A Nudge of Pike

The “Don’t Tell Him Pikes” – The first of the Bluecoats or Trained Band reinforcements for the Elizabethan Muster (Militia or Arma-Dad’s Army Home Guard) to see off the Spanish Armadas land invasion threat.

“They don’t like it up ’em!” “Show em the cold steel!” Says Mister Jones ye Butcher.

Also available for the English Civil War 50 years later … and for The Napoleon of Notting Hill 1904/ 1984.

Crossposted by Mark Man of TIN from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/01/18/a-nudge-of-pike/

Miyakazi Illustrates Chesterton’s 1984 The Napoleon of Notting Hill 1904 and at last a use for toy Beefeaters?

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:

http://smallpax.blogspot.com/2010/08/miyazaki-illustrates-chesterton.html

Mary MacArthur features this cover in her own illustration blog:

http://snowflakeclockwork.blogspot.com/2010/08/miyazaki-illustrates-chesterton.html

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:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/16/toy-soldiers-and-the-napoleon-of-notting-hill-by-g-k-chesterton-1904/

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.

Opening page of Preben Cannik’s Military Uniforms of the World (Blandford)
A few of my randomly acquired metal “Beef Eaters collection.

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.

My Chintoys sets of figures and Tudor reading from Christmas

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.

My Chintoys 54mm Spanish https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/30/the-spanish-fury/

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

A Grove of Eagles by Winston Graham – Poldark meets Elizabethan England?

Rather than painting my new figures, I have just finished reading the 640 page long Winston Graham’s The Grove of Eagles – A Novel of Elizabethan England (1963, Pan Macmillan reissue 2016)

Based on real historical events, this book follows the mixed fortunes of the Killigrew family of Arwenack and Pendennis Castle in Falmouth, Cornwall in the 1590s of the Spanish Armadas and raids on England.

Winston Graham is much better known for his 18th Century Poldark novels which were also set in Cornwall (filmed for TV in the 1970s and recently) and other books such as Marnie (later made into a Hitchcock movie). He also wrote a non fiction book about the Spanish Armada, which also arrived as a Christmas present, so he knew the background of the many historical figures who turn up in the book.

It has lots of interesting characters – pirates, witches, wenches, soldiers and sailors. The novel is split into 5 sections, which have some interesting scenarios for gaming:

  1. The Spanish Raids and burning of Mousehole, Newlyn, Penzance and Paul church in Cornwall 1595
  1. Joining up with Walter Raleigh and going to sea against the Spanish – the sea fight and breaching the city walls and street fighting during the land invasion at Cadiz – it all goes a bit C.S. Forester or Bernard Cornwall at this point.

The Cadiz street fighting and ship boarding sections give a good idea of what a visceral and bloody experience it must be facing musketeers, pikes and bill hooks in confined spaces. The casualty rate and attrition from such wounds and being captured or imprisoned is obviously quite high.

I will not give away any plot spoilers about the adventures and romances of young Cornishman Maugan Killigrew but it is an enjoyable story set within real historical events.

I was a little disappointed that there were no maps of the Cornish places or of Cadiz and the sea areas mentioned in the book. Thankfully I have the other Winston Graham Spanish Armada history book for this. You can search for the places on online or OS maps.

A short chapter at the end by Winston Graham fills in what happened after the story to the real characters and what parts are based on fact and contemporary sources.

Shhhh – Don’t tell anybody but for somebody of Cornish ancestry it is no doubt shocking to confess that I haven’t read any Poldark novels or seen the two TV adaptations, either in the 1970s when I was too young (it’s a bit mixed up in my head with The Onedin Line) or more recently.

What makes it more personally interesting to me is that I know many of the Cornish places mentioned in the book. I know a little of the family histories connected to these estates and houses and sometimes wonder what my Cornish ancestors were doing during these Armada days of Spanish Raids, as they all lived in far west part of Cornwall that was raided by the Spanish. Did they see the Spanish ships, flee the burning towns or stand ‘Muster’ in the lacklustre defence of the Cornish shores?

I look forward to reading it again soon, as when you reach the end, some of the previous events and characters are revealed in a new light.

Anyway I turned a few page corners down to go back and look at for possible gaming scenarios with my 54mm figures.

These scenarios will be useful once I have finished painting the new Chintoys Spaniards, some more cheap plastic seaside pirates as ships crews and converted some more plastic knights into a passable Cornish / English Muster, reinforced by the pikes and muskets of a Trained Band of English Civil War figures.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/30/the-spanish-fury/

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/10/16/from-black-prince-knight-to-elizabethan-arma-dads-army-muster-or-militia-54mm-plastic-conversion/

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/10/11/elizabethan-muster-for-the-spanish-armada-in-shiny-54mm/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 2 January 2021.

Happy Gaming Year 2021 Irresolutions

Christmas gifts for my Arma-Dad’s Army project 2021 – Chintoys 54mm, llamas, vintage Monarch Spaniards and books from heavy hints to the family and centre a Cherilea Elizabethan gift and mounted Conquistador from Alan Gruber

Thanks to all my blog readers and friends for their support, comments and distractions in 2020.

Here is my look back at this disrupted year of 2020 and some New Gaming Year Irresolutions of things I may or may not do in 2021:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/12/31/new-gaming-year-irresolutions-2021/

Happy New Gaming Year – Stay Home. Paint Figures. Keep Safe.

Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, New Years Eve 31 December 2020.

The Spanish Fury!

The latest addition to my Spanish Armada 54mm Operation Sealion type invasion scenario Arma-Dad’s Army are the feared Spaniards themselves.

Having converted some suitable cheap plastic knights into an Elizabethan militia rabble called a Muster, not as well equipped (‘furnished’) as the Trained Bands, I thought it time to complete some of their opponents.

These figures are 54mm Chintoys Conquistadors, an unfinished unpainted project kindly gifted by Alan Tradgardland Gruber.

For some ideas of colouring, I checked Blandford’s trusty Warriors and Weapons of Ancient Times, Funcken and eventually some old Ospreys on the Conquistadors and the Spanish Armada. The Spanish troops did not have our modern conception of a uniform.

I struggled to decide how to paint the Spaniards – motley colourful or more uniform?

In Osprey 101 Conquistadors there is an interesting quote from The Broken Spears (the Aztec account of the Spanish invasion) describing Spanish cavalry:

“There were about fifteen of these people, some with blue jackets, others with red, others with black or green, and still others with jackets of a soiled colour, very ugly, like our ichtilmatli [cloak made from the fibres of the maguey cactus]. There were also a few without jackets. On their heads they wore red kerchiefs or bonnets of fine scarlet colour …” (p. 12)

“The clothing was colourful, red being an especially popular colour, and feathers were often worn in the hats.” (p. 12)

Osprey Elite 15: The Spanish Armada – “It has already been noted that the Spanish frowned upon uniformity of dress as bad for a soldier’s morale, but the circumstances of English military service led to a more advanced attitude … The counties had no fixed regulations for outfitting their militia.” (P. 51)

“Uniform colours were not adhered to, as individuality in clothing was thought to inspire soldiers to valour and pride in themselves. The red cross of St Andrew and a red scarf or sash were worn as identifying marks of the Spanish service.” (P.9)

Black and Red – Spanish officer (r), ensign (c) and light Pikeman (l) by Richard Hook. The cross of Saint Andrew carried by the Spaniards can be seen.

The front cover plate by Richard Hook of Spanish command figures shows an intriguing black clad light pikeman from Plate K1 “This unarmoured pikemen comes from the ‘tercio of the sextons’ who were famous for their sombre dress.” (Osprey Spanish Armada p.62)

“The nicknames given to the Spanish tercios in the Netherlands – the ‘ tercio of the [beribboned] dandies ” , “ the sextons ‘ and so on – reflect a sense of pride and corporate solidarity.” From The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road 1567-1659 by Geoffrey Parker, John Elliott, Olsen Hufton (2004) .”

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Motley, red or black … a colour scheme is slowly emerging.

Bluecoats: Cheap plastic knight conversion to Archer & polearmed Cornish Muster 1580s-90s

Overall the Tudor British colours were originally white and green but steadily blue coats became more standard for the English, “guarded” by edging stripes of their unit colours.

Taking the dominant Spanish red colour, this avoids a motley painting nightmare of coloured stripes and varied uniforms.

Army Red on Army Blue at 54mm scale? How very H.G. Wells and Little Wars. All the more reason to keep the toy soldier style of painting shiny!

The solution was found on Barney Brown’s Herald Toys website:

These two Elizabethan Monarch Cherilea 1960s figures have blazing torches. Watch out Cornish towns! Sold – These three lovely figures are joining my forces at Christmas.

I really liked the black, red and silver colour scheme with leather brown. This was it, dark colours, the black and red diabolical colours of flames. I have painted them as fearsome as the Cornish might have seen or talked of them.

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From Osprey, Elite 15 – The Spanish Armada:

“As for the common soldiers and people of England, they had been brought up on stories of Spanish cruelties against the Dutch. They had heard how the people of Naarden had been massacred, and that the garrison of Haarlem had been executed despite having surrendered on good terms. They also knew that as a result the people of Leiden had starved rather than surrender to the Spanish; and that the Citizens of Oudewater had set their own Town in fire rather than let the enemy enter.”

“The people of London knew that 8,000 citizens had been killed and 1,000 houses destroyed when the ‘Spanish Fury‘ had burst upon the great city of Antwerp. With the pamphleteers telling them that the Armada was loaded with Jesuits and instruments of torture, it seemed that the coming battle would be to save not only their Protestant faith, but their very lives.” (Page 55)

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(At this point to offset this Protestant propaganda, I feel I should point out that some of my best friends growing up were / are Catholics.)

They are painted in shiny toy soldier style (including pink cheek dot) using Revell Aquacolor Acrylics (gloss and matt) and then spray varnished in gloss. I want them to have look of factory painted shiny Britain’s straight out of a red box lead hollowcast figures. Bases are 2p mdf bases from Warbases.

Off the painting table, waiting for the varnish to dry. Red, black and shiny.

The Chintoys Conquistador Set 1 figures have a variety of weapons of the time, there are 8 poses in the set.

The figure poses from the Chintoys bag header or graphic insert

Reading the Osprey books I began to recognise some details of the uniforms and weapons. Each figure carries a light sword.

1. The Swordsman with the sash and Combed Morion

The strangely pointy helmet of the combed or Spanish Morion was not just worn by stereotype Spaniards. He also has a breastplate or cuirass. The stuffed breeches apparently gave some protection against sword cuts.

2. The Crossbow figure

The flat cap and slashed or pinked jacket to show different colours shout “Tudor” to me. If only such recast heads with these hats existed or were easily available.

In the conditions of South America, bow cords soon wore out and the winding cranequin and working parts rusted so they were steadily less serviceabl. Even still crossbow bolts could easily pierce the cotton padded body armour of the native warriors. Slow to reset though. Not so good in the rain either. A sword is also carried, just in case!

3. Arquebus figure – firing

Again, an obvious codpiece and stuffed breeches. This shorter weapon (a caliver or arquebus?) require no musket rest. In the humid jungles and mountains of South America, these weapons became rusted and less serviceable.

Details of powder flasks, bandolier with charges, musket rest …

4. Arquebus or musket figure – standing

Note: The musket style rest and leather strap with powder charges – a bandolier of boxes. Again, an obvious codpiece and stuffed breeches. A plainer Morion helmet is worn.

I really enjoyed doing shiny toy soldier style faces with pink cheek dots and cartoon Spanish black moustaches – an outbreak of Tintin Thompson Twins!

Awrquebus, Caliver or Musket?

Before anyone objects to my firearms ID, both the Osprey Spanish Armada and the Wikipedia entry on the caliver and arquebus say that the distinction between these and the ‘musket‘ are not clear and definitive. It partly depends on size.

Whilst the Conquistador figures are c. 1520s-1540s and in their Armada roles I am using them for the 1580s-90s, both armour and dress styles were in slow transition. These figures are from an age where the bow and crossbow are slowly and steadily being replaced by the arquebus and musket as easier to learn for unskilled troops. The Cornwall or local Muster of untrained, ‘unfurnished’ troops and even the Trained Bands in 1588 in many areas still had a fair complement of bowmen and polearms, which by the late 1590s Armada invasion scares were steadily being replaced by ‘pike and shot’.

In this way I can mix in some later English Civil War figures of musketeers, ensigns and pikemen to represent the most well equipped Trained Bands. The minimal pike armour of helmet, breastplate or corselet and tasset thigh guards are relatively unchanged 50 to 60 years later.

5. Swordsman with round buckler shield

This sword and buckler (shield) man wears a burgonet helmet with slight swept back peak or crest. As well as a corselet backplate and breastplate armour he also wear tassels or thigh armour plates.

6. Swordsman with heart shaped shield

He wears a cabacete helmet with swept back metal crest. He also wears the cotton or maguey Caruso fibre quilted padded jacket in place of plate armour, similar to the native tlahuiztli body armour of Aztecs and Mixtec seen on some warriors here and in the Osprey Elite Conquistadors book.

The Spanish plate armour apparently went rusty in the tropic heat of South America, despite being painted black, and was heavy and hot to wear. No surprise the Spanish went native in their body armour, sandal footwear and lack of hose.

The unusual heart shaped shield is made of hide and is called an adarga.

7. Halberd Man

The halberd with red tassel – the sign of a sergeant in British Trained Bands and soldiers. Note the obvious codpiece. In the Osprey Armada book cover, the Spanish officer carries a fancy halberd – a sign of rank, rather than common polearm?

8. Spear Man

In place of a jack (jacket of jerkin) or breastplate, he wears a padded quilted cotton jacket based on the Aztec / Mixtec body armour (see No. 6). He also wears a simple sallet type helmet.

What next?

I enjoyed painting these, once I had settled on an impressive if unhistorical colour scheme. The Mixtec / Aztecs from Alan Gruber are already half painted in unhistorical generic South American tribe colours, again shiny toy soldier style.

Elizabethan figures in 54mm are quite scarce. Recast or replacement Tudor or Elizabethan heads are not easy to find.

Although the Chintoys figures appear expensive at £2 to £3 each, expensive to someone who mostly works with cheap plastic poundstore figures, Chintoys figures are good unusual figures to add character in amongst cheaper converted alternatives. This obviously dilutes the overall cost of building up skirmish forces for the Armada and South America.

The Spaniards with Greco-Roman conversion swordsman and my Shakespeare conversion used as an officer

To further dilute the cost, I have a few bags of seaside cheap Hing Fat / China made pirate figures of a later century can also stand in for Armada seamen and landing parties with their swords and primitive firearms. I also have a handful of some Safari Toob Jamestown settlers (1607) sailor and civilian figures to mix in.

The “Thin Blue Line” of the Cornish Muster guard the coast, cheap plastic knight conversions.

I didn’t realise that Chintoys made a second Conquistador set which have now been bought from a U.K. Dealer and stored away for Christmas as Spanish and English reinforcements and character figures. The Chintoys Spanish warriors is already in the family presents box.

Set CHT012 has eight good individual figures or characters and their varied weapons, figures could be either Spanish or English. The Chintoys Spanish Warriors set CHT024 appear to be in slightly earlier 16th century costume and armour but still have a crossbow and primitive firearm.

Although I balk at paying £20+ for eight admittedly good figures, the price is diluted by padding out the skirmish forces with Pound Store and cheap plastic knights and pirates.

Here is one such weird Greco- Roman cheap plastic knight with stuffed Tudor style breeches converted with kitchen roll and PVA glue hair into a fierce and furious Spanish raider!

Spanish Fury!

Pricey as they seem to an Airfix kid whose price boundaries are skewed or set by cheap plastic soldiers, the cost of Chintoys figures is put into perspective by the costly alternative of 54mm metal figures from Phoenix / S and D Elizabethan range or the effort to cast and convert the Prince August Spanish Armada homecast chess set.

Likewise my Mixtec Aztec Zapotec set of spare figures from Alan Gruber will be padded out or reinforced by select cheap plastic Wild West “Native American” Indians.

All great fun. Now what do Spanish Armada invasion barges and Tudor beach defences look like and can I make one or two such boats out of milk cartons?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 31 October 2020

The Elizabethan Home Guard – A Spanish Armada Muster in 54mm shiny toy soldier plastic

Watching the sea for Spanish ships from those Cornish granite cliffs … they’re behind you!

Work in Progress on the painting table.

Crossposted by Mark Man of TIN from his ‘sister blog’, Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog – enjoy!

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/10/11/elizabethan-muster-for-the-spanish-armada-in-shiny-54mm/