Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Languedoc Regiment: Musketman and Pikeman

I started these just over a month ago but, due to being in Canada for two weeks and my daughter monopolising my desk for the last fortnight for her revision, I have only just finished them. They came out OK although it makes me realise that pale grey is a tricky colour to shade correctly. I based the uniform on a plate from Wargamnes Illustrated (I think -it was kindly sent to me by Dave from the Guildford Club).

I chose the Languedoc regiment purely because we used to holiday in the region when I was small. Our house was very old and I remember being very excited by the fact that the stairs to the top floor were on the outside, like the biblical houses we had studied at school.

One thing I also remember was how dreadful the wine was. Yes, I am afraid that even at the age of seven or eight I used to drink wine, at least when we were at our holiday home there. I remember that my father bought a plastic litre bottle of wine (I think it cost 50 centimes) and it was horrible. The wine from the Corbieres was particularly nasty and so was the Cotes du Roussillion. The only decent wine was the fortified stuff from Banyuls which was just up the coast from our house. I am afraid that I used to drink it with lemonade! The wines have improved hugely since then (the late 1960s) and wines like Minervois have gone from being cheap party wine in the seventies to £8.00 a bottle stuff now.  Languedoc is now the biggest wine region in the world.

Castelnaudray with the Canal du Midi, which was started during our period in 1681. The world's first Public Private Partnership Project! (one for Giles!)

The food was always good, however, and the region is famous for Cassoulet, of which we used to eat enormous quantities when we were down there as my father strove to discover the best Cassoulet in the region. We found it, eventually, in a little restaurant in Castelnaudary. The town is now famous for the dish to the extent that TV chef Rick Stein did a programme from there. We would spend the summer there and we never saw any other British people and it's still less popular with British tourists than the Dordogne or the Cote D'Azur.  I must go back sometime.

I was thinking about finishing these two figures a couple of weeks ago whilst wandering through Vielle Montreal one evening when, lo and behold, I came across a restaurant called Les Pyrenees. It turned out to be a Catalan restaurant and I had one of the best Cassoulets I have had for years. Well worth going to if you are ever in Montreal.

So I imagine my troops fortified with sausage and confit d'oie and swigging nasty, thin wine as they march to whatever battle I have in store for them. I think they need a few more troops for their happy band!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Blue Regiment of Foot completed

The 48 men of my Blue Regiment of Foot for Parliament (yes I know all the ensigns should be in the pike block but I think they look better scattered about!)

At last, despite my daughter having been sat at my desk for weeks "revising" (i.e: looking at the Britain's Got Talent website) I have finished the four musketmen that complete my second ECW Foot Regiment. They are a generic Blue Regiment; probably also a London Trained Band. These regiments are from the early war period when tassets were still worn. There are several factors that have made me go for an early look for my armies.

Firstly, the influence of my first wargame book, The Wargame, edited by Peter Young, which had a piece on Edgehill in it, written by Young. As with the whole book there were evocative photographs by Philip O Stearns of Peter Gilder figures and scenery.

One of the excellent pages from The War Game featuring Edgehill

Stearns was also a member of the Sealed Knot as well as being a photograper and Art Director for Penthouse magazine when it started in 1965! He also took this photograph of Amber Dean Smith, Penthouse's first ever Pet of the Year, for Mayfair Magazine in the August 1969 edition. I am sure the 17th Century costume and background was not an accident (not that she kept the costume on very long).

Amber does 17th Century

My second influence was the Nicholas Carter novels about the ECW from the late nineties. He wrote five and then the series abruptly stopped for some reason. He wrote a couple of novels set at the time of Henry VIII and then disappeared. A shame, as his Shadow in the Crown ECW series was really enjoyable and focussed (at least initially) on the Hopton and Waller clashes in the West featuring battles like Roundway Down and Landsdown. One of my best friends lives in Bath and you have to drive across the Landsdown battlefield to get there. Carter's description of the different groups wandering around in the dark before Landsdown and taking pot shots at the glow from burning matches gives a great feeling of what warfare must have been like at ground level. Like Stearns he was also a member of the Sealed Knot so had some feeling for being involved in a big push of pike.

The flag is by Body's Banners

I have a few figures painted for my next two regiments: the Earl of Essex's and Hampden's Regiment who wore orange and green respectively. I then ought to paint some smaller (than the 48 figures of my first two) units who look a bit tattier. The units at the recent Loseley Park re-enactment were very much on the scruffy side. Coat colours seldom matched and breeches were usually a different colour from jackets. My units by contrast are very smart. This is justifiable as they are early war Parliamentarians and, thus, better equipped. Also I can't help thinking that there are many examples of Colonels buying large amounts of a particular coloured cloth for their men. Surely it is likely that at least in some cases this would have been sourced from the same place and therfore jackets and trousers would have been the same colour and there would have been considerable uniformity. Later in the war you would expect more of a patchwork, perhaps.

In the meantime I have started on my second unit of horse; a straight cavalry unit to join my painted cuirassiers (another early war unit).