Friday 23 March 2018

Le comte de Garnier's Alsatian Horse, 1688

The last of the mounted allied regiments I've planned to paint this winter is a squadron of the Comte de Garnier's horse from the province of Alsace.  Like the Lorrainer horse, featured in my last Blog post, the Alsatian horse regiments in the 17th century Hapsberg Imperial army had a good reputation on the battlefield, supplementing Spanish and Imperial armies in the Low Countries and along the Rhine.  As such, the squadron is a good inclusion for my Spanish and Imperial forces focused on the fictional Flemish Free-City of Laarden around 1688, drawing on the uniforms and standards of the time (when I can find them). 

I've again used Dixon Miniature's Grand Alliance figures for the bulk of the cavalry, with the addition of some Wargames Foundry horses, trumpeter and mounted standard bearer.  

The two cavaliers on the separate base area really generic cavalry brigade commanders, really painted to fit with the Alsatian and Lorrainer horse squadrons.  Again, they're a mix of Wargames Foundry and Dixon Miniatures figures.  

I added green-stuff to some of the figures, mainly adding feathers, and some additional lace on the officers' uniforms.  Nothing to really change the figures, but enough to make them just a bit different for each unit formation.  The flag is, once again, from Flags of War but it's another fudge as I drew a blank on the accurate standards for the comte de Garnier's regiment.

Next up, after a short painting break, will be the Spanish regiments of Horse, and then, finally, squadrons of the French chevau-léger.

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.

Friday 9 March 2018

Les chevaliers de Versailles, le champ de Mars, March, 1689

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. 

I could tell something was wrong immediately.

Over my months in the Free City of Laarden , Antoine de Gautier had been my near constant companion and commentator. No comment intended to praise his Flemish home, and slyly cast unfavourable comparisons on His Majesty’s Spanish Domains, had been missed. No opportunity had been neglected by him to introduce me to the frothy, childish, swaggering world of a Flemish aristocrat with more time and money than good sense would suggest is wise to grant to a young man of his age. And at no time had the grounds of good taste and discretion been evident in his personal tailoring as, day after day, he promenaded across the Grote Markt in my company, proudly inspecting the troops parading daily in Laarden's civic heart, dressed in a hundred shades of yellow and gold, his favourite colours.

So, when de Gautier’s excitable commentary of the deployment of the French enemy forces in the field before us came to an abrupt end in a very uncharacteristic silence, I immediately knew there was a problem.

At first, my instinct was to think there was actually a real problem. A swift outflanking manoeuvre by French hussars, or the deployment of the feared Gendamerie de France, perhaps?  But after a moment, my panic subsided. This was Antoine de Gautier, Flemish cavalier, bravo and fop. No, I reassured myself, the problem was bound to be more intimate, more ... personal.

I glanced at him, moving my spyglass a fraction away from my eye, and followed his line of sight. The root of his concern, etched into his fashionably pale and rouge-tinted appearance, was not hard to identify.

Our Enemy's line was barely a quarter of a league away from our foremost battalions. Standing just a few yards in advance of the Regiment de Nettancourt were two gentlemen of the Court of Versailles. Their coats of pink and purple glowed incandescently in the fog-drenched morning gloom, the monstrous splash of vivid colour matched only by the shock of blossoming pantaloons and stockings of opalescent grey and lapis lazuli. They appeared to be discussing the field of battle, hands circling in endless circles of vacuous pleasantries, doubtless arguing over the order of precedence for the attack. Immensely long wigs of coiffured hair wobbled precariously on their heads as their discussion continued, oblivious to the ranks of drab-dressed veterans waiting in the regiment behind them.  One of the chevaliers tiptoed around the field, perhaps tortured by the tightness of his impractical footwear, or merely carefully dancing around any patch of the muddy ground endangering the purple puff-balls stitched modishly to his shoes.

I was unable to resist a smile, calculating that the two French peacocks were likely to be the only two noblemen on the Field of Mars surpassing de Gautier in the exuberance and sheer idiocy of their clothing. My companion was visibly wounded, upset and distressed by this common realisation.

I waited longer then I should have done to speak to him. Everyone needs their wilder dreams dented a little, and no doubt the sight of the two French chevaliers had been a sobering experience for the young Flemish cavalier. 

"Don't worry, my Lord", I commented, trying hard to keep any tone of conspiratorial collaboration from my voice. 

"Just think of what wonderful plunder there might be in the Enemy's baggage train. They say some of the gentlemen from Versailles travel with a significant wardrobe. I mean, who on earth would wish to attend a field of battle with only a single set of riding clothes?"

And in return I was granted that most rare gift from my Flemish companion - a smile of genuine warmth.


The final 'themed round' in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge 2018 was the theme of "Monstrous".  I was rather stumped for anything really 'monstrous' from the 17th Century which I could build and paint off this themed round.  I'd sibmitted hussars and Croatian light horse on previous themed rounds, and I was a little reluctant to change track too much from a focus on the late 17th Century battlefield.  

I did, for a while, think about trying to create one of my favourite characters from the 1690s, and English supernaturalist, alchemist and military field commander by the name of Goodwin Wharton, but even Sir Goodwin's faery obsessed, treasure seeking expeditions in the Inner Hebridies didn't really conjure up the ideas of a 'monstrosity'.

However, a look through some of the fashion from the Court of Versailles gave me the idea for some very monstrous clothing which could be brought to bear on the enemies of the Sun King in 1688 Flanders.

The figures are a mix of Dixons (the nobleman in purple), Old Glory (the nobleman in pink) and Foundry (the rather dour matchlock armed fantassin, who I painted rolling his eyes at the nonsense unfurling before him.

I added extra green-stuff wigs, orders of chivalry on chains, puff-ball shoes and other idiocies to the Chevaliers, but not the veteran. I tried to keep the veteran very plain, so there's not much shading or highlighting. With the French Chevaliers, however, I used a white undercoat to make the colours glow a bit more, and added a purple base to Vallejo Flesh for that oh-so-fashionable pallor!

As I draw towards the end of painting the Flemish, Spanish and Imperial forces for 1688 (ideally by the end of May 2018), my next painting task is to focus on the forces of the Sun King.  I'm very excited by this opportunity, and it might well be that the white undercoat and purple face basecoat will be seen again, if only among the most refined echelons of the French commanders of Louis le Grand!

Thursday 8 March 2018

Blog Spring-Clean: Repairing Broken Links

Just a quick post to thank a couple of visitors to this Blog for mentioning that a few of the links under the "Playtesting Scenarios, Campaign Diaries, Play-Aids and Painting Guides" section (on the right of your screen) have become broken over time, including the cards I designed for "Through the Mud and the Blood" (which I know a couple of people have found useful).

I'm very sorry this has happened. It's simply a result of messing around in my Google Drive files - entirely my fault. Hopefully all the links should not be up and running.  Thanks to everyone who mentioned the broken links - much appreciated.

Unfortunately, over the years I seem to have lost the painting templates for British and German Great War infantry. I'll try and find those (hopefully they're useful) and, if I can't locate them, I'll recreate them from my hard copy notes. 

I've also added into the documents you can download a couple of extra "Through the Mud and the Blood" scenarios. "The Wiring Party" is a game we played in 2011, featuring rival British and German wiring parties and also a bold British Anglican Chaplain, searching for a wounded officer. "Rally Once Again" is a frantic search by the British side for troops which have been split up and fragmented, in order to rally them back into the action. I hope they're both good reads - they were certainly fun to play.

I've also added some rule adaptation which we used in 2014, but which didn't quite make the cut into any of the Specials: "Le Cafard". These are a fairly bleak and depressing set of bolt-on rules dealing with battlefield stress, which turned out to be quite fiddly to use in practice. I think there's some useful ideas in here, but they need more work. I've included them really as a work in progress in case anyone's interested in how rules get developed through tabletop gaming.

Going through my files, I realised that there are quite a lot more "Through the Mud and the Blood" themed documents which could be uploaded here.  I'll try and sort that out later this Spring or in the Summer.  Ideally, I'll also try and organise the side-bars in a more logical way to help people navigate through them.

There's also a host of mid- and late-17th Century material (from the Thirty Years War and the fictional Flemish Free City of Laarden) to upload.  Again, I'm hoping to do that when I have some time in the spring and summer of 2018.

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