of Eastern European dress in these decades to all of the miniatures with green stuff and have modified the head gear of most of them with green stuff or additional plumage. Hopefully this captures the flavour of the art work in Gyozo Somogyi's book and the images shown above.You can probably tell there is going to be a theme developing with the addition of all these extra sleeves on figures in this army!

The resulting unit is shown below. As with last months post the banner, bearing the Virgin Mary and child, is taken directly from "The Army of King Matthias 1458-1526" and was part of the flag sheet I put together for this army that Pete of Pete's Flags, https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/petes_flags/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=, kindly printed for me. The archers fit in really well with the Hussars and when mixed with other figures in my collection should really help to give the army a Hungarian feel. I am not finished with the Orsha painting though, I think the next unit for this army is going to be another crack at the Hussars, this time trying to get them to match those in the painting as closely as possible. 

Hungarian horse archers late 15th early 16th century.

View of the horse archers from behind, note the long sleeves that have been added with green stuff.

28mm Hungarian horse archers.

Early 16th century Hungarian horse archers.


Saturday, 7 November 2020


With the Ottoman army looking formidable I have decided to work on another of their opponents, the Hungarians. For many of the troops the Hungarians fielded such as their Gendarmes, Militia, Artillery and Landsknecht I will be able to use my exisiting collection and a simple change of banners and perhaps the addition of a few extra bases to give a Hungarian flavour will be all that is needed. This may not be perfect, especially in terms of the infantry militia but seeing as no manufacturer really makes suitable figures for these it is a compromise I am happy to make.

One essential troop type that will really add a Hungarian flavour to the army are the Hussars. Again we return to Ian Heath and his Armies of the Middle Ages Volume 2. He argues that they were only established as a formal troop type in the reign of Matthias Corvinus in the 15th century after the fall of Serbia, although gusars or usars were a form of Serbian light cavalry in the 1300s. He suggests three possible sources for their name. Firstly that it evolved from Khazar, from the Byzantine Chosarios. Secondly that it comes from the Hungarian huszar meaning every twentieth man. Thirdly, and what seems to be the most likely, that the word comes from gusar or husar meaning a robber. Hungarians organised Hussars in twenty five strong units called turbae. It seems their employment in Eastern Europe by the end of the 15th century was fairly widespread with the Poles, Lithuanians, Austrians and some other Germans also employing them. They would of course go on to become a very famous type of horseman in the following centuries.

Early image of a Hussar, etched onto a sabre scabbard chape c. 1500.

But what did they look like in the first few decades of 1500? The image above, an engraving from the end of a sabre scabbard dated c.1500, is probably the earliest image we have, and one I have tried to model the miniatures on quite closely. We have some good images in the Leonhard Beck picture although it is interesting to note they don't have the characteristic long sleeves in these. Some more images of Hussars from the 1510s appear in the Weisskunig, although sometimes I feel it can be hard to tell if they are meant to represent Hussars or Stradiots in this.

Hussars in action agains the Ottomans, Battle of Krbava Field, Leonhard Beck c.1514-16.

Possible Hussars in the WeissKunig c.1514-16.

Another Hussar image from the Weisskunig.

The most famous images of early Hussars are from the Battle of Orsha painting, depicting a clash in 1514 between the Muscovites and forces of Lithuania and Poland. These are probably a little later in date than the images above as although the battle was in 1514 the painting is thought to date to from a decade or so later. There are lots of excellent representations of Polish and Lithuanian Hussars in this, I have included a couple of close ups from the painting. Finally we have an image of a Hungarian Hussar from the second half of the 16th century, by Jost Amman, which seems to indicate they had changed little since 1500.

A second source that has proven excellent both for working on these Hussars and on my Hungarian "conversion" army in general is Gyozo Somogyi's "The Army of King Matthias 1458-1526" https://www.amazon.co.uk/Matthias-1458-1526-Gyozo-Somogyi-2014-05-04/dp/B01FKUVRR4/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=armies+of+king+matthias&qid=1604313164&sr=8-1. While the title may be misleading, as Matthias Corvinus died in 1490, the book covers the troop types, coats of arms, banners, weapons and fortifications of Hungarian Armies from 1458 right up to Mohacs in 1526, with much of the books art covering the early 16th century. The art work is a little unusual and there is very little text, which is in both English and Hungarian, but it contains a wealth of pictoral detail for Hungarian armies of the early Sixteenth century and has been really useful for this project, once I eventually tracked a copy down. My Hussars are based on some of the details in these images and also on some from Somogyi's book.

Detail from the "Battle of Orsha, 1514" c.1520-1534

Further detail from the "Battle of Orsha, 1514". Note all the different hat styles the Hussars sport.

Hussar - Jost Amman, later 16th Century.

So how have I tried to represent the Hussars of this period on the tabletop? Apart from Old Glory no manufacturer makes these figures for the late 15th early 16th century period. There were a lot of specific features that I wanted to show on the miniatures. The distinctive shields, the lances, some kind of early frogging, the long sleeves and the plumage in the hats.  I wanted at least some of the horses to have the distinctive horse tack where the horses hind is covered. 

The resulting unit is a mixture of Assault Group and Foundry Cossack and Polish figures for the riders and the horses are all from The Assault Group. In order to get the distinctive Hussar horse tack Polish Pancerni horses have been used, with the pistols taken off and the space left tidied up with green stuff. Similarly green stuff has been used to add the sleeves to all the Hussars and to add the hair to many of the Cossack figures as these tend to have bald heads where none of the pictures of the early Hussars show them like this. There are a few head swaps in there with Perry Tudor heads having moustaches added along with plumes. The plumes themselves are all from my bits box, one of the advantages of collecting and modelling for decades is the tendancy to build up a load of useful bits like these.

With regards the hats I decided not to model the figures in any of the "Top Hat" styles as from Somogyi's book the Hungarian Hussars seem to have had hats more typical to that shown in the first, etched, image. Saying that a glance at the above contemporary depictions will show a range of hats, especially the "Battle of Orsha" which on close examination reveals a bewildering variety of head gear worn by the Polish and Lithuanian Hussars. For the shield designs my painting skills arent up to the task to paint some of the beautiful designs these shields had. I have attempted to go with some of the portrayals based on Somogyi's artwork and as always transfers have come to my aid to help make up for the painting. On reflection it may have been better to have gone with the designs shown in the "Battle of Orsha" as I could have managed those.  

The banner is taken directly from "The Army of King Matthias 1458-1526" which is superb for flags for this army. Pete of Pete's Flags, https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/petes_flags/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=, very kindly printed out a couple of flag sheets I put together using the PC for the Hungarians. Hopefully I will be able to show the rest in future posts as this project develops. For the lance pennants again I have gone with the above book and shown them in red and white, which seem to be the key colours of the Hungarian Monarchy in this era. The resulting figures are shown below. 

28mm Hungarian Hussars

Early Hungarian Hussars.

Hussars, late 15th early 16th century.

Hussars converted from Cossack and Polish 17th century figures.

Note the disitinctive Horse Tack on some of the figures, which covers the hind of the horse.

A view from the back showing the long sleeves which were sculpted on with green stuff.

Finally a side shot which shows the horse coverings quite well.


Thursday, 1 October 2020

Early Sixteenth Century Ottoman Army

So here is the Ottoman host so far. Of course there are plenty of things I want to add in the future but the akinji, azabs, janissaries and sipahis that initially form the core of the army are done. It's been a lot of work and required many conversions along with a real mix of figures. The majority of the miniatures are from The Assault Group and Old Glory with Essex, Redoubt Enterprises and Warfare Miniatures also providing some figures here and there.What has made it more of a challenge is that no one manufacturer really covers the Ottomans that well for the period 1450 to around 1550 so there have been a few compromises to try and get the collection looking like a force from the early 16th century. To be honest the Ottoman Empire already covered such a vast area by 1500 that it is not surprising that there isn't a range covering them comprehensively, I am not even sure this would be possible!

I could also add the stradiots to this army, along with more Western men at arms and infantry as the Ottomans called on many of their vassal states to provide troops. Albanian auxiliary contingents could be found in Ottoman armies as early as the late 14th century and a contingent of 1,500 Serbian cavalry served under Mehmed II at the siege of Constantinople in 1453. For this set up I have stuck to the figures that were painted up specifically for this army. The photos are meant to show the traditional battlefield array of the Ottomans from the late 15th into the 16th century. The akinji form a skirmishing line in the front of the host followed by the azabs who play a similar role. Behind them wait the Ottoman guns protected by stakes and wagons and the fearsome janissaries. The Ottoman leader, on some occasions this would be the Sultan himself, is guarded by his household cavalry. The flanks are taken up by the sipahis, of which I have way too few to make this a very accurate depiction!

This is another problem with trying to collect an early Ottoman army, they had so many cavalry! Rhoads Murphy in his "Ottoman Warfare, 1500-1700" states "Throughout the period up the end of the sixteenth century the composition of Ottoman armies (even without their Tartar and other auxiliaries who were accustomed to attend campaign with several spare mounts in tow) was characterised by a three- or even four-to-one ratio of cavalry to infantry". So even without the vassal horsemen that accompanied them the Ottoman armies were already heavily dominated by their various forms of cavalry. The army shown in the photos does indeed include auxiliaries in the form of the Balkan cavalry, I would have needed way more horsemen to even get close to a three-to-one ratio. As I am keen to use the collection for siege games focusing on the janissaries, artillery and other infantry has led to a force that is far more infantry based than it would have been historically.

On the subject of siege games I am keen to do some scenarios using my mid 16th century European collection and the Ottomans in the future, something based around Charles V's conquest of Tunis in 1535 or his disastrous Algiers expedition in 1541. During the Tunis campaign Charles, armed with a lance, rode out into one of the many skirmishes that took place. He even joined his men in the trenches, firing three arquebus shots at the enemy. A skirmish involving the Habsburg Emperor himself would be a lot of fun. With that in mind at some point it would be great to add some Bedouin horsemen as well North African corsairs to be able to field a North African themed army. Adding later sipahis with pistols as well as janissaries with muskets would also take the army to the 1550s and beyond. For now I am going to focus on some other projects but I have a feeling it won't be long before I return to the Sublime Porte! A selection of oddly angled photos of the whole army are below.

Azabs form a screen in front of the Ottoman guns and janssaries.

A view of the army showing the akinji, then the azabs, then the wagons and guns defended by the janissaries and finally the commander defended by his household cavalry.

28mm Ottoman Army.

The war wagons and guns.

A view of the entire army.

A view from the other side, sipahis hold the flank. This army could do with a few more units of such troops to even be close to a historical representation!

A view of the army from behind, the commander and his cavalry are on the centre left and the Ottoman military band can be seen on the right.

The Ottoman Beylerbey in the centre of the host.

A view inside the wagon tabor. The military band is to the left, comprised of mounted kettle drummers.

Another Ottoman commander, one of the last bases completed for this army, it was inspired by Dürer's image of a mounted Ottoman commander carrying a mace, shown in an earlier post. 

The janissary agha orders his men into action.

The commander of the azabs.

A view of some of the guns.

28mm Ottoman Turk Army for the 1500s.

Monday, 14 September 2020

War Wagons

Building an Ottoman army for the early 1500s I had to include war wagons, especially as they can also be used for much of my 16th century collection. Developed during the Hussite Wars of the early 15th Century, in which they were found to be particularly effective when combined with gunpowder weapons, by the 1500s war wagons were used in many armies, particularly those of Eastern Europe. The war wagons may not have played such a key tactical role in other armies as they did for the Bohemians but they were useful for fortifying camps and providing a mobile defensive structure. The Ottomans had adopted them by the end of the 15th century when they could be deployed with battlefield entrenchments and manned by the Sultan's janissaries when the Ottomans fought pitched battles.

I have used resin models from 1st Corps which look to have been based on Hussite wagons. As I intend to use them for different parts of the collection I am happy to use these as they are and haven't done any conversion work on them. War wagons seem to have taken all manner of forms so I have included a few contemporary images below to give an idea of how they may have looked. The first, probably most well known, image is from the later 15th century, and shows a German fortified camp. It is full of lovely details, such as the chap going to the toilet in the bottom right and the guards at the swing bar gate at the camp entrance on the left. The wagons used to form the camp walls would probably be more accurately described as "wooden shields on wheels", similar to mantlets, although the second wagon ring is clearly of proper wagons.

The next two images show details of war wagons from the "Battle before the gates of Nürnberg" depicting the forces of Kasimir von Brandenburg-Kulmbach in his clash with Nuremberg in 1502. The city deployed forty war wagons for the encounter which can be seen in the image. For more detailed images and a write up of this battle Daniel S has written two excellent blog posts: http://kriegsbuch.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-brandenburg-troops-in-kirchweih-von.html and http://kriegsbuch.blogspot.com/2016/01/nurnberg-foot-in-kirchweih-von.html. The wagons in these images look closer in design to those I have painted up from 1st Corps.

The final image is another late 15th century one which shows a quite different style, more like a wooden "pill box". It is being used as a moveable fortification as the gate for a set of siege works. Although these images are all from the late 15th early 16th centuries war wagons continued to be used throughout the 1500s. Henry VIII took twenty to the Siege of Boulogne in 1544 which fully covered the horses who trotted inside the wagons frames! The Duke of Albany's Scots forces in 1523, which have featured in the games myself and Stuart have played recently, included war wagons covered in steel and brass, carrying men and artillery pieces. Even as late as 1573 they were used by the Dutch in an attempt to relieve those besieged in Haarlem during the Eighty Years' War.

A classic image of war wagons - or perhaps wheeled wooden barricades if you look more closely. From the House Book Master- The Camp outside Neuss, after 1475.

Detail from the "Battle before the gates of Nürnberg" 1502. A line of war wagons can clearly been seen.

The war wagons from the "Battle before the gates of Nürnberg" 1502.

Detail from the Kriegsbuch, Philipp Mönch, 1496. The gateway to the siege works is clearly covered by a "pill box" style war wagon in the centre of the image.

An Ottoman early 16th century wagon fort.

To show how they look with the figures here are two sets of photos. The first set shows the Ottoman battlefield entrenchments. A combination of trenches, stakes, gabions, mantlets and wagons protects the Turkish guns and the janissaries deployed within the fortifications. The wagons are based so that they will fit in with the mantlet and gabion bases that I made for my artillery pieces a while back. This gives a bit of continuity and means they all fit together well, presenting a formidable set of defences.

The second set shows the wagons forming the edge of a briefly paused Imperial marching column which is hastily forming a defensive set up against a river bank. I specifically painted up some janissaries to man the wagons for the Ottomans but for the landsknecht I have crewed the wagons with figures that still remain unbased from the "Great Rebasing of 2015", a laborious event that is still etched in my memory! I think they work well in both set ups and will hopefully be useful in a whole host of wargaming scenarios. They have even got me tempted to attempt some figures for the German Peasants' War but I guess that will have to wait!

A trench, stakes, gabions,mantlets and war wagons make up the temporary fortifications

The Ottoman wagon fortifications from behind.

A 28mm Ottoman wagon fort.

Note the open doors that form the steps into the wagons.

A smaller wagon with an artillery piece mounted.

A Landsknecht temporary camp.

A close up of one of the war wagons.

Some of the detail from the wagon interiors.

The defenders within the wagon line.

Landsknecht crewmen man one of the artillery wagons.