Sunday, 4 September 2016

Tudor Organ Guns

Henry invested a lot in the ordonnance for the 1513 campaign, in part as a display of wealth and his interest in the very latest artillery but also out of necessity to found a burgeoning arsenal. In the period of relative peace that preceded 1513 there had been little call to allocate funds to expensive guns. Henry VII had not been particularly interested in artillery as he was committed to peace rather than war and economy over extravagance.

Henry VIII however thought differently and thanks to the economic shrewdness of his father he inherited a healthy treasury which enabled him to afford to amass the best and most modern pieces available and furthermore, where possible he wanted to manufacture them in England.

This realisation came relatively early in his reign and the government in 1513 appear to have operated on the assumption that new guns would have to be provided for the entire army. One can get the sense of the urgency to be in a state of readiness for the campaign in the testament of the Venetian Ambassador when commenting upon preparations at the newly established foundries, January 1513;

'by day and night and on all the festivals the cannon founders are at work'

From what I have gathered the following ordonnance was amassed;

  • 120 organ guns, 40 for each ward and each with its own cart
  • 180 other artillery pieces comprising;
  • 6 bombards 'Nuremberg Pieces' presumably bought or hired from the continent, two in each ward, each pulled by a team of 24 Flanders mares
  • the 12 'apostles' specifically commissioned by Henry for this campaign which were 6 bronze cast siege guns of 'unusual magnitude each cast in the image of an apostle' and 6 pieces of the field.
  • the remainder was made up of demi culverins, serpentines and falconets of unknown composition and allocation.
Quite a lot of preparation - to think these all had to then travel by sea I take my hat off to Tudor logistics & organisation.

To address the lack of artillery in my Tudor army I have started at the top of the list, the organ guns.

Organ gun and Hackbutts 1496 from Phillip Monch Kriegsbuch

Lighter field organ gun from Maximilian's 1502 book of armaments

An organ gun was a multi-barrelled anti personnel field piece which fired either diced shot for the larger calibre examples or standard shot in single or multiple rows. They could be wheeled to aid an assault (or indeed defence) of a breach in a wall or used to bolster the infantry in the field. It could be argued that the organs were of much greater use when approached by enemy troops than the larger field pieces. Henry's order of what appears to be an unusually large number may have been to compensate for the relative lack of shot in his army at that point or perhaps just sheer extravagance.

There's an interesting short film and demonstration of an organ gun of the later 16c here.

The guns I used are former Hinchcliffe miniatures, now available from Hinds figures, each gun comes with 3 possibilities for the calibre of gun and size and type of wheel for the carriage, they're very detailed and easy to assemble. For the crew I used plastic Perry Miniatures bodies and arms from their WOTR, Mahdist Ansar & Confederate Artillery ranges with sculpted additions, here's how I put each piece together;

This is my favourite option which I believe is based in part upon the Phillip Monch design above, there are three rows of 12 arquebus sized barrels on a rotating central stock. I painted the carriage in a dark natural wood with blackened iron fixings and added some additions from my bits box of which the green monogrammed and liveried wooden powder box is a particularly nice result.

For the master gunner I followed what is now for me a fairly standard base coat and cap sculpting process - you can view this in more detail in the previous Dorset's Retinue post.

As a challenge I wanted to try and have an open coat which I think has worked out fairly well, the belt has been loosened at the waist and the chest flap has been undone. Also I made an effort at a hair crop typical of the period gathered in slightly at the neck. I then tried sculpting a St.George cross on the back of the figure which though it is the right size and proportion still feels to be in too much relief so I may try a slightly flatter example later or simply return to painting them on.

To complete the look of the figure I painted a gold St.George cross livery badge on the cap and some weathering on the coat to represent the dirty work of loading and firing an artillery piece.

The gunner's assistant proved to be an unexpected challenge principally as the touch-hole for the gun is relatively high, the whole assembly, sculpting and painting process made for an awkward looking figure until it was met with the gun. Also, the hand is perhaps in an unnatural position of being twisted under rather than over at the wrist, I can't decide, it looks OK in the finished piece.

The second gun is of a slightly larger calibre barrel arranged in a single linear battery. I painted this in a lighter wood tone with blackened iron fixings and bronze barrels. The additional pieces were from various artillery bits with the addition of a sculpted coat and cap which the assistant gunner has taken off.

The sculpting process was as above for the Master Gunner and a little bit different for the assistant.

The Master Gunner was washed / painted in the slightly dirtier tone as described above

I wanted his assistant to look a bit different, in the first instance I wanted to have a figure holding a halberd on the notion that as these were fairly short ranged pieces the gun was at a greater risk of being rushed. In addition, I wanted to show a figure who had removed his base coat for the hot work of servicing the gun.

The main initial effort was filing away the right amount of plastic from the figure to begin. I used a Stanley knife blade for this as it enabled quite a bit to be taken off but in a controlled fashion, previous efforts with a scalpel and needle files took a long time. You essentially have to remove the plastic around the waist, to then re-build with green stuff, you need to take away down to the intended depth of GS that you'll use so that there is as little visible join as possible if that makes sense.

After that the midriff has to be re-built by sculpting the rear, codpiece, doublet and all of the points with fastenings. A particularly good source with illustrations for this is The King's Servants book by the Tudor Tailor which features line drawings and contemporary photographs of the clothing.

I was fairly pleased with the result but then I thought;

if he's taken his coat off it must be nearby, it's too expensive to lose _!

So I set about trying to represent a coat laid over the basket and barrel of equipment, unpainted it looked like a Dali painting of a melting coat but I think it's turned out OK.

Quite an enjoyable project and my Tudor Army now has some home grown fire-power to assist it in the field.

Right, it's about time I returned my attentions to the French......

Bye for now


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Casualty Markers

Following last month's wargame I left with quite a few projects in mind; viewing friend's collections and discussing the hobby brought aspects to my attention that I had either not thought of at all or shelved for whatever reason so this is the first of those projects.

To begin I ordered some circular dial markers from Warbases and then set about kit bashing, sculpting and painting the following grim vignettes.

The first casualty to get the treatment was a Tudor Billman with a crossbow bolt lodged in his stomach.

The body, head and one arm are all from the Perry Ansar plastics box, the heads are particularly expressive and lend themselves quite well to the addition of a cap and hair. Some of the torsos feature wooden type necklaces which I've found when painted look rather convincingly like the neck of a gathered shirt. Furthermore, the bare feet are easy to add sculpted bear paw shoes typical of the early renaissance and the legs can easily be painted as hose / tights. All of the figures in the box also wear some sort of skirt which can be easily filed down and sculpted upon, it really takes a few stages off the base coat sculpting process that I have adopted.

This figure was in a running pose so I cut and re-positioned the legs then filed one side so it sat flat on the base. I then sculpted the base coat, added the arms and head then sculpted the hair and cap. The arm holding the bolt is from a WW2 plastic of which I've no idea where it came from or how I got it but needless to say it's an arm with a hand in the right position.

I'm really pleased with this one, everything came together well for a good composition and fun to paint, the face was just right for a pained expression.

This figure had a similar build to the first, the legs being cut and re-positioned before sculpting of the coat. The arms are from the Perry WOTR & Mercenaries boxed set. I cut a deep laceration across the face of the figure and wanted to try and express the dying moments; the base coat has been opened to get some air, he's writhing in pain pushing his shoe off and holding on to a final comfort of his rosary beads as he prepares for the end.

I painted the base coat in halved livery split by a white cross of St. Denis. Red and Yellow was the livery of Louis XII and, by coincidence two of the commanders of the Therouanne garrison as well as the city arms of Therouanne - future French infantry units are going to look rather uniform !

In the interest of balance I then set about creating another Tudor casualty, a Longbowman with a nasty open fracture on his foot, his sword broken he pleads with his assailant or perhaps a friend to come to his aid;

I used the same build process as earlier described, the body, arms and head with an expressive face are from the Ansar set, the pouch is from a Games Workshop set of Empire bowmen, quite useful things. I achieved the fracture by bending the foot to partial breaking point.

I spent quite a bit of time getting the painting right on this figure, the exposed bone took a while to get right and I thought I'd add a Tudor rose as some extra detail on the Cross of St. George on his chest. I decided against the arrows in the end as I felt they didn't really contribute much to the composition.

I then turned my attention back to the French, this time I used an Ansar figure which when viewed from the rear and sides did not require any work to make a base coat, the only sculpting therefore being the coat sleeves, hat and hair.

For this scene I positioned the arms and head to depict the dying moments of reaching for a lost objective / friend / weapon. The legs and arms are from the Foot Knights box, the legs not being from the same figure took a while to get right, the first two attempts were rather short looking chaps. The figure had a sash to which I added some GS. In comparison to the others, a fairly straightforward build. 

I was quite happy with the result though the combination of palette and large hat does add an air of a musketeer type appearance to this figure.

For the final vignette I wanted to try and create something a bit more intricate, inspiration came from a scene in the Pavia tapestry;

This was quite a difficult build, I had to make a few compromises but the overall feel is the same (I hope);

The Tudor assailant in base coat was constructed in the same manner as those previous, I tried numerous times to get the figure to kneel on the neck of his victim but just couldn't get it so I settled for kneeling on the side and holding the victim's head. One arm is from the Foot Knight set and the other from the command sprue in the Mercenaries set to which I only realised when painting does not have a gauntlet, so I painted a nice silver hand instead !

In using armoured arms I thought this gave the feel of a more senior yeoman with a bit of wealth so I thought I'd attempt a more contemporary bellows visor which turned out OK, I'll certainly give it further attempts for future units.

The victim's body was one of the figures in the WOTR set, the hands were quite hard to get right. Also given that the leaning figure obscures the victim I regretted picking a figure with a Brigandine as some fairly fiddly painting ensued.

Overall the completed scene is pretty good and useful to use as a casualty marker behind a French or Tudor unit.

So there we have it, inspiration projects part one, a nice set of casualty markers.

There certainly will be more of these, I really enjoyed thinking the scenes up and putting them together, I'll have to turn my attention to some cavalry at some point though I may have to ask Warbases if they can do some slightly larger markers.

The next inspiration project is already underway.

Bye for now


Monday, 15 August 2016

French light artillery & crew

This project has been a slow burner as I began work on the crew some time ago, I abandoned the unit for a while as I wasn't sure how best to convert the master gunner but inspiration has since provided the result.

Here are the conversions bar one member who I neglected to photograph prior to basing;

Left to right, the chap with the breech was perhaps the simplest conversion; I added green stuff to his arms to give more voluminous sleeves typical of the early 1500's and did a head swap from a Wargames Foundry Landsknecht (also Perry sculpted), he wears the red & yellow livery of Louis XII.

The master gunner wears a woollen base coat in national colours, the base coat was added after the figure was prepared; I filed away about 1-2mm off the torso and created a GS fill between the legs, allowed it to dry and then sculpted the coat on top. The filing / cutting in the gap between the arms and body was quite fiddly but I think it's turned out OK.

After this photograph was taken I added a few more things to the painting. Master gunners were much in demand and were spread throughout the French armies of the period, serving wherever they were sent, I thought I'd add a red and yellow Bishop's mitre livery badge of the city of Therouanne to demonstrate his allegiance to his current role.

To further mark him as a master gunner with the experience of a long siege I painted small powder burns and marks on the front of his base coat, hand and sleeve, a little touch but it adds to the character.

Finally, the chap with the sponge was perhaps the most difficult sculpt, the puffed sleeves are quite hard to get right in terms of how much volume there is in the material and how much I can emphasise the fold in each pull of material. The head is a plastic Ansar head with added GS cloth hat, I've had so much use out of that box of plastics, they're a veritable hive for conversion and head swaps in particular, very expressive.

I also built up the breastplate a bit and altered it to look like a Maximilian style breast plate in the latest fashion.

In contrast to the other light culverin I painted the wood and iron work of the gun in red. There are various examples of gun frames whether natural or painted in different colours. German pieces for example tended to be black with red ironwork, the latter a protective layer to prevent rust as is shown here.

This now concludes my work on the conversion of both of the Perry light guns, here they are in defensive position on the outskirts of a ruined village - the fencing and gabions are from Renedra with a few bits added and the ruined building is from 4ground - they do a nice version of this with red daub which I must get some day.

Here they are alongside a larger gun on a section of Therouanne's walls;

I think I'll eventually get the bombard and convert the crew in this manner to add to my Tudors, pieces of that nature though dated were still being put to use well into the 1520's. This work has also served to remind me that my Tudors are bereft of artillery at present so I shall get to that too.

Bye for now


Monday, 1 August 2016

Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset unit complete

In the production of the latest unit for my armies of 1513 I have returned to the Tudors. This came about primarily from a long background project of attempting to sculpt a convincing base coat which finally came to fruition.

Armed with my new skill it seemed fitting to create a unit of Tudor infantry. The whole composition and nucleus from the army's conception had been to replicate the forces that Henry took with him to France and whilst I could do this fairly painstakingly with commanders, heraldry, flags and troop proportions the main signature element of the period had eluded me and this was a massive compromise.

I pushed on regardless and feel I still managed to get a feel of the period in other ways but this aspect  slowly burned away in the background, I knew I had to do it somehow and I guess that's what prompted me to have a go at sculpting, that and a lot of encouragement.

Once I was satisfied with the look I had created I began to slowly turn out Tudor billmen and accompanying command for a new unit;

This was the first figure that I was satisfied with, the eureka moment if you like. The aspect I had previously had the most difficulty with was the folds in the skirt and with this effort I was finally happy that I had achieved a convincing look. The sleeves were occasionally difficult too as I kept sculpting too many folds in them whereas they're actually fairly stiff things. 

In sculpting these I began with the idea of carrying on using the existing Tudor heads from Perry miniatures but I wanted some greater variety so I did some head-swaps from the old Foundry Renaissance range (also Perry sculpted) as they fitted quite well as in the examples above and below.

The next figure to get the treatment was that of the commander. The head was from a Foundry Gendarme and the body was sculpted on to that of one of the Perry WOTR foot knights. An aspect of this sculpt is that there are more folds, those with wealth in this period demonstrated this factor in many ways, one of which was to wear rich fabric and a lot of it which led to skirts / base coats with more folds than the poorer elements of society. I also sculpted a slashed breast as was the fashion.

Whilst the Landsknecht heads gave some variety they didn't quite look right and the other obvious issue was that I would soon leave me with quite a lot of headless Landsknechts so I explored some alternatives. To really complete the Tudor image I wanted sombre cloth caps, the bobbed type haircut typical of the period and some more expressive faces. In discussion over a pint with Simon Chick and looking through his lead/plastic mountain the solution for this came from an unlikely source;

The heads in this set are very expressive and with a bit of work - generally removing existing hair or cap then adding sculpted hair and a new cap they work really well. I've also found most of the arms to be useful and more recently the bodies are quite useful for casualties (more on that soon).

 Below is another billman in an attacking pose with the Ansar / cloth cap and hair sculpt treatment;

Staying with the Ansar heads there's one in the sprue with a turban and a particularly expressive face which I didn't want to do that much to.

The European courts all featured Moors from North Africa as servants and musicians to lesser and greater extents. Henry's court at this time had quite a few; the servants in Catherine of Aragon's entourage included Moors, a Moorish trumpeter John Blanke can be seen in the Westminster Tournament roll and James IV at this time is recorded as having a troop of Moorish drummers.

The Maarquess of Dorset campaigned in Spain so I made the leap that he too may have added to his entourage. That's my excuse anyway for a rather spectacular standard bearer;

To demonstrate a slightly more refined appearance I painted the turban in a rich gold, black and red pattern and sculpted slashed and puffed sleeves on the undergarment, these were then painted in Dorset's livery of Murrey and White.

The banner is the heraldry of Dorset though in hindsight I think it may include elements added after 1513 - I don't think there are many pedants out there who may notice. It's an intricate multi quartered design typical of the din of the ashes of the Wars of the Roses where families expressed their ever changing allegiances and standing in this manner.

I have a drawing of the Marquess' swallow tailed standard that I knew was correct for this campaign and for that matter an earlier expedition to Guyenne of 1512; ' The Lord Marquys Dorset, parted white and murrey with a like fringe, a unicorn of ermine rayonee alternately of silver and gold sprinkled with sprigs of pinks'

So why not have 2 banner bearers. For this figure I used a foot knight body and arms and added a sculpted base coat with one of the standard Tudor heads.

The banner was rather intricate to paint but no less rewarding. I had a discussion on LAF as to what colour Murrey was with the consensus being red wine which works for me. The colour on the Moor's liveried clothing is slightly darker but it all adds to variety.

I was then at the point of having a reasonable sized unit which I unveiled recently at a refight of the Battle of the Spurs game (see previous post), here are some more detailed photographs;

I wanted to make this unit stand out as a celebration of the hard work that had gone into it so I chose a large 120 x 60 mm base to give a platform for a mini diorama and the maximum potential to show each figure off.

Whilst the new look is spot on for the period I'm not overly keen on sculpting an entire replacement army for my existing Tudor forces so I opted to integrate and re-base with the figures I had with around 60-70% in base coats to those lesser equipped.

I currently have a mix of basing styles in my forces; 60x30 and 60x60mm bases, the smaller of which (above) I've found to be a bit too small with little opportunity for any sort of scene or cohesion. Also, some of the very oldest of figures in the army are on these bases so I used this as an opportunity to take these bases out of the army, retain the figures I wanted to keep and put aside those I didn't. So this unit has replaced 4 of these smaller bases, re-using a few figures in the process.

I've had a few thoughts about the way forward.

I think it's best to continue this approach of sculpting new additions whilst retaining some figures not similarly attired, this gives variety and I think also reflects the pockets of the commanders of each retinue. Some brought thousands to Henry's call whereas some only a handful.

I've opted to have a few large 120x60mm bases for more senior commanders and a majority 60x60mm bases for lesser commanders complemented by further 60x60mm bases without flags.

Here's the new and old

I'm considering keeping a handful of 60x60mm bases in present form to represent Northern levy's or militia, I'm not sure, perhaps I may just have a lesser proportion of base coated chaps among them - your thoughts are welcome.

Note some rather improved photography too - new camera and this time I've even read the manual.

Now for some biography, Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset, 1477-1530

In 1507 Dorset fell foul of Henry VII's suspicions and was interred in the Tower and then Calais for 'as longe as Kynge Henry VII lyved, and shulde have bene put to deathe, yf he had lyved longer' this was pardoned at Henry VIII's ascension following which he soon took the king's favour, due in no small part to his prowess at jousting.

In May 1512 perhaps eager to please Henry despatched an expedition of 5000 infantry for the reconquest of Guienne, in conjunction with his Father in Law Ferdinand of Castile. Dorset was chosen to command and received his commission as lieutenant-general. Ferdinand acted only for his own advantage, and despite the protests of Dorset kept making excuses for delay, while all the time he was securing for himself the kingdom of Navarre.

The English troops were kept idle until a severe pestilence in the camp utterly demoralised them, and taking matters into their own hands they insisted on returning home.

An account describes that 'The Englishmen did eat of the garlick with all meats and drank hot wines in the hot weather and did eat all of the hot fruits that they could get which caused their blood so to boil in their bellies that they fell sick three thousand of the flux and thereof died eighteen hundred men.'

When this news reached Henry he wrote in anger to Ferdinand to stop them by force if necessary; but his orders were too late, and the English army returned home without having effected anything, landing at Plymouth in November.

Ferdinand wrote to his ambassadors in England to tell the king that Dorset was doubtless a very distinguished nobleman, but was entirely to blame for the failure of the expedition. Although Ferdinand himself had shown bad faith, his censure was in the main just, for Dorset seems to have displayed none of the qualities of a general; it is, however, fair to remember that he suffered much from sickness. At first it was contemplated bringing him and his associates, who put the blame on their chief, to trial, but it was impossible to discriminate, and eventually, at the request of the council, the matter was hushed up.

Dorset answered the call for the French campaign of 1513 with a retinue of just over 300 men, joining the King in the middleward. The number is above the 200 odd average so not altogether un-modest. Unfortunately nothing survives of his achievements in the campaign.

In the years to follow Dorset's achievements in the tourney are noted as is the King's favour. In 1523 he took part raids on the Scottish border to keep order whilst Suffolk was campaigning in France.

Overall he was a brave soldier, the 1512 campaign is often referred as a fiasco and indicative of a failing Tudor army but I think this is only the case as it's an early expedition after a relative period of military inactivity. I would agree however that Dorset seems to have owed his position chiefly to the favour of the king though a contemporary source recounts that he was esteemed, the first general of those times for embattling an army. The same authority continues that his speech was soldierlike, plain, short, smart, and material.

I've been interested in Dorset since beginning the collection and I'm glad to have him join the ranks and to represent a new chapter in my Tudor army.

I think that's enough rambling for the moment !

Bye for now