Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rebel Left Ward - London Foot (1): Modelling

This is the most daunting painting task I have set myself - a unit of 70 spear and 12 archers. Construction of the figures alone took over a week (a busy life schedule). The unit is to represent the London levy or trained militia men if you prefer. Whilst they ultimately fell to the royal cavalry I suspect it was no walk-over and contemporary chronicle accounts are most likely a simplified account of what transpired. Whilst these men had not fought in an open battle of the likes of Lewes, they were no strangers to armed conflict when it came to controlling London and resisting would-be-oppressors including the King. Charged with protecting the city, I have depicted them as well armed and relatively drilled troops.

The manufacturers represented in this unit include almost even proportions of Kingmaker Miniatures, Curtey's Miniatures, Essex Miniatures, FoundryGripping Beast and Mirliton Miniatures. I have swapped shields, spears, made other spears, cut away pre-moulded weapons and replaced them with spears and filed away some armoured joints which would not have appeared until later.  I have given this unit a unit standard, a musician (horn) and squires for the commander (Nicholas de Segrave) and Thomas Pelveston, holding their banners.  Thomas of Pelveston is a second leader, referred to in the texts, being who for wargaming purposes remains present purely for historical aesthetics and, though mounted, I will be positioning him further back amongst the ranks. More on Pelveston and de Segrave in a separate posting.

Included in this unit are a dozen spearmen armed with pavise style shields and a goodly number of figures with long thrusting spears charged at the ready in both hands. More so than ever, this unit has required more thought in how to model it with what is essentially a shield wall to the front with supporting spears in up to the third rank set forward to meet the enemy. They are based on 70 x 60 mm bases (nine figures to a base) with the additional 10mm of depth to allow for the charged spears. I retained the ordinary spears with the Curteys' Miniatures and there are a smaller number of other weapons mixed in. Whilst some figures are unarmoured, the vast majority are mailed, scaled and in padded gambesons.

I have based the remainder two figures deep and three wide, arranged to represent the unit deployed in a frontage of 12 figures but clearly this is entirely adaptable. Only the archers are based singly to allow skirmishing and deployment to the rear of this mixed order unit. I am employing sheet metal strips to gather the single archers together when with the unit - all my bases being glued on magnetic sheet.

My approach to painting a unit of this size was to detail the faces and hair types first - an enormous task considering there are 162 individual eyes to paint alone. I took great care to stage my efforts to avoid monotony setting in, mentally dividing the unit into types. I then separated all the gambesoned troops and took care of their 'armour', then likewise the undercoat for the mailed troops (for me a thinned mixture of Humbrol Gunmetal and Gloss Black enamel) followed by variations on metal scale armour. I then randomised the selection into even groups by colour types, ensuring that identical models have different colours. I worked on the concept of 8x10, being eight groups of ten figures, each group having the same colour over shirt. At the same time, I would paint one figure from each of the other groups with the same colour for their hosen. At the end of this process I have 80 different colour combinations for this irregular unit. Then I apply a similar process to the few figures who remain with unpainted hoods and exposed under-shirts.

I separated the archers after the basic colouring process and brought them to a finish. For me, it's important to have something final to show for what has already taken many, many hours of labour. I then reversed my normal order of painting and painted all of my command group including flags. I then finished the dozen pavise figures by which time I felt up to tackling the remainder in one effort.

I determined to paint all of my heater shields for this unit with the traditional Saint George cross which has been associated with the arms of London for as long as anyone can remember. This is also to represent that element of the militia equipment supplied by the city. The pavise shields I have made in natural wood colours with the adoption of the Baron's white cross field or campaign sign in small. Four pavise shields have the full arms of London heraldic designs upon them, being the broader canvas. Generally, I wanted these city men to have a little more colour than their country cousins and have applied more hues of red and blue to give them a slightly richer and bolder field presence than the other units of foot I have made to date.

Normally this body of well armed men would make for a formidable opponent in the field of battle and the table-top wargame. Formidable, that is, unless you are a division of sixty heavily armed and armoured knights, sergeants and squires which is what they will face in the Lewes re-fight. I am inclined toward the theory that foot soldiery of this period in all probability still have drill reminiscent of shieldwall tactics of the later dark-age period favoured by the Saxons and vikings. There is not a lot I have found on infantry tactics of this period and certainly no rule mechanism exists to support my suspicions. In Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) doctrine the only loss of the Shieldwall application is a -1 penalty to missile and melee to the front but with a twelve figure frontage and depth of seven, in the WAB First Edition the morale and combat determination bonus of +3 for up to three ranks will remain in place until more than 40 figures are lost.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Armies & Warfare in the Middle Ages: Review

When it comes to analysis of thirteenth century tactics and doctrine of warfare, there remains a lot yet to be written. Plugging some of the gaps is this worthy tome by Michael Prestwich who concentrates on the English experience with a particular emphasis on the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, making it a must have for my money. First published in 1996 through Yale University Press, Professor Prestwich (Durham University) draws together every conceivable reference from chronicles to public records, royal records and pictorial studies to paint a picture of how English medieval armies functioned.

I have at this time principally read the chapter dedicated to Infantry (Chapter 5, pp 115-147 2006 reprint) together with his forward and first chapter on the Nature of Medieval Warfare. Whilst reference to particular battles is made and the book provides a vital context to appreciating the army organisations present at the time of Lewes, Professor Prestwich is direct in admitting he is no military analyst. Accordingly, there are still many unanswered questions for students seeking specific theories on field tactics or military doctrine. Within these covers are therefore only some of answers I seek.

A continuing thought nags at my mind: what were the expectations of infantry in defence against mounted assault. I am constantly reminding myself that whilst armoured cavalry was in great evidence at Lewes, the vast bulk of both sides was represented by massed foot soldiery and it was that clash of infantry (after the rout of the Londoners by Prince Edward's cavalry) which decided the day. In many ways, therefore, one might be correct in assessing Lewes as being very much an infantry battle. On speculation and detailed discussion on this type of tactical minutia; however, Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages remains largely silent.


In summary what can be gleaned from this work, particular to the Infantry of the Lewes campaign, includes matters pertaining to the manner of their call to arms - the Assize of Arms. First introduced by Henry II in 1181, it was not replaced until Edward I adopted the system of Commissions of Array. The Assize set out the duties of the highest to the lowest free men of the realm in equiping himself off a sliding minimum standard of arms and armour, to hold himself fit for service when called to do so. By the mid-thirteenth century the free men found in the ranks are generally of villein, rather than the later yeoman social status. A strictly means tested system, the Assize required our infantry for the period to furnish themselves with no less than a padded jerkin (quilted gambeson), helmet and spear. Certainly the crown did not attempt to equip the freemen or even assist in our period. It is mentioned by Prestwich that the Assize was updated and used several times by Henry III, as it was by Simon de Montfort in 1264 after Lewes.

Quality and Access

A reference to Powicke (from his Select Charters) cites that by this time, only the best sections of men represented through the system were chosen for service. We may presumed that the armies on both sides were certainly well turned out in terms of arms and equipment and dispense with notions of ill equipped rabble attending the march. Whilst the above reference to de Montfort's use of the Assize refers to his access to governmental instruments from his assumption of effective power after victory at Lewes, he no doubt had access to it within those counties and townships sympathetic to his cause or under the direct control of allied barons. The Assize effectively enabled mobilization throughout England on a county or more local level. It would have aided recruitment of effectives the rebels as well as the royalist marshals.

Pay & Longevity

Professional soldiery did not operate beyond small garrison contingents and mercenaries had fallen from favour and practice in England after their exploitation by King John in the First Barons Wars. Nevertheless, the Assize raised men expected to be paid sufficient for their subsistence (2d per day) being at a rate just above that of a labourer, borne by the crown and presumably by Simon de Montfort and his Rebels in chief. The armies were assembled on an 'as needs' basis, generally from localities proximate to the theatre of operations and rarely existed beyond the season or campaign. The desertion rates for home campaigns must have reinforced the necessity for short, sharp actions and armies raised for the purpose.


Infantry organisation was before, during and after our period based on a primary unit of 'twenties' with an officer for each, grouped further into 'hundreds' led by a Constable. There is no further unit organisation above the 'hundred' other than  the hundreds being assembled into 'wards' or 'battles'.

Other than the spear or hand weapon, Prestwich is convinced that the archer was a principle, if not THE principle infantry figure through the age. His general statement probably inclines toward developments in the later periods of his study. Primacy of archers is not in evidence for Lewes and later armies of the end of the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries do not generally appear to exceed longbow ratios of more than 1:1 within the ranks of the infantry in any event. As far as foot soldiers defending themselves against cavalry is concerned, Prestwich does state that is was long standing custom to, 'dig pits in front of their positions' (p 136) but offers no clue as to when this may have commenced or how they might have been equipped to do so.

My Shieldwall Theory and Defence in Depth.

I am of the emerging belief that some form of shield wall must have been in common practice throughout the century, never having gone from the doctrine of foot soldiery since the days of Hastings. Unable to outrun, it would have been natural and logical to stand fast in tight formations (drilled or otherwise), bracing themselves for the impact behind stout shields and bristling with spear points. Whilst effective at Hastings combined with the use of the high ground, the numbers of Infantry present at Lewes indicated their importance in battle and perhaps indicated advantages sought from a defence in depth. Imagine, if the impact of the charge could be arrested and general cohesion maintained, even a heavily armoured knight on a destrier presents a viable target when faced with ratios of up to a dozen spearmen each.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

London Heraldry: Research

The above London coat of arms is taken from the earliest surviving example from the 16th century and obviously (perhaps) of a construct developed long after the 13th century. Nevertheless, the principle shield device or blazon is understood to be from a much earlier time from 'ancient usage'.

Like so many within the European or christian world, the cult of St. George and the dragon held fast in the imagination of people and clearly the citizenry of London were no exception.  The cross of St. George appears to have had a sustained period of adoption from the crusades in Outremer, particularly adopted by the Templars, and endures today in the flag of England. So, I too will be adopting this device for many of my London militia in the left ward under Nicholas de Segrave at Lewes.

Whilst the Guilds dominated the urban social, economic and political landscape of London, specific liveries do not appears to have been an outward feature of organisation or representation until the later middle ages. It appears most unlikely that the armed men of the city would have turned out in the conspicuous colours of their descendants did by the times of the Wars of the Roses. Whilst there are some long standing and dominant guilds such as the cordwainers and fishmongers who 'protected' licence holders and trade more generally, there is no suggestion that they organised for defence of the city separate from one another. In fact, their rights to elect the Mayor from amongst the guilds as well as their own Sheriffs of the city firmly establishes to my mind a united self rule which would have been reflected in the arms an equipment of the guard.

Sylvia Thrupp's study of the London merchant class and Roger Ellis's compilation of seals for the Public Record Office list numerous adoptions of blazons and armourial devices by the burgesses of London: those senior guildmen making up who are sometimes referred to collectively as the 'Barons of London'. Whether granted or assumed, of the 64 heraldic arms identified, none are cited from as early as the 13th century. Remembering that Nicholas de Segrave (a knight of the country) was made the London captain for the Lewes campaign through popular acclamation, it would appear that the men of the London elite were either incapable or disinclined to lead their men beyond the city walls. I would suggest that the London 'Barons' were barons of trade and not of the martial variety.

So, I have my cross of St. George and may mix it up a little with the sword featured in the first quadrant only and a few bare or natural shields with the white cross field sign. Below is my figure for Henry Sandwich, Bishop of London who I have made a fighting bishop for my army. I could find no ecclesiastic heraldry for the London bishopric and so felt free to adopt that of London in full, including the sword aloft.

  1. Sylvia Thrupp: The Merchant Classs of Medieval London (Chicago 1948)
  2. Catalogue of Seals in the Public Record Office (compiled by Roger Ellis, 1978-81, HM Stationery Office)
  3. David Carpenter The Struggle for Mastery: The Penguin History of Britain 1066-1284 (2003)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nicholas de Segrave

Nicholas de Segrave of Leicestershire (later, the first officially recognised ‘Baron’ Segrave) was born 1238, the eldest surviving son and heir of Gilbert de Segrave and Amabilia (or Annabel) daughter and heiress of Robert de Chaucumb.

Nicholas’ father (Gilbert) died in prison at Pons, Saintonge in 1254 but according to the Dunstable Annals, custody of his estates were granted Prince Edward. Attaining his twentieth year by the Oxford Parliament, this disenfranchised Leicestershire land-holder had good casue in advocating the Provisions which limited the King's authority: he had personal interests aligning himself with the elder Simon de Montfort more other than just falling within the Earl’s socio-political orbit. He was at the parliament in 1262, when the King told the barons that he had obtained absolution from his oath to observe the Provisions of Oxford. How disempowered and frustrated must he have felt?

Whilst summoned to attend the King at Worcester (1 August 1263) and knighted prior to the Welsh campaign, Nicholas’ disaffection with arbitrary royal rule must have peaked when Henry III announced his absolution from his oath to observe the limitations in Provisions of Oxford. On 13 December 1263 Nicholas agreed to arbitration of the baronial dispute with the King’s brother-in-law (Louis IX of France), the would-be rebels last hope of avoiding open warfare being dashed with Louis’ denouncement of the barons.

Nicholas de Segrave had been involved in dispoiling the estates of the Savoyard Bishop of Hereford, Peter of Aigueblanche (family to the Queen) for which he was excommunicated. Now in open rebellion, de Segrave was a pinciple defender of Northampton which fell to royal arms but the young baron managed to evade capture, escaping to the rebellious city of London. He had taken the field immediately following, joining in the siege of the massive keep at Rochester, the siege being broken when the King army’s arrived in the vicinity. Made captain of the London foot contingent through popular acclamation, Nicholas took the field at Lewes within the left ward under over-all command of Geoffrey de Lucy, Earl of Oxford. Nicholas was 26 years years old.

He had previously married Matilda de Lacy, daughter of Walter de Lacy and Margaret de Braose and at the time of Lewes she had delivered three of their five surviving children: eight year old John (son and heir born 1256); four year old Henry (later a knight born 1260); and their two year old Stephen (born 1262). In the shadow of ongoing political disappointments, with extensive lands and rights to recover, together with a growing family, this largely disinherited and excommunicate young knight Nicholas had much to gain from a victory of arms.

Following Lewes, de Segrave served the Montfortian parliament of January 1265, only take the field once more at the disaster of Evesham in August that year. Nicholas was wounded, taken captive and his disinheritance complete with the entailment of all his lands to Prince Edmund. Presumably obtaining release, he fled to the isle of Ely (Cambridgeshire) and took up with the “Disinherited’ rebels to continue the fight. Together with remains of the younger Simon de Montfort’s army under siege at Kennilworth castle, Nicholas de Segrave must have felt increasingly isolated and fearful for the future.

By 13 December Kennilworth was starved into submission but just when matters appeared at their worst, Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester declared aganst the King, occupying London which once more chose to defy royal authority. Perhaps encouraged to rekindle the baronial cause or merely to escape the futility of any stand at Ely, Nicholas de Segrave made a dash for Southark (London) in company with the then leading rebel figure, John d’Eyville. The record is vague on what transpired next but we do know that together with de Clare, d’Eyville stood down and agreed to the ‘Dictum of Kennilworth’ - a fee (fine) paid to the crown for restored lands and fealty.

By this time the de Montforts were either dead or absent from England, the unity of the rebels had long since been undermined even before Evesham with many lesser affected barons having been accepted into the royal fold. The prospects for a power shift were deperately remote. Ely was remote and had a skeleton garrison; Kennilworth had fallen and his fellow leading rebels knew a good deal when they were presented with one. What choice for Nicholas de Segrave but to follow?

There is some suggestion that Nicholas returned to Ely when London capitulated and was present at the fall of the Ely garrison. There appears at this time charges of betrayal of those left in Ely by either Nicholas or his mother; remarried since 1254 to Roger de Somery, an erstwhile royalist and present at Lewes for the King. Whatever the truth, Nicholas de Segrave had put his rebellious past behind him and had become a future King’s man of Edward, accompanying him on crusade just prior to his accession to the throne in 1272.

Nicholas de Segrave remained a prominent military and political figure in the service of Edward I. When Edward became King in 1272 at the age of 33, Nicholas was 34. Edward was a very different king to his father and headed what Nicholas no doubt felt was a very diffent regime belonging to his generation. He fought the Welsh in two campaigns for his king, championed the King's business in Scotland under his protection, representing as one of the judges of the great suit for the Scottish succession, and remained at court until the very end of his life, attesting charters so late as 25 November 1294 just one year before his death in November 1295 at the age of 57.

In addition to his three sons, by 1264 Nicholas and Matilda had a furhter two surviving children: Eleanor (born 1270); and, Nicholas (born 1274). Notwithstanding the prevalence of infant mortality at this time, the eight years between their third child (Stephen) and fourth (Eleanor), when measured against the fecundity of the couple is suggestive of an estrangement in light of political events between 1262 and 1270. In spite of their trials, Nicholas and Matilda present as a success story. Their son John inherited and retained the baronage until his death by disease at 69 years of age in 1325 whilst on campaign in Gascony. Young Nicholas was a renown knight, first summoned to parliament in 1295; he fought at Falkirk and at the siege of Sterling and died in 1321 aged 47. Eleanor died in 1314 aged 44.

Arms: There is significant discussion within Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas' The Siege of Carlaverock (see Google Books) on the transition between the traditional arms of de Segrave of sable, three garbs argent banded gules to the later sable, lion rampant argent, crowned or. The change certainly appears to have been made by Nicholas de Segrave at some time and to signify a significant shift in either events or fortunes of the family. For this reason I am opting for an event after the battle of Lewes - either to signify his ascendancy over the royal leopards (lions) or even his future affiliation with them. In any event, it seems that the more humble, even 'common man' associations with garbs or sheafs of wheat are somehow in keeping with a Leicestershire baron marshalling popular support against a tyranical king in the days of his youth. So that is what my Nicholas de Segrave with carry into the field.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's Personal: Pelvesdon

Thomas Pelvesdon (aka Puleston, Pilston or Pyvelesdon) was the son of Roger Pelvesdon of Newport, Shropshire. Roger is recorded as having the arms sable, three mullets argent and I have ascribed these arms to his son Thomas at Lewes but will difference them in that it seems likely that Thomas was a second or other son. A Roger Pelvesdon dedicated The Butter Cross (also The Puleston Cross) which still stands in the Newport high street (a protected monument) to the memory of his father, Roger who died in 1272. It appears both Rogers were Sheriffs of the county and I surmise that Roger was the eldest son, having taken his father's name, manor and office.

From an analysis of my Foster's Dictionary of Heraldry, the convention for the colour of labels on arms whose colours are black and white is red. Thusly, my Thomas of Pelvesdon will be sporting sable, three mullets argent a label (3) gules.

The younger Thomas is recorded as having married Helen, niece to Michael Tovey who was formerly a mayor of London from 1244 to 1248. By 1263, Thomas was made a Royal Justice and in 1264 he took the field with Simon de Montfort at Lewes with the London foot of the Rebel left ward under the command of Nicholas de Segrave.

The stakes were high and whilst Thomas survived Lewes (with his father-in-law Michael) it is unknown whether they rallied once more at Evesham. Following the fall of the Rebels and Simon de Montfort's death both were imprisoned and we know that Thomas was released in 1276. If we assume his incarceration commenced in 1265/6, we can only guess at the circumstances and conditions of his decade long captivity. Well into the reign of Edward Thomas is freed, perhaps a broken man and most likely chronically ill as he died the following year in 1277.

The pieces of personal stories of the men who fought at Lewes which can be brought together remind me of the personal and dramatic nature of this clash of arms. Emotions ran high and the risks taken by the combatants and their families were not just confined to the events of the day. There was much to gain but perhaps much more to lose as those at the centre of events were compelled to chose between competing allegiances; especially those who drew arms against their King.

To remember and recognise this man, I am depicting Thomas in a lesser fashion, more in keeping with a squire, mounted on a destrier without caparison, dressed wearing a flat topped helm and set back from the command group amongst the ranks, marshalling his London milita forward.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Guy de Montfort: Research & Modelling

Born in 1244, Guy de Montfort was the youngest son of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, leader of the baronial army at Lewes. Commanding men within the right ward of the army, Guy was 20 years of age at Lewes and I have difficulty imagining the terror, fear, anxiety, thrill and exhilaration which this warrior youth must have felt throughout that eventful day. A proud day for his father, Guy fought with his two brothers, storming to victory against the odds. This family affair extended to the opposition also, as the opposing general was Guy's own uncle, King Henry III - his mother's brother. Another uncle also commanded against them: Richard of Cornwall, together with his son, Henry of Almain who Guy must have viewed as a deceiver, Henry only having recently deserted the rebels to go over to the King, betraying Guy and his father's cause. Prince Edward (another cousin and future King) also fought against them. These perspectives are important to consider as this battle was a personal matter for the Royal family of which Guy and the de Montforts were a part.

From the dizzying euphoria of victory followed a desperate struggle for survival. Within the year the de Montfort cause was overthrown in the most dramatic manner.  The Royalist forces made a Herculean comeback, engaging in an energetic campaign culminating in the final clash of arms on the field at Evesham. The chronicler Matthew of Westminister records Guy as fighting and being amongst the wounded who were taken prisoner at the end in Evesham in 1265. He was thus present at the fall of the Barons' cause where their leader, his father, was killed and mutilated. Killed that day also was his eldest brother Henry de Montfort with a list of other barons. One cannot begin to appreciate what must have gone through the youth's mind at such a time. Again, we must remind ourselves that his enemies, the men who perpetrated the indecent dismemberment of his own father (perhaps in his sight) were his own kin. This was not the end of either Guy or the de Montfort family; however, nor was it the end of their story. Held at Windsor castle until 1266, Guy bribed his guards and escaped, fleeing to France where he reunited with his brother Simon and went in search of adventure and fortune.

Charles of Anjou had a long standing association with the de Montfort family, and not just the branch of which Simon Earl of Leicester was a part. Phillip de Montfort had been a confederate of Charles and an active prosecutor of his interests in his campaigns in Italy, in which Charles was to secure the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily. With Philip in 1268 appears his cousin Guy de Montfort (now 24), both fighting and securing victory against Henry of Castile's forces on 23 August at the battle of Alba (Taggliacozzo). Guy was in the forefront of that battle securing fame for his valour and the Kingdom of Sicily for his new lord, Charles of Anjou. Succeeding upon Phillip's death was his son, John de Montfort who settled in the new Italian kingdoms, becoming Chancellor from 1273 and a best friend to Guy, placing Guy in a place of political influence.

F.M Powicke (Ways of Medieval Life and Thought - available on-line through Google books) supposes that Simon de Montfort (the younger) joined with his brother Guy by 1268 in time for the division of forfeited lands in the new Angevin Italian kingdom.  Guy secured the fiefs of Arienzo, Nola, Castel Cicala, Monteforte, Forino and Atripalda. Guy was also entrusted with enforcement of Charles's rule against Imperial forces in Siena and central Italy. He was appointed Vicar-General of Tuscany on 24 March 1270 and Charles's personal Vicar in Sicily.  It took Guy 12 months to subdue Siena. Guy is described by Powicke as competent and attractive, "more pliable and less scrupulous than his father", "not too proud to take a bribe" and exercising political acumen in turning local feuds to his financial advantage - he sold off the fate of Poggibonsi to the vengeance of the Florentines for 4000 gold florins. Six days following the fall of Siena, Guy married Margherita Aldobrandesca, the young heiress (16 or 17 years) to Ildebrandino of Pitigliano (Rosso the Red Count) who owned vast, wealthy and (as it proved later) easily defensible estates throughout central Italy.

It was then that Guy proved responsible for one of the most notorious crimes in medieval Europe. Guy exacted a terrible revenge, together with his brother Simon, upon their cousin Henry of Almain, son to Richard of Cornwall and thus cousin to the new King Edward I. On 13 March 1271, Henry of Almain was hearing mass at the parish church of St. Silvestro in Viterbo. The contemporary chronicler Guido de Corvaria was present in Viterbo with Herny of Almain and others of his company who were returning from crusade. It is also possible that Henry was detached from the man crusading force on a mission of peace for his cousin and King, Edward I. Guido de Corvaria records how Guy, with his brother Simon, entered the church and how Guy slew Henry with his sword. No doubt harking back to the bitter betrayal and gruesome killing of Guy's father Simon, some accounts have the body of Henry being dragged out into the piazza and mutilated. Guy, Simon and Guy's father-in-law then fled into Rosso's lands where Guy moved about from castle to castle for the next two years until captured and imprisoned from 1273-4. Shortly after their flight during their period of refuge, Simon died. Guy was excommunicated for his crimes in 1273 by Pope Gregory X and had his lands confiscated by Charles. Guy's ill-renown was immortalised in Dante's Inferno Canto XII where he dwells alongside other infamous personages in the river of blood for all eternity - Dante was a child at the time of the murder.

By 1281 Guy, now 37, recovered his position in Charles' court and commanded the Papal forces at Romagna in 1283 defeating Guido de Montefeltro and inherited his father-in-law's estates upon Rosso's death in 1284. In 1285 he fought beside Corso Donati and his last action in June 1287, losing a naval battle against Roger Loria in an attempt to retake and supress the rebel Sicilians, following the demise of Charles of Anjou and the resurgence of the Aragonese over the interests of Angevines. Guy consequently spent the last of his years in a Sicilian prison where Powicke cites his death in 1291 at 47 years (although his death is often recorded as 1288) . Guy was survived by his daughters Anastasia de Montfort Contess di Nicola (heir to his restored estates) and Thomasina (Thomasse) de Montfort.

Modelling: Normally I construct my complete cavalry models prior to undercoating and painting. In the case of this model and for some future knights I am compelled to paint mount and rider separately in order to get the detail on the rider's surcoat which the horses neck would otherwise prohibit. In all cases I drill the seat of the rider and back of the horse and then fix a pin cut from 1.25mm steel wire with Selleys Araldite. Once set, the rider is then glued with the same glue making the strongest of bonds prior to mounting on my cork painting stands. For painting seperate riders, I mount them on a cocktail stick (toothpick). As you can see from these photographs the steel pin still aids fixing the rider to his mount which required cutting back and careful filing to ensure a clean, metal-on-metal contact with the Araldite. Also, in this case, the detailing of Guy's cloak was aided with the ease of handling the rider separately. The figure is one from the Gripping Beast range.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

London Archers (1): Modelling

Having embarked on the Rebel Left Ward of the London levy, I realised that my foot unit of 70 spearmen and combined archers are going to take me some time to assemble - let alone paint. I shifted to the archers as they were assembled in a day which is what I want to talk about in this post. When I say assembled, this is not just a term for the new hard plastic figures coming out. Every unit requires some degree of modelling and I had flagged in my previous archer post that I wanted to pay my next unit of entirely new figures a bit more attention to detail. These men represent what I have determined are the archers of London, as part of the London levy under the direct command of Nicholas de Segrave. As I am going to be wargaming Lewes using Warhammer Ancient Battles, in WAB terms this large infantry unit will be a mixed body with 12 archers forming part of it in addition to the 70 spearmen.

 As they are of London, I am anticipating that the soldiery of the kingdom's greatest city and major port had access to superior arms and equipment compared to their rural counterparts. Similarly, the levy or London militia if you will are backed by guilds and aldermen, the city itself having privileges at law and the proven capacity to resist under arms even the king. Consequently I am having their archers armed with gambeson and most carrying a stout buckler for added protection which I had left over from the javelin foot figures from my Curtey's Miniatures purchase.

For this unit I have had all of their bows strung which some of you might do, have considered doing before or will have dismissed as showy madness. Some thoughts need to be applied if you are going to do this. Firsts you need to consider the bend in the bow. All of my figure are Wargames Foundry archers and they are cast with the master hand in near to fully drawn back. This leaves me with two choices: having the bow under full tension preparatory to shooting or having just loosed. I have modelled two figures in the former pose and the rest having shot. So, knowing what I want to string, how to go about it. I experimented with one figure using 8 amp fuse wire which, whilst satisfactory nevertheless convinced me to opt for 100% rayon sewing thread.

In order to string a 28mm bow, first you need to file a nock at both ends of the bow. Tying the thread at one end with a double granny knot, I then fix the other end at the very end of the bow, passing it over a shallow groove cut with a scalpel and then wrapped several times about the aforementioned filed notch. I then fix both ends with a drop of Selleys Supa glue. For the archers at full draw, I passed the thread through drilled holes just behind the two fingers holding the string. Of course, being at full draw required an arrow which I created using reed straw from a yard broom, shaved thin with and arrow head from Green Stuff. I also used Green Stuff for a buckler strap on my non-firing figure. There are five different poses in my figure selection so I did little manipulation to alter the poses. I then lightly filed the non master forearms of eight of my archers and affixed the bucklers using Selleys Araldite.

They are now ready for undercoating and I'll start painting them before I have finished assembling the rest of the London host which at 80 figures (including the archers) is as many figures as I have painted for the whole army thus far.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rebel Right Ward Foot (2): Modelling

At last the remaining body of 32 soldiers has been completed for my Rebel Right ward. These figures I have determined to be rural levied infantry from the de Montfort and allied estates under the command of the last of my de Montfort sons, Guy de Montfort. I have taken some time to differentiate these soldiers from its sister unit - more of a reliance upon green hues and less on the browns to help identify them from their brethren under Simon de Montfort (younger).

I have kept with the same principles for shield depiction and the extension of the white cross onto not only clothing but shields as the rebel field sign. The cross was a much used symbol by de Montfort in his rebellion and rule stemming from his zelous pity and its application in a propaganda campaign to rally the population to his 'legitimate' cause and to motivate his armies in the field. Fixed to 'back and breast', the crosses are cited by the Chronicle of William de Rishanger and Matthew Paris (to name two chroniclers) as reiterated by Dr David Carpenter. Matthew of Westminister has them on 'breast and shoulder'. I threw in one sheild with a fresian cow pattern for a one off rustic repair job if you will for a sheild covering.

Further differences was my attention to details for the Lewes army. I have included a number of bare headed figures with rudimentary tonsures as an act of devotion, undertaken before the battle. I feel I read this somewhere but my sources, whilst relatively extensive, are not as ordered as I would have liked and I cannote quote the reference. Perhaps later. This just takes a little careful filing, being sure to go deep enough to overcome the additional casting levels which acount for a bulk of hair beneath the hair detail on the original sculpt. Also, given the 'freshness' of the shave, I've gone for the less tanned scalp.

The figures making up the command group are the same as the last unit: Gripping Beast from the first crusade range. The standard bearer was wearing a pot or non-nasal spanghelm (retained and described for my previous unit as archaic). For this unit, I sculpted a rim about the crown with greenstuff and delicately filed it back when set. I hope you agree that it is rather effective in bringing this character more up-to-date and into the 13th century.  Most of these figures are Curtey's.

Casualty Markers II: Modelling

Inspired by a fellow blogger Bigredbat who I follow, I knew it was time to think about casualty markers for morale purposes. The thing with these sorts of game additions is that we often leave them as a last resort or after thought but I determine to get them underway as I went to ensure I didn't need to make a dozen at once at the end which for me would be tedious.
I have taken two of Essex Miniatures caparisoned horses because I had plenty spare: most of their accompanying knights falling outside of the 1260s. Essex also caste in a flexible white metal which I hazard has a lead content unlike more modern pewter castings. In spite of their thickness, these horses can be manipulated with enough force so I modelled one marker with the rider dead and the horse beginning to get back up from the fall whilst the other knight is knocked out from crashing off his killed and fallen steed.

The knights themselves are again Essex Miniatures but were foot knights with their stands removed with cutting pliers and trimmed back, then filed. Once more, pliability made them capable of flattening out a little with the face-down knight still graping his now buckled shield. His less fortunate comrade (or perhaps an enemy) is face up with his head slightly turned and quite obviously punctures several times from archery.Essex Miniatures design mounted knights of the thirteenth century with the saddles cast onto the figure, not the horse, which left some green-stuffing to be done for saddle, stirrups and leathers - duly done.

The arrow shafts were made from reed straw taken from my yard broom and the feathers are thin plastic card. The bond achieved with Humbrol plastic cement is quite effective for fixing feather to shaft but I will try plastic rod and a liquid cement next time for a finer result. Like the rest of my army, I am waiting until I have sculpted the terrain before finishing the bases to ensure a match.

I almost never work with balsa for basing these days but the ability to hand craft circles easily saw my return to the product - a shape I always prefer for command figures and markers. With my usual magnetic basing beneath, they are quite sturdy and will be more so once the bases are fully sculpted, textured and painted. One of these chaps as you can see from this photo series is an old paint job touched up (a Teutonic knight) but the other casualty is a known historical figure.

William le Blund (Blunde), 6th and last baron of Ixworth in Suffolk was killed at Lewes and was in fact one of the few barons recorded to be - the majority of the fallen either taken from the rank and file or the lesser gentry if you will and not high born or famous enough to have deserved a mention by the chroniclers of the day.

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.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Discourse: Impetus for Battle

In a previous post (Book Review: E.L. Mann’s ‘The Battle of Lewes’) I referred to Mann’s analysis of the motivation for engagement at Lewes. Mann believed that the forces were near to equal and that the battle fell in favour of de Montfort when King Henry gave up his advantage of a strong defensive position from within Lewes. Furthermore, the drive for coming out to battle is explained in terms of the knightly class pursuit of glory in a chivalric tradition.

From my discourse on the subject of the size of the armies present at Lewes in 1264 (Discourse: How Big was Lewes?) my position on the armies remains that there existed a Royal superiority in the vicinity of 3:2 or greater. If so, Mann’s estimation of numbers is at odds with mine. This in turn undermines any sympathy I can have with criticism of Henry in giving up a necessary defensive advantage. On the contrary, his superiority was more than quantitative inasmuch as his overwhelming advantage in heavy cavalry would have given the King a dominant hand on almost any battle field in southern England.

Rather than relying on chivalric compulsions to combat, I rather suspect that assembling ones forces in this political and family feud was as much to do with brinkmanship in securing a negotiation of terms for the chief protagonists as it was for direct tactical application on the field of battle. Let us not forget that Simon de Montfort with his sons Henry, Simon and Guy were family to King Henry, Richard of Cornwall and the Prince Edward. Extending beyond this, whilst open conflict had broken out over the months previous to Lewes, terms appear to have been generous for the defeated in theatres such as at Northhampton and, as in all civil wars, relatives and friends found themselves on opposing sides.

The chroniclers tell us and historians recount that letters were exchanged up to the night before battle in attempts at reconciliation. I also think that seeing being believing, a negotiation was possible and in the minds of both Henry, Simon and their chief adherents even as late as the morning of battle. One can find much in the so called Second Barons War which is seen played out two hundred years later in the earlier episodes of the Wars of the Roses – after all, the issue was not who would be King, but who shared access to the monarch at court. I suggest that this might have been the attitude of de Montfort and is reflected in his seizing but holding position at the top of the Lewes Downs.

Supporting the notion of de Montfort as a reluctant combatant is his failure to capitalise on the night march and his surprise of the royalists. If we accept that the Kings army was unprepared (and there is no suggestion it was otherwise) de Montfort threw away an opportunity to defeat an unformed army or hold them to the town precincts. Such an assualt would have negated Henry’s overwhelming advantage in cavalry. Given the numbers of horse arrayed against him, de Montfort could have avoided the risk of the subsequent rout of his London flank later that morning and the threat it posed for his whole army. In this light, de Montfort’s deployments could be deemed dangerously timid and in tactical error unless he persisted in the hope of reconciliation.

In spite of open hostility having been in play for months, there remained a vast difference in the risks associated with raiding and sieging compared with open battle: the former was the raison d’ĂȘtre of medieval militarism and the latter, the recourse of the gambler/adventurer. Both sides had much to gain from victory at Lewes but as much, if not more to lose.

So, if one does not follow with the contact theory from a common chivalric mindset, when did battle become inevitable?

Obviously the first clash occurred on the rebel left flank as Royal knights rode against Rebel Londoners and I suspect that this may also have been the catalyst for a general advance. Much has been made of an impassioned Prince Edward, supposedly incensed at the previous mistreatment of his Mother by the London mob, seeing red and unleashing the full force of an uncontrollable feudal horde. If we follow this popular criticism of a the young, head-strong Prince, we must presume that his charge was precipitous in order for us to utilise the full power of hindsight in blaming Edward for the loss of Lewes. We need to agree that he stepped-off too early and his attack was unplanned and resulted in an uncoordinated Royalist attack. The subsequent failure to rally the horse from pursuit of the broken rebel flank is viewed as another symptom of amateurish command stemming from intemperate youth. It also compels us to believe that the rest of the command group for the Royal horse were either blindly obedient, wretchedly inexperienced or just plain rash.

Monkish blame-storming aside, what if we consider that the cavalry attack was planned or even prudent? We know that de Montfort appeared on the high ground in command of the field and caught the King by surprise with his night march to Lewes. If the King assumed the failure of the previous night’s conciliators engendered a commitment to battle in his brother-in-law, Prince Edward charge might check a potential rebel advance. Such a move would enable the other two thirds of the army time to prepare for battle and form up. Bearing in mind that the subsequent departure of the horse from the field could not have been anticipated, this does not seem improbable.

Accepting a 3:2 numerical and additional qualitative advantage for the King, and given his inability to discern de Montfort’s dispositions from his positioning on the heights, it would not have been unreasonable of Henry to suppose that his commitment of the horse to crush the London flank would have routed the opposition. If Henry had supposed that Simon has arrayed his army in similar fashion to himself, he would not have appreciated the potential of de Montfort’s reserve or guessed at the rebels remaining steady in the face of their left flank breaking.

If we follow with tradition, negotiation may indeed have gone out the window following an unmeditated cavalry assault by the Prince. As alleged by the chroniclers, the launch of the cavalry may have triggered an ill prepared advance by Henry and Richard as they attempted to co-ordinate momentum across the entire front. If the centre and left Royal wards were playing catch-up, this helps to explain how the vanguards became confused and lost cohesion through their impetus in advance. As the rise narrows, the foot ascended the slopes and the King found his army vulnerable to a down-hill rush by the rebels.

Let us also speculate how the cavalry took off. If we agree that they acted impetuously, was it in the mind of the Prince or could he have lost control of his impetuous host? Consider where the Lusignans were in the order of battle. How many other 'foreign' knights and those opposed to reform had vested interests in crushing de Montfort: more of an enemy to them than to his nephew, Prince Edward.

Moving forward to rout and pursuit, I have previously discussed the nature of the Londoner’s flight and how the pursuit might have broken down. Giving ground, retreating at first and then routing; I have surmised that the collapse of the London rebels may not have been as immediate or swift as historians assume. We do not no how long Prince Edward’s breakthrough took. Similarly, we do not know how long King Henry and his brother Richard took to join battle either. We also cannot say with certainty at what point de Montfort rushed to meet them. Whilst battlefield topography might dictate the optimum space into which de Montfort most probably counter-attacked, we do not know where the fleeing Londoners and the Prince’s horse were relative to the remaining armies at that time.

So, does this speculation get us any closer to a precise understanding of the battle and why it was fought? Not really. What I hope it does do is challenge habits of unjustified criticism; in this case criticism of the King and Prince Edward. We cannot know for sure what was in the mind of the generals as they didn’t recount them personally and the habits of great men had not at that time turned to providing history with written memoirs. If we do not know their plan, or even if there was a plan, we are in no position to ridicule it. What does seem likely was de Montfort’s tactical flexibility partially gained through his adoption of a reserve. The King, in not doing so, did not provide himself with options in the case of a failed assault.

I am inclined to see de Montfort as a flexible general and politician, providing himself with as many options as circumstances would allow. His seize-and-hold tactics on the heights and his adoption of a reserve all indicate that he was prepared to negotiate rather than fight. After all, strategically, de Montfort has been outmanoeuvred and outnumbered so naturally he should have preferred to talk than fight. The King, on the other hand, wanted to settle control of his court and, whilst taken by surprise by the appearance of the rebels at Lewes, appears to me to have committed to battle. Confident in the size and composition of his army, Henry does seem to have committed to an all out assault.

The King’s lack of reserve indicates over-confidence and failure to anticipate the need for tactical flexibility in the face of the unthinkable. The disposition of the Kings’ army, though reacting to de Montfort’s stealing the high ground advantage, nevertheless supports the notion that he had committed to battle even if his brother-in-law had not. Regardless of how the assault unfolded, the battle of Lewes became inevitable once de Montfort arrayed his army above the town. I submit that chivalry in any form had no part in the causes for battle. Whilst we are right to theorise over the relative loss of advantage from an uphill assault with no reserve, the loss of Lewes by the King was as much to do with the chaotic fortunes of war as any fundamental failure in planning or martial ability in Henry or Prince Edward.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Identifying the Rebels

When it comes to identifying the Rebels, and I'm really talking about the knights, I have been presented with a number of problems. The first is that such a list does not appear to exist. This is most probably because no one until now (ie: me) required one. After all, who but a wargamer, attempting to represent a battle visually with as much accuracy as possible, would need to identify individual knights present on the fieled of Lewes?

The list which follows is a work in progress and stems from my research into secondary sources as well as an examination of chronicles, the Fine Rolls of Henry III for the years 1263 and 1264 (available now on line) and the Patent Rolls of the same years made available on line by the Iowa University Library. Perhaps obvious to the wargamer, it is not enough to identify a knight named as a Rebel. Identified Rebel knights also need to have an identifiable blazon or shield device in order for me to paint a corresponding figure and depict that person in the army. For a representative ration of 1:20, you'd think that such a task would be simple enough but not so.

In a perfect world I'd have been able to identify sufficient knights as both rebels and present at Lewes. In order for me to make my list I have had to make certain assumptions or more precicesly conjectures as to the combative nature of a knight identified as in rebellion against the King and often their presence at Lewes on the day of battle.  For example, I identified rebel knights through the fine rolls who are clearly stated as having broken the king's peace whereas in certain cases they are identified in the Patent rolls where they have been ordered by the king to surrender possessions (town or castles) to loyal knights due to those possession having fallen into their hand due to the rebellion. Once their condition or status of rebel can be comfortably maintained I then have to surmise their capacity to bear arms and their presence at Lewes.

All of my unit and ward commanders are recorded by the chroniclers as having been present ... so no dramas there then. Of the rest of my rebel knights only about 1/10th are recorded as such and such is life.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Review: Carey, Allfree and Cairns' "Warfare in the Medieval World"

Published by Pen & Sword Military press (2006), Brian Carey and Joshua Allfree have assembled the best military analysis of the medieval age I have ever read. Accompanied by the fantastically explanatory and evolutionary illustrations of John Cairns, this book demonstrates applied tactical doctrine through 33 battles and their accompanying campaigns, debugging the persistent historical myths and misconceptions of medieval warfare and generalship.

Specific to mid thirteenth century warfare, Chapter 5 'Late Medieval Warfare: The Return of Light Infantry" dedicates 38 pages to an analysis of the battle of Bouvines (1214) and the campaigns of Edward in Wales and Scotland to demonstrate the importance of combined arms fieldcraft, the importance of infantry in the age of chivalric warfare and the increasing presence and impact of ranged weaponry of the crossbow and selfbow armed soldiery.

Of particular interest is a discussion of horse armour in response to archery. Whilst it tends to concentrate this discourse on the later, Hundred Years war period of plate armour and barding in the face of the longbow and windlass crossbow, I would argue that the same concepts must extend back to the earliest introduction of quilted and caparison horse protection, so prevalent by the battle of Lewes.

This is a must have edition for any student of medieval military history.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Miniatures Review: Curtey's Miniatures - Infantry, 13th century Spearmen

By way of a crude figure comparison, from left to right are examples from Gripping Beast, Curteys Miniatures, Wargames Foundry and Essex Miniatures. The left two will feature in my spear units for the Rebel Right Ward. The Curtey's figures are of a smaller stature than the Gripping Beast figures but will mix well. It has long been my philosophy that figures within a wargames unit, like real life, should reflect the differences in human appearance, more so for irregular units predominant in the 13th century.

For some unknown reason half of my square on shots of this selection (taken from Curteys ME33 pack) will not upload without rotating (go figure) so you get the angled shot above. I have to say that on first impression I am extremely excited about these miniatures. 

They are superbly detailed and are realistically proportioned - not at all toy like or chunky. As Curteys range suggests, they are also designed specifically for the mid-thirteenth century period and come with a range or subtle variations, one with a hood and three with caps. The shields come in two varieties but I will be adding a third (round) from their javalinmen range (ME30 and ME31) who I will mix into the unit for further variety. The javalinmen also come with two shield types, small (bucker) and larger round shields. As you can see, the backs of the shields are also very detailed.

The pewter content of Curteys alloy seems to give the best compromise of malleability with sufficient rigidity and the spears are rigid enough even for me to use which is rare; I usually resort making steel wire substitutes. Weapon retention for these figures is the same as that used by Gripping Beast with hands cast to receive weapons. Taken together with the pewter content, only time will tell if they present similar difficulties; however, the hands have a better finish than the Gripping Beast figures, the spears resting nicely in the recesses before 'cleaning'. 

I predict that I will enjoy building and painting these figures and also predict they will make for the best figures I can produce. If I'm right, Curteys Miniatures will make for a significant proportion of the armies at my re-fight of Lewes.