Friday, 20 December 2019

The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge

In order to give a little more impetus to my Sagrajas 1086 project which has to be ready by May 17th next year for Partizan in Newark I'm going to be entering the The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. This will no doubt enable me to keep a better tally on what needs to be painted up and be a little more efficient about the process.

Did I mention it would be fun too? No doubt..... :>)

If you aren't aware of what the The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is all about then I highly recommend that you shoot over to the site in the links above and check it out. There are some lovely examples of painting that has been done over the years on display.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Imperial Roman Commander Base

This piece was painted up for a friend in Edinburgh many a moon ago. All the miniatures are by Gripping Beast, from their Imperial Roman range which I cannot find on their website so I assume that the range has been retired?

The shield is a LBMS transfer.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Ghemgis Khan

This was painted a while back again. I really love the The Assault Group Mongol range. I think this version of Temujin Khan came out very well. I wish I had hung onto the TAG Mongols that I had, my one gripe being that the Horses were too large, at ;east for the horse archers.

Ye Olde Pics of Justinian Byzantines

I managed to salvage some pics of my old Justinian Byzantines painted for one of the WAB campaign weekends at GWHQ in Lenton.

It was a bit of an emotional ride going through all those pictures of miniatures I have painted up over the years, especially with this army as it brought back some fantastic memories (I don't think I won a game all weekend!).

The army was speed painted in a matter of about five or six weeks for the event.

Battle of Sagrajas 1086

Battle of Sagrajas 1086: Prelude:

(Firstly, let me apologise about how some of the text of my article has come out on Blogger! I'm currently trying to remedy it though it seems I cannot find a background for the text that matches that of my Blog!)

What follows is what I have managed to glean thus far on the build up to and the fighting at the Battle of Sagrajas 1086. It is by no means a comprehensive view of the battle and I'm sure more I read, the more I will learn and the more my knowledge of the battle will grow. It needs to be said that the historical sources are customarily scarce in reference Sagrajas as is the case with most Medieval battles of this time period. I'm trying not to view this as a negative, but rather a positive as it will allow for the creation of some nice vignettes as well as allowing me to ad lib a little on the composition of part of the forces and terrain.             

Toward the last decades of the 11th century forces of Christian Spain and Portugal started to make major inroads into central 'Muslim' southern Spain. This was precipitated by the dissolution of The Independent Umayyid Emirate of Cordoba (929-1031) and the dismemberment of the state into the first petty Taifa Kingdoms (1031-1091). Such a disjuncture was to severely weaken Islamic military strength in Spain and many of the Taifa 'Kings' were forced to pay (literally) extortionate sums of money in tribute to the Christian Kingdoms to the North draining them of not only wealth but diminishing the ability of these small states to pay the costs of their own defence.

The Christian forces were drawn not just from King Alfonso VI of Leon-Castile vassals and general levy but a force of Mercenaries were gathered under Alvar Fanez who was recalled from Valencia along with many individual knights from parts of Christendom but mainly from Italy and France.

King Alfonso VI of Leon-Castile's capture of the Muslim city of Toledo sparked a degree of panic among the Taifa Kingdoms sufficient enough to instigate a series of appeals for military assistance to the Berber tribes of North Africa; The Almoravid Empire. The Almorivid leader, Yusuf ibn Tashufin (Arabic: يوسف بن تاشفين ناصر الدين بن تالاكاكين الصنهاجي)‎) headed the call and moved his army from Algeciras to the port of Badajoz in Castile where Yusef's ranks were swollen by al Mu'tamid and contingents from Grenada, Seville and Malaga.

As is the norm the numbers involved are speculative; medieval historians being notorious for exaggerating numbers when referencing battles. A possible acceptable estimate would be to say that the Muslim army probably outnumbered the Christian forces. Though there are no precise numbers of men involved in the fighting it is probable the Muslim host contained approximately 7,000 horsemen and a large number of infantry (Christians and the Moors in Spain) and the Christian force smaller than that of their enemy. I am going to put the numbers of Christian Knights and Lesser Knights (Caballeros Villanos) at about 5000 to 6000 with a number of infantry of varying quality.

Alfonso VI, initially besieging the City of Saragossa, on hearing of the congregation of the Muslim forces at Badajoz abandoned the siege, declared a 'fossata' (matching the meaning of the French word 'chevauchee': 'ride'), summoned more of his vassals enhancing his forces already at hand from Leon and Castile with the addition of men mercenaries commanded by Alvar Fanez with his additional some troops from Italy and France.

After a year of small scale raids and much preparation the two armies were to meet at Sagrajas on the 20th of October 1086.

Battle of Sagrajas 1086: The Battle:

The Christian camp was located north of the River Genorva (a tributary of the River Guadiana) whilst the Muslim armies camp was located next to the confluence of the River Guardiana.

For three days the two sides sat, watching one another warily across the River Guadiana, each observing the tactical and military capabilities of their enemies whilst heralds from both camps negotiated. The negotiations are likely to have been more of an attempt to calculate the military strength and capabilities of their opponents than to have been a serious attempt to negotiate a peace.  Finally prior to dawn on Friday 23rd of October, being a Muslim Sabbath day, probably hoping to take Yuseh ibn Tashufin's army by surprise the Christian host moved over the River Guadiana and attacked with the knights to the fore, lighter cavalry in the rear followed in turn by the infantry.

The Christian Heavy Cavalry force lead by Alvar Fanez were the first to strike the Muslim lines hitting the Taifa/Andalusian cavalry force, put to the fore by Yusuf ibn Tashufin who seemingly had little confidence with the native Muslim troops of the Tiafa kingdoms of Southern Spain. His was assumption seemed to be justified as after a brief fight, the Taifa Cavalry was put to flight heading south towards Yusuf ibn Tashufin main army and camp. It appears that Alvar Fanez's force caught up with the fleeing Andalusian Cavalry and another fight occurred to the fore of the Almoravid Camp where the Andalusians were again put to flight by the knights. As this was happening the Almoravid Infantry desperately form up to formed a battle line in front of their camp.

Meanwhile Alvar Fanez's force of knights were reinforced by a second wave of fresh knights under King Alfonso VI. Both contingents were to meet the Almorivid Infanry head on. The disciplined Almoravid medium/heavy cavalry sheltered in the Alcazaba hills on Yusuf ibn Tashufin left flank charged into the fray hitting King Alfonso VI's force in the flank. Part of the Christian force is driven back, a bloody fight ensuing  as the part of the Christian force is pushed back to their own camp. A total disaster for King Alfonso VI army!

In the frenzy of hand to hand fighting Alfonso VI was wounded whilst at the same time the Almoravid cavalry that head now reached the Christian camp attacked it but are repulsed by the infantry guarding Alfonso's encampment. The rest of the Christian army flees from the melee and is pursued by the Almoravid army. The pursuit however, was not followed up allowing for what was left of Alfonso VI's army to retire to Coria.

In my next post for Sagrajas I will be laying out my plans as to how I am going to re fight the battle. I will have to make some alterations, for example, I want to include some Christian infantry in support of Alfonso VI's mainly cavalry force. A sort of "what if?", if you like. On the other hand, details of the battle are so scarce that a "what if?" is more than appropriate!

Map Below (Taken from Erenow; Military History Site LINK):

"(a) Phase I: After three days of mutual observation by the two armies, the Christian forces, organized into two waves, launch an attack across the Guadiana River (1). Alvar Fanez’s Aragonese mercenaries strike al-Mu’tamid’s Moors in the first Muslim line (2). The Andalusians’ formations are broken, with the exception of the Sevillians under al-Mu’tamid himself, and flee towards the Muslim stronghold at Badajoz (3). (b) Phase II: Fanez and his Aragonese cavalry set off in pursuit of the Moors fleeing towards Badajoz (1). King Alfonso orders his larger Spanish contingent to charge the Almoravid line beyond the protective ditch (2). As the Muslim line gives way (3) and Alfonso presses on to the Berber camp (4), Yusuf orders his reserves into action using drum signals. Abu Bakr leads a division of Moroccans into action to assist al-Mu’tamid (5), while Yusuf sweeps past the Christians’ unprotected flank to fall on Alfonso’s camp (6). (c) Phase III: Learning of the attack on his camp, Alfonso hastily confers with his subordinate commanders and orders a return to the Christian camp (1). The Spanish forces suffer heavy casualties fighting their way back (2) but succeed in reaching their camp where they form a new line (3). As Alfonso organizes his surviving knights into a defensive line, Fanez returns from his pursuit (4), only to abandon the king after quickly assessing the grim situation (5). (d) Phase IV: Emboldened by the defection of Fanez’s mercenaries, the now reinforced Moorish forces from the first line launch a counter-attack (1). The Muslim forces are soon joined by some of the Andalusians that had earlier fled towards Badajoz in an apparent karr-wa-farr (2). The situation grows increasingly desperate for Alfonso. As night approaches, Yusuf spots a gap in the Spanish line (3) and orders in his elite ‘Black Guard’ (4). Alfonso is wounded, but the king’s bodyguard rallies and carries him out of the fray to the safety of a nearby hill (5). The Muslim forces sack the Christian camp as the king and some 500 survivors manage to escape the scene of their defeat under cover of darkness.With the majority of the Moorish line routing, King Alfonso ordered the second, larger Spanish force into action (Map 3.9(b)). These better-armed and more heavily armoured Christian cavalry pushed through the remnants of the first Muslim formation and hit the second Almoravid line, smashing the Berber front, then crossed the ditch to strike the Berber camp beyond. At this moment, Yusuf ordered most of his reserves into the fray, orchestrated by drumbeats. A division of Moroccan tribesmen under the command of Yusuf’s lieutenant Abu Bakr reinforced al-Mu’tamid, while Yusuf himself swept around the Christian flank and fell on Alfonso’s camp. When the king of Castile-Leon learned of this attack on his rear, he held a hasty war council and decided to remove himself from his precarious position (Map 3.9(c)). Despite heavy casualties, the Spanish knights fought their way back to their camp and formed a new line."

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Following on from Sagrajas- Montlhery 1465

Following on from Sagrajas (1086) I'll be working on two projects, the Battle of Brunanburh 937 to satisfy my Early Middle Ages cravings and the Battle of Montlhery 1465 to tickle my Late Medieval fancy!

These are two battles that I've held a very keen interest in for many a year. Thus far I've not had the time to venture into modelling either, but now my tail is up again! I've been exceptionally lucky in having someone volunteer to translate the Montlhery - 16th July 1465, from the Forgotten Battles Series published by Historic'one. So a massive thank you to Stephen Phenow for taking time out of his very busy schedule to come to my rescue and finally attempt to put this battle into action on the tabletop. A dream come true.

So, I have Sagrajas 1086 to finish by mid May next year and two projects starting simultaneously following on from that.

More info on Brunanburgh to follow shortly but for now; Montlhery 1465.

This taken from

"It was in July, on a hot summer day that the royal armies of LOUIS XI and the Burgundian armies led by CHARLES Count of Charolais, son of the Duke of Burgundy, allies to the Lords of the "League of the Public Good ", s' fought for this memorable battle.
The disjointed and unforeseen battle of MONTLHÉRY already indicate a new way of fighting. The Count of Charolais, wishing to join the army of King LOUIS XI before she could return to Paris, coming from Orleans, had taken up position at LONGJUMEAU, his precautionary guard in the village of MONTLHÉRY. The King, informed of the Count's presence on the left bank of the Seine, hastily sent for Charles de MELUN, his lieutenant-general in the Ile-de-France, to send two hundred spears from Paris under Marshal RONAULT in order to take the Burgundians on the back.
The Count of Charolais had entrenched himself in Longjumeau with his chariots, and on the morning of July 16, 1465 Roy occupied the castle of MONTLHÉRY at the head of the army, and hastily desired to reach Paris. What the Comte de Saint-Pol commanding the rear guard of the Burgundians made a movement back, leaving between him and the army of the King, a stream and woods, but did not want to go further. Charles of Burgundy therefore left.

Longjumeau and joined the vanguard. The attitude of the battlefield is known (see attached plan). The village of Longjumeau straddles the small river Yvette, in a small valley. On the south side extends to the town of MONTLHÉRY, a plateau cut by two small streams flowing in marshy bottoms, and one jumping into the Barley, the other into the Yvette. The Chaussée d'Orléans passes through Longjumeau and the town of MONTLHÉRY on the plateau. North of MONTLHÉRY about a kilometer is a small eminence.
Charles de Melun could not assemble the two hundred spears demanded by the King, who, from the top of the dungeon of the castle, seeing nothing coming from the Parisian side, would have liked to avoid the battle. The Comte de Charolais, content to block the way from the capital to his adversary, did not seem anxious to engage him. But the leaders of the two avant-gardes decided otherwise, and being separated only by a stream (see A and B) came to the hands (see A 'and B').
The Burgundians were already massed, while the French arrived in line to support their first body. While the Burgundian leaders were discussing whether it was better to fight on foot or on horseback, the royal army had time to battle, and the action began, no longer as on a narrow front, but on a long line; so long that while the right wing commanded by the Comte de Charolais sank the French left wing, the right wing of the Royal Army beat the left wing of the Burgundians. The centers remained on their respective positions. The Count of Charolais, who commanded the victorious right wing of the Burgundians pushed so far, that
"Never," said COMMYNES , "there was greater flight on both sides, but by especial they demolished the two princes in the fields.From Roy Fust a man from Estat fled as far as Lusignon without repoising; of the Count, another good man even to Quesnoy-le Comte, who did not care to bite each other ".
During these two leaks of the left wings of the two armies, the centers were firing. The artillery on both sides had followed the road to Orleans, and could be deployed more easily than the French, confined between ravines and woods, and arriving in line. Also his right wing he commanded in person, having pushed his archers in front of her, the left wing of the French (see D) back to the first houses of the town (see D '). There says COMMYNES, eyewitness: "Those (archers on horseback) from the King led them PONCET of the RIVER, and were all ordnance Orfovérisés and well in point.The ones costed by the Burgundians were without order and without command, as volunteers ".
They had come from a breath through the field of Longjumeau: "If the skirmishes began ... the number of Burgundians was great, and they took a house, and took two or three huis, and used them as walls. to enter the street and set fire to a house (see in C) the wind served them, which pushed the fire against those of the King, who began to cling and ride horses and to flee, and on this noise and cry , began to walk and flee (continue) the Count of Charolais leaving, as I said, any order divided screen ... "

"All the archers of the said Count walked on foot before him in bad order, how much my advice is, that the sovereign thing of the world for the battles, are the archers, but that they are thousands, because in small numbers are worth nothing, and that they have gone up badly, that they have no regrets for losing their horses, or at all having none of them. "
When the Count's attack had thus driven back the French left wing, the men-at-arms of the King rallied, divided themselves into two troops, and, overflowing the line of the archers, tried to attack the Count's cavalry. The latter, instead of waiting for it, passed all through his own archers and thus took the French cavalry on the flank while it was operating, cut it and put it in the greatest disorder, so that it turned her back, and was so strongly urged that she could not get up.
The left wing of Burgundy was weaker than the right wing of the French, who on this side always arrived. It was sunken, separated from the center and thrown back into the woods and along the barley. The French, to obtain this result, seemed to have supported their attack on the little village of Chapelle-Villiers.
This strange battle, in which both parties were victorious or vanquished, is, however, of great interest. They are no longer masses who collide head-on. The field of battle was good, well chosen, and allowed each of the armies to obtain a decisive result, because each of the victorious wings could have fallen back on the center. But the right wing of the Burgundians, having the first depressed the French left wing, could have obtained a brilliant success by letting its archers keep the enemy defeated, on this point and by flinging flank on the center of the artillery . CHARLES liked better to pursue his partial victory while his left was crushed.
But if the success of the battle was thus shared, its consequences were to the advantage of LOUIS XI. The Burgundians were now unable to block the way to Paris, and they spent a very idle night in Longjumeau: Believing to be turned by the French right, it was not, however, LOUIS XI did not want to risk a second battle, and the Burgundians were able to return where they had come from, while claiming a victory with no other result than the loss of two or three thousand men.
It is no less obvious that tactics were changing. The wings of the armies became mobile, and could act. while the center reinforced by the artillery, kept its positions. But the infantry, which hitherto had been used only as skirmishers, archers, crossbowmen, or who had been able to oppose to the attacks of the cavalry, in open country, only compact masses, without initiative, as with the battle of ROSBECQUE, in 1382, was in line, beginning to form in battalion as good for the attack as for the defense.
In fact it was in MONTLHÉRY that for the first time was used the artillery. A note from the archives of the Department of the North reports on the use of arms by the Count of Charolais in this battle.
"On July 16th: 5 powder kegs for serpentines and ribaudequins: 1 500 pounds of plums or small lead pellets July 17th and 18th: a barrel of powder and 100 pounds of plumets During the three days: 223 barrels and spears, 154 vultures, 360 spears, 1,800 bows in hand, 38,400 arrows, 700 dozen bowstring, and seven bronze serpentines burst during the battle. "
The town of MONTLHÉRY had suffered much from the confrontation, part of the houses was burned and destroyed. The inhabitants felt for a long time this terrible struggle because Roy LOUIS XI, did nothing to compensate them, nor to raise them from the losses they had suffered.

This plain called "the battlefield" remained uncultivated for centuries. Only remnant of the terrible event, remains this cross , probably built by the Knight Bayard (Pierre Terrail) in memory of his grandfather who died during the battle. We can read today on the renovated plaque:"

Thirty Years War - Swedish Blue Regt painted for Phil Olley

Apologies for the lack of posts of late, My camera was left at a hardcore punk gig and although a mate, living locally, has it in has possession I haven't been able to go and get it as of yet.

I was trundling through the net the other day when I came across a regiment that I had painted up for Phil Olley a while and in order to fill in the blanks I thought I'd post a few pics here. I only painted the miniatures and cannot take the credit for painting up the colours nor basing the miniatures.

A good description and more images can be found on Phil's War Cabinet (Phil's Blog oddly enough) HERE.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Yusuf ibn Tashfin's Black Guard Beginning to Take Shape

I'm pleased to announce that I have finished painting and the first 12 (Gulp! A long way to go as of yet!!) miniatures of Yusuf ibn Tashfin's Black Guard have been rolled out. I went for quite a plain black colour scheme highlighted by a deep blue as I wanted the Black Guard to look quite menacing on the tabletop. 

I've went for a mix of Artizan Designs, Footsore (actually Musketeer) and Saxon Miniatures (now sold by Warlord Games). In the main these will be the manufacturers of choice but with the (obvious!) addition of Gripping beast, Doyens of the Dark Ages, superb "El Cid" range. The miniatures have been blue tacked into position on the bases as I want the composition to be flexible should I change my mind about positioning as more figures are added.

I've gone more for a sort of Sudanese look with darker skin tones than I plan to paint the 'Berber' and Andalusian units in the army. I'm not sure I'm 100% happy with the paint scheme on the Black Guard but considering I have not done any painting for roughly five years I should probably not be so harsh on myself. Ohmmmmm..... just breathe! 

Having recently done some research on the hippo shields carried by many 'Berber' tribes what I discovered was quite interesting. The existing examples of hippopotamus hide shields in various collections and museums around the globe show signs that the shield significantly blackened as the object aged. I've gone for a much lighter 'brown' and have layered the paint in such a way as to suggest the ridges that occurred during construction that one tends to find on the surviving examples. My lighter shields are not realistic in tone. The brown is matched to be reasonably complimentary to the blue in order to create some degree of colour balance. You can't take the fine art college education out of the man- apparently!

Ethiopian Hippo Hide Shield
(slightly 'blackened' with age)

Beja Shield from the 19th Century

Here are a couple of quick snaps of the unit as it takes shape from the right and the left which should give some idea of the dynamic that I am hoping to create; that of a unit in combat and not the static unit of spearmen one sometimes finds in armies of the period. I want all my units to have some sort of vignette as a minor focal point but also to show that this is a fighting force. This has always been a theme in all of my armies including my old WAB armies! Not so easy to to with a one mini- one base type of army as one found in most WAB armies.

For the spears I've gone with a cane type affair as exemplified in the El Cid WAB Supplement written by James Morris. They are referred to as bamboo in the El Cid book but as someone on LAF pointed out in my first post covering this game, it is unlikely to have been bamboo as the materiel would have had to travel several thousands of miles if that were so! If you are interested in the Spanish Reconquista and you have not got a copy of this great book then I suggest that you try your utmost to get a copy! It's filled with a wealth of information, ideas and general military history. Really. It's a gem of a book. As Warhammer historical are no longer with us you will have to look online to buy a copy. I'm sure there will be plenty of them floating about if you look in the right places. The Wanted section of the Bazaar in the Lead Adventure Forum would be a great place to start.

As you will no doubt have noticed the miniatures need another coat of matte varnish as a few bits were missed after giving them the coat of gloss. This is inevitable when varnishing with a Matte Spray over a first layer of gloss as when you apply the varnish the matte looks as glossy as the gloss! Fun, fun, fun! The gloss I'm currently using is Humbrol Enamel Varnish Spray. This is not typical as I  would normally have given the miniatures a brush on coat of Humbrol Gloss thinned with a little white spirit. I find that this gives a much tougher coat then the gloss spray and it also allows for better control of any 'pooling'. Unfortunately, I cannot find my tin of brush on Humbrol Gloss at present but I'm certain that it is safe and sound in the many boxes that I put my painting gear in! One of the fun parts of packing everything away and unpacking..... not!

This was intended to be a quick post. Not only to show that the armies were beginning to take shape but somehow to give me some impetus into getting stuck into getting the units modelled and painted.