Sunday, 10 February 2019

More Condottieri

After my first efforts on the project; I started work on the Perry plastic Mounted Men-at-Arms, because every self-respecting Condottieri band needs some armoured men mounted on big horses. There are 12 figures in the Perry box, and I've made them all up; six on unarmoured horses, and the remainder on barded ones. So far, I have completed the latter group, but the rest will be finished soon.

These heavily armoured riders were given a range of names across Renaissance Europe; Elmeti, Gens d'Armes, Gendarmes and so on. Their role was a continuation of that of the mediaeval mounted knight, forming the armoured fist that could decide a battle at the charge. Until the rise of gunpowder weapons and pike-armed infantry, the gendarme was the most powerful tool available to generals across western Europe. The concept of the gendarmes d'ordonnance company originated in France, but throughout the 15th century became commonly used throughout Europe. The companies were made up of lances, i.e. a group of mounted troops and retainers, led by a noble (the actual gendarme) and supported by lighter-equipped troops, a second, slightly lighter lancer, one or two mounted missile troops (equipped with crossbows or bows), a page and one or two servants, usually totalling six or seven men in total.

Over time, the lance concept changed as warfare changed, until the plate-armoured lancer began to be replaced during the 16th century by mounted troops in lighter armour, more reliant on firearms, but the heavy lancer lasted almost until the start of the Thirty Years' War in western Europe, and even longer in the East, where the Polish Winged Hussar continued to serve right until the end of the 17th century.

Anyway, my six gendarmes have been painted with red and white as the common theme, and the banner being carried is a common device in Renaissance Italy. In this case I see it as the banner of Bologna, the idea being that these mercenary gendarmes were recruited in the city. The red and white also ties into the Papal theme of the overall band.


  1. Well done, one can never have enough gendarme types.

  2. Very nice unit! I'd like yo add that "lances" were not a universally defined concept. Bye thre end of the 15th century, French lances included up to 12 men, half of them mounted, the other half on foot. Burgundian lances could count as much as 20 men, while on the other end of the spectrum, Castillian lances were just a knight and a couple of servants.

    1. I wouldn't disagree. These things are rarely cut and dried. It is also worth remembering that the lance concept didn't survive for very long after the beginning of the 16th century.