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Author Topic: German/HRE army question  (Read 717 times)

Offline Rok

  • schoolboy
  • Posts: 7
German/HRE army question
« on: June 27, 2018, 02:12:42 PM »
Ok, as promised, let's roll out a few question.

My aim is to build an army that has a degree of "plausibility" in terms of colors/composition of a German/HRE force that suits the Fireforge range - so I guess somewhat between 1200-300. The size of the army should suit a skirmish game for the moment, so not too many tiny people out there.
I've looked through many (?) resources: earlyblazon, wappenwiki, osprey books, quedlingburger casket... so I figured out something about knights, yet I feel quite confused.

I see some resources insist on having a corrispondence between the knight's surcoat and shield in terms of colors and blazon (e.g. a golden lion on a black field repeated on the surcoat and the shield and maybe on the caparison too), while others depict are more "free" pattern (pale blue or green surcoat and a shield with black crescents on a red field...).
I can only guess: a rich knight/lord will bear his colors everywhere (surcoat, shield, caparison) while a poorer/unfree knight would bear his lord's color on the shield while keeping his own color on the surcoat or viceversa. Does that make sense or am I completely off-road?

About infantry: if I'm not mistaken a knight/lord brings some men to fight on foot and pays for their equipment, so they bear their master's color. Let's presume that the lord's coat of arms is quite elaborate (an eagle, a lion... or both). Will his mean bear the very same blazon on their shields or does it make more sense that they will have a simplified version? For example, if said coat is a black lion on a golden field, would that be ok to paint the infantry shields with a mix of simpler yellow and black motifs such as parted, cross, bend, chevron... - this is both due to a form of laziness of mine, I admit it, but also makes more sense in my head for some obscure reason.

This has to do also with keeping the army recognizable on the table: let's say that the lord who commands my army will have a "typical" black and gold heraldry. I guess it makes sense to transfer this pattern to the infantry since most of the soldiers would be raised by the lord himself and the knights/ministerialies would somehow be under his authority... or not?

Last question - I promise (for now at least): merceniaries. I read somewhere that these guys who served for money in return were often knights. So, I guess it is ok that they have their own peculiar coat of arms? And (game related) a unit of mercenary infantry (brabancon or whatever), would have a common recognizable color of their own or they would bear the lord's (read: who pays) colors?

Sorry for the very long post and many question... it's just that I'm trying to get less confused and a bit more acquainted and comfortable with this new (for me) world.

Bonus: a wip pic of some time ago. Sorry for bad quality. The knight will be scrapped, I don't like how the yellow and the lions turned up

Offline Arlequín

  • Supporting Adventurer
  • galactic brain
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  • Posts: 6062
  • Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?
Re: German/HRE army question
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2018, 03:47:27 PM »
It is confusing, especially if your conception of 'knight' is someone of the lower nobility or upper gentry; there were both free and unfree knights in 'Germania' and afaik anyone could bear a coat of arms, the law only got involved if two people claimed the same one and a dispute followed. You would imagine that free knights bore their own arms, unfree not so much.

You would expect that if a lord equipped the men he hired, he would expect them to wear something that signified that they belonged to him and probably that shields etc were clearly identifiable too. This could be in his heraldic colours, or another of his choice, with perhaps a simplified version of his arms, or some other badge, mounted somewhere on it. You might probably expect the cloth used for the rank and file to be of poorer quality, so if the captains wore bright red, the men might have a somewhat cheaper and deeper red as a result.

Towns might serve a lord if they were not 'free', so might wear the town's colours, even they belonged to Baron X... or  not. So many variables, few hard and fast rules. Mercenaries belonging to a company might have their own symbols and colours, while individuals hired by a lord or town probably wore the appropriate colours provided by their employer.

Cost is also a factor, cost of cloth by its colour, man-hours to produce a badge, or paint a shield or pennon.

To be honest you could paint them how you like and it wouldn't be hard to create a plausible back story for why they were like that.  :)
The science of war at the beginning of a war is a strict science like astronomy, but that at the end of the war it is more like astrology. - Rebecca West

Offline Metternich

  • mastermind
  • Posts: 1318
Re: German/HRE army question
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2018, 08:38:07 PM »
As for the German "unfree knights" (the ministeralis), by the 12th century they still counted socially as knights and gentry despite their "unfree" legal status. And by the 13th century they certainly were considered members of the minor nobility, even if their marriages still had to be approved by their liege (which was required in any case for an individual who was a ward of their liege).  Below is one of the most famous of the ministeralis of the 13th century, wearing his own heraldry.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministerialis#/media/File:Codex_Manesse_Ulrich_von_Liechtenstein.jpg

Offline bluechi

  • bookworm
  • Posts: 99
Re: German/HRE army question
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2018, 11:15:01 AM »
For heraldic use wiki "deutsche Adelsgeschlechter" heraldic, family history etc ;) families A-Z

Sorry its in German

Offline Rok

  • schoolboy
  • Posts: 7
Re: German/HRE army question
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2018, 12:49:36 PM »
Thank you for the replies guys, you really help me a lot!
Ok, I will try some "experiments" and then post them here on the forum as soon as I have something to show.

For gaming purpose, I will probably try to give some "dominant" tones to the band in order to keep it recognizable - but I'll probably end up mixing a lot of colors lol.

Oh, German language is not a problem as long as it's not a long text. I have some basic knowledge and this is a good chance to improve... and that list of German families is pure gold! :)
« Last Edit: June 29, 2018, 12:55:10 PM by Rok »

Offline bluechi

  • bookworm
  • Posts: 99
Re: German/HRE army question
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2018, 07:12:42 PM »
Na dann wünsche ich Dir ganz viel Spaß beim suchen welche Herren in Frage kommen.

Offline Rok

  • schoolboy
  • Posts: 7
Re: German/HRE army question
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2018, 11:52:43 AM »
Danke schoen!
I have already selected a few, hopefully I'll have something to show in a few days. And more question will flow, I'm afraid :)
I have to say that re-reading your answers guys makes me feel relieved. I was almost stuck in the painting process (too much thinking) while now I look forward to put my hands on those tiny soldiers