Monday, 22 March 2010

The Nobility of England

For a few months, I have concentrated on English knights of the reign of Henry III.

The reign was a period which saw some conflict in France and Wales as well as the Second Barons' War. Many of the same characters saw action in the next reign as Henry's son, Edward Longshanks, fought in Wales and Scotland.

 The figures are all 15mm by Legio Heroica. I used a mix of the early 13th century and mid 13th century ranges. The early period helmets would have been obsolete by the time of the Barons' War, so unlikely to have been worn by the nobility, but the figures are nice and it gives me more variety plus some of the poorer knights may have still used them. By Edward I's wars, helmet styles had evolved even further.

 I originally decided to just do a few English, representing my local area. However, the more I read and researched, the more carried away I became so that I have ended up with a full size army.

 A major resource which I used was British History Online. This includes many county histories. I live on the border of Worcestershire and Warwickshire and luckily these two are covered. The histories give a great deal of detail of who owned land where through most of recorded history. I think that at times the heraldry is inaccurate but it is a very useful starting point. Early Rolls is very useful for checking the heraldry though be sure to cross check as some arms vary from roll to roll. I also used Grazebrook's Heraldry of Worcestershire, trawling through to find places which were local to me and arms which were carried in Henry or Edward's reigns.

 Over the next couple of weeks I'll upload a series of photos of various figures, with a bit of gossip about many of them.

To start, here's Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl of Hereford and Constable of England.
He was at times in opposition to the king, but was in the King's army at Lewes. Some books put him on the Barons' side at Evesham but this is probably a confusion with his son - also called Humphrey. The younger Humphrey can be seen to the rear. He was a commander for the Barons at Lewes and again at Evesham. He seems to have earned de Montfort's displeasure at Evesham for choosing to remain in command of the Welsh. He probably did not flee with them immediately - he was mortally wounded and died soon after the battle.

 The arms in black are those carried by the de Spineto family who held land at Coughton, about 5 miles from where I live.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Henry of Winchester

Henry of Winchester - Henry III of England - became king at a young age, crowned with a simple circlet as the crown jewels had been sold or lost in the Wash. His father, John, died while still at war with many of his barons. In some ways, this set the tone of the next fifty odd years, with frequent disagreements between the King and many of the most powerful men of the realm. Frequent political strife broke out into open warfare - the Second Barons' War. Much of the strife was down to the King's failure to recover land lost in France; the Saintoge War being the main example. Another cause of tension was Henry's attempt to buy the Kingdom of Sicily for his younger son. The cost was huge - Henry's brother had already declined the offer - and the chance of success was low. In the end, the only result was that the King was desparate for money.
 The various twists and turn of the Barons' War can be followed in many place. One old but seemingly useful source can be found here. One useful section is the appendix where participants of the two factions are named. I think there are a few errors, but handy nonetheless.
 This has a variety of primary and near secondary sources covering the War.
 Dante mentions Henry as one of the group at the base of the mountain of Purgatory, alongside some of the other characters I've covered.
  "You see the king who led the simple life

    seated alone: Henry of England—he
    has better fortune with his progeny."

  I hadn't originally intended painting an English army, but decided I'd just do a few of the local lords. I already had a fair number of Legio Heroica's figures which I started to paint as French, but I quickly decided that they wouldn't work too well alongside the French I'd already done.
 I soon found myself researching the various nobles of England and within a short time I'd commited myself to paint up a full army. I'll go into some of the sources I used another time.

 Legio Heroica do two kingly figures. The one which I used for Henry is designed for the early part of the 13th century and in theory is too early for Henry, especially for the Barons' War period. His seal show him in a full helm and riding a horse with no caparison but artistic licence was mine to take! I especially liked the pose - in DBMM Henry is an inert general and this pose leant itself to a level of inertia.

I was heavily influence by the style of painting used for this figure on the Legio Heroica site - I even copied the ermine trim.

I was intruiged by the description of a dragon standard used at Lewes. Hobilar (the magazine of the Lance and Longbow society) had a bit of a debate about whether this would have been a flag or a windsock style. After a bit of deliberation, I decided on the windsock. This was for a couple of reasons. The first was that Henry seemed interested in his Saxon predecessors - using the names Edward and Edmund for his sons was very unusual at the time. It was their saintliness which was their main draw, but he may have been aware that the Saxon kings probably carried dragon standards, as shown on the Bayeux Tapestry.

What swayed my decision finally was coming across this picture. It seems to have been from the time of Edward I, who is also known to have used a dragon standard. The picture is an illustration of the story of King Arthur, another subject which was of interest to Henry - he probably ordered the construction of the Winchester Round Table.
 I scratchbuilt the dragon using fuse wire and milliput. The first attempt was okay but I decided to try again and even then had to rebuild the head.

The arms of his standard bearer are, I think, those of the knight who held the land where our wargaming club meets.

I shall post some more pictures of the flower of English chivalry once I get the basing done!