Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rebel Right Ward Foot (I): Modelling

This has been a long time coming but I have just finished my first body of Rebel foot to basing stage. They represent lightly armed foot soldiery of the Right Ward under the overall command of Henry de Montfort and led personally by his younger brother Guy.

The figures are essentially Curtey's Miniatures and Gripping Beast (GB) with two Essex and one Old Glory figure hiding within the ranks. The Curtey's Miniatures figures are a relatively new range and specifically aim to supply the mid thirteenth century wargamers with a suitable range of figures not specifically covered by other manufacturers and I am very pleased with them indeed. Whilst they are designed similarly to GB, they do not suffer the same engineering faults - the spears and receiving hands fit with little modification required. The GB figures are pretty as always and these miniatures are from their crusading pilgrims range and come with raised crosses on most of them (see ginger mooustache and black hat). This was a happy coincidence as the chronicles tell us that the night before the battle the rebels fixed white crosses to their clothes and even tonsured their heads.

I have provided no tonsures for this unit but extended the notion of the white cross to clothes and shields. I have imagined the foot of the Right Ward to be from the counties and perhaps more specifically from the estates of the de Montforts themselves. Simon de Montfort's lands were extensive, being one of the wealthiest and powerful men in England so I surmise that he and his sons would have directly contributed a significant number of soldiers to the army from their lands. Whilst I intend to make the other wards more diversely representative, these men are supposed to give a more rural feel with less in the way of industrially manufactured arms and armour. There are only four figures with gambeson and three with helmet, two of which are archaic. One of these old fashioned but armoured gents is the unit standard bearer (no standards yet) and for my next unit I will fashion a rim for his helmet to bring him more up to date.

The shields presented me with some decisions but I relied on where I imagined the men to have come from to help in this. Whilst technology evolves and fashions change I still envisaged the shields of the rural levies to be principally made locally and by the individual also. Keeping some round shields, I saw them having been stout and well made in their grandfather's time, having been pulled off the cottage wall and given new leathers before being carried to war. Emerging rules of heraldry may have prohibited adornment of these defences for the common man with any device other than perhaps a simple cross. I reason, what woman would have allowed her man to risk his life without a cross about his person or on his shield? The shields are thus covered in natural parchments or leathers or various hues with many having a white cross. On that subject, I reason that whilst white crosses were affixed to clothing the night before, buckets of white-wash could have been on hand from which to apply the field sign even before leaving London. Who is to say that the emblem might not have been adopted earlier by the de Montfort's themselves, known to the men of their estates? In any event, I have deliberately streaked rudimentary crosses across some of the shields to represent this improvised white-wash idea.
Many of their men would have come from townships but I have kept to a narrower range of earthen and natural washed colours to project a rural feel to the unit. I can only guess at how successful I will be but I want there to be subtle differences between the wards with differences in fabrics and armament to reflect likely origins of the attendant soldiery. The differences also between their leader, Guy de Montfort, and his family are more than his blazon. Guy's caparison is quartered only with no device upon it - I'm saving that for Simon the younger. I elected to replicate the same design as his brother Henry's surcoat, intending to apply it to all three brothers. Given the caparison, his shield label and his basing on the command stand with the foot, there should be no confusion as to who this figure represents.