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.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Graf von Bek's North German Horse, 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.

There were six of them, and then the rest of the squadron rode into view from behind the black, winter trees. Against the frozen field, the grass thick with hoar frost, I could see them clearly although we were some way off from our position on the hill. De Gautier's excited chatter was momentarily silenced as they accelerated quickly from a canter to a gallop. I snatched my spyglass from its tubular case of Andalusian leather. I could plainly pick out their clothing and equipment: deep brown, ochre, buff and carmine riding coats - with front breastplates in blackened steel, swords curved as I had seen in Hungary, and stirrups shortened in the Polish fashion. Several of the troopers had fair, straw-coloured hair, sometimes curling down onto their shoulders, unfashionably long. 

Their coats were trimmed in animal furs to keep out the cold. Ostrich feathers, dyed deep Hapsburg scarlet, were secured to their hats in an overly ostentatious display of loyalty to their paymaster. Their standards - of Fortuna, Goddess of Fortune, the Imperial Eagle and a prancing horse - were very different from the familiar Burgundian cross displayed on the standards of the Laarden regiments and squadrons I had seen so far, and from the flags of His Majesty's Spanish tercios.

They were fast, gliding at speed over the snow-flecked downland, scattering the hussars and forcing the French dragoons to mount hastily and ride off. I could pick out the small puffs of smoke of a few dragoon muskets being fired in a ragged fusilade against the horsemen, just as I could see the glint of pale sunlight catching the cavaliers' swordsteel as they broke the French dragoons' threadbare line.

The horsemen were barely a formation by the end, much less a squadron. They did not pursue their enemy. No doubt their capitan, or the Graf von Bek, had ascertained that there were far greater opportunities for plunder and looting in the location of the now-reclaimed supply wagons than in an effective pursuit of the French raiders. 

Nevertheless, even despite the lack of rigorous pursuit, de Gautier had wound himself into a corkscrew of excitement, clapping his hands, his arms gesticulating like the sails of an Antwerp windmill in a firm wind. During the looting, he even instructed his trumpeter to mark the skirmish with a brassy clarion note in the icy morning air.


I had seen it all before, although not for several years. Just as the Swedes have their Finns, and the Poles have the Tartars, the Imperial forces of the Emperor Leopold are currently augmented by mercenaries recruited from the Baltic towns, even as far east as Livonia and Courland. I had seen their like before on the fields of Honigfelde, Rennenberg, Wolgast and Bredtstede.

I had guessed as much when I had first seen the squadron galloping hard into the attack, but their standard of a Hapsburg eagle on a golden field confirmed my suspicion. Even without the Imperially-sanctioned heraldry of von Bek’s cavaliers, the eastern-fashioned arms, cold weather clothing, unfashionable hair and rapacious brutality were as bold a signature as I would have recognised anywhere.


My first inspiration for this squadron of North German Horse was a curious reference to William III bringing within him 200 Finnish troops “in bearskins and black armour” for his invasion of England in November 1688. To my knowledge, no picture exists of these Finnish troops. No uniform, no standard, nothing. But I very much liked the idea of troops being clothed in fur and armour against cold winter weather. I've always been fascinated by the winter campaigns fought in the late 17th Century - both from the Scanian Wars, Turenne's winter campaigns in 1674-75 and the petit-guerre fought almost endlessly in Flanders in the Nine Years War between troops supposedly resting in their winter quarters.

My other inspiration was the frequent reference to cavalry, or 'reiters', being "Hungarian" or "Polish" in German-language accounts of horse squadrons in the 1670s and 1680s. This is normally taken to be that the troops in question were equipped in the style or fashion of, or with equipment typical of, Hungarian or Polish troops, without being themselves from Hungary or Poland.

I tried to keep the tones of the clothing to an authentic brown-red-grey theme - typical for late 17th Century cavalry on campaign. I painted the hair on several of the reiters in pale, Nordic tones, again suggesting of a Baltic location for their recruiting ground. With green-stuff, I added feathers to hats, fur-lined trim to coats, gauntlets, and deep late-17th century cuffs with additional buttons to try and give the horsemen an individual look.

The figures started life as Foundry ECW cavalrymen, but I tried to convert them into a distinctive, if undisciplined, squadron of aggressive North German Horse from the 1680s.

I painted the standard of Fortuna by hand from an online collection of German standards from the 1650s - so a few liberties have been taken with history in that regard by placing Fortuna in a squadron from the 1680s.

One of the fascinations of the 1670s and 1680s for me is trying to balance the painted images of the period with the battlefield history we actually know, and then trying to fathom out where the gaps are. Part of the fun with the Lord of Bek's Horse has been trying to create a squadron which was certainly not in the Imperial battle-line of 1688, but which very well might have been.

Monday, 5 February 2018

More Flemish Horse and The Lord of Bek's Commission, 1688

I thought I'd post some more of the Flemish Horse here on the Blog which I've been painting as part of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge VIII. This time, its the regiment of Horse of the Count of Bucquoy. They will be joining my Flemish, Spanish and German army from 1688, focused around the fictional town of Laarden in the Spanish Netherlands, but leaning on history for the uniform and flags of the units concerned.

The Lords, and later Counts, of Bucquoy were important holders of high office in the Hapsberg dominions of the Spanish Netherlands, including the hereditary title of the Master of the "Hunt of Artois". The third Count, Charles II Albert de Longueval (1607 – 1663), was also a holder of the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of Calatrava (both senior orders of Spanish nobility), and was a general of the Spanish Cavalry in the Low Countries in the later stages of the Thirty Years War. The regiment of Horse recruited by the third Count, then passed to his son, the 4th Count (being one of thirteen children of the third Count). So, there's noble pedigree a-plenty in the regiment, and the location of the Bucquoy lordship (now a commune in the Pas-de-Calais, but formerly part of the Hapsberg territories in Flanders), makes the unit a good fit for my fictional free-Flemish city of Laarden in 1688.

The figures in the regiment are all 25mm Wargames Foundry from their Marlburian range, including the horses. They’re painted with Vallejo paints and the bases are by Warbases (in 3mm laser cut MDF). The regimental officer, probably not the Count himself, has suffered an arm swap to make him look more inspiring, but that’s the only significant conversion from the original figures, although the feathers are all made from green-stuff. The standard being carried of from "Flags of War" - adding these lovely flags as saved quite a bit of time. I found it repaid the extra effort to paint the flag edges once the glue (I used Bostik) has dried.

The figures were fun to paint - with the red cuffs contrasting well with the buff/ off-white of their uniforms. I’ve chosen to equip them with pistols (as I did with the Flemish Horse regiment of de Vichet from January). From the performance of Flemish horse in the Franco-Dutch War (1672-1678) and he Nine Years War (1689-1698), I don’t anticipate that their tactical doctrine would have been the same as the hard charging French cavalry using a sword as their primary weapon. The Armies of the Spanish Netherlands struggled in recruiting high quality cavalry formations, relying mainly for battlefield cavalry on Lorraine and Burgundian horse regiments recruited from Hapsburg affiliated territories along the French border south of Luxembourg. Equipping the regiment of the Count of Bucquoy with pistols as their primary weapons, and allowing them to perform a caracole maneouvre, makes sense to me, restricting cold steel melee weapons to the French and more aggressive Lorrainer Horse.

I also added a heavy field gun, with figures by Dixon Miniatures and Wargames Foundry (which made the cannon as well). There's more artillery to come eventually (as the last of the units to be painted), my hope is to finish the cavalry first before finishing with the artillery trayne.

I've also added one of the 'themed round' submissions from the Challenge here as well. It is a far more 'alt-history' submission, so be warned...


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.

“One of the soldiers of the Lord of Bek’s contingent is a Polish drummer. He bears an unpronounceable name, and has a dark scowl on his face when I have seen him in the field or in the Grote Markt on parade. His hair is the colour of straw and is worn long, and his uniform has a distinctively Eastern cut, as I well remember from my time in Hungary. 

Despite his appearance, the Lord of Bek is resolute in asserting that the Polish Drummer is invaluable to his command, for his drumming on a large Polish drum is both fast and loud. The drummer is rumoured to have fought in the Baltic Wars, and I have heard that on the field of Honingfeld his resolution helped rally an Imperial brigade being hard pressed by their Swedish adversaries.  Such men are highly prized by Graf von Bek.  He is fast garnering a reputation for his horsemanship in the field, no doubt helped by the Croats he has brought with him to Flanders.  His Polish drummer is, no doubt, another useful addition to his strengthening company.  

How they will all fare against the Duc de Luxembourg's Gendarmes is, I fear, another question.”  


The commander, the Graf von Bek (perhaps the grandson of Ulrich von Bek of "The War Hound and the World's Pain" reknown), is a Dixon Miniatures Grand Alliance officer, on a Wargames Foundry ECW horse. I lengthened his coat to flow over his horse's withers, and added reins to his horse with some copper wire, befitting a skilled cavalier.  The Croat is from The Assault Group, without conversion. I added some late 17th century-style cuffs onto the drummer’s sleeves, and completely remade his Polish cap into a fur-bagged hat with feathers. The base is by Warbases, and the tufts from Silfor and WSS.

I was casting around this weekend for something to add to the figures which wasn't going to take a huge amount more time, but which would bring out the "Laarden theme" of the command base.

I hit upon the idea of the Lord of Bek’s commission for the recruitment of the Polish drummer, complete with the Graf’s personal seal. I've mentioned before on this blog about my fascination with recruiting contracts and legal agreements entered into by 17th Century soldiers and military enterprisers.  I also really enjoy using a (very small amount of) craft-y skill to try and create a background for our games.

Rather than scouring the archives of Brussels or Antwerp, I resorted to opening the Laarden document box (far easier, of course!) and creating the Lord of Bek's contract. Some fancy paper and sealing wax later, and I’d added an Imperial commission to my Laarden-themed documents and created some fluff for the player (un)fortunate enough to command the Lord of Bek on the tabletop.
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