Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Battle of Lund 1676, Terrain

This is terrain for the Battle of Lund project. It is my attempt to create a typical Scanian farmstead. Used an old towel to create the roof. The rest is coffee sticks and foam board.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Battle of Lund- The De Croi Regiment

The battle of Lund 1676 .....more Danes

This is the regiment De Croi. Named after it's commander,Charles Eugène de Croÿ, a mercenary from Brabant. His soldiers were also mecenaries(mainly Germans).

 De Croy would later on command a Russian army at the battle of Narva in 1700. Once more he fought against the Swedes and once more was defeated. The battle of Narva was the end of De Croi's career. He died as POW.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

American Civil War/ Joshua Chamberlain

The American Civil War has always been one of my wargaming interests. Now and then I keep on building on my collection. As the collection of civil war units grows the need for commanders grows as well.  In this case I found that I long ago bought a couple of miniatures First Corps Figures that were supposed to depict certain characters from the Civil war.  The miniature drawing the sword is supposed to be Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. Chamberlain was the officer that led the 20th Maine at the Little Round Top, during the battle of Gettysburg.  Now I am not certain that this looks like Chamberlain, but it will do fine as a generic depiction of a Union colonel or general.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Battle of Lund 1676 - The Danish Weyher regiment

I have been involved in project to recreate the battle of Lund 1676. Though this project is more or less compleated I have some difficulties to leave all together. Thus I decided to paint up the Danish Weyher regiment. If I am not misstanken this is a mercenary regiment mainly recruited among Germans. In any case the period is always interesting and will paint a few more of these. The battle of Lund was fought during month of December(the 4th of December) and that explains why I use snow flock on the bases. In actually there was no snow on the ground that day, just frost, but this looks a bit more dramtic and interesting.

A despatch from the Italo-Byzantine front

A battle was fought somewhere in the Italian south. As usual the Byzantine nobility just could not keep the peace, even among themselves. After all the winner would be a possible favorite of the Emperor or even becoming an Emperor himself. 

The stage was set when Basil Faultopolous attacked the shrine of St Enigmatus( the patron saint of all unfathomable causes). As true Byzatine he of courage knep that a set of holy bones comming from a saint or a holy man of some kind would give him great powers, great powers he needed to conquer the title of Katepan( head of the Byzatine controllers areas in southern Italy).

St Enigmatus shrine, a late Roman contruction now in ruin, was in the hands of his worst enemy - The Despot of Epiros, The Fist of Anatolia and all decent mothers threat given towards wicked children, Bardas Castroulous.  Though sent by the Emperor many years ago to give Law and order to the province Bardas had followed his black heart and spread terror and grief in southern Italy ever since his arrival. Bardas'ambition was identical to that of Basil. The main difference was that he(Bardas)long ago stopped giving the Emperor his due.

Basil, the braggard did not move his troops fast enough to seize the shrine without letting the whole of Apulia know about it. Thus the black guardian of the shrine was warned about the things that was about to happen and managed to send units to defend the shrine.  A group of Varingians( including a guard unit) waited for Basil's troops to arrive. Instead of a neat bloodless capture of the shrine it all turned into a battle. 

 The defenders of the shrine

The basic situation on the battlefield was that Basil's forces intially outnumbred the defenders of the shrine. If captured fast enough the defenders would not be reinforced. Intially it all went according to the plan. The defenders of the shrine were hard pressed and their numbers shrank as the arrows rained down on them. Especially the horseriders of Basil's army was quite effective.
Bardas Castroullous was trying to stem the tide. However he soon felt himself in the middle of a an untangable situation, his own cavalry fell in droves. Soon he had no retinue.

The intial attack on the shrine stalled however and the reinforcements that Bardas Castroullous was hoping for eventually found it's way to the battlefield. This new troop included new guardsmen and Norman knights.

The balande tilted. Basil had to face the Norman knights and the onslaught of Varingian guardsmen. Basils second in Command fell as an arrow struck the fearless norseman Skoglartoste. Basil himself attacked with his Cataphracts, but could not stop the combination of Normans and Varingians. The battle was in the end lost. Bardas Castroullos, the wicked man from Antolia keep his price. The bones of a saint most holy were in the hands of a man destined to become the next Katepan.....or so at least the wicked man thought ......

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Byzantine Bewildered - Dramatis Personae

A Short biography of two of the main characters involved in our South Italian Campaign using the Lion Rampant rules.

Basil Faultopoulous
Basil is an ambitious officer of the Byzantine army of George Maniakes. He commands part of the Tagmatic and Guards units sent to Italy by the Emperor, together with som local forces of the Theme of Apulia.

Basil is quite a skillful soldier but is hampered by his lowly birth, as the son of an inn-keeper. The real problem is really his complete lack of social tact, of which he is totally unaware.
Basil is far more at home in camp with his soldiers than in the lofty social circles he yearns to join. This is all very disappointing to his wife Cybil.
Basil is constantly trying, and failing, to ingratiate himself with his superiors. This is especially damaging in the intrigue-ridden Byzantine political environment, where so much depends on personal relationships with powerful people.

He has so far been saved from the full consequences of social gaffes by sheer military skill. His one real ally is another misfit; Toste the Varangian commander. Other Byzantine commanders are wary of Basil. While skillful in purely military terms, his unpredictable political and social behaviour is deeply suspect.
Basil's goal is to be made Katepan of italy, gaining huge personal prestige. Not to mention financial reward.
He desperatly hopes that if he gains such a lofty position, his wife Cybil will finally stop nagging him. Her recurring theme is that they might as well open a sea-side inn, as his army career obviously isn't going anywhere.
Basil is nominally loyal to George Maniakes, but is perfectly willing to switch sides or strike out on his own.

Toste is literally an old-school Viking who has served in the Varangian Guard for years and risen to command his own unit. Now in his 80s, he is still a formidable fighter, although constantly complaining about the frailties of old age.

Toste has spent several decades in the extremely dangerous career of being a Viking.
He and his men ascribe his survival and success to his spiritual connection with a Valkyrie called Skaugul, from whom he gets his nick-name. Toste is the only one who can actually see and converse with Skaugul, but he claims that he gets advise and encouragement from her in return for sending many enemies to Valhalla.
He and his men are firmly convinced of his supernatural connection with Skaugul. They have seen Toste make too many counter-intuitive but correct decisions in battle to doubt that he really is guided by something. In reality, the something is probably his vast experience, rather than any spirit guide.
Skoglar-Toste's goal is simply to gain glory and riches by sending enemies to Valhalla. He talks frequently of retiring, but probably won't.
During his time in Italy he has befriended the Byzantine commander Basil Faultopoulous. Toste will fight at his friend's side unless Basil does something that Toste regards as dishonorable by the standards of Toste's own peculiar code of honour.

Historical note: Toste is a half-historical, half-mythical person. He is mentioned as a great warrior in Harald Gråfälls Saga, and might have been the ancestor of some later Swedish Kings. He did go on Viking raids and was well known, but there is no record of him ever going East to join the Varangian Guard, even less anything about being active at age 80. Not until now, that is.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Duke Valdemar of Bjällbo

Early 14th century Swedish knights. The Swedish Duke Valdemar of Bjällbo and his entourage consisting if his own knights and those of Bishop Båt of Linköping. The Duke is the knight with the lance and the crest helmet. To the right of him rides the bishop,  swinging his morningstar.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Byzantium Bewildered - A Background to our South Italian Campaign

In the early 11the century, southern Italy had been ruled by the Byzantine Empire for several centuries, while the rest of the italian peninsula mostly belonged to various Lombard states.

Italy was too far removed from the heartlands of the Byzantine Empire to be very effectively controlled by the Emperor, who was usually busy dealing with more pressing threats in the Balkans and Asia Minor.
The Empire's Italian possesions were controlled by an Imperial governor, the Katepan. He had a small army of his own, and could call on local Lombard vassal lords. Being the Katepan was not an easy task. With limited resources the Katepan had to keep the neighbouring Lombard duchies in line, repel Sicilian Moslem raiders and invaders, and prevent or suppress periodic revolts by unruly Lombard vassals.

Sicily had finally been lost to invading Moslem armies in the early 900s after almost a century of wars (initial invasion in 827 AD). The rather small Byzantine garrison on the island had put up a remarkably long-lasting defence of various fortified locations, but finally succumbed to persistent attacks. At the same time, further Moslem adventurers and expeditionary forces established bases in mainland Italy, and also in France. The mainland Moslem enclaves served as bases for raiding, but were eventually eliminated after numerous expeditions by Byzantine, Lombard and Imperial German armies.
The Byzantine army of the 1030s and 1040s was still a formidable force, but the days of the soldier Emperors was over, though no one had yet quite understood this. Basil II had a long and very successful reign, but was succeeded by a number of lackluster mediocrities. The lack of Imperial leadership and funding for the army were to gradually reduce its effectiveness over the next few decades. But for a generation after Basil's death, the army was still effective and the Empire continued to subdue new lands. There was, however, an increasing reliance on foreign mercenaries, with Varangians, Normans and Turkic steppe nomads all  present in substantial numbers.

Maniakes in Sicily and Italy
Reconquering Sicily was an enduring dream of Emperors and several attempts were made. The one that came closest to success was the expedition of George Maniakes in the late 1030s, dúring which most of the island was retaken in very heavy fighting.
The army of Maniakes was representative of larger Byzantine expeditionary forces and contained a wide mix of regular Byzantine units, Lombards and the first major wave of Norman adventurers to operate in the area. There was also a major contingent of the Varangian Guard which was, at least in part, commanded by Harald Hardrada, future King of Norway.

However, while Maniakes was a very good general, he was not an easy man to get along with and managed to alienate large parts of his own army. Some units even left him and operated on their own. At least some of the Varangians along with the Normans and some Lombards were among these dissidents, together with several regular Byzantine units.

Maniakes was eventually recalled after making some proteges of the Emperor his personal enemies. Lacking his leadership, the campaign against the Kalbid Emirs of Sicily quickly stalled and the recent gains were largely lost. Maniakes was hurriedly reinstated (presumably to the dismay of his enemies) and even made Katepan of Italy.
But having lost confidence in the Emperor, Maniakes quickly rebelled, abandoned the Italian venture, and marched on Constantinople
His rebellion seemed to be succeeding when Maniakes died suddenly.

It is in this uncertain time with shifting loyalties, various people claiming the Imperial Purple and large forces of the most varied origin all roaming about Italy, that our campaign begins.

The next few decades saw the Byzantine Empire slowly losing authority under a succession of inept rulers. In its place, the Normans became more and more powerful under a remarkable series of dynamic and ruthless leaders. On the Italian mainland, the Normans went from being locally hired mercenaries to land-holding lords in their own right, subduing local Lombard lords and slowly but surely wresting control of the entire region from the Empire. Finally in 1071 the final Byzantine-held city fell to the Normans.
Not content with this, the Normans invaded Sicily in 1060 and spent the next 30 years gradually conquering the entire island and creating the Kingdom of Sicily.

If you feel like reading up on this colourful period, here's a few suggestions:
  • Byzantium, The Apogee, John Julius Norwich
  • The Normans in Sicily, John Julius Norwich
  • The Norman Kingdom of Sicily, Donald Matthew
  • Before the Normans, Barbara M. Kreutz
  • Warfare, State and Society in the Byzantine World, John Haldon
  • The Palgrave Atlas of Byzantine History, John Haldon 

Nyland's cavalry regeiment

This is another project I am working on. I want to paint a Swedish army for the Great Northen War. This unit is Fenno-Swedish unit named Nyland's cavalry regeiment. It was recruited in the pronvince of Nyland, hence the name. The units is uniformed a bit diffrently compared  with the usual standard of the Swedish army at the time. The usual blue and yellow is replaced with grey and red.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Håtunaleken - Duke Valdemar troops

More Lion Rampant...

This time I am painting a group of Swedish foot soldiers from the early 14th century. Our club is running a project called "Håtunaleken". The aim is to recrate the Swedish civil war  that took place between 1306 and 1317. These gentlemen are the armed hoast of Duke Valdemar of the house Bjälbo.  Duke Valdermar and his brother Erik staged a rebellion against  their brother the King(Birger).
 photo imagejpg7_zps1100936e.jpg

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Italy 1040 AD

The setting of our  Lion Rampant game is southern Italy somewhere around yet year 1040 AD.  Two compeating Byzantine generals are fighting for control over what remains of the Byzantine empire in southern Italy. The Normans are Lurking somewhere in the shadows though they still not entered the scene - well with exception of a small group of mercenaries led by devious Norman warlord supporting the Byzantine general Bardos Castroullous.

 The Norman Warlord Henri de Roullines attacks the forces of the compeating Byzantine general.

Lion Rampant - a new game from Osprey Publishing

We have decided to try out the new medieval skirmish game Lion Rampant published by Osprey publishing. The rules are writen by Daniel Mersey.  You need somewhere around  48 mintures side in order to play a standard sizeable game. Though you can get away just half that number mintures if you play with a bit more expensive unit types.   We found the rules quite easy learn. A single game of Lion Rampant with a standard size army on each side(24 point) took roughly an hour to play. We soon doubled the size of each army and it was still possible to play a game in one evening session. That is the definition of a fast play rule set.  

The oppositionen forces are lined up. Sincerely we played with a doubled size force on each side(48points) we decided to play the game with two generals on each side. In a normal game you will have just one each.  We activated each general using custom made cards. Each card represented one of the generals. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lion Rampant, Byzans in flames

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