Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Black Bands of Giovanni

Above: From the book's cover - "The Death of Giovanni de' Medici" (Hendrik Goltzius, Antwerp, 1583)

Arfaioli, Maurizio. The Black Bands of Giovanni: Infantry and Diplomacy during the Italian Wars (1526-1528). Pisa: Edizioni Plus-Pisa University Press, 2005.

I seem to have spent rather more time recently reading about the Great Italian Wars of the renaissance than I perhaps should have. In part, this is due to the happy discovery of Maurizio Arfaioli's book, which although I obtained it to learn something of the famous condottiere and his career, is actually more about (almost entirely) his famous Black Bands. You see, as the author notes, Giovanni as we have come to know him "probably never existed."

The true value of this work is its explication of the place and role of the native Italian infantry in the complex, ever-shifting tactical landscape of the Italian Wars. In that sense, it is a truly valuable (and I daresay remarkable) work. If the subject interests you, I urge you to buy it and read it. It may well change your views of warfare in the period.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stradiots and Jinetes

The stradiots, shown by the five figures left above, were modeled on the drawing on p. 28 (b) of Renaissance Armies. Stradiots could be found principally in Venetian service during the Italian Wars. The right-hand figure depicts the famous Spanish light cavalry, known as jinetes or genitors. It is based on Heath's sketch of a jinete on p. 51 (n) of Renaissance Armies. These are 15mm Mikes Models or early Essex.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Indian (Moghul) Musketeers

This Mikes Models figure is based on the sketch in Gush's Renaissance Armies, p. 105 (a). It's interesting that so many of the figures in the Mikes Models range were based on Ian Heath's excellent drawings in Gush's book. Helpful too, since at a remove of decades, one can precisely identify half-forgotten figures fished from a cigar box.

Moorish Arquebusiers

More Mikes Models figures, these 16th century Moorish (Moroccan) arquebusiers seem to have been modeled on the sketch on p. 95 (g) in Gush's Renaissance Armies. Gush's brief description of the Moorish kingdom and its array of enemies, both European and African, indicates that it is a fascinating subject for a wargames army.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ottoman Infantry: Yayas

Above: Mikes Models 15mm "Yayas"

The Yayas were an Ottoman peasant militia that were the predecessors of the Azabs. They were granted land in return for their military service and seem to have been mostly bow-armed irregulars. In my army, they are depicted by Mikes Models figures that appear to have been modeled on the Moorish bowman depicted in Gush's Renaissance Armies, p. 95 (e). Yayas and Azabs actually served together for a time, but it appears that the Yayas were relegated to rear-area services in the second half of the 15th century and thenceforward were no longer considered among the combat troops. Still, I haven't any problem using these figures to represent bow-armed skirmishers in any "Eastern" renaissance army.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ottoman Infantry: Azabs

Above: Three views of 15mm Azabs

The photos show a ten-figure unit of Turkish infantry (probably Mikes Models) based for WRG rules and suitable for late 15th - mid-17th century Azabs. This figure appears to have been modeled after the arquebusier sketched on p. 78 (b) of George Gush's Renaissance Armies, 1480-1650.