This post is a follow up to yesterday’s toy soldier post about early wargames in G. K. Chesterton’s The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904).
In this book, set in the future date of 1984, Britain is run “through a figurehead king, randomly chosen. The dreary succession of randomly selected Kings of England is broken up when Auberon Quin, who cares for nothing but a good joke, is chosen. To amuse himself, he institutes elaborate costumes for the provosts of the districts of London.”
Thanks to a comment from Bob Cordery, author of the Wargaming Miscellany blog and The Portable Wargame series, I tracked down this Hayao Miyazaki front cover for a Japanese translation of G K Chesterton’s 1984 or The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904) as it is more commonly known:
Mary MacArthur features this cover in her own illustration blog:
The book link comes through a gift from Father Peter Milward of the Japan Chesterton Society – who knew this existed? – passing a copy to Mary MacArthur, a member of the Catholic Illustrators Guild – who knew, ditto?
This is what I enjoy about toy soldier and wargames hobby blogging, the tangential learning and random ferment of ideas from others, such as the comments by Bob Cordery and Alan (Tradgardland) Gruber on my previous Chesterton Toy Soldier post:
Reigning in the mission creep of my New Gaming Years Irresolutions for 2021, I pondered an interesting question from Alan Gruber about how this Chesterton book might feed into my gaming?
I didn’t want to start another Wargames project this early in 2021 but it made me realise there is an odd link between my Arma-Dad’s Army project and Chesterton’s book.
I am always looking for (what Peter Laing christened) ‘dual use figures’ to cut down on costs, storage and painting time.
Bunging some beefeaters into a more modern ImagiNations conflict seems suitably like Wells’ Floor Games or Little Wars, who often filled in forces and Floor Games with what figures he had to hand.
Those are very Tudor / Yeoman Warder /Lanschknect type uniforms featured in The Napoleon of Notting Hill and Miyazuki’s cover illustration.
At last a modern 1904/84 use for all those halberd wielding ceremonial yeoman warder types of plastic, Britain’s Deetail new metal and old hollowcast figures that you slowly acquire from childhood onwards.
They remind me of the yeoman warder chess pawn pieces from Prince August Spanish Armada and Henry VIII Cloth of Gold homecast moulds. These have now both arrived and are awaiting a good casting day.
The Catholic / Chesterton angle is interesting in view Of my Christmas mix of Armada, Tudor and Elizabethan books, along with A.L. Rowses’s Tudor Cornwall (1941, recent paperback reprint). Even now with the distance of history, it takes some doing to keep up with the changing shifts of Catholic / Protestant regime changes in Britain and especially in its Celtic extremities like Cornwall with its culturally disastrous Prayerbook Rebellions, along with the splits, feuds and intermarriage between the landed gentry.
Backing the wrong side during the reign of Henry VIII or Elizabeth The First could see you lose you head or merely your whole landed estates.
This clash rumbled on through the English Civil War and Interregnum. Pity the poor estate staff, tenant farmers or peasants and fieldworkers who got caught up in all this at the behest of their local landed gentry family. It is too important a topic to call it the whim of the landed gentry as people were prepared to die or be disinherited for their faith,but it must have been quite a random thing for the workers which side their landlords backed or broke with as kings and queens changed. These ordinary people would form the often unwilling backbone of the local Arma-Dad’s Army of Muster or Militia as it was later known.
The idea behind this project is seeing the Armadas and Spanish raids of Invasion fears as a version of the Home Guard facing the German WWII invasion plans ofOperation Sealion, in Tudor Spanish terms Operacion Leon Marino?
A.L. Rowse occasionally noted some of these occasional parallels into his Tudor Cornwall, finished in the early years of WWII.
Some might object to a comparison of Catholic Spanish of Philip II and the Conquistadors or Armadas as an invasive and fearsome foreign regime parallel to the Nazi hordes with their “typical Shabby Nazi tricks” (to quote Captain Mainwaring). There was a hope on the Spanish side and fear on either British side, fuelled by concerns about espionage, that loyal Catholic families would rise up as a “fifth column” when the Spaniards invaded.
Even the painting or colour scheme of my ‘Spanish Fury‘ troops is intended to reveal the Tudor fears of the possibly satanic black and red, to reflect their popular image after years of Tudor English propaganda. I shall continue this colour scheme with the new Chintoys figures reinforcements from Christmas.
I have to say I have no personal bias, having grown up with both Catholic and Protestant friends.
However much I am enjoying the Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England book by Ian Mortimer and fascinated as I am by my family history of Cornish ancestors in these sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, I am very thankful not to be living in Tudor times, whether it is from the confusing switching religious regime angle or the medical and dental one.
Having read Winston “Poldark” Graham’s The Grove of Eagles: A Novel of Elizabethan England, there is more of a sympathetic portrayal of the Spanish and Catholic characters than I expected, along with an understanding of the divided family loyalties of the intermarried Protestant and Catholic Cornish or West Country families. These were the same old families that sometimes hung on in larger or smaller means to run the estates and houses that shaped Cornwall and the West Country into the last century. In fact, a small number of hese same Cornish county family names of old still exist in some of these houses and estates today.
This week in my forthcoming blog posts, I shall feature some pikemen, the first completed shiny figures of my dual use Trained Bands and English Civil War figures as reinforcements for the poorly armed and barley trained ‘Muster’ or Arma-Dad’s Army.
Blog post by Mark Man of TIN, 17 January 2021