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Author Topic: 13th century Danish Crusader army  (Read 6599 times)

Offline Erik

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13th century Danish Crusader army
« on: January 06, 2017, 08:31:30 PM »
With a brand new year of painting ahead of me, I have decided to start an early 13th century Danish army out. Presently it’s mostly because I have had my eye out for Curteys Miniatures beautiful range for a vile, but at some point the idea is to turn it onto an anniversary project for a large refight of the battle of Lyndanisse 1219 in Estonia, when the Danish flag Dannebrog fell from the sky and Denmark occupied Estonia! An iconic battle with lots of good scenario possibilities and still a national Flag Day in Denmark.

Unfortunately I have run into heraldic problems right away, and I have started this thread in hope that people on this forum will join in to hopefully find a solution.

There are several good reference to Danish heraldic colors, but my problem is how best to display then on the units. In my opinion only knight displayed their livery on their clothes, but how would a unit of knight look then? I have started out with the famous “Hvide Slægt” from Fjenneslev who definitely played a large part in the campaign to Estonia. At this time they used blue and white horizontal stripes, with blue on top. Would this important and powerful noble family have a whole unit of knight themselves in heraldic colors or would a unit of knights be a mix of different noble families as all knight at this time where nobles and hence had their own heraldic markings? Where there professional mounted warriors filling out the knightly units or where everyone of noble blood?

My other problem is how to paint the infantry levy. As mentioned above I am not going to be painting heraldic colors on the clothes of the infantry, but instead only on the shields. But how many of the shields will have the heraldic color and would it be a mix of different noble families or just one family’s heraldic in every unit?

I have finished the first 10 miniatures, all with the “Hvide Slægts” heraldic on their shields, and don’t really know what I think. They look really uniformed with the big shields dominating a lot. I am leaning towards maybe only having half the unit with heraldic shield and the rest with plain natural colors or maybe a simple cross (thankyou Carsten). Or should it be a mix of different noble family’s heraldic? I will be using 12X4 cm bases for Impetus, To the Strongest and Hail Caesar (on the small side I know) with 8 to 12 figures per base depending on the type of unit.   

I hope this topic has inspired people to contribute with their opinion and experience with similar project s from other parts of 13th century Europe. And hopefully post some pictures for inspiration.

Cheers       

« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 05:33:56 PM by Erik »

Offline levied troop

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2017, 08:29:38 AM »
Nice start!

I had the same issue painting the English Baron's War, namely what  did the bog-standard feudal/medieval foot slogger have on his shield? Not the knighted types, yer average serf?

I suspect the answer is - no-one knows. Possible options:

Later periods, 15th C onwards, show livery colours (usually entirely different from the arms borne by the relevant Lord) and badges. The Feudal period might have had the same arrangement but I don't recall any evidence for it.

The shield might have borne the Armorial colours of the relevant Lord, but the the heraldry is relatively simple In the feudal period and there's a danger of effectively duplicating the heraldic arms - the point of which was to stand out? There does seem to be some evidence for duplicating the Armorial design, but that seems to come from Froissart and he's fun but not always accurate.

Town colours might be possible, in the same manner as football shirts. Some countries clearly use this regularly, Italy for example and France possibly (Paris militia in red/blue for example).

Anything goes might also be an option, I quite like the idea of shields painted as gaily as canal boats! From looking at a few period sources, flowers, a sun design, a grotesque face all seem to pop up.

More prosaically the covering might just be plain leather or cloth.

I opted for a mixture of all of the above for my units.

Edit: Hastati on Frothers provided some interesting links when we were having a similar discussion there:
http://www.warfare.altervista.org/14/Leugemeete.htm

Although the initial link focuses on the Flemish militias, which had a specific organisation, other links in there go much wider and I found them very helpful.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2017, 08:46:09 AM by levied troop »
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Offline Arlequín

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2017, 02:02:17 PM »
You might look at badges and liveries as being marks of property; just like all British government items were once prominently marked with the broad arrow and all guns and wagons were painted blue-gray.

I can't give authoritative details for the 13th Century, but my understanding is;

In essence for most medieval troops, who had provided the item determined how it was marked. For much of the period men provided their own equipment, so it would be marked/painted as they wished. In England and I suspect elsewhere, the richer citizens were required to provide multiple sets of equipment to fulfil their property and wealth commitments and so everything provided by them was marked/painted the same; likewise for municipal contingents fitted out at their expense.

So essentially the tenants and servants of a lord, or municipal contingents would have shields and later sashes/jackets/coats of a set colour(s), while others would be somewhat more individual looking. 

As for knights and gentry, it would depend on whether they came from 'armigerous' families (they had a coat of arms) or not. At the bottom were those who were not, who would wear just their armour, with perhaps a 'livery' of some sort denoting who they followed/served. The non-knights who had a coat of arms were entitled to bear those arms on a shield or surcoat. Knights bachelor were additionally entitled to bear a tailed banner (or usually had a servant to do that, while they had a much smaller lance pennon) bearing their arms, while knight bannerets had a somewhat larger tail-less version indicating their enhanced status.

So your average group of men at arms would have perhaps one banneret, accompanied by someone with his banner. A few of bachelors with their own guy bearing their banners, somewhat more armigerous gentry with their coats of arms on torso and shield and a larger mass in plain armour, wearing nothing, or some form of indication of who their leader was (either a coloured surcoat and/or shields, pennons etc.).   

That is pretty much how it went in the 14th and 15th Centuries and was the ultimate development of the system that began in the 11th Century, with the beginnings of distinctive and unique coats of arms. If I had to make a guess, Joe Average had his own clothes and armour, and if he had his own shield it could be any colour; if it was supplied by some worthy, then it would be in a common design, as levied troop says, not necessarily related to the coat of arms. The Blue/white stripe scheme is pretty basic though and is what I would expect to see on the rank and file.   

Offline Erik

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2017, 06:08:16 PM »
Levied troop: Nice to hear from a Baron War project. I was kind of hoping for it, as they are coinciding with the Danish conquest of Estonia and should present painters with some of the same problems.

I know we are in a period where hardcore evidence is scarce, so I was just as much asking for other hobbyists experience and attitude towards tackling this problem. The Flemish militia is very inspiring even though they are somewhat younger. The essence is that uniformity came early fore wealthier or more organized groups. Hence my Hvide Slægt levies could have similar painted shields (if I think it looks good). You wouldn’t happen to have any pictures lying around of our army?

Arlequín seems to be in agreement in that the larger, wealthier families would have similar painted shield, but that there is lots of space for individuality. I guess it also depends on how many men your unit is supposed to represent with larger units giving more room for difference in shield design.

As for knights I like Arlquíns ideas, and this is actually also what a friend of mine suggested. I smaller group with full display of heraldic colors and then rest of the unit with less or nothing. I think I got thrown off by the fact that my knights from Curteys Miniatures were all with full cloth barding and hence somewhat demanded a lot of color. I think I will order some more simple looking knight/sergeants and mix then into the unit.

Offline levied troop

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2017, 06:37:04 PM »
Erik,
My Barons War stuff is here:
http://leadadventureforum.com/index.php?topic=95151.0

More to come as I paint it.  I'm no going for a strictly historical Lewes and Evesham campaign but a rather more generic 'rebellious barons' approach. 

Arlequin,,
That's very helpful, it does indicate a more mixed approach in the various groups which is the road I've Started down.

Offline Vagabond

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2017, 07:57:35 PM »
Hi Eric
I hope you dont mind me posting a few pics on your thread, but I started to describe this last night and realized I could not make a sensible description and that pics would demonstrate it much better.

This is not historically accurate, nor is it inaccurate, no one knows.

I wanted to do some small retinues and decided that if I was a knightly lord and could afford it I would want my men to look reasonably recognisable, also that I would be raising a mixed force of close fighting men and missile men.

So I took the knights heraldry for him and then did the men in similar fashion, but using his heraldry as a token on their shields or tunics.



So here are 5 knights with their retinues. 1st rank Sir Guillaume Des Barres on the right with diamonds on his shield. the rest of the front rank are his retinue and they have a 'badge' of diamonds on their shield but not the full coat of arms. they have a red tunic and the crossbows have a red diamond on their right sleeve.



More noticeable in this picture.

The 2nd rank - on the right is Baudoin de Bethune - Compte De Aumale - Blue and yellow diagonals over red, same thing his men have his shield pattern as a badge in their shields, they also have yellow and blue tunics as do the crossbowmen.

Back rank Sir William Marshall - Earl of Pembroke, his shield green and yellow with a red lion, his men just have green and yellow, they are followers - not the great man himself.

When they fight on the table as like types of troops eg, crossbows, spears, men at arms then they have a mixed look to them.





This idea might not suit what you are trying to do because it sounds as if you are looking to do big battles whereas I am only interested in skirmishes and personalising the figures and retinues.

Offline Erik

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2017, 10:50:08 PM »
Levied troop: I like your mix of shields and have copied it on my next 10 levies. Really good inspiration. I still think they look mighty blue and white for levies, but for the moment I excuse that with them being from one of the wealthier families and everyone therefore having painted shields. 

That is a really impressive warband Vagabond. I like the idea of the common soldiers just having a corner of the heraldic. I think that one goes into the ides box as well.

For the moment though I have to change focus to 17th century Sweden, as I have to paint up miniatures for our clubgame to Tactica in Hamburg. After that its defenitely back to medieval times again.

« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 05:35:10 PM by Erik »

Offline Charlie_

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2017, 11:48:30 PM »
Good decision - the mix of different designs, though keeping it blue and white, works very well, much better than just everyone with blue and white stripes.

I do agree that maybe the blue and white shields perhaps don't work so well with the unarmoured bodis - I imagine they'd work much better on more heavily armoured troops. If you have any left to do, perhaps you could do a few in other colours to mix in as well? Just plain reds, greens, etc...

Also, if you do change your mind completely about the shields, at least they will be easy to repaint and start again with!!!!

Offline Vagabond

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2017, 02:01:15 AM »
Good luck with the painting for tactica.

I think you may be right that conscripted levies might be less uniform :- :? But they still look good. :) :)

Regarding inspiration for medieval retinues have a look at sgtperry he was very active in this board a couple of years ago and this is his blog

http://perrysheroes.free.fr/spip.php?rubrique36

This link takes you to his feudal section. Click on the top left - kings and princess, barons and lords etc  then go to the individual pages. That's where I got all my inspiration from.
The site is a little difficult to follow at first but once you understand the logic its a gold mine :D

There is another site called something like early blazons that has a lot of information on coats of arms, battles and who fought in them, I have a link somewhere if you are interested, but from memory it was mainly France UK Spain and holy Roman empire I don't remember Scandinavia being in there.

Thanks for your comments about my figures, hope you don't mind me putting them in your post but it was the easiest way to describe what I ment. :)

Offline Dr. Zombie

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2017, 08:39:04 AM »
I can see hvat you mean with the shields being somewhat dominant. But I think you will be alright especially if you dirtied the shields up a bit. Paint on some cut marks and some dirt and I think that will make the shields fit in more with the more brownish men. Right now the shields look like they are fresh from the painters, while the men look dirtied and roughed up.

Offline Erik

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues. New shields!
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2017, 06:49:03 PM »
Back from painting 17th century Swedes (and having found out that I can’t even make it to Tactica this year after all grrrr.) I have made a decision to repaint some of the shields on my levy troops. I really hate rebasing and repainting, so I did it all Friday while watching TV to get it done in one go. I must admit that I am pretty pleased with the result. I might go for even less shields with heraldic colors, but for now half or just below seem to work really well. I also dirtied up the shields, so that the troops look more like they were on campaign than just out of the weapons shops.




I have started on some archers and will hopefully have some ready later this week. The spearmen are teen to a base and I am thinking about eight archers to a base, but the will depend on how it looks.

For now a good Sunday to you all

Cheers
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 05:36:41 PM by Erik »

Offline Captain Blood

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2017, 07:11:17 PM »
They look great Erik. Grimy and grungy  :-*

Offline Dr. Zombie

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2017, 07:46:24 PM »
They look really great. I have just broken of the shields of my own guys to repainted them.

Offline levied troop

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2017, 09:03:09 AM »
Now that's whatI call a troop of levies    :)

Looking good.

Offline Charlie_

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Re: 13th century heraldic issues
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2017, 07:25:47 PM »
Great solution to the dilemma! They look just the right balance of uniform / uniform.

 

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