Today we have another unit to add to my 1540s English army. By the mid 1500s demilances were a major component of the English cavalry arm. For Henry VIII's 1544 invasion of France, Sir Anthony Browne, the "Master of Horse" for the army, had in his own personal retinue six men at arms, 147 demilances, 211 light horse of which 72 were border horse and 139 were described as "javelins", 110 mounted archers and 66 mounted arquebusiers. Some four thousand English horse accompanied the army out of which a mere 196 were fully harnessed men at arms. The lack of suitable horses in Tudor England along with the cost of full harness meant that the majority of the gentry served as demilances in half or three quarter armour and long riding boots. They were armed with lighter lances than those carried by true heavy cavalry, hence the name demilance. The Tudors seemed to have enjoyed this classification as they also had demi-culverins, for medium cannons, and demi-hakes, for smaller arquebuses. Whilst there are few contemporary images of these cavalrymen the detail from one of the Cowdray House paintings, shown below, gives a good impression of what they would have looked like.
While there are some suitable Elizabethan demilances available in 28mm no manufacturer currently makes figures for earlier demilances. This unit is made of converted figures from the Assault Group. Some are from the Tudor English range whilst the majority are later 16th century reiters, https://theassaultgroup.co.uk/product/late-16thc-reiter-with-pistols/
, with the pistols removed and replaced with lances instead. A lot of the heads have been swapped with plastic ones from the Wargames Atlantic conquistadors set. Three of the figures were originally all trumpeters from the various Tudor mounted command sets that TAG sell. Whilst one of these has kept his trumpet the other two have been head swapped and armed with lances. For these three I've added split sleeves using green stuff as this seems more suitable than just a surcoat for the mid 16th century. Ian Heath's "Armies of the Sixteenth Century", page 51, has an illustration of a figure in a similar style coat based on the Cowdray House paintings. Together all of these conversions have helped create a set of half-armoured cavalry that fit in well those seen in the Cowdray images. Although primarily for 1540s games these figures would be perfect for the earlier Elizabethan Irish Wars as well.
|An English demilance - Detail from a copy of the Cowdray House Mural showing Henry VIII's 1544 invasion of France.|
|English demilances - the figures are conversions from The Assault Group.|
|English demilances suitable from around 1540 on into the Elizabethan era.|
|28mm English demilancers.|
|The demilances at the head of some 1540s English infantry.|
|The unit from behind. The figures wearing coats over their armour have had the split-sleeves added using green stuff.|