Sunday 12 May 2024

No money, no Swiss! The hills are alive!

The Zinnfiguren madness continues, this time with the ferocious mercenaries of the Swiss Cantons; the title of this post (at least the first part) refers to their reputation for what would now be called "collective bargaining", threatening to go on strike just before a battle, unless paid....

It took a while to find "Swiss" figures that were different from Landesknecht until I read Embleton's comments that the Swiss were slightly more restrained but with a penchant for Ostrich feathers....

I picked "aggressive" figures:

The native French pike were also completed:

I have also idly been thinking about terrain. I dug out some plywood boards I had covered in Heki grass flock paper many moons ago for DBA and small games, although the raw material exists to expand these boards. These are the second incarnation of such boards, originally a Terry Wise idea; the first attempts were left in Newcastle at the Tyneside Wargames club.

I had made some hills for the new boards, based on sizes and types in WRG's 1685 - 1845 rules. However while browsing eBay, I found someone selling some grass flocked hills in different sizes. They are polystyrene on wood and the flock matches the board rather well. More than enough by way of hills.....

Sunday 5 May 2024


Over at Jonathan's blog he has been playing remote games of Fornovo, based on the new scenario book by Rodolfo Maria Verginella. The title of this post comes from there.

The posts created an interesting discussion on the armament of the Italian infantry, their quality and a valuable online link by the esteemed Anthony Clipsom (as an aside I was gratified to have someone as knowledgeable as Anthony agree with my views). The link was:

A primary source on the battle and well worth a read.

As I'm painting Zinnfiguren for the Italian Wars and contemplating an Italian army next, after the French, this has lead to looking at Fornovo, the first major battle of the wars. I was looking at this primarily as a wargames scenario but have ended up going back to the primary sources to make some sense of numbers. I have NOT consulted every book I have, nor have I been able to digout the old P&S Society articles on the battle which no doubt covered much of what I have been wrestling with.

Suffice to say there is much uncertainty about numbers and troop types and few modern authors agree, hence looking at primary sources which is where they derive the information with much interpretation.

Another useful source is here:

Having looked at all these, the Helion Italian Wars volume 1 title (Predonzani) is the most useful. Not only does it rely and summarise Beneditti and Commines but also other sources.

Here follows my version of the OoBs with my notes. Please note the interpretation is mine and any errors are attributable to me alone.



He selected thirteen hundred very brave armed horsemen, two thousand seven hundred arrow-bearing horsemen, six thousand Swabian and German foot sol­diers armed with axes, hatchets, spears, and small missiles, four hundred arrow-bearing foot soldiers, two hundred light-armed soldiers, and forty-two artillery pieces constructed with incredible skill which hurl forth iron and lead balls of immense weight

Gensdarmes 1300+ (max 2600?) distributed 300 to 350 in Van, 600 in Main and 400 in rear #1

2700 mounted archers #2 2500 in Main Battle

6000 "Swabian" and Swiss distributed 2-3000 to Van and (?) 1000 to Rear #3

400 "Archers" #4 Van or Main Battle

200 light-armed Van #5

42 cannon

#1 Predonzani points out Beneditti refers to MAA by which he means "Lance". French Ordinance Lances contained up to 6 or 8 members besides the MAA. From this he estimates there could be 7800 MAA. I disagree, not least because not all the members of a Lance were fighting men, such as pages and squires. At most there were 2 or 3 fighting men giving at most 3900. However, Beneditti gives a separate figure for archers, normally counted as part of a Lance. In addition, there were only 100 Lances, giving at most 800 MAA. Charles left part of his army in Naples with several hundred MAA reported in later battles in the South. It's unlikely France was stripped of MAA as well. Hence I would allow at most 2600 to include lesser members of the Lance.

#2 It's unclear what these are - I have taken them to represent "Archers" which were part of the Lance and at this stage mounted longbowmen, but who could fight mounted with sword. Later they were lesser armoured lancers. If they ARE part of the Lance, this gives 4000 for the Gensdarmes which is a respectable amount. Note they are not enumerated in the breakdown of Van, Main and Rear Battles. There are references to the Scots Archers and Guard being instructed to dismount to fight.

#3 Despite references to Germans, these are what we would call Swiss mercenaries. 6000 seems an awfully high number, especially as some were left in Naples? It is equal to the total contract with the Swiss Cantons a few years earlier. Only 3-4000 are enumerated in the Battles. Perhaps 6000 represents total infantry? 

#4 Dismounted. Commines gives 300 + 100 Scottish archers in Van with higher numbers of MAA and Swiss (350 + 3000). Could be crossbow but numbers low. Are they simply dismounted archers and should mounted total be decreased?

#5 Commines gives these as mounted crossbow and the King detatched 200 from those available to him, so there may be more -  500?


300-350 MAA; 200 mtd crossbow, 400 dismounted archers, 2-3000 Swiss


600 MAA; 2500 Archers; ? Swiss


400 MAA; 1000 infantry

Total 4000 mounted, 6000 foot? for total 10,000? Estimates up to 15,000 but swollen by servants and camp followers.

Note absence of French infantry. Predonzani reports Franc archers disbanded, Picard Old Bands (pike) not taken on expedition and only 5000 Gascon adventurers accompanied Charles VIII. However, some must have been left in Naples as they appear later. I'd estimate between 1000 (as recorded in Rear) and 3000 (total inf?) Gascon crossbow, 2000 if 1000 in Rear are Swiss.


Beneditti enumerates 3460 mounted and 7000 foot but the total is estimated at 15,000 so he obviously omits some contingents. 2205 to 2460 are MAA and 1000 light cavalry. Predonzani adds some details from other sources.

9 mixed squadrons

Duodo 600 Stradiots + 900 other cavalry inc mtd crossbow (600?)

510 MAA #6 Or 600 MAA + 6000 infantry Sforza militia and mercenaries (see below and notes)

4000 infantry "in phalanx" #7 Or 500 MAA + 500 archers #8 + 4000 infantry

370 MAA Or unknown?

570 MAA Or unknown?

255 "soldiers" Or unknown ?

465 MAA

280 cavalry and 1000 infantry to guard fortified camp

400 light cavalry and crossbow

68 "punt guns on wheels"

Predonzani also mentions 500 Burgundian cavalry from Maximilian, lightly equipped without horse armour. The alternative source gives 2400 MAA, 2000 light cavalry and 12,000 infantry for a total of 16,500.

A discussion on Jonathan 's blog was around the armament of the Italian infantry. Note how the numbers are not broken down in the sources, which indicates the low esteem they were held in. Predonzani reports they were either long spear held in one hand (with shields?), various types of halberd, glaive or polearm with round shield, crossbow or hand gun arranged in that order. Sword and buckler were also present. The long spear or "pike" of the Italian was more of a defensive function v cavalry. The Swiss sent out two handed swordsmen who chopped through the pike and put them to flight.

The Landesknecht are not mentioned in the fighting; surely if they had crossed pikes with the Swiss it would have been reported? Beneditti reports 4000 in a phalanx and 6000 Germans in an earlier parade:

3240 + MAA; 1600 light cavalry; 9000 infantry; 17 Serpentine and Spingarde (Punt) guns

+ 500 Burgundian cavalry and 6000 German infantry. Total 19,840.

#6 Predonzani does not apply the same logic of Lance and additional fighting men to Beneditti's numbers but does give another near contemporary chronicle with different numbers.

#7 I think these are the German Landesknechts given to Sforza by Maximilian reported by Predonzani. The "6000" could be 4000 Germans and 2000 Sforza militia

#8 mounted crossbow?

So there we have it, from this I'd estimate:

3460 MAA; 1000 Italian light cav (lancers + crossbow); 600 Stradiots; 500 Burgundian cavalry (lighter than MAA included in LC total?)

8,000 to 9,000 Italian infantry (spear, halberd, sword or crossbow)

4,000 to 6,000 German pike halberd and crossbow.

Sunday 28 April 2024

Flats (flat out?) progress

Update and photo dump on progress with the French Renaissance army composed of Zinnfiguren flats.

Some more Gascon "Adventureur" crossbow:


In one of a large lot were several "Knights" in active poses but with a 3/4 view; I struggled to see how these could be mixed with side view figures on the same stand. I then realised some rule sets (DBA RRR, Impetus) used separate generals on round stands; these would also be needed for historic refights with multiple commands. So I decided to use the 3/4 view figures as commanders:

A generic infantry commander identity yet to be decided.

It was difficult to get the shading right so I was pleased when some members of the VWC said they looked fully round.

Next "De Foix" who can be Nemours or Gaston de Foix:

Lastly "Tremouille":

I hope to add flags with appropriate coats of arms in due course.

Next, I was never very happy with some of the figures used for the Picard pike; I found some figures to replace some crude conversions (may recycle as early Swiss):

I have shown some later "Archers" basically less armoured Gensdarmes, part of the "Lance"however, there is some evidence that in the early days they were indeed mounted archers. As the DBA 3 list includes such mounted archers (3-4 foot and 1 mounted on a base) I decided to include some. Pictures showing such troops appear in contemporary pictures of Charles VII invasion of Italy, especially some who could be the following ("archers" are listed at Fornovo in some accounts):

Garde Archers Ecosse (Scots guard archers).

As I had spare figures, I added some "normal" Archers:

Lastly the French artillery with crew from spare medieval figures. The chap with one leg in the air will have his foot resting on the cannon. He is not (despite Alan armed with a FAB lolly! I was trying to hint at a lighted match......­čśÉ

As has been pointed out (thanks Brian) he will be in for a shock when the recoil takes effect!

I have a WIP photo showing the basic Contrast paint finish before AP washes and acrylic highlighting.

To finish the army needs Swiss and Landesknechts; I'm waiting for some figures from Germany before I progress to the Swiss. There are also some more Gensdarmes that would allow for Maximillian / Impetus armies (which use 24 elements or double sized bases).

I intend to try out the various rules I have to see which best "fits" the Italian Wars. Other armies are the Spanish, Imperial and various bits for Italian states - I will probably have some dedicated troops for Venice and the Papacy and possibly Milan (cavalry) while the rest are likely to be more "generic" as Italian mercenaries proliferated in both Italian States armies as well as the foreign ones. I also have some Turks for a Machiavelli Campaign.

This has led me to think about naval aspects; despite lots of 1/1200th scale galleys I have been toying with the idea of 1/600th (some of which I may have) or 1/300th......that way lies madness however!

Saturday 13 April 2024

Vive le Roi! (and some less salubrious persons)

The flats insanity continues; I have painted up figures for a stand to represent Louis XII.

In addition, I found some rather ropey "knight" figures with poorly defined heads. Looking at them, I was struck by the thought of converting them to Stradiots......some Green stuff later and we have enough for a couple of stands.

I'm working on the artillery currently but need to clean up some more figures. I have dug out some more potential Picard pike so will probably replace 3 of the figures done previously. There are also some more Gascon crossbow to do and then it will be Swiss and the dreaded Landesknechts....

Sunday 7 April 2024

More French Nobility and lesser "gentlemen"

The Zinnfiguren Italian Wars continues with more French; they have a lot of choice in the various army lists, so even for rules which use a reduced number of "elements" still need multiple figures.

More Gensdarmes

"Archers" - part of the "Lance" originally were mounted longbowmen and in the early Italian Wars may have fought as such; later were less armoured lancers

Finally some mounted Crossbowmen

I have tried to keep to a restricted colour palette throughout to tie the army together, basically blue, red, white and yellow.

The figures mostly come from a large lot; I selected the figures charging (as oppose to stationary with lance upright) to represent the French Gensdarmes, noted for their aggressive charges. As such, they are a mixed bag.

I have a few "front view" Knights cleaned up and primed; these I'm going to pair on circular bases as general figures for those rules that use separate generals which attach to an element - I can see this as necessary for larger games or historical refights. I also have an element which will become the general element, in this case an approximation of Louis XII; I'm toying with variants for Charles and Francis. There are also two large cannon and crew and some converted Stradiots.

Waiting in the wings for cleaning up and priming are Swiss, Landesknechts, more Gascons and possibly more French infantry.

Saturday 30 March 2024

Secret project revealed!

So initial experiments have worked out quite well, so I can reveal what I have been up to the last few weeks......

Italian Wars using 30mm Zinnfiguren flats.......WTF!

Completely left field distraction; so how did I get here.....

I have been interested in the Italian Wars for years; memories of Peter Gilder's armies in early MW magazine, playing Machiavelli, etc all contributed. Many years ago, my mate Pete Foggin gave me some 15mm he had designed and cast - not sure if they were ever available commercially. I started adding and adding, made a start on DBA sized armies French and Milanese which I never quite finished and then changed focus to Impetus sized bases and Maximillian rules which are a DBA derivative but use armies of 23-30 elements, so double initial plans....

I have toyed with restarting, even trying to prune the unpainted horde to use the better figures such as Vexillia, but it has been a long time since I painted 15mm or worse, cleaned them up...

Then, bad week at work, needed some cheering up. Saw some cheap lots of flats on eBay. I had resisted previously, although very tempted by the SYW Zinnfiguren available; always drawn to them, the elegant look......several bloggers have indulged. Manfully I had not let myself be swayed. Looking at the flats, they had lots of knights / Gensdarmes which looked lovely with the plumes.....but could I paint them?! Oh WTF have I done!

So, there I was having bought lots of medieval / renaissance Zinnfiguren wondering not only whether I could paint them, but what I was going to do with them! I happened to glance at the bookshelves where a copy of DBA 3 sat. Hmm, it now goes up to the Italian Wars.....hmm.....Machiavelli campaign using DBA sized armies....hmm....this way it could be manageable and not grow like the 15mm version has. What about the painting? Would Contrast paints work?

So sorting through the figures, I worked out there was enough for Imperial German, some Spaniards, these could be French and these Italians....oh there's a Burgundian army....this could work!

So I started wit the French; there were a lot of "active" knights which would be just right for Gensdarmes d'Ordinance.....lets start humbler......Gascon crossbows:

The above are pure Contrast paints and Speed Paints metallics. Then it was Army Painter ink wash as a pin-wash, followed by selective highlighting with acyllics:

Looking good, lets add some more crossbow and Gensdarmes:

Went to town on the Gensdarmes, oil wipe (although water based oil paint!) followed by ink wash, pin-wash of AP ink, highlighting and tidy up, So far we have:

9x Gascon crossbow

7x Picard pike (Horde)

3x 3 Gensdarmes

To finish have another couple of elements of Gensdarmes, various general figures (for DBA RRR), 2x artillery, an element of mounted crossbow. All undercoated and ready to paint. To finish the French I have some cavalry (archers), Swiss, Landesknechts some converted Stradiots and probably need to add more |Picards. All but the Swiss and Germans are cleaned up awaiting primer.

The plan is to do Imperial, Spanish and Italians - a mix of Venetian, Papal and generic Italian troop types. Reinforcements have been sourced from the UK and Germany, and have just bought some Turkish looking cavalry.......

There is certainly a Burgundian army in there and possibly Swiss, Peasant Revolt plus more Landesknechts.....

So far, they have turned out quite nice and are quick to paint with the Contrast / Speed paints doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Washes and highlights lift them into the next league IMHO.

Of course, I have found buying flats is as addictive as normal figures.......if not more so!

No money, no Swiss! The hills are alive!

The Zinnfiguren madness continues, this time with the ferocious mercenaries of the Swiss Cantons; the title of this post (at least the first...