Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Maximilian, the Landsknechte and the Swiss

As I said in a previous post, I have wanted to do some Italian Wars figures for a long time. 

One of the spurs was that Venexia were going out of production and the UK supplier was selling off the stock. Since these are some of my favourite looking figures, I decided to buy a good number of the various types of cavalry.

Hopefully, the range will see the light of day again but various issues have delayed their re-release by the new owners of the moulds.

The above photo is mostly of Venexia figures. Knights in sallets are from Mirliton. I gave some of these a green stuff skirt which was fashionable from around the start of the Italian Wars. 

The trumpeter is from Mirliton - he has a new hat and feathers added to give more of the 'Triumphzug' look. 
The 'candy cane' lance look is very popular with wargamers but may have been rather more restricted in reality. They do appear like this when used for banners such as in various of Diebold Schilling the Youngers illustrations.

My main sources for the troops of Maximilian are given in the last post. 

Landsknechte from Old Glory 15s. One feature that marks them as Hapsburg is that they have St Andrew's cross slashing on many of the figures.

Most of the standard bearers have the flags in a single hand as in most period pictures. Command packs are sold separately and are rather large. You may be able to negotiate buying smaller numbers with OG though if you are having a decent sized block then plenty of command adds to the look.
I mixed swordsmen and halberdiers into the front ranks for the visual appeal. They are also on some of the command stands so that the full blocks have mostly pikes to front and sides with halberds and swords around the banners and drums.

An attempt at peacock feathers.  

Talking of banners, the photography makes the shades of white stand out more than they do in real life. They also lose the texture. I've recently started using some water damaged tracing paper which has a nice crumpled texture. It also makes doing the opposite sides easier. They have sturdier than the strong tissue I used for my Byzantines. 

Old Glory crossbowmen. The red flag in the foreground was carried by the forlorn hope. The flag in the rear is carried by some of Maximilian's mercenaries in Schilling the Younger.

Luzern, Korporation Luzern, S 23 fol., p. 386 – Illustrated Chronicle by Diebold Schilling of Lucerne (Luzerner Schillling) (http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/list/one/kol/S0023-2)

Old Glory arquebusiers. The flag is another carried by some of Maximilian's men in Schilling and here

Luzern, Korporation Luzern, S 23 fol., p. 521 – Illustrated Chronicle by Diebold Schilling of Lucerne (Luzerner Schillling) (http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/list/one/kol/S0023-2)

Maximilian married Mary of Burgundy after the death of her father, Charles the Bold. Their daughter, Margaret, was regent of the Low Countries and was still using English archers in the early 16th century - 1500 were sent to help against Guelders for instance. (see Stow's Annals) where they joined an army of 10000. The DBMM list assumes that the Burgundian Ordonnance lance structure was still in place until the end of list in 1506, though with slightly fewer archers per knight. I think the 'MM list could be continued until the end of the covered period i.e. 1515 since Margaret continued as regent with a good deal of independence until then.

There are some archers in the 'Weiss kunig' though at least some are likely English.
The Camisado blog has a collection of Weiss Kunig plates showing archers. Some are carrying Burgundian saltires but may actually be English at Guinegatte in 1513.
In others, English seem to be shown in different costume, such as kettle hats. One plate shows the archers looking like Landsknechte.

I used Freikorp/QRF/TSS figures for these. I like them though they are slightly 'old school' compared to most of my figures. There is a mixture of Burgundian and early Tudor figures.

The yellow and red is said by Stow to be the livery of the Duke of Burgundy - perhaps Margaret's own. Poynings' men received new coats of this red and yellow along with Henry VIII's white and green. How this was arranged isn't clear, only that "these four colours were 'medled' together." They received these coats after campaigning in Guelders so did not wear them in action.

Old Glory artillery. The gun colours come from various sources including Maximilian's zeugbuch. 

When Margaret campaigned against Guelders, there were apparently 36 English serpentines as well as Poynings' archers. These are given individual names in Stow, such as the Antelope, the Cockatrice, the Mermaid, the Rose and the Normandy.

For much of the period, Maximilian and the Swiss were on opposing sides. Things particularly came to a head with the Swabian War which really ended any pretensions that the cantons were part of the Empire.

These are Khurasan figures. Some of the figures have Swiss crosses moulded onto their armour or as slashing.

Most of the standard bearers are converted pikemen. The way he holds his pike makes it easy to give him a one handed banner. Flags are hand painted.

The figures are rather smaller than the Old Glory landsknechte. This is exaggerated both by the slighter build and the very thin base of the Khurasan figures.

I only have enough Swiss to be able to provide an ally for the French. I have bought some of the Donnington Swiss for using in earlier periods. I shall paint these with far more use of cantonal colours as shown in some of the chronicles.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Maximilian on the Road

A couple of years ago, I decided to branch out a little from the two areas which this blog has covered so far.

Decades back, I had some Italian Wars figures and I decided I'd have a go at the period again. I wanted to include landsknechte, but they had to be suitable for the end period of DBMM i.e. 1515. I looked at various options and the most sensible would have been to go for something from around 1500, before all the slashing took hold. I wasn't even sure if this style of clothing would be within the period.

I looked around at the sources and kept bumping into three particular period pieces made for the Emperor Maximilian. These were the paintings showing the 'Triumphzug'* (a triumphal procession), the 'Weisskunig' and 'Theuerdank'. All three were from the end of his reign with the majority of the illustrations completed by 1515. While some of the pictures are fanciful, landsknechte were shown in the slashed tunics pretty much as worn by the figures from Old Glory 15s. Some of the armoured figures have helmets which are probably a bit late but I liked them enough to include them. The trousers in the prints tend to be more fashionably ragged than the OG figures but at least the figures aren't in the much later pluderhosen.

 The figures duly sat in the lead mountain for a while but I decided to paint them to use at this year's Burton DBMM doubles competition. I'll try to take some shots of those in the next day or so.

When I used the army, I had some generic late medieval looking cars for the baggage but I didn't think they suited the army. What they needed was some of the baggage shown in the Triumphzug. When I decided to take the army to Britcon, I used the time I would normally need for last minute painting to have a go at some conversions.

 The first two wagons are more or less straight out of the bag Magister Militum examples. The only change is that I have moved the axles - medieval and early renaissance wagons seemed to put the rear axle nearer the back than seen on later types, even though much of the rest of the construction is the same.

The horses are from Irregular miniatures. I was going to use some Magister Militum figures on foot to lead the horses but the pictures show the drivers almost always riding. I cast around in the lead mountain and found some Welsh mounted longbowmen in a suitable pose. They were given a variety of greenstuff hats, puffed sleeves and capes plus a wire whip.

I thought some street furniture would look nice and used some items from this print of Nuremburg. The cross has the 'arma Christi' -  the spear and sponge from the crucifixion. It is made from strips of wood - a first attempt in plastic strip looked like it would snap as soon as was inconvenient. The stone shrine is made of greenstuff and square section polystyrene.

The last wagon uses some spare wheels which I think may be Magister Militum left over from my Flemish wagon laager.  It carries the barrel of a siege gun. The original painting shows another cart with what looks like the carriage, wheels etc. The barrel is made from greenstuff though I'd have done better to start with a plastic or wooden centre. The ropes are made from twisted wire.

So many renaissance pictures show a rather gruesome side of life that I thought I'd have a go at portraying. Breaking on the wheel was used as a punishment for various things; the offenders being tied to a wheel while they had their limbs
smashed with an iron bar then being hoisted up as a warning to others, dying a lingering death if they had not been able to bribe the torturer first for a quick end.

The wheel is a Langley offering, the victim and ravens are greenstuff. I couldn't make my mind up what to do about the wire for the flying bird - it stands out less against a wargames table. I should probably have attached the wire to the wheel instead.

Several  scenes of the Weisskunig show execution scenes. I already had a spare swordsman so I thought I'd have a go at making the victim using a wire armature. He came out a bit chubby but I was fairly pleased overall. The header picture shows the end result.

There was one thing on the Triumphzug that I really wanted to do and knew that I couldn't have got right so I needed to buy the basic figure for a conversion. One of the last scenes shows camp followers and one of them is leading a pack goat which seems to be carrying pots and pans.
I haven't yet seen anyone with one of these in their baggage so I thought it was a must. I had to wait until Britcon to get one from Donnington. He came with a goat herd who became the figure next to the goat on the painting. He has been converted to have a bit more of a stoop as well as gaining a large pack. There is some kind of creature on the pack - I'm still not sure if it is a cat, a dog or even a fox as different versions show it slightly differently. Mine does have the animal but it is so small that you wouldn't really know.

Also on the base is a pack donkey. This is an Essex mule but his pack has been made larger to fit the look of the painting. I've also extended the ears though the attempts to make the mane look like a donkey's didn't work.

I had a couple of spare pack horses and these were given the pay chests. They should be mules going by the painting but I decided to keep them as horses. The horses are by Donnington with the chests coming from one of the Donnington wagon packs and the blankets made from greenstuff. Their driver is also from Donnington with a suitable hat added.

The last couple of items are Baueda tents.
The first is painted as shown for Maximilian's meeting with Henry VIII in 1513 as in the Royal Collection.

Incidentally, according to Stow, Maximilian's tabard in the above link is black for the mourning of the Empress. Maximilian, writing in 1512, asks his daughter to ensure that mourning is worn by his family and various officials in the Netherlands. He does not seem to have cared greatly for Bianca but at least gave the appearance of mourning.

The second has the arms of Austria and Styria as shown in  Maximilian's Book of Armaments.

*The link to the Triumphzug shows the version in Spain. The German version can be found here but a search for Maximilian or similar needs to be entered. The sketches used for making the print blocks can also be seen here, with some features which didn't make it to the final version.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Links updated

I've added various Italian histories and chronicles to the links section. Some are in English translation, others in Italian.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Montaperti Battlefield 2

Some more photos of the area around the Montaperti battlefield.

This is the ridge which continues roughly south of Monselvoli. The photo was taken from the top of one of the curious mounds which can be found at various points. I suspect these are a combination of mineral outcrops added to with shifted material.
The apartment blocks are part of Arbia and are roughly north west of the camera position, The river is around 400m beyond and Siena is in the distance. There is direct line of sight with the city so the tale of a keen eyed observer watching the battle from a tower are not infeasible. The steepness of the slope can be judged.

Slightly south of the previous panorama. The mound I mentioned above can be seen. The line of trees beyond the green field shows the position of the river. There is virtually no flat land between the river and the start of the slope anywhere south of the village. The fairly new apartments have been built on land which appears to have been partially levelled.

Slightly north of the first panorama. The mound can again be seen. As a sense of scale the path around it was at least 2m wide.

This is around half a mile to the south east. It shows the ridge shown in the other photos from the eastern side.

When playing the battle, I assumed that the Florentine forces were not on this ridge to begin with. There would be little room for the Sienese army to cross the river and assemble if the Guelphs were already in command of this ground.

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Montaperti Battlefield 1

Lorenzetti's Good Government - detail
From Chometemporary.com

As can be seen from various posts, I've read about - and painted armies for - the Battle of Montaperti in 1260. Last year's Society of Ancients game was based on the battle and, after spending a good amount of time researching the battle, I thought I'd spend a holiday in the area.

I was able to spend quite a bit of time driving and walking around the battlefield.

Seven and a half centuries have made some changes to the area, mainly in the last 100 years or so. The E78 autostrada cuts across the plain where the Florentine army probably camped and where some of the action probably occurred. The town of Arbia occupies the area to the east of the bridge and this seems to have expanded in the recent past. The amount of tree coverage which may have covered the flank attack has probably decreased.

The landscape shown in Lorenzetti's fresco may give a guide to the type of terrain of the battlefield.

However most of the area is still clear enough to show the lie of the land so I've posted some shots of the area.

This is the River Arbia. It is difficult to be sure how much change has happened and there are records of alterations being made in the late middle ages to decrease flooding. In its current state the river is narrow - perhaps 5 metres - and in August it was shallow - less than half a metre deep with a firm bed. As a terrain feature it would present little hazard to infantry although the banks are fairly steep in places. The trees and other undergrowth presently lining the river would be more of a disruption though there may have been more browsing by farm animals in the 13th century, especially if the fresco is any guide.

These show the area north of the E78. This is the flattest area not occupied by the autostrada, with fairly gentle slopes. There is a chapel next to the slope which may have been there at the time. I wasn't sure if public access to the chapel was possible.

This was taken from a steep hill next to the lake at Acqua Borra. It is about a kilometre to the east of the river.

More soon...