Representing the Army of Charles the Bold – in Miniature.

This is a guest piece by Simon Chick, a master figurine painter. The Company of St. George has a long lasting connection with figurines, not the least because our old time members Alan and Michael Perry are famous figurine designers. If you look closely at their Burgundian Army figurines, then it is likely you recognize one or two old members.

When asked to write a blog entry for the Company of Saynt George on creating a Burgundian army in miniature, my first thought was what are the key differences and similarities? Whilst differences may be obvious, it appears that there maybe several similarities.  I’m seeking to represent soldiers of the later fifteenth century as accurately as possible; their appearance, costume and equipment. There’s also a parallel in attention to detail: undertaking research; reading and seeking references to use from historical documents and perhaps an endeavor towards continual improvement. The main difference is of course, that my representations are only 30mm high; painted miniatures made from metal or plastic castings. However collecting them can be absorbing and is a creative expression of my lifelong interest in medieval history.

Collecting this army is an on-going pastime and was started about five years ago. I’ve been recording my progress on a blog - http://je-lay-emprins.blogspot.co.uk/ - on which I’ve shown finished models, works in progress and discussed other related points of interest (including my first visit to see a Company of St George event in 2011). The models seek to create a representation of a Burgundian army of the 1470s and are ultimately organized for wargames to be played with them, to recreate the battles of Charles the Bold’s bellicose aspirations.  


Louis de Chalons and his entourage. His standard flies on the left (photo Simon Chick)

Nearly all the models used are sculpted and manufactured by Perry Miniatures and are accurate representations of soldiers from 1450 to 1500, with fine detailing right down to the belts, buckles and points. The models are painted with acrylic model paints and then attached to landscaped bases, to provide some protection and for wargaming on a tabletop layout. The paints are applied in layers, from dark to lighter shades to create a sense of depth, as they are usually viewed at a short distance.  A finely pointed brush, keen eyesight and a steady hand are needed! Each figure will take about one or two hours to complete, depending on their complexity.

I’ve sought to create a distinctive ‘Burgundian’ look for the whole army, beyond just painting them in blue and white livery coats. To achieve this many figures have had alterations made, some minor and some more ambitious. All the men at arms for example have had the cross of St Andrew added to their harness using modeling putty, and metal plumes attached to helmets, to reflect the equipment outlined in the ducal ordinances.  Burgundian devices of flints with flames and cross of St Andrew have also been applied to the horse bard of the most senior and affluent Burgundian leaders. Other models have had minor changes to heads or arms, in order to create variety (I intend that no two figures should look the same) and to try to create a ‘visual narrative’ among some of the groups of models.


A field gun is being put into position. It closely resembles our gun Barbara (Photo Simon Chick)


A cart from the baggage train is being unloaded. Notice the high walls of the wagon (Photo Simon Chick)

All the main fighting arms of the army will be represented, based broadly on the Burgundian ordinances made at Trier in 1473. Although there’s not a strict ratio, each model represents about 100 actual fighting men that the duke appears to have raised for his wars.


A shot a bit a wider angle, given good view of skirmishers in the front and on the right, while the light artillery is being set up on the left (Photo Simon Chick)

Contingents therefore include pikemen, crossbows and handgunners, longbowmen, artillery and men at arms. I’ve created duke Charles himself, resplendent in gilded ‘German’ style harness and mounted on a horse displaying the ducal arms. Other conductuers with their coats of arms will be created, along with non-combatants, baggage train and siege equipment. There are plenty of ideas and details that can be ‘borrowed’ from study of Schillings Chronicles, as well as historical studies (sadly restricted to publications in English for me), artworks and of course re-enactors such as the Company of St George. Then of course, there’s a Swiss Confederation army to be started…

Further informations
Je Lay Emprins Blog
Perry Miniatures

 

By Simon Chick, Guest author.