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!


neldoreth said...

Most excellent and inspiring, I appreciate all of your work on background and details as well as your inspiring miniatures!

Anonymous said...

Excellent painting, great dragon, beaut figs: oh no, help, I'm falling towards 15mm medieval (like I need another period)...Maybe I could get just a few 'test' figs at Salute...

Swampster said...

Thanks chaps.

As for test figures, it is post free from Legio Heroica until today I think!

Bluewillow said...

thanks swampster for the leads currently starting a barons war project.


Swampster said...

You're welcome.