Sunday, July 20, 2008

Work In Progress - OT

I posted a WIP on one of my Defense of Melbourne-related projects here.

Friday, July 18, 2008


As you may have guessed, these past few weeks a young man's fancy has turned to the Crusades. I've been poking around for bargains and the Black Tree Design 2nd Crusade range with it's regular 35% discounts led me to buy a unit pack of 20 foot knights which i finished painting last night. I'm only posting some pictures tonight because I had no batteries for the digital camera!
I decided to base them two-by-two on 40mm square bases because I had a surplus of them. I normally prefer my figures singly-based and will revert to tht scheme as I go on. This has been a bit of an experiment that I may repeat later on, depending on how I feel about these with more mature reflection.
Since I bought these, I have also purchased an army deal that will net me a dozen archers, a dozen cross-bows, 9 knightly cavalry, a dozen light cavalry (which I shall treat as sergeants), two dozen armoured and armoured spearmen as well as a couple of dozen axemen. That should get me a pretty respectable army. All I'll need will be an army commander (from the Perry brothers), some Turcopoles (the Perrys again) and perhaps some allied light cavalry - I'm thinking of some eBob Mongols standing in for Petchenegs or summat - especially lovely-looking figures. Maybe even another dozen eBob Archers, too.
We'll see.

I found that I had a couple of circular shields floating about that I determined to paint in a sort of floreate pattern per what I'd seen on the Perry miniatures websites' images of their Turcopoles and moslem figures. I wanted my army to represent the secular barons of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the years up to the fall of Edessa in 1144, before the Second Crusade. To this end I thought to let a little Islamic style seep in.
I'm rather pleased with how this shield turned out, hence the extreme close-up!

Note the purple-yellow-purple and the stripey green-and-white shields. Every medieval army I've ever painted (Bretonnians, Agincourt and now Crusades) has had a couple of knights in this livery. It's become a tradition now! I may have to come up with a story for these two knightly families. Let's see now, Odo Lecornu and Fulk Ibein. Or something like that.

A view down the battle line.

Monday, July 07, 2008


I've written a small photo-essay on one of Colonial Victoria's warships, the jaunty little gunboat HMVS "Albert" here:

Take a look!

UPDATE: I've added a small WIP shot of one of Victoria's torpedo boats, the HMVS Nepean, here:


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Medieval Castles and the Operational Art

I've been doing a some supplemental reading to build up a little knowledge on medieval siege warfare after having recently finished Runciman's three-volume history of the Crusades.

I've been trying to understand what castles are for.

I understand that castles are tactically strong fortifications in the context of the weapons technology of the pre-gunpowder era, just as the artillery fortification was tactically strong after gunpowder weapons were disseminated among western armies. But just as the individual “Vauban” fortress was only one element in a larger strategic system, then so also was the castle.

The Western-European style of warfare in the Middle Ages consisted largely of sieges – the taking and holding of fortified places, including towns and castles.

Holding ground was the means by which wars were won rather than by fighting battles. Fighting battles was a risky business that, were it to go ill for you, could lose you your field army. So siege warfare was the primary means of prosecuting a war, with raiding and devastation a secondary strategy that was practiced upon your enemies' territories as a kind of economic warfare.

Your own priority was to limit the damage raiders could do you and to attack their supply-lines. Additionally you might take your army to attack the raiders whilst they were dispersed.

The Role of Castles

*Firstly we could say that they were springboards to extend one's domination beyond the limits of one's own territory.
*To jeopardize an enemy's communications or economic arteries should you have a stronghold close enough by.
*To support an advance.
*Blockade an enemy position. Counter-castles could be built to invest or baffle an enemy fortified place.
*Castles could act as store-houses for both the garrison and even to support a field army operating in the area. They might serve as an armory or mobilization store for equipping the militia.
*Defensively castles served as refuges. A defeated army might shelter in one. Local peasants and their livestock might shelter there from raiders. If relief seemed unlikely, a garrison was likely to become demoralised. Think of the collapse of virtually the whole of the Kingdom of Jerusalem after the defeat at Hattin