Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Fechtbücher


I have been slowly working through the Steel Fist 16th Century Foot Knights, having backed the Kickstarter last year. The idea is that each one will be the focus of their own base of supporting figures and I have already used two of them in this way as command bases. The chaps shown here are destined to lead bases of tightly packed attacking Landsknechts into battle but before I home them permanently on such bases I couldn't resist getting some shots of them dueling with each other.

When I first saw these figures the poses instantly reminded me of the prints from Maximilian's Freydal. His tournament book that painstakingly recreates all kinds of permutations of mounted and dismounted sporting combat in the early 16th Century. They also reminded me of the two scenes shown below from his Weisskunig (this blog can't go for a few months without some Weisskunig prints!). Maybe they aren't using longswords but one does have similarly bizarre pointed head attire to the miniature with a "grotesque" helmet. In the prints case I think they may be metal attachments rather than feathers. My scenes in miniature are hardly an exact replication but you get the idea. I bought the figures as part of a Kickstarter but they are now available here: http://www.steelfistminiatures.com/products/16th_century_knights.

Poleaxe Combat as depicted in Der Weisskunig c.1516

Spear Combat from Der Weisskunig c.1516

Historical European Martial Arts have never really been my thing but I have dabbled in a few "Fechtbücher" in the past. I can recommend the 15th Century works of Hans Talhoffer, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Medieval-Combat-Fifteenth-Century-Swordfighting-Close-Quarter/dp/1848327706/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=05DHPK04H17EK5GR9P75, and Fiore dei Liberi (which is Italian so not really a fechtbuch!), https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Knightly-Art-Battle-Mondschein/1606060767/ref=pd_sim_14_5?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=9MRPJ3QBS8PWK5GVYV6W as worth a look if you do have a beginners interest. When I first encountered these works I found it quite an eye opener how different the armed combat of the later medieval period really was compared to what is seen in film and TV. Of course there are lots of caveats as to how you approach these works. Some fighting techniques are for specific judicial duels. Some are for armoured combat only. Even when these things are made clear you realise there was a whole culture of "martial arts" that has now long died. They were often extremely brutal and also more physical than the later styles of sword combat we are used to in the 21st century. It's surprising how much wrestling and grappling style moves feature, as well as surprises such as launching the sword at an opponent like a dart!

If you can get through the really tedious chapter that discusses how in later centuries they tried to apply maths to fencing techniques then the Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe is worth a read: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Martial-Arts-Renaissance-Europe/dp/0300083521/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497380372&sr=1-1&keywords=renaissance+martial+arts. I was particularly amused by the jousting section. Fight Masters would go into great detail on how to hit an opponent in all sorts of locations and to demonstrate various levels of skill and flair with the lance. In contrast the advice for real war was always very simple: just aim for the other riders horse! I would also recommend the Scholagladiatoria channel on Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/user/scholagladiatoria. This channel has lots of videos on renaissance weaponry and how it was used and what the symbolism of it was. There are some great videos on there in the Wallace Collection with Tobias Capwell as well as an in depth discussion of an early 15th Century Tomb effigy and the armour it represents: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tgLeMS30j8.

That's probably enough rambling for now. Hopefully I will get these Men at Arms based up with the Landsknechts soon, I am about half way through painting the halberdiers that will be supporting them. I am also working on a few more casualty bases, they may be a bit grisly but I have enjoyed working on them and they are very useful on the gaming table.

16th Century Men at Arms by Steel Fist Miniatures

Men at Arms in early 16th Century Harness, one with a "Grotesque" visor.

The Landsknechts look on as they duel



Saturday, 3 June 2017

16th Century Casualty and Battered Markers


Following my games of Lion Rampant I have prepared a few gaming pieces that will, hopefully, encourage me to actually play some more games! Not perhaps the most exciting pieces but they will look much nicer on a gaming table than dice or other types of tokens.

First up are eight casualty bases. The bases themselves are from Warbases: http://war-bases.co.uk/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=944&search=casualty . I think they are a great idea for marking casualties on a unit. I am not a huge fan of removing casualties during games and these bases mean that you don't have to do that. Using these bases I may try some games of Lion Rampant with much larger units, probably 12 for cavalry and 24-36 for infantry but keep the same 6 or 12 points of damage per unit. It will simply allow me to fight larger scale skirmishes and get more of the collection on the table. That's what the games are all about at the end of the day!

The bases in the picture below are of fairly generic 16th century troop types. There is a fallen man at arms from the Perry Miniatures Wars of the Roses range. He is in a late 15th century harness but that is fine for the very early 1500s which much of my collection is for. Below him is an old Citadel Mordheim casualty who has been based up as a fallen arquebusier. Beside him is another Perry Miniatures figure who with the addition of a bit of green stuff and a plastic crossbow and quiver has been turned into an early 16th century crossbowman. Finally above him is another old Mordheim figure who has simply had enough and is burying his head in his hands.

16th Century Casualty Markers - From top right clockwise: a man at arms, an arquebusier, a crossbowman and a generic infantryman

The remaining four bases represent fallen Landsknechts. All the figures are from the Pro Gloria range that is now sold by Warlord Games. One has his hat next to him while another has dropped his halberd as he falls to the ground. I left the others without weapons as it means I can use them as fallen pike, arquebusiers or halberdiers. I may do some more with specific weaponry. The casualty bases are meant to be more representative than anything else. I wouldn't have an issue using a Landsknecht one for some french crossbowmen if I had run out of other markers for example. They are just a visually pleasing way of marking the damage. Having said that it is nice to have different markers representing different troop types. I still have a dozen more of these bases and some other casualty figures so will probably paint up some additional bases in the next few weeks.

Landsknecht Casualty Markers

The smaller counters in the next couple of pictures are used to represent when a unit has become "Battered" in Lion Rampant. They could be used in any game system where a token is required to mark the degradation of the morale of a unit. I quite enjoyed choosing all sorts of bits and pieces from my spares to make up the 24 markers below. There is a real mixture of debris from gun carriage wheels, arrows and broken lances through to a trumpet, an arquebus, an adarga and a warhammer. I may have pinched a fair few ideas from Stuarts counters here. Using these counters really adds to the tabletop appeal of a game by giving some extra 1500s flavour and also stopping the gaming table from becoming cluttered with lots of dice or other markers. Now I just have to make the effort to play some more games! This is easier said than done as I am much more of a painter by temperament than a gamer.

"Battered" Markers - an assortment of debris from a 16th Century battlefield

The Battered markers from above

Sunday, 21 May 2017

1513 Invasion of France: Border Horse, Tudor Archers and The Battle of the Spurs


I have been up to a few Tudor related activities over the past few months (if such a thing can exist!) so I thought I would put them all in one Tudor post as they all kind of link together. Firstly when I visited Stuarts at the end of April he was kind enough to show me how to sculpt the green stuff sleeves onto his new "Tudor Dollies" that he is having cast up. These can be used in conjunction with the Perry Wars of the Roses plastics to make fantastic early Renaissance figures.

While Stuart has shown what can be done with them as billmen: http://stuartsworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/painted-tudor-dollies.html, below is one made up as an archer. I didn't sculpt those sleeves (I am yet to make an attempt) and green stuff hair needs to be added to the minature along with a sword and some arrows. I think you will agree the dollies work really well. I have put an order in for some but am still not sure whether they will end up as Archers, Billmen, French Aventuriers or possibly a few as Artillery crew, they certainly open up lots of possibilities. Details of how to order these can be found here: http://stuartsworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/tudor-figures-available-for-pre-order.html. The orders are being taken before the 1st June.

Tudor Archer of 1513 made using one of Stuarts Tudor Dollies. The sleeves and cap are sculpted by Stuart.

Tudor Archer of 1513 using one of Stuarts Tudor casts - I still need to add hair, a sword and some arrows.

Whatever English troops I choose to make the Tudor Dollies into, they will be joined by the Border Horse or Northern Staves that I finished this month. They were made using one of the Perry Miniatures Light Cavalry Wars of the Roses boxed sets along with various other bits and pieces. While we don't have many surviving images of Border Horsemen in 1513 we do know that they made very effective light cavalry, especially when fighting in France rather than on the Scottish Border. On the Border it seems there was a strong suspicion that their local feuds and loyalties took precedence over the national campaigns that they engaged in.

A possible image of a Border Horseman from around 1513 is shown below in John Skeltons, The Ballad of the Scottish King. He is armed in a simple helm with a brigandine and leg plates. This is the style I have tried to capture in the figures shown below. From the later sixteenth century we have a much clearer image of the cavalry of the Border as they became notorious as Border Reivers. I have tried to avoid anachronism but have added studded targes to many of the figures and have also depicted a couple with St Georges crosses painted on their targes. Light Horsemen, that could be Border Horse, are depicted carrying these in Derrickes Image of Ireland of 1581. This obviously dates from a lot later that Henry VIIIs 1513 campaign so I have only included a couple of these painted targes for flavour. It is certainly possible that they were used.


A Man-at-Arms and possible Border Horseman from the Ballad of the Scottish King c.1513

The Border Horse were notorious as raiders and reivers along the Anglo-Scots border, being accustomed to hit and run attacks and ambushes. They used a wide variety of weaponry in this style of warfare and to reflect this one carries a light crossbow, known to the borderers as a "latch", while another carries a bow across his back. Most of them wear sewn on St Georges crosses to show they are part of the English Army. These are made of paper and glued on. When campaigning on the Northern Border of England these national markings had a habit of coming loose when the horsemen wished to disappear or maybe even change sides! For this reason only the Standard bearer is in any specifically "English" coat of white and red, the others are fairly drab with only the sewn on crosses to demarcate their allegiance. I wanted these chaps to look like veterans of a fair few border raids. They are not interested in gaining honour by breaking spears with the French but more intent on ransoms and plunder!

To further reflect the raiding and plundering nature of these troops I have added a couple of hunting dogs to some of the bases. These are from the Hunting Dogs that Simon of "Je Lay Emprins" had made a few years back: http://je-lay-emprins.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/release-hounds.html. They fit in really well with these "Northern Staves", as the Border Horse were also known. The group in the images below ride under the Standard of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. A northern magnate who would have been able to call upon the services of such men for his retinue in France. The flag is from Petes superb Tudor flag range that he has painted to represent commanders of the English army that went overseas in 1513: http://thegreatitalianwars.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/earl-of-northumberlands-standard-bearer.html, I really cannot recommend these flags highly enough.

Below are some photos of the whole unit of Border Horse as well as some of the individual bases to show the detail. Of course I could not resist the opportunity to get out the English collection so far and take a few snaps of them all together. With Stuarts new Tudor dollies on the way I think I will certainly be adding to this force. Of course at some point there will be some photos of the English combined with Maximilians Auxiliaries; the Landsknecht Pike and Burgundian Heavy Cavalry that bolstered Henrys forces during this campaign.

English Border Horse or Northern Staves 1513

The Border Horse from the back, note the two dogs accompanying them 
Early Tudor Border horse under the banner of  Henry Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland


The command from behind, note the targe on the Standard bearers back and the hound following them

Border Horsemen, one carries a targe and "latch", the light crossbow of the Border Reivers

One of these Border Horse carries a bow on his back and a quiver of arrows

The Trumpeter

Two Northern Staves both wearing stitched St Georges crosses on their coats

Charging Border Horse, both carrying targes

English Bill and Bow advance behind the Border Horsemen and Demi-Lancers

The 1513 Tudors so far

Finally I was lucky enough to pay a visit to Hampton Court recently. It was fascinating to see the Tudor Kitchens, Great Hall and Chapel all dating from the 1520s-1530s. Of relevance to this blog is the fact that the palace houses two of the paintings that depict Henry VIIIs Campaign in 1513. The first depicts the meeting of Henry VIII and Maximilian in the foreground, with Maximilians Landsknechts above this and then the Battle of the Spurs or Guinegate above them. At the very top can be seen Tournai on the left and the siege of Therouanne on the right. What interests me in this picture is the depiction of the two towns at the very top, 16th century fortifications always fascinate me. The fact Maximilians Men-at-Arms are nearly all wearing sallets is also interesting considering this painting is from 1513. It shows they were still very much in vogue at this date, unless of course Henry was trying to have his retinue depicted as more fashionable than Maximilians, which could also be a possibility.

Painting from Hampton Court, 1513, showing the meeting of Henry VIII and Maximilian in France during the 1513 Invasion

The second painting depicts a somewhat idealised image of the Battle of the Spurs in the foreground with the English camp and Therouanne in the distance. Of note in this picture is a mounted archer firing from horseback amidst the melee of Men-at-Arms! The walls of Therouanne are nicely depicted and remind me of the modeled walls we gamed in front of at Stuarts a few weeks back. It is with future games in mind that I have been working on a few bits and pieces that should hopefully be finished by next month.

Painting from 1513 showing the "Battle of the Spurs", apologies for the posing in front of it!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Beneath the Walls of Therouanne


Hard to believe as it may be I have actually had a wargame! Three in fact! It only took six years since I started this blog but then again there is no point rushing things. Stuart of Army Royal, http://stuartsworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/, invited me to his for some games of Lion Rampant a couple of weekends ago. We played his adapted version of the rules, tweaked for the early 16th century, and fought three clashes in front of the walls of Therouanne. Great fun they were too! We weren't too fussed about every detail of the rules, you will notice in the pictures below we didn't adhere to the 3 inches between units rule for example, but the games had a great renaissance flavour and the activation and wild charge rules saw our troops getting into all sorts of trouble on the table without either of us being able to do much about it!

The photos below are of the games taken as we were playing them, the figures weren't posed afterwards. Because of this some parts of the games are not that well covered as I was too busy rolling dice and the lighting and photos aren't always great. Similarly I did not record every move and dice role, to be honest I would rather enjoy the game than feel like some kind of minute taker. Instead I wrote up a summary of each of the games the following day, and gave them a bit of a Tudor flavouring as well. Stuart may argue there is a bit of bias in there towards the French who I was playing!

The English under the Duke of Buckingham head along the walls in an attempt to return to their camp. They have already dispersed the Francs Archers.

Hammer and Anvil

The first game was the "Hammer and Anvil" scenario. Stuart played the English under Edward Stafford Duke of Buckingham returning from a foray along the walls of Therouanne, heading back to the English camp, and I played the French, under the Chevalier Bayard, attempting to stop them. Initially Bayard deployed out on his own with his men-at-arms, obviously in an attempt to gain some glory, accompanied by a few lowly Franc Archers. The Francs Archers were immediately dispersed by the English archers and Landsknecht shot, or Almains as the English called them. Buckingham took the fight to Bayard and the two men with their mounted retainers broke lances in a series of clashes underneath the walls. Buckingham was unhorsed and bested and flushed with victory Bayards men-at-arms rode on into the English ranks only to be defeated themselves!


Meanwhile further from the walls the English Border Horse had nearly fled the field when French reinforcements in the form of Mounted Crossbowmen and Stradiots arrived and  sent the Northern Horsemen running back. Closer to the walls the English foot pressed on despite the loss of their bowmen and leader. They easily scattered some French Aventuriers and left the field being shadowed by the Stradiots and Crossbowmen. Some of the English had made it back to their camp but not enough to secure an English victory.

Buckingham and his demilancers charge Bayard who counter charges with his men-at-arms.

Both sets of horsemen suffer losses and regroup for another clash.

The English follow up behind the Duke of Buckingham

The English Border horse attempt to escape while the clash in front of the walls is taking place.

Buckingham is coming off worse in his clash with Bayard

Having unhorsed Buckingham, Bayard crashes into the English Archers who he will send running only to be unhorsed and defeated by the supporting English billmen.

Unluckily for the Border horsemen, just as they are about to escape the French Mounted Crossbowmen and Stradiots arrive and block their path!

The English billmen and some accompanying Landsknecht Arquebusiers manage to disperse the French Aventuriers who have sallied out of the town to trap them. The are shadowed by the French Mounted Crossbowmen but make good their escape.

A Taxing Afternoon

The second game we played was the "A Taxing Afternoon" scenario. We placed six items such as barrels, pigs and wagons, amidst a small farm outside the walls that could be collected and taken back off the table to earn points. We decided to dice for the value of these when they were collected, we didn't put stickers underneath as suggested in the Lion Rampant book, but in hindsight should have perhaps used another method.

The French Mounted Crossbowmen rode into the village took a wagon and left! The Commander of the Calais Garrison, Sir Richard Carew, entered the farm with his infantry, the English Archers doing a good job of harassing Bayard and his men-at-arms. Bayard rather unchivalrously fled with some more points, he did momentarily have a change of heart and turn back to face the English but then though better of it and carried on off the table.

The English had slowly been wheeling an organ gun up into the farm which was unleashed upon the Francs Archers who had initially been successful in driving some of the English billmen back into the woods. This sent the Francs Archers running with some nasty casualties.

This game was fun but we got the scenario a bit confused with regard as to who could capture tokens which made it rather short - you can tell we don't game much!



Bayard and some accompanying infantry advance towards the farm.

The English enter the farm as well, waging war with sword and flame! Some dice can be seen in this photo, evidence I actually had a game!

A view from the walls of Therouanne. Bayard is entering the farm having lost one of his men-at-arms to galling arrows from the English Archers.

French defenders look on at the skirmishing in the suburbs.

The English archers harass the French men-at-arms while the organ gun is slowly wheeled up in support.

The Franc Archers turn the tables on the English Archers after taking a barrel from the farm. Their joy is short lived as they are about to be blasted by the English Organ gun!

Bloodbath!

For the third game we fought a slightly larger skirmish outside the walls of Therouanne as some of the French garrison sallied out to test the English besiegers. The Landsknechts in English pay, intent on plunder, went straight for some French wagons defended by Francs Archers who sent the "Almaynes" running. This was a sideshow to the main event in the centre which saw the English and French manouvering and harassing each other around some hedges in the centre of the field.

On the English left, Buckingham initially sent the Stradiots reeling only to see them rally and slowly weaken his horsemen through skirmishing attacks. Border Horsemen and Mounted Crossbowmen skirmished with each other as the forces drew nearer. The French commander and his Gendarmes, (Bayard had hung up his spurs for this clash!) thundered into the English infantry initially causing chaos but quickly realising they had bitten of more than they could chew and being defeated in the hedges! Similarly Buckingham and his horsemen were brought down by the French as the Stradiots lured them nearer. This was the  last success for the French defenders however as they soon found themselves under a rain of English arrows and were slowly pushed back to their walls.

The Stradiots and Mounted Crossbowmen tried to counter attack again but the fight was over. The Francs archers who had successfully pushed back the Landsknechts early on were shooed away by the Border Horse and English bowmen and the entire French force melted into the ditch as men attempted to get back to the safety of the walls. Therouannes guns fired a final salvo at the English as they drew nearer to cover the French as they fled the field.



The English besiegers advance to contain the French sally

The French defenders who have left the town gates in an attempt to test the English.

The English advance, the Landsknechts on the English right flank are heading straight for a couple of French wagons.

The Francs archers take casualties from their English counterparts.

Overview of the French defenders

The two forces test each other in the centre.

A French gun fires a morale boosting shot from the walls but this does little to deter the English.

A Landsknecht in the French Garrison. He doesn't seem too concerned with the fighting outside the walls. I love the brickwork on Stuarts fantastic custom built terrain.

The clash is in full swing! Again note the dice - an actual game!

At the top of the field the Stradiots have fled from Buckingham and his demilancers while at the bottom of the field the Landsknechts in English pay, or Almains, advance on the Franc Archers only to be put to flight.

The Border horse and Demilancers advance on the French.

The French centre, the French Gendarmes are about to charge and defeat the Border Horse going on to then be defeated themselves. 

The French Gendarmes have charged in and caused havoc only to be quickly defeated by the English infantry in the hedges.

The English right flank.

Another view from the walls of Therouanne, the French are starting to give ground to the English.

The English infantry in the centre have taken a bit of a battering but are rallying to press on into the French.

The English on the right flank start to drive the French back towards Therouanne.
The French light horse, Stradiots and Mounted Crossbowmen, attempt to stall the English as the rest of the French melt back into the ditch and attempt to get back into Therouanne.




I really enjoyed these games and will be playing Lion Rampant again. Stuart was a fantastic host and hopefully I will be able to host a game or two next time. Some of his rule tweaks can be found here: http://stuartsworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/lion-rampant-aar.html, however we have already amended these slighty on reflection of how the games went. Of course the games have also given me a whole host of future project ideas. Some casualty bases, Stuarts were superb, and perhaps some more skirmish style bases of halberdiers that could be used either in Lion Rampant or as part of a Forlorn Hope for my full collection are a few ideas I may try soon.

The two generals!