Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The Duque de Havré's "Spanish" Horse: Laarden 1688


From the journal of Don Fernando de Torrescusa, Marquess de Girona, Envoy of His Most Catholic Majesty, Carlos the Second, King of Spain, to the Flemish Free City of Laarden in 1688

Although I had met the Duque de Havré before, it had been some years earlier in El Escorial.  I have a memory of a small plump child running through sunlit rooms, chasing the Meninas before being scolded loudly by one of the Palace equerries.  Dark, moody, impish eyes in a pasty, fleshy child’s face was my lasting memory, before that face dissolved into a wail of tears, accompanied by a sulky frown.

The years had not changed the pallid complexion of his face.  He bore the trappings of wealth, influence and power openly on the field of Sorée to the south east of Namur, a league away from where the advance formations of the Sun King’s army were forming.

He had exchanged the mischievous, childhood, carefree chase through the chambers of a palace for the forced-calm and assumed sang-froid of a leading nobleman of his House.  But one glance into his eyes betrayed him.  He was little more than a magnificent butterfly, swaggering and gasping by equal measures under the incarcerating bell-jar of expectation, trapped by a hidalgo’s obligations of honour in the autumn of his aristocratic House’s life-arc.

As I looked from his Serene Highness across the dusty, July fields, I could identify clearly the standards of the French Gendarmerie, floating as if gossamer light above the scarlet uniformed cavaliers of France.  

Enemies to skewer your iridescent butterfly wings, my Lord, I thought.

But before I could caution him and suggest a way out of his breathless tomb of asphyxiating pride, he had spurred his Tobiano mare to the front of his Tercio of Horse. There was no lack of courage in the Duque de Havré, even if it was born of despair and an inability to escape the responsibilities of the glittering House of Croÿ.


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Now long forgotten by history, the House of Croÿ was once a formidable force in the Hapsberg politics of late 17th Century Flanders, Burgundy and the Rhinelands.  Members of the House of Croÿ were active in the complex politics of the Empire, holding impressive positions in the Imperial Court and ecclesiarchy.  Members of the House were bishops of Cambrai, Arras, Ypres, Tournai; one was the tutor and Godfather to the Emperor Charles V; another was Grand Equerry to the King of Spain.  Many were members of the prestigious Hapsberg Order of the Golden Fleece.



The members of the House of Croÿ who followed the colours and beat of the drum weave through the military narratives the 17th Century.  They travelled and fought in Italy, Spain, Flanders, Russia, Germany and the New Spain.  No doubt their influence, wealth and family connections opened many doors to military advancement and political influence.

It was therefore perhaps unsurprising that on the list of Tercios of Horse, entered on page 13 of the Pike & Shot Society’s book “The Spanish Armies in the War of the League of Augsberg: 1688-1697”, the final Tercio of Horse was that of Charles de Croÿ, Duque de Havré.



While not himself the Duque de Croÿ, Charles du Croÿ held the title of Duque de Havré, entitling him to the honorific title of ‘Principe’, and to be addressed with the predicate of “Serene Highness”. He held the award of nobility of the Order of the Golden Fleece, and I thought that both he, and his Tercio of Horse, would make good subjects for my Spanish army of Flanders for 1688.

The figures are a mixture of Dixons and Wargames Foundry.  I added some arm swaps, and some green-stuff feathers.  For Duque Charles, I added a small green-stuff Order of the Golden Fleece around his neck.  


The Duque’s horse is a piebald, and specifically a Tobiano.  These were popular in 17th Century Europe, as you can see from this study by Pieter Paul Rubens.  


The standard for the Tercio of Horse was reconstructed from the fragments of information we know about late 17th Century Spanish and Flemish flags.  “The Spanish Armies in the War of the League of Augsberg: 1688-1697” states that many of the flags for the Spanish and Flemish cavalry of the late 17th Century featured a Burgundian cross on a red field, but that other family symbols and religious images were reasonably common, often as the reverse of the standard.  I opted for an image of the Virgin and Child, although I could (and might next time) have used the family crest of the House of Croÿ.



I also added tufts from Warbases and Mini-Natur (which I picked up at Salute, 2018) 

As for weapons, this is another pistol-armed unit of Horse from the Spanish army of Flanders. Hopefully, in facing the French, the Spanish and Flemish pistol-bearing tactics will be an interesting contrast to more aggressive French swordpoints.

***
Up next, a change of scale, as I post some of the 2mm Thirty Years War forces I've been completing.

Hope you can join me for that.



30 comments:

  1. Yet another cracking unit Sidney and a splendid narrative too.

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  2. Some of the finest horseflesh out there.

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    1. That's very kind, Michael - thank you!

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    1. Thanks Christopher. The groundwork is, of course, inspired by you, dear friend!

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  4. Wonderful as ever! Really love the bright and clean colours you used and that hand painted flag definitely is the icing on the cake.

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    1. Very kind, Nick. Very much inspired by your own brushwork! Thank you!

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  5. Very pretty sir...

    All the best. Aly

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  6. This is a beautiful regiment of horse!

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  7. Beautiful unit, interesting write up Sid. Looking forward to the 2mm bit too.

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  8. A splendid uniform and a wonderful paint job!

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  9. Excellent work Sid. Love the figures, the conversions, the pain job and the backstory. I confess that your stories are so good I never know whether to file them under fact or fiction, which suits the era nicely!

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    1. Haha! Thanks so much, Peter. The stories are just for fun, but it's enjoyable trying to weave a fictional narrative around real events. And just as much fun trying to untangle truth from fiction, afterwards!

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  10. Congratulations Sidney, I was looking forward to see your next paintjob, and I am impressed with the investigation of that tercio of horse! Love the flag and the white coats (as almost all Spanish horse in Flanders). Splendid work! Do you have thoughts of painting Spanish or Walloon Tercios?
    Regards

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    1. Thank you very much, Jose! I painted most of the Spanish and Flemish foot last year, but they've not yet had their basing completed. I know, I know, how crazy is that? I shall get a move on and add them to the blog here.

      There is also a Spanish civic militia unit which I'm working on at present, and which I hope you'll enjoy when it appears. I've gone for a very "1688 Spanish" look - hopefully that will make sense when you see them here!

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  11. "Serene Highness", indeed! I do love the narrative you are weaving around your excellent figures - you can tell it's a true labour of love, and I really like the unusual and well-mannered era you have landed on. I suppose you ought to start badgering your chum Mr Clarke into getting a set of pike and shot rules published!

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    1. Many thanks for dropping by, Mr Ballista! It is indeed a labour of love, and a pretty indulgent one at that. Thank you so much for enjoying what gets posted here and supporting the meandering journey through the later seventeenth century!

      As for rules to use for the Pike & Shot era... there are some very good "Sharpe Practice" variants in last year's Summer Special, and I hopefully something similar might be appearing before too long for the English Civil Wars.

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  12. Another gorgeous cavalry unit! I haven't forgotten that I owe you some command figures but time flies and now it's June and I haven't found my small stash of period correct personel,I will persevere!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thank you Iain!! I had forgotten as well ! It was a wonderful contest, and I look forward to clashing arms again later this year, Sir!

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  13. bravo señor! que miniaturas bien pintadas.

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