Monday, April 26, 2010

Knight Casualty Markers

I have long used casualty markers for my units to remind me of who needs to undertake morale tests or even the status of a units psychology - routing and panic etc. Thus far, there is not much available (in fact nothing) for the mid-thirteenth century wargamer and there is rarely ever much on offer for mounted units. I was thus compelled to design my own. I had discussed with my club mate Matt the idea of developing original models from green stuff for moulding - this may still be a future option. In the end and for the time being I have plenty of spare figures which will serve. The example this time are two Essex Miniatures knights and caprisoned mounts - one of which has an old paint job.
I chose these figures because Essex Miniatures are particularly malleable - most important for the horses. I removed the horses from their bases with stright nosed cutters, filed the hooves back and then twisted the legs, central torso and necks to achieve different poses - one dying and one attempting to recover from a fall. As you can see, some flat filing is done to make the figures rest flatter and a foot or two were removed for best positioning of the unconscious and dead knights. I chose to base them on balsa to press the models down further.
The vacated saddles needed to be sculpted from green stuff (as you can see) remembering to include the stirrups and the leathers. I decided that the dead mount was as a result of archery and a lance wound to the chest so drilled a larger hole for the latter and two smaller holes for arrow shafts in the unfortunate beast's neck. The arrows were a complete experiment which appears to be working for me. The shafts are of hard straw taken from a yard broom, cut, split  and shaved thinner. I thinned the ends further and flatter. I had intended to slot thin card into a cut groove for the feathers but that overly bulged the shaft and I couldn't control the split. Styrene rods may be an option which I shall try another time.
I ended up making the feathers in two sections - appearing to protrude either side of the shaft. I made the feathers from Evergreen .040" sheet styrene and glued them with Humbrol Poly Cement. I glued them into the hand drilled holes with Selley's Kwik Grip. I'll run a matt cote varnish over the arrows befoer undercoating the models.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rebel Right Ward Knights: Modelling the Unit

In fact, in the first shot it's one of my fighting Bishops with John de Burgh of the Rebel Right Ward heavy horse. If you've looked at the evolving army list (currently Version 2) you will be aware that I have ten knights attached to the Right Ward whom I have begun to paint. John de Burgh's arms are particularly complex and took two attempts to scetch out the red checkers pattern between which will be further detail. The bishop is simply being painted at the same time and I will feature him in another posting. These figures are all Gripping Beast for which I have a few comments.

They are some of the best looking and proportioned figures money can buy and I particularly love these knights. They are; however, the worst models to construct primarily due to the poor hand detailing. Caste in an open grip to receive weapons, they are not deep enough and the alloy too rigid for ease of manipulation. It took some persistent cutting and careful filing to make a suitable receiving fit for my home made steel wire lances - the bendy ones accompanying the figures are of no use. With the couched lances particularly, I filed groove the length of the forearm to make an extensive joint for gluing (Araldite) the lance in place. Where possibe I glure the forward shaft the the horses head to provide the second join which achieve with up right lances by fixing the butt of the lance in a hole I drill in the weapon hand foot. At the time of gluing I pinch the hand closed over the lance with needle-nose pliers.
Some of my caprisons will be of an undied fabric to reduce the tendency for heraldic units appearing too gaudy. The caprison colours are muted compared to how the knights' arms will be depicted on their shield. I dilute the base colours (Humbrol with mineral terpentine) with a little black, using slightly more for the creases. Applied over white undercoat (not prayed but brushed) gives me graduated depth and a fabric look. If I remember, the unit leader with have the only coloured helm. This is my first unit but am remodelling an old unit of levy archers (12) a the same time whilst I await the arrival of the rest of my Right ward infantry figures.

 The following shots are the knights at their pre-matt spray coat stage. All matt painting is done including some staining at the edges of the caprisons prior to the protective and matt coat being applied to seal the paint job to protect the models. I will then apply the finishing touches which are generally the shiny or gloss metalic coats such as brass, gold and some polish on the steel which is diluted and dry brushed silver - dry brushed very sparingly. The silver will pick up lance point edges and difference the polished steel helmets from the duller mail which I will leave as is. For this unit I have not opted for overly elaborate caprisons. I thought to represent a subtle difference between my horse units from Simon de Montfort's bodyguard unit who will have highly decorative caprisons and individual foot figures for every mounted knight on the off chance there is some need to hold out somewhere.

First Rebel Knight - Familia de Montfort

My first knight is off and racing. In actual fact, it's the commander of the first or Right Ward of the Rebel Army, Henry de Monfort (eldest son of Simon de Montfort) who at the age of 26 fought with his father and brothers at Lewes. The images (left) depict the seals of the three brothers who fought that day in their father's cause. The illustrations are taken from images reproduced in J.R.Maddicott's Simon de Monfort (Canbridge University Press, 1994) from 18th century drawing of the originals now lost to us. If you click on the image you will get a better view of Guy's arms with what I reckon to be a label (5).  Guy was a fighting man also at Lewes and given that he was the fourth son with a label (5). To date, other than their ages and dates of death, I know little of de Monfort's sons and whilst my army list has all three brothers within the Right Ward of the army, it seems likely to have been Henry who commanded the whole ward and his younger brothers, Guy and Simon divisions within it. I do know that Henry died at Evesham the following year with his father. Simon was a trusted son and lieutenant and operated independently during the Evesham campaign, failing to unite with his father and elder brother's forces which may have assisted in guaranteeing their fate but certainly saved young Simon's life.

It's clearly early days with the painting of my Henry. This is a Gripping Beast figure and I elected to have one of the few mail barded horses with this command figure to help him stand out as such. Also, his caprison would otherwise have been too similar to his fathers for my liking. As you will have observed, I intend hand painting the shield (as I always do) and have sketched the detail prior to applying the background colour or field of the shield which will be a bold red (gules). 

The lion is white (argent) and due to the ligher contrast of this device, if I can paint around it with the red, rather than painting white over the top of an entirely red background, the one white coat for my lion will suffice. The arms of de Montfort vary from sources. Some such as the St Georges roll on line have the divided field of red and white only which I believe is his personal standard rather than his blazon. The colours of the lion and the field are also in doubt thanks to the illustration by Matthew Paris in 1244 of Simin de Montfort's banner in tinchers changed - black lion on a red field. J.R. Maddicott's Simon De Montfort (or at least his publishers) also identifies the earls arms as a red lion on a white field being the reverse of that most commonly identified. So, we have choices. I will elect the usual white lion on a red field; however, as the Paris rendition is suspect due to the allegorical nature of the depiction. The inclusions of the device on Maddicott's dust cover are unreferenced and the determination upon white lion on red field is in Joseph Fosters Dictionary of Heraldry which draws upon many of the rolls of arms from the thirteenth century and this option does make repeated appearances.

I am dismissing the abovementioned reference for Henry de Montfort's blazon as the details and explanation for the seal appears non-existent, I don't know how the first born son would have differenced from his father and brothers in such a radical departure, and it bears an uncanny resemblence to those of Hugh le Despenser (pictured left) as cited in the Golver's Roll (1252).  Hugh did fight for the rebels at Lewes and as a prominant baron, whoever sketched the seals seems to have confused Hugh's with Henry's. For Henry, therefore, I will opt for the same arms as Simon de Montfort with a label also. According to James Parker's Glossary of Terms Used in Heraldry, there can be no attempt made to establish a standardised system of applying labels to differentiate sons in our period if the Prince's Edward and Edmund of England are anything to go by. Both of them freely interchanged a label (3) and (5) azure with only inclusions of fleur de lys by Edmund to identify one from the other. So ... how to differentiate the de Montfort sons?

I have decided to retain the label (5) for Guy as mentioned previously, placing trust in it's inclusion on his seal. As the detail is from a seal impression only and therefore shading indicates depth, not colour, I am going to make his label black. I will give Herny a label (3) azure and Simon the younger a label (5) azure. I would welcome any comments or suggestions which makes for a more accurate or more logical representation which will further our understanding of the arms of the brothers de Monfort.