Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Carroccio

Each year, the Society of Ancients organises a day where the same battle is played using a number of different rulesets. Speakers place the battle in its historical context, and there are usually discussions about the available sources and how to portray the battle in miniature.
For 2014, the chosen battle was Montaperti, which fits my existing collection of figures rather nicely.

I put on a DBMM version of this battle which you can read about in Slingshot 296 - the magazine of the Society of Ancients.

One notable feature of the battle is the presence on each side of a carroccio - a wagon carrying a banner.
Even today, many Italian cities feature these in their festivals. 
The Mirliton 15mm Carroccio
(with Black Hat Feudal figures on the same base as escorts)

The carrocci and similar great standards carried on wagons were a feature of many battles, especially in the 11th to 13th centuries.

Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia summarises the origin and some details of these wagons but I thought I would bring together some of the evidence about them.

Frederick II taking the captured Lomabard League carroccio into Cremona.
For the parade, it was drawn by his elephant.

The description of Richard I's standard at Arsuf (1191) sums up much of  the appearance, and both the value and the disadvantages of the wagon standard.

"The Normans defended the standard, which we do not consider it irrelevant here to describe. It was formed of a long beam, like the mast of a ship; made of most solid ceiled work, on four wheels; put together with joints, bound with iron, and to all appearance no sword or axe could cut, or fire injure it. A chosen body of soldiers were generally appointed to guard it, especially in a combat on the plains, lest, by any hostile attack, it should be broken or thrown down; for if it fell by any accident, the army would be dispersed and put into confusion. For they are dismayed when it does not appear, and think that their general must be overcome by faint-heartedness when they do not see his standard flying; for no people have strength to resist the enemy if their chief is in alarm from the fall of his standard; but whilst it remains erect they have a certain refuge. Near it the weak are strengthened; the wounded soldiers, even those of rank and celebrity, who fall in the battle, are carried to it, and it is called “Standard,” from its standing a most compact signal to the army. It is very properly drawn on wheels, for it is advanced when the enemy yields, and drawn back if they press on, according to the state of the battle. It was surrounded by the Normans and English.

Battle of the Standard - 19th century copy from 'ancient manuscripts' 
Also known as the battle of Northallerton, where an Anglo-Norman army defeated the Scots of David I. It is possible that the standard was used in deliberate imitation of the Italians.
"Some of them soon erected in the centre of a frame which they brought, the mast of a ship to which they gave the name of the Standard.
On the top of this pole they hung a silver pyx containing the Host and the banners of St Peter the apostle, and John of Beverley and Wilfrid of Ripon, confessors and bishops. In so doing their hope was that our Lord Jesus Christ, through the efficacy of his Body, might be their leader in the struggle. They also provided for their men a sure and conspicuous rallying point, by which they might rejoin their comrades in the event of their being cut off."

The Emperor Otto's standard at Bouvines (1214)
This seems to be a 'draco' style standard.  Harold II, Henry III and David I are also described as using dragon standards though not carried on carts. See my post for an interpretation.
"Soon after, Otto, already flying his banners as if he wanted to celebrate before the fact the triumph he was so sure of, raises his standard high, surrounds himself with the supreme honors of the empire, so as to make his rays shine in the middle of such a great show and to proclaim himself the sovereign of the whole world. On a chariot, he has a pole raised around which a dragon is curled which can be seen far away from all sides, its tail and wings bloated by the winds, showing its terrifying teeth and opening its enormous mouth. Above the dragon hovers Jupiter's bird with golden wings while the whole of the surface of the chariot, resplendent with gold, rivals the sun and even boasts of shining with a brighter light."

Minifigs 15mm Carroccio.

"And to the end the Fiesolans which were come to dwell in Florence might be more faithful and loving with the Florentines, they caused the arms of the said two commonwealths to be borne in common, and made the arms to be dimidiated red and white, as still to our times they are borne upon the Carroccio and in the host of the Florentines. " (G. Villani IV.7)

"In the year of Christ 1228, when M. Andrea of 

Perugia was Podestà of Florence, the Florentines led an army against Pistoia with the Carroccio
(G. Villani VI.5)

"And the heads of the Ghibellines in Florence being banished, the people and the Guelfs who remained in the lordship of Florence, changed the arms of the commonwealth of Florence, and whereas of old they bore the field red and the lily white, they now made on the contrary the field white and the lily red; and the Ghibellines retained the former standard, but the ancient standard of the commonwealth dimidiated white and red, to wit, the standard that went with the host upon the carroccio, never was changed." 
(G. Villani VI.43)

Montaperti (1260)

The most extensive sources on the carroccio which I have found have been regarding the battle of Montaperti.

"And note, that the carroccio, which was led by the commonwealth and people of Florence, was a chariot on four wheels, all painted red, and two tall red masts stood up together thereupon, whereon was fastened and waved the great standard of the arms of the commune, which was dimidiated white and red, and still may be seen to-day in S. Giovanni. And it was drawn by a great pair of oxen covered with red cloth, which were set apart solely for this, and belonged to the Hospitallers of Pinti, and he who drove them was a freeman of the commonwealth. This carroccio was used by our forefathers in triumphs and solemnities, and when they went out with the host, the neighbouring
The Florentine martinella and carroccio at Montaperti
Villani's Chronicle (Wikimedia)
counts and knights brought it from the armoury of S. Giovanni and conducted it to the piazza of the Mercato Nuovo, and having halted by a landmark, which is still there, in the form of a stone carved like a chariot, they committed it to the keeping of the people, and it was led by popolani in the expeditions of war, and to guard it were chosen the best and strongest and most virtuous among the foot soldiers of the popolani, and round it gathered all the force of the people. And when the host was to be assembled, a month before the time when they were to set forth, a bell was hung upon the arch of Porte Sante Marie, which was at the head of the Mercato Nuovo, and there was rung by day and by night without ceasing. And this they did in their pride, to give opportunity to the enemy, against whom the host should go forth, to prepare themselves. And some called it Martinella, and some the Asses’ Bell. And when the Florentine host went forth, they took down the bell from the arch and put it into a wooden tower upon a car, and 
the sound thereof guided the host. By these two pomps of the carroccio and of the bell was maintained the lordly pride of the people of old and of our forefathers in their expeditions."

(G. Villani VI.76)

"Ora, preso il partito per li Fiorentini di uscire a campo, partironsi di Firenze il grande campo; e per pompa e per grandigia e per mettere spavento ai nemici, menarono il carroccio, sopra del quale era una grande an tenna in sulla quale si spiegava 1' arme del comune di Firenze, che allora era bianca e vermiglia" 

"tirato da due grossi palafreni" (drawn by two great steeds)

"Con quest' ultimo Terzo veniva il carroccio , con suvvi il gonfalone reale , eh' era tutto bianco , e  ben dava conforto che pareva il manto della Vergine Maria. " 

The white banner of Camiolla is shown on the Sienese carroccio in Ventura's paintings. Note how rustic the wagon is, with solid wheels and possibly wicker sides.

According to the headphone guide provided by the cathedral, the two wooden poles here are the masts (antennae) of the Florentine and Sienese carrocci used at Montaperti. A nineteenth century study says that they are actually votive offerings of Sienese antennae.

This rather unprepossessing
doorway is seemingly
the home of modern Siena's
carroccio. It is right next to the
Piazza del Campo

Other battles where a standard wagon is noted include

Sirmium (1167) - used by the Hungarians
Legnano (1176) - where it formed the heart of the victorious Milanese defence
Bodesine (1213) - details seem confused but a Milanese carroccio said to have been captured here still exists - in part - in Cremona
Cortenuova (1237) - the Milanese carroccio was captured and sent via Cremona to Frederick's allies in Rome.
Kitzingen (1266). A banner of St Killian was carried on a Fahnenwagen by Wurzburg. It is described as 13' 6" by 7' 3" here
Wörringen (1288) - used by the Archbishop of Cologne. His opponents seem to have had their own but captured the Archbishop's and continued to use it in later years.
A 1621 picture of the standard wagon at Wörringen is here. Another, clearer, picture can be found in this modelling guide to making this wagon. The Rymkronyk can be found here. More info on the battle including a model of the wagon here.
Gollheim (1298) - used by the Archbishop of Mainz while fighting on the side of Albrecht von Hapsburg. There is a rather fanciful 18th century depiction here.

Lewes (1264) - De Montfort left his banner with his wagon but this does not seem have been a proper standard in the manner of the others. The wagon had been used to carry him around after he was injured and during the battle seems to have incarcerated some London notables.

Please let me know if you have details of other battles where carrocci are known to have taken part.

Model Carrocci:

Mirliton 15mm or 15mm,  28mm
Minifigs 15mm
Black Hat 15mm
Essex 15mm, 28mm
Hall of Ancient Warriors 15mm (I don't know anything of this one!)
Perry 28mm - also available with just the wagon
First Corps 28mm

Let me know if you are aware of others.

Downloadable banners from Krigsspil