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By smacdowall, Aug 2 2020 05:34PM

Decades ago, when my eyes were better and my hands steadier, I painted Edward III King of England and herald (Essex miniatures). I am still rather proud of the job I managed on the surcoats, caparisons and trumpet banner.


Knowing just how many fleur-de-lys I would have to paint, I have been putting off painting Edward’s opponent — Philip VI Valois, King of France. In many ways my painting style has improved over the years, but not the ability or patience to execute repetitive finely detailed designs.



I toyed with the idea of transfers. Battle Flag has a transfer set for King Philip’s shield, surcoat and barding to fit a First Corps miniature. I decided to try it out but I did not get on well with it. To my eye the transfers just don’t look right. They are far too pristine and look like the machine created designs that they are.


So it was back to hand painting using the transfers as a guide.



I am rather pleased with the result.



I took my time, painting only as many fleurs-de-lys as I could handle in a single siting. In this way I took several days to paint the horse caparison, doing one side first and then the other. The tedium of the job was not helped by the fact that it is almost impossible to paint a yellow design directly on blue and have it look good. Therefore I first painted all the fleurs-de-lys in white then came back the following day to overpaint them in yellow. Painting just for an hour or two each day, doing only a few designs at a time, took all the tedium out of the job.



Accompanying the king are (from right to left, their perspective): Bernard seigneur de Moreuil (Front Rank), Louis de Montmorency sieur de Laval (Perry),



Miles VIII sieur de Noyers carrying the Oriflamme (Perry),


King Philip VI (First Corps), his herald (Crusader)



and Guillaume de Martel (Front Rank) whose descendant and namesake also fought at Agincourt.


Keen medievalists will note that the Perry figures are a bit ahead of their time when it comes to fashion. This is because they are designed for the Agincourt period when plate armour had become more complete.


I decided some time ago not to worry too much about this as they are such lovely miniatures. I find that one or two in early 1400’s armour does not jar too much, especially if I stick to models with surcoats.

The figure I have painted up as Louis de Montmorency was designed by the Perrys to represent the comte de Fauquembergues at Agincourt and rather annoyingly has his coat of arms cast in relief on the surcoat.



Fortunately Montmorency had the same design of a cross with scallops, just in different colours with the addition of four eagles in the quadrants.






By smacdowall, Jul 23 2020 04:29PM

Enough of archers and men on foot. It is time to deploy the flower of European chivalry — proud French knights well harnessed and properly mounted!


Nothing beats the colour of early Hundred Years War knights with shields and surcoats, and some mounted on caparisoned horses. The problem is that all the intricate heraldic designs need to be painted and they can be a bit intimidating.


I have now completed the contingents of Jean, Comte d’Hainault and Louis de Nevers, Comte de Flandres. In front are Hainault’s men. Those identifiable by their heraldic devices are, from right to left (their perspective): Robert II d’Harcourt, the Comte d’Hainault, Thierry II de Senzielles (carrying the count’s banner), Jean V Comte d’Harcourt. Godfrey de Harcourt, brother to Robert and Jean, fought on the English side with the Black Prince. See Ready to take on the French.


I rather dreaded painting d’Hainault’s coat of arms with its four lions. I can manage a lion pretty well but repeating the same image many times over on the shield, banner and horse caparison was a bit daunting. I took my time, not attempting to do them all at once. As you can see in the close-up the lions are not absolutely perfect but I learned a long time ago that the eye corrects mistakes and they look just fine when viewed at the distance you would normally see them on the wargames table.


This is the contingent of Louis de Nevers, Comte de Flandres. Again more lions but not quite as many! From right to left we have Robert le Moreau, Seigneur de Fiennes, a squire with the cross of St Denis on his shield, Jean IV Seigneur de Ghistelles with the banner, the Comte de Flandres, his son Louis II de Male, and Anseau de Joinville , Comte de Vaudémont.


The miniatures are from a mix of 28mm manufacturers. The Comte de Vaudémont in the foreground is from Crusader Miniatures. The squire behind him is Front Rank. Louis le Male to his right is from Perry Miniatures.







By smacdowall, Feb 8 2019 11:42PM

The Malplaquet project proceeds with most of the troops now painted.


Having play-tested the Allied attack into the Bois des Sars last year, the next step was to try out the suicidal Dutch assault on the French right. Here 30 battalions of Dutch, Swiss and Scots attacked more than twice their number of French, Swiss, Italians and Germans.



The French entrenchments
The French entrenchments

The French front lines were entrenched. Their right flank was protected by woods. They had a massed battery of 20 guns sighted to enfilade an attack, and they had more than adequate reinforcements.



The 6x4 game table based on a battlefield map
The 6x4 game table based on a battlefield map

Our game was played on a 6 by 4 foot table with 15mm figures (mostly Minifigs) with each miniature battalion representing a brigade of 3 historical battalions.



The Gardes Suisse and Française
The Gardes Suisse and Française

The French left was held by the Gardes Suisse and Française facing off Rantzau’s Hanoverians and Orkney’s English. This was the centre of the whole Malplaquet battlefield but for this game we ignored that action on the western wing.



The Prince of Orange's command
The Prince of Orange's command

The Dutch attacked the French entrenchments in two divisions, The Prince of Orange commanding the right with Dutch and Swiss...


The Dutch Guards and Scots
The Dutch Guards and Scots

...Baron Faegel commanding the Dutch Gardes te voet and Scots on the far left.



Converged grenadiers held the far French right
Converged grenadiers held the far French right

The French far right was held by converged grenadiers backed up by Germans and regular French in the woods.


The Alsace Brigade is driven back
The Alsace Brigade is driven back

The initial Dutch attack went very well. Their long range artillery fire managed to wear down the Brigade d’Alsace holding the corner of the closest entrenchments. Led by the Prince of Orange in person the lead Dutch brigade stormed across the French entrenchments, driving the Alsatians back.


Excellent dice rolls helped the Dutch attack
Excellent dice rolls helped the Dutch attack

The success of the Dutch attack was significantly enhanced by some pretty good dice rolling. With a 5 or 6 needed for a result every die counted.


Close range artillery fire decimated the Dutch
Close range artillery fire decimated the Dutch

The French fed in the Navarre Brigade to hold the Dutch break-through while their enfilade battery decimated the middle column of the Prince of Orange’s command. By they time centre Dutch brigades reached the French entrenchments a volley from the Royal Italien sent them reeling back.


The Dutch Guards breach the French entrenchments
The Dutch Guards breach the French entrenchments

D’Artagnan (of Three Musketeers fame) commanding the French far right, turned his grenadiers to threaten the flank of the Scots, forcing them to halt their advance to meet the threat. The Dutch Blue Guards, however, were able to successfully storm the entrenchments, driving off the French defenders.



The Dutch did better in our game than historically
The Dutch did better in our game than historically

After 3 hours of play we called a halt as the pub was beckoning. The Dutch did far better than they had historically. Against superior numbers hey had breached the French entrenchments in two places. Even if they could not hope to sweep away the French right wing there would have been able to do much more than simply pin it which was their objective. Although they suffered more casualties than the French the numbers were far less than they suffered historically.


By smacdowall, Sep 17 2018 09:24PM

With a view to re-fighting Malplaquet next Spring, Dave Allen and I visited the actual battlefield a few weeks back — as close to the actual day of the battle (11 September) as we could manage. We wanted to understand what the ground was like, how the troops deployed and what they could see, in order to represent it accurately for the wargame.


The battlefield monument
The battlefield monument

Straddling the French-Belgian border just south of Mons the battlefield is easily accessible. The starting point is a monument standing just in front of the centre of the French lines a few metres south of the Belgian border.



Orientation map of the initial deployment
Orientation map of the initial deployment

There are some excellent orientation maps around the monument which give good detail of the units involved along with their deployment and movements. The French side of the battlefield benefits from a signed walking tour which can be followed with the aid of a most helpful app. This gives information and maps in English as well as French.



Bois de la Laniere on the French right
Bois de la Laniere on the French right

One thing that struck us was the very limited visibility. Although there are no significant hills, the gently rolling terrain generally limits visibility to less than 200 yards. The main French infantry lines were on a slight reverse slope with the result that troops on the opposing sides would have been unlikely to see each other until within less than 100 yards of each other.


The Bois de Sars at the point where Lottum attacked
The Bois de Sars at the point where Lottum attacked

The woods which formed the flanks of the gap which the French defended are still there. The Bois de Sars to the west still has the same outline as it did back in 1709. It is hard to imagine just how the tens of thousands of allied troops managed to attack through them to emerge on the other side.



Information board on the site of the French redans
Information board on the site of the French redans

There are no traces of the French redans or entrenchments but their locations are reasonable well marked and by walking along their lines it is possible to get a sense of what it must have been like.



The allied forward battery circled in red
The allied forward battery circled in red

Many accounts of the battle say that Marlborough’s grand battery of 40 guns first fired into the Bois de Sars to support Lottum’s attack. Then they switched their fire to engage the French cavalry that could be seen on a slope behind the French foot, hidden by their reverse slope position. Although we tramped over all the possible locations for this battery there are no good fields of fire to substantiate this. The maps by the monument suggest another battery of 10 guns and 3 howitzers well forward of the allied centre and indicate that is was probably indirect fire from this battery which inflicted casualties on the French horse to the rear.


Memorial to the French senior officers killed in action
Memorial to the French senior officers killed in action

The small church in Malplaquet has a memorial to the French officers killed (Lieutenant Colonels and above).


Malplaquet church
Malplaquet church

The church was there in 1709 and although it has since been re-built it was done so in a way to closely resemble the original.



Blairon farm cicled in red viewed from the French centre
Blairon farm cicled in red viewed from the French centre

Blairon farm forward of the French lines forms an obstacle we had not appreciated. It is not so much the farm itself as the deep north-south running stream that runs through it. This, and the now much depleted Bois Thierry to the north, break up the allied line of advance. Once committed beyond this point it would have been pretty well impossible to move troops from the allied left (east) to the centre or visa versa.


Scattered around the battlefield are several monuments as can be seen in the following photos:



Monument to the Swiss regiments on both sides
Monument to the Swiss regiments on both sides


Monument to the British regiments that fought at Malplaquet
Monument to the British regiments that fought at Malplaquet

Plaque at the position of the French artillery which decimated the Dutch
Plaque at the position of the French artillery which decimated the Dutch


Monument to the French carabiniers who held the left flank
Monument to the French carabiniers who held the left flank


19th century mural on the side of a barn
19th century mural on the side of a barn









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