Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Landsknechts in French service II

As the title suggests here we have the second instalment of the Landsknechts in French service that I have been working on over the last few months. Together with the last I can now field a modest pike block to support my Growing French forces.

As with my Imperialist Landsknechts my collection is made up on a model where the upright pikes have banners and appropriate field signs which can then be supported / interchanged with my existing bases of levelled pikes that don't have banners or field signs to create a larger unit with some menace.

Here they are in support of French infantry;

Below are some individual images of the figures prior to basing. I explore my approach and source material for Landsknechts serving the French crown in the previous Landsknecht post which you can read here.

Further to my observations there the banners were taken from examples in both the Marignano and Pavia painting / tapestries. The banner on the red background tends to be used as a bit of a generic catch all for French troops in quite a lot of sources so I was a bit reluctant to use it at first however I considered the unit would look a bit more balanced with a plain and striped banner - the dilemmas of composition !

Anyway, I'm really pleased with the way the red banner complements the figure and I'm quite glad I opted against the figure being entirely in red. This technique of a predominant anchor colour with complimentary striped or alternative colours is my standard formula for painting Landsknechts, you can read more on that and many other techniques over on my Painting Landsknechts blog.

I generally paint Landsknecht command figures in a bit of a riot of colour and stripes to reflect their wealth and to help them stand out from the rank and file figures.

The pikemen are then approached as being either fairly plain - which tend to be in the side or rear ranks (remember that some at going to be obscured somewhat) or a bit more adventurous.

Even with the more colourful figures there are still formulas to use to get an authentic look which I have applied for this unit;
  • You can use a limited palette so blue and yellow stripes as with the centre figure above or the just plain green and white as below.
  • Another approach is to use a base colour anchor as mentioned above which is accompanied by stripes in a complimentary colour as per the two figures on the right below.

Here endeth the current chapter of Landsknechts. I tend to do at least one unit per year to build them up slowly in support of my Tudor and French armies or indeed to serve as a force in their own right. Of all the ranges this is a firm favourite and I don't get bored with them. I think I shall add some more arquebusiers in future as I only have 3 units at present.

That's all for now and a colourful post to end 2016.

All the best for the forthcoming year


Sunday, 18 December 2016

Lion Rampant AAR

Having played Lion Rampant a few times I liked the ease and flexibility of the game and thought it could be a good platform build upon to extend it into the early 1500's. In fact my very first experience of the game was along with Simon Chick in putting on a demo game with a Tudor scenario which I very much enjoyed. This time I have used the standard troop listings as a basis to create some bespoke Tudor and French rosters as well as introducing a few special rules to embody the unique character of their respective armies.

Armed with these rudimentary scribblings I hosted a couple of games with gaming buddies Jeff and Keith, here's how things unfolded in the first game which used 'the fugitive' scenario as a basis. My kitchen was the setting for the violence on the table, being winter the light wasn't too great but I made the best of it with longer exposures on the camera.

Keen on a bit of impromptu hunting a Landsknecht paymaster finds himself a little too close to the enemy lines, wary of a mutiny and keen to avoid the French having the opportunity to offer him more money Henry orders a hastily assembled Tudor relief force to rescue him. The French must prevent the escape.


1 unit of Garrison Billmen
2 units of Shire Longbowmen
2 units of Border Horse
1 unit of Demilancers


1 unit of Crossbowmen

1 unit of Landsknecht Arquebusiers

1 unit of Men at Arms

1 unit of Gendarmes

1 unit of Stradiots

All figures are from my collection and are based in groups / units rather than individually, whilst not quite how LR is intended the number of figures on the table is the same.

The boards and city walls were expertly made by David Marshall of TM Terrain and the buildings in the centre are from 4ground.

Here's the initial set up (I'm very tall and on a step ladder !) with Tudors on the left and French on the right. There are six possible hiding places for the fugitive; each of the three buildings, either of the two hedgerows or the earthwork ditch in front of the city walls. Upon reaching a hiding place a D6 is rolled uncovering the fugitive on a 6 at the first hiding place, 5 or 6 at the second and so on.

The French began the action with a general advance with the exception of the Landsknecht arquebusiers who failed their activation role. The men at arms just reaching the edges of the abandoned village whilst the crossbowmen covered their left flank advancing through ploughed fields.

The Border Horse on the Tudor right flank spurred into action and reconnoitred the hedgerow to their front and though they startle a hare the hounds do not pick up the scent. Meanwhile the Demilancers advanced toward the abandoned village falling just short of it with infantry in support following a little behind. Over on the left flank the Border Horse reach the ditch and fail to locate the Landsknecht hunter, gingerly aware of their opposing Stradiots and Gendarmes.

With a little encouragement the Landsknechts make their move toward the hedgerow while this time the crossbowmen were distracted by the opportunity for foraging in the field. The French men at arms in the centre moved cautiously around the edge of the village whilst the Gendarmes and Stradiots moved ominously forward.

With the garrison billmen moving up to cover his flank the Earl of Essex dismounts, sword in hand and kicks open the door of the house in front but no paymaster in sight. Over on the right flank the dogs are put to work scouring the second hedgerow, their excited barks and some impromptu teutonic cursing herald their quarry and trumpets are blown. This excitement draws the attention of the adventuriers to their front who send off a quarrel of bolts but somewhat unhelpfully the cover of the thickset hiding place absorbs the damage.

The men at arms realise the cacophony must be ominous and advance to try and block the retreat crashing into the garrison bill holding the edge of the village.

Unfortunately the bill were prepared and after clash of arms and casualties either side they hold their ground forcing the men at arms to retire.

Meanwhile the Stradiots skirmish with their Border Horse counterparts and with bad dice come off worse, falling back battered.

Essex hears the trumpets and feels the ground trembling as the Gendarmes close in on his left flank sensing that perhaps it's time for discretion he bids good cheer to the men of the Calais garrison and retires toward the longbowmen to his rear. To hold their front the Longbowmen loose their arrows ineffectually into the advancing Gendarmes.

The Landsknechts immediately test the cheer of the garrison men and pepper them with a volley whilst with the centre held the Border Horse quickly take their objective back toward the safety of the English camp with Essex hot on their heels to take the credit.

It's now looking a bit lonely for the remaining Tudor infantry as they edge back but the French blood is up and they throw their Gendarmes into the Longbowmen who infuriatingly manage to hold the line.

Back in the centre the game draws to a close as the garrison bill save some extra time for Essex' escape by stubbornly resisting the men at arms to their front.

All in all a good game, Keith with his French hat on had bad luck at some crucial points, particularly in attempting to get the left flank of Landsknechts and Adventuriers to move much to the delight of Jeff in his cloth cap who made good his escape.

I felt the initial adjustments to the rosters helped add a period feel, for example the Gendarmes had a fairly high move value but has the wild charge special rule so whilst they wouldn't always do what you wanted they were ominous and somewhat unpredictable. The Stradiots and Border Horse were evenly matched each with skirmish and evade functions and the Landsknecht shot had a shorter range but packed a punch effecting a -1 armour on their targets.

We played a second game with a culverin on the French side and Organ gun on the English which had quite a few in game tweaks to get it right which distracted me somewhat and I took no photographs. Another game is in order to put that right.

There's still some tweaks to make which I hope to play test further but once I'm satisfied I'll put them up so that you can enjoy a bit of Renaissance skirmishing. I haven't thought of a name yet though as Louis XII's badge was a Porcupine how about Porcupine Rampant?.... suggestions welcome !

All the best to you and yours this Christmas


Friday, 16 December 2016

French Infantry

I'm pleased to present the latest batch of converted French Infantry, in the making since August but worth the while I hope.

These are sculpted conversions using the Perry Mercenaries set as dollies, you can see the initial conversion stages and source information in this earlier post.

Not wanting to repeat anything from that post but as with the recent Tudor conversions I think I've arrived at a point that I'm satisfied with and will work upon as a general theme for any forthcoming French infantry. With the figures in skirted coats and jackets I was very much applying a procedure and finished them comparatively quickly. As for the others it's still somewhat experimental to get the sleeves and hose right but the painting really adds another dimension and is in some respects forgiving of the errors that no doubt only I can see.

Here's a closer look at the painted figures prior to basing.

I have used a loose palette along a blue, red and yellow theme to give these a unit identity. Rather than adventuriers which were used more on the Italian front these are intended to represent the Franc Archers more typical of the infantry raised around Picardy. If you're interested to know more about the recruitment and organisation of these troops you can read my short study on an older post here.

These troops were required to present for muster with the necessary equipment for war and were to wear hocquetons (sleeveless coats) in the liveries of their Captains. Perhaps coincidentally the livery of Therouanne, Louis XII and Sieur Heilly (one of the captains during the siege of Therouanne) is red and yellow so this made things easier.

Of particular note for the siege of Therouanne is the surrender of the garrison to whom upon marching out of the city were noted in Tudor records as being in livery and having either 'Sercus, Heilly or Bournonville upon their chest'. Each of these were the names of captains from noble families of Picardy, I keep meaning to do this but it's a very small area in which to try and paint in one case quite a long word but I will try it one day. I'll have to double check the source as saying that it could just be a livery badge.

Another perhaps national livery is the blue and white as can be seen in two of the coats, the remainder of the figures have variations on that theme but are essentially in their own clothes and wear a sewn on white cross of St. Denis for identification.

The two figures in the middle of the last two photographs above are intended to be Swiss as a small number of these bolstered the defence of the town in 1513, I wanted them to be distinct from the Landsknechts in French service so they're in slightly more plain dress but distinct from their French colleagues.

Here they are based and ready for action.

As with the other missile foot they are in a loose formation engaged in fire and manoeuvre.

Finally, here they are with the rest of the missile foot in my collection from which I think it's evident that my ability has increased somewhat but they're good figures nonetheless.

As luck would have it these will be used in a game of Lion Rampant tomorrow which if I pull my finger out I'll take a few photographs and maybe do an after action report in time for Christmas.

All the best


Monday, 5 December 2016

German / Swiss Light Cavalry part 1

I've been getting quite involved with sculpting conversions lately and was keen to keep going while the inspiration was there. Following on from my latest rounds of infantry conversions I thought I'd make up some cavalry and as a somewhat flamboyant change what better subject to represent than some mounted German / Swiss crossbowmen.

These have tested my ability in the extreme but it's all a learning curve and I've definitely picked up a couple of techniques along the way.

I had no particular sources of inspiration other than a few woodcuts similar to that above. In the main these were upper body conversions using the Perry light horse figures as dollies. In trying out uncovered ground each figure has had a number of incarnations as I attempted then scrapped things along the way. There's still a little bit more to do with these but I'm fairly happy with them and they'll be a good universal addition to my Tudor & French collection.

Both of these were fairly straightforward builds though they each had to be tweaked / re-done along the way. I had a German influence in mind for the chap in the burgonet and a Swiss for his companion.

I wasn't sure initially about leaving the brigandine and plackart on the German as I don't think I've seen a source showing a Landsknecht armed in this fashion but it worked out well and looked convincing once the arms were on - plus brigandines were in use in Western Europe right through to the 1580's so why not.

The head was a press mould of a Wargames Foundry Landsknecht, it wasn't easy to do and this was the fourth attempt but well worth it. The arms were a real leap for me though I had partially tried the technique previously on a French arquebusier. Basically this involved sculpting the general shape of the arm then lightly scoring the horizontal slash with the side of a pin and the vertical slash very lightly using a scalpel. After that I then teased each vertical slash out with a sculpting tool.

As for the Swiss looking chap I wanted the arms to be of voluminous material which just meant getting the shape and folds right though I did have to file the arms rather closely to get the desired under-shape to push green stuff onto. For the body I sculpted additions to make it look like a leather doublet for which this particular torso then didn't need any heavy cutting or filing preparation.
The head was from a box of Empire archers, it's slightly larger than 28mm but seems to work OK here.

These builds followed a similar format to the above though the figure with the Landsknecht head was rather more complicated to get right. I had a press moulded breast plate that I was keen to use so I cut away the torso to accommodate it and then found I had to cut it a lot more to enable the rider to sit in the saddle - quite a bit of swearing was involved.

Under that I went for a leather doublet covering the chest and thighs. The arms were difficult to appear similar, this was attempt 4 so I'm just going with it but not too bad all round.

Looking at the Swiss trumpeter I think I may re-do the arms or possibly the whole thing. I was particularly inspired by the image below as it required no alteration to the torso though the arms just don't look right so I think I shall return my efforts to this.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this latest tangent, I've been slowly painting figures in the interim periods so hopefully there should be a completed in the not too distant future.

All the best


Monday, 21 November 2016

Work In Progress; Tudor Pike

Whilst painting some French & Landsknechts I have been working upon the next batch of sculpting. I was keen to return my focus to the Tudors and decided to begin work upon a unit of English pikemen.

As far as I am aware this campaign saw the first mustering and armament of home recruited English Pike. The use of pike however was not unfamiliar to the early Tudors; Henry VII was served very well at Bosworth by mercenary pike 'well trained and drilled in the Swiss fashion' and indeed went on to face these adversaries at Stoke Field.

Henry VIII sent a contingent of Landsknecht pike as part of Dorset's 1512 Spanish expedition and in the preparation for the 1513 campaign he was at pains to present a fully equipped modern army. Within the preparations for war the total ratio of pikes to bills for the campaign was proposed at 50:40;

'4500 bills and marispikes English and Welsh and 5000 pykes of the Almaynes [Landsknechts]'

Whilst this included mercenary pike the composition was an unprecedented major effort at modernity of the army. Add the proposed 10'000 archers and the 50:50 missile to staff ratio reasonably mirrors that of the Wars of the Roses though the subtle differences are notable.

For the French campaign 1000 English pike were recorded as being part of the Kings ward within the contingents of the wealthy elite of the court;

'30 June 1513, the King's ward passing out of Calais [toward Therouanne] pikes of the Lord Lisle [Charles Brandon], 900; pikes of the Duke of Buckingham, 100; pikes of the Lord Burgany [Bergavenny], 100. "All along the baggage meddled (mixed) with the ordnance.'

1000 men is reasonable enough to depict and no small affair, it's also interesting to note that there were less Landsknecht Pike within the King's ward at that time (800). Also when it appeared that the ward may have been attacked by French cavalry on the approaches to Therouanne Henry dismounted and stood within the ranks of the Landsknechts for protection, nothing like hedging your bets !

I intend to have a 24 figure square of English Pike with an outer shell of armoured soldiers, later comment on this was that they should;

'have white corselets whiche must be always clene kepte for it is a bewtifull sight in the battaile and a gret terror to the enemyes' and also that these men 'so armed and placed be in more jeperdie than other men be.'

The armour was no doubt some of the latest munition 'almayn rivett' specifically ordered for this campaign as mentioned in a document noting payments for war, November 1512;

'For harness. To Lewez de Fava for 800 harness at 8s. each, August, 1st year. To Will. Gurre, "bregandymaker," for making clean and workmanship of certain harness. To Leonard Friscobald for 577 pairs of harness called Almayn ryvetts, at 11s. a pair.'

Each set or pair of Almayn rivet armour consisted of breastplate, possibly backplate, tassets (thigh defences) and movable arm splints to fit the wearer.

On to the figures.

I have started by putting together the armoured figures for the unit, I began by working on some fairly straightforward builds from the Perry plastics ranges but really wanted to depict the Almain Rivett armour. I wasn't quite ready to sculpt it, largely as the task was somewhat daunting for the number of figures that I want so I turned to seeing if I could make some press moulds of armour from existing figures which after several attempts yielded some good results.

This group represents what I hope to achieve with the unit, left to right;

1.) Figure with quilted jack, arm splints and press moulded breast plate and thigh defences (separate moulds). The mould came out quite well with these after quite a few attempts. I've yet to clean it up a bit as well as adding belts and probably a back plate.
2.) As with 1 though the mould isn't as good, I'll see if I can make it better with some sculpted additions I'm hoping it will look OK when painted. The head and visor are also (annoyingly difficult) press moulds with sculpted fittings.
3.) As with 1 and 2 though using a different breast plate.
4.) Straight assembly to represent older armour with sculpted cap and hair over an Ansar head.
5.) Unarmoured pikeman not quite finished but there for comparison, I'll have quite a few of these.

If I were ever to turn my attention to the Scots this would be how I'd represent the more well off professional soldiers among the front ranks no doubt with the following addition for Flodden;

I'm hoping to get this unit done in the New Year so lets hope they take well to painting.

Bye for now.


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

WIP; French infantry conversions

I have been steadily working upon these over the last couple of months, it's only six figures so far but worthy of a post I thought, these and hopefully a few more will be the next in the painting queue.

Sources for French infantry and indeed French dress in general for the lower classes are, in my experience, rather scarce. Since becoming somewhat addicted to Pinterest I have built up a board dedicated to the French of this period for inspiration and catalogue, you can view this here;

To summarise it in brief the French fashion of the early 16c is derived of various Western European Influence but the particular elements that can be attributed are Italian and Swiss in my opinion, add to that coats and jackets not dissimilar to those of Tudor fashion and you have - I hope, a reasonable representation of a Valois French soldier, one in which would be marginally different from the Northern region in comparison to the Italian theatre.

The sources of inspiration for these conversions are the following images of mostly French origin;

Siege of Dijon tapestry (1513) detail

'La Chausse au Faucon' tapestry, date unknown

A tapestry on the meeting of Henry & Francis at the Field of Cloth of Gold c.1520

I can't remember where I found this, sorry!

Beraud Stuart 'Traite sur l'Art de la Guerre' (Treatise on the Art of War) approx. 1508

In my interpretation I have polarised these sources into two distinctions; figures in jackets / coats and those without in doublet and hose. Some slashing but relatively understated and puffed shoulders are fairly predominant. 

The figures took me a while to sculpt as I re-visited them a number of times in attempts to get particular aspects right or at least to my satisfaction. It's a learning curve really but I can definitely see my ability developing with this batch of sculpting conversions. Here are some more angles;

For the Arquebusiers I seem to have unintentionally put them all in jackets / coats ! - I'll have to balance that with the next few conversions.

These figures were the easier to convert as I've had a bit of experience in sculpting coats and there's a lot less preparatory filing to do on the plastics.

From left to right;

1. This soldier wears a knee length jacket fastening in the middle with puffed sleeves at the shoulder. Jackets were both outer and inner garments; wealthier individuals would wear them underneath a gown or not for warmer weather, they were made of a variety of materials, for military issue they could be in livery or of a base colour though predominantly the former for military issue. From what I can ascertain these were typical of both Tudor and Valois fashion. He also wears a cloth cap with feathers (a stipulation of a 1521 ordonnance). The head is from the Perry Ansar set.

2. This soldier wears a base coat, an outer garment. Again this would be issued in the livery of the issuing Captain / Town / Crown. Also knee length, I've done this for all to make a distinction from the slightly longer coats of the Tudor sculpts that I have done. He also wears a cloth cap with feathers (lifted from the Perry Swiss heads) and puffed and slashed doublet underneath. I've taken the additional distinction that arquebusiers and/or their employers may be a bit more well off than their crossbow wielding counterparts. On that note these would have been issued to the Franc Archers of the period. Another Ansar head also - it's a must have set for parts.

3. Finally for the arquebusiers this chap wears a sleeveless hoqueton (a stipulation of a 1522 levy for Franc Archers raised in Picardy) with the puffed and slashed sleeves of his doublet showing underneath, he has opted for a sallet in place of his cap, I toyed with the idea of adding a feather but I haven't seen it in great number other than on Louis' Archer guards. Really pleased with the slashed sleeves on this one.

On to the crossbowmen, All are unintentionally in doublet and hose so I shall add a jacket / hoqueton for balance in the next sculpts.

These were rather challenging as a lot had to be filed away from the plastics in preparation which meant that the groin and rear had to be re-sculpted - lots of odd looking rears in number of failed attempts leading up to these.

From left to right;

1. This soldier wears doublet and hose, the former with puffed sleeves the latter fairly simple with a cod-piece (slightly obscured by the crossbow). He wears a simple cloth cap. The head was from the Perry Ansar set.

2. As above only more elaborate sleeves, taken from the example in the 'Chausse au Faucon' tapestry example above, again his (painstakingly sculpted) cod-piece is obscured by the crossbow.

3. An un-obscured cod-piece ! this chap wears what I have taken to be shorts for want of the proper word (answers gratefully received), quite a few of the sources above depict this and it's prevalent in Landsknecht / Swiss dress also. His doublet is puffed and slashed at the shoulder and he wears a simple cloth cap over his converted Ansar head.

I'm really pleased with this batch and it's good to see progression from my efforts 3 years ago;

I'm confident from the research I have made and the few visual sources above that I have achieved a suitably French appearance for these and a formula going forward. As ever I am interested for your feedback and critique so let me know what you think.

All the best, Au Revoir !