Friday, 20 January 2012


As with various other projects, these started largely because I bought a couple of packs just because I liked the look. I was spurred on because I didn't have a suitable army for Warfare 2011, the theme for DBMM being the 'Horrible Huns'.
I decided to use the figures to form an Early Hungarian army which covers the period from the foundation of the kingdom until the Mongol conquest. The competition only allowed armies until 1150 so this directed me to the style of heavy cavalry to paint.

Unlike the slightly later period I have concentrated on, the amount of source material is pretty scanty for 11th century Hungary. There is the Chronicum Pictum - see the picture on the right - which shows events from the early kingdom, but this is actually 14th century. It does, however, show various figures in top coats and is some guide to reasonable colours.

For the mass of the Magyar horsemen I used these figures from Donnington's New Era range.
The shooting archers are 'break waist' allowing a nice range of poses. It means you can get a lot of movement on the bases.

Pechenegs formed a part of the army from before the foundation of the kingdom. They may possibly have been settled by the kings in colonies to help to maintain royal control. A paper called 'Pechenegs, Cumans and Iasians' gives some interesting background if you like the academic detail - it is available on scribd but I'm never sure of the copyright status of such things so won't link to it!
These are the Donnington Pechenegs. The beards are supposed to have been a particular feature of these tribes. Again, some of the figures are break waisted.

I also have a few of the Donnington 'Bulgar' figures. Over time, the costume of the Hungarians became similar to this - in fact you can see elements of what would become the traditional hussar outfit. You can see this outfit in such as Mirliton's later period Hungarian cavalry.
This shows some Bulgarians facilitating the martyrdom of some Byzantines. Other pictures from the same period show other trouser colours incluidng red. The Donnington figures have these long trousers but I decided to keep the look similar to the Magyars and painted them as if tucked into longer boots.

This shows Donnington figures compared to Black Hat figures including one of their Hungarians. I used my Black Hat figures - mostly a mix of their Cumans and Hungarians - to stand for the Szekelers in the Hungarian army.
The figures are a pretty good match for size and style.

These are the Donnington cavalry. I use them for the traditionally armed heavier cavalry. I like the figures though perhaps a couple of different armoured archers would help with variety. The bowcases are separate and I'm afraid I left them off most of the figures.
The horse tailed banner was used by the Magyars and other steppe origin armies. They seem to have continued to use them for a while after occupying what became Hungary.

The first king of Hungary, Stephen I, was helped in his struggle for leadership by Germans. Bavarians provided the bulk though over the next couple of centuries the origin of these troops became more varied; they were know as 'Saxons' though there origin was from various parts of Germany, especially the Rhinelands. There were also Flemish, French, Spanish and English immigrants.
This later portrayal of Stephen shows the apostolic cross which was sent to him by the Pope. It is debateable whether he used this as his arms - this was before true heraldry. It does form part of the modern arms of Hungary and Slovakia. The stripes may date back to this period, being replaced as the main symbol by the cross but later returning to pre-eminence.

This is my first go at a Hungarian general, carrying the striped flag and shield. The three figures on the central base are part of the Donnington Norman range. The figure on the left wears a helmet which is shown in the Osprey book on the Normans though he is supposed to be 12th century. I think he looks better as a semi-westernised Hungarian. The bird is the earlier, re-Christian symbol of the Arpad dynasty.

The possibly 11th century Legenda Maior of St Stephen* says that he carried the banners of St George and St Martin (...sub vexillo Deo dilecti pontificis Martini Sanctique martyris Georgii ducibus...) against his pagan uncle. I decided to paint one in a Byzantine style since there was some influence from there despite Stephen adopting catholicism. This can be seen in the decoration of the crown known as St Stephen's (which is fairly likely to post date him).
I already have a banner of St Martin on some of my Ghibelline cavalry, so I decided to do St George. There seem to be two traditions - one is the familar fight against the dragon but there is also a more portrait style which I decided to use.

The red cross on the shield may be from a slightly later period.

The figures are from QR Miniatures, a Polish compay which has lately added a couple of Early Medieval ranges. These are the Early Polish and Eastern Franks which can be bought as complete DBA packs. I only bought the cavalry. These are the East Franks and I thought they gave a nice mix of style representing the transition of gear. The previous picture shows that they mix pretty well with Donningon. The style of sculpture is slightly more basic than some other recent ranges but I like them and there are some great poses. The Poles are not quite so well posed but there are some very nice figures amongst them. The middle figures of each of these bases is from the Polish range - the pointing 'general' on the left is particularly nice.

*Incidentally, St Stephen is, amongst other things, patron saint of brick layers...


Monty said...

Really great figures and I appreciate you putting the background and historical artwork into the post as I learned a lot about the Magyars! I recognize the crow and double cross on a hill as icons that appear in the 14th-15th century Hungarian army I painted. You put a lot of work and research into this and it shows!

DeanM said...

Great looking horde. Excellent background on these guys. Best, Dean

Swampster said...

Thanks chaps.

I'm trying to do my best to resist doing a Corvinus period army like Monty's but those pictures are making it too tempting... :)

Figurenschieber said...

Simply stunning!! Thanks for sharing!

Engel said...

Great work, some realy nice miniatures.

Swampster said...

Thanks for the nice words guys.