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.