Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Le marquis de Lunéville, Lorrainer Horse, 1688



The Dukes of Lorraine had a complicated and difficult relationship with the Kings of France in the 17th Century, culminating in the French invasion of the Duchy in 1670. Stripped of his hereditary lands and titles, Charles V of Lorraine (confusingly also sometimes called Charles IV) served with the Imperial armies of the Hapsburgs in the 1680s and 1690s. One thing which the Dukes of Lorraine were well known for in the mid- and late- 17th Century was the good quality of their cavalry, and the Hapsburgs made good use of that advantage.



Whereas the Governors of the Spanish Netherlands recruited cavalry on a campaign-by-campaign basis, the Lorrainer Horse appears to have been maintained on a more continual (although far from permanent) basis, mirroring what was becoming the practice in the mid- and late-17th Century French armies. This allowed for greater cohesion in the field, and made the recruitment by Imperial armies of Lorrainer (and Alsatian and Burgundian horse) a common feature through the 1640s to the 1690s.


You can trace regiments of Lorrainer Horse, serving with Imperial and Spanish forces, through the campaigns in Flanders in the 1640s (at Rocroi and Lens), through the Franco-Dutch Wars to the Nine Years War, making them suitable for my army of the Spanish Netherlands based around my fictional Flemish Free City of Laarden.



I've also reasoned that, whereas Flemish horse may have preferred to use pistol firearms as a primary weapon for more recently raised cavalry, the Lorrainer horse would have been more inclined, with better training, to use cold steel. In that regard, there's a reasonable chance that makes them closer to French Cheveau-légers than Spanish or Flemish cavalry of the period.

I chose some 25-28mm Dixon Miniatures 'Grand Alliance' figures for the squadron. I went with the backplate and breastplate versions; one source I looked at suggested that the Imperial horse tended to still use heavier armour than the French horse in the 1670s. 


I added some extra greenstuff frills to the officer and the kettedrummer, such as monogrammed pistol holsters, extra lace ribbons and bows on the horses and additional lace cravats. There are also some greenstuff feathers on the hats of the troopers. This was really to try and make the regiment a little more 'French', despite their presence in the Imperial and Spanish forces allying with the Flemish forces in the field.

The squadron shown in the photographs is identified in the order of battle I've been using just as "Lunéville". It's a complete guess, but I'm assuming that it might have been raised near the current town of Lunéville in the commune of Meurthe-et-Moselle in Lorraine, close to the current German border. 

The flag is frankly a bit of a fudge. It's a lovely standard from Flags of War, but I drew a blank in trying to locate standards of the squadron. However, as the troops would have been in Hapsburg service, I can't see any reason why their standard would not have reflected their allegiance to the Hapsburgs.

For those readers curious as to where all this is heading, I’ve another regiment of Walloon horse to finish, and then I’ll be onto the Spanish horse squadrons (which finish the army) and moving on to their French adversaries.


23 comments:

  1. A great historical background and a beautiful unit..."En avant messieurs, pour la Lorraine!"

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    1. Now that's a fantastic battle cry, isn't it!! Following the fluctuating history of the House of Lorraine from 1640 to 1690 is really a roller-coaster of underdog fortunes, resilience, bad decision making, exile and revenge. Very much a central European 'Game of Thrones' waiting to be written for the big screen! Thanks so much, Phil !

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  2. You have done Dixon proud with these Sidney. Superb painting of figures, horseflesh and basing.

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    1. Thanks Pat! It has been fun, and a real pleasure, to help shine some light on this really lovely range of miniatures. I keep mentioning to Trevor Dixon that I'd love to see more figures in the range - so fingers crossed!

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  3. Splendid pictures and commentary, looking forward to the French.

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    1. Thanks Phil! Your patience will be rewarded soon!

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  4. Some very pretty toy soldiers...

    All the best. Aly

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  5. There's just something special about the look of those 25-28mm Dixon Miniatures 'Grand Alliance' figures even though they were sculpted many years ago (Copplestone?). Not to mention the 10+++ (out of 10) basing and paint job!

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    1. Thanks William, and yes - they are the same miniatures which Mark Copplestone sculpted for Dixon Miniatures, way back in 1988. Proof (if any were needed) that great castings don't really age.

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  6. Your army is growing really fast !! Do you have any completed Walloon tercio? Good job !
    Saludos

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    1. Hi Jose, thanks for dropping by!

      Currently finished on the infantry side are 5 Flemish foot battalions (including a regiment of Flemish guards), a German mercenary battalion, and three battalions of Spanish Tercios (I chose the domestic Spanish tercios from Leon, Granada and Toledo with their very odd uniforms). I need to get them all photographed and here on the Blog, and I'm hoping to do that during the course of this Spring.

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  7. Superbly painted and presented.

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  8. Just catching up on my favourite blogs as the Challenge draws to a close. Lovely work Sid. Those Dixon's are real treats and you've suited them to your purposes beautifully. Masterful stuff.

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    1. Thanks so much, Curt - and thanks for arranging the Challenge this year which made me get on and paint them!

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  9. One of the most beautiful projects of the Challenge this year. You have awakened my interest in knowing more about the period

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