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"Need advice for my Medieval English" Topic

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1,193 hits since 12 Mar 2017
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Captain Gideon12 Mar 2017 2:02 p.m. PST

As I said on my other topic regarding the Medieval French I have I said that I'm also getting an Medieval English Army as well.

So here's what I'll be getting for that Army:

30 Men at Arms and Command

6 bases of stakes with 4 Archers

25 Billmen with Command

36 Archers

16 asst Combat Foot

8 Irish Archers

Henry V on Foot

So besides Mounted English Knights/Men at Arms what else could I use?

Now Perry at this time makes no Mounted English Knights except for a Mounted Henry V(which I have)but I have found a place that makes 28mm Mounted English and it's Claymore Castings.

So any help would be grateful.

One other thing and this is for both the French and English I would like to get some of those tents that each side had in their Camps so does anyone know where I can get any of those?


Carnyx12 Mar 2017 3:13 p.m. PST

Here is a link comparing Perry with Claymore and Kingmaker. Kingmaker(1st Corps) also carry medieval tents:


Good luck,

uglyfatbloke12 Mar 2017 3:20 p.m. PST

How on earth would you differentiate between English and Irish longbowmen?

SBSchifani12 Mar 2017 3:44 p.m. PST

Crusader Miniatures has Irish foot including archers in their HYW range as described at Rouen in 1418. To answer your question they are armed with much shorter bows.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2017 6:53 p.m. PST

How on earth would you differentiate between English and Irish longbowmen?

Differentiation in clothing, and distinctive colourings – but mostly hairstyle & moustache.

Glengarry512 Mar 2017 7:00 p.m. PST

Prickers, scurriers, hobelars… various names for "lightly" armoured horsemen used for scouting, raiding and pursuing mostly.

Druzhina12 Mar 2017 10:18 p.m. PST
Griefbringer13 Mar 2017 3:28 a.m. PST

Now Perry at this time makes no Mounted English Knights except for a Mounted Henry V(which I have)

The mounted men-at-arms in the Agincourt to Orleans range should work just fine for English, especially if you focus on the models with "white armour" (ie. no surcoat/jupon etc. on top):


As for your list, if you are planning to put together a force representing Henry V and friends somewhere in northern France circa 1420, then English billmen would not likely have been very prominent.

SBSchifani13 Mar 2017 4:10 a.m. PST

Sure, Welsh are present but are probably identical. The Irish were noticeable enough to be commented upon by Monstrelet. As to billmen, a little early for large numbers as you say, but Formigny's not too far away.

KSmyth13 Mar 2017 6:01 a.m. PST

You need a greater proportion of longbowmen, unless the large numbers of foot melee troops represent your desire to have a larger troop mix to choose from. Henry V had 3:1 ratio of longbowmen to other foot troops in 1415, a ratio that only got larger as the war continued.

uglyfatbloke13 Mar 2017 7:25 a.m. PST

SB, re Irish archers…. Really? I had no idea. I suppose I've spent so long discounting the Victorian Scottish shortbow I'd just assumed it was a myth for Irish troops as well.

Captain Gideon13 Mar 2017 7:28 a.m. PST

Griefbringer,SBSchifani,KSmyth and the others many thanks for your advice I think what I would like to try and do is get a fair number of each type of troop so I can have flexibility whereas one game I can have a large number of lomgbowmen and in another game fewer longbowmen it's the same with the French Army as well as I want to have options for both armies.

Griefbringer13 Mar 2017 8:40 a.m. PST

On another note, if you are trying to represent the English forces of conquest in the 1420's, keep in mind that in principle these would have been able to draw also troops from the continental regions under the rule of Henry V or his allies. So besides the Englishmen, Welsh and Irish, you might want to consider the possibility of fielding some Normans, Gascons, Paris militia or allied Burgundians.

Similarly, the Dauphin contesting the claim for the throne also fielded a variety of troops from outside France, including Scots and Italian mercenaries.

Captain Gideon13 Mar 2017 11:07 a.m. PST

Thanks Griefbinger I'll keep that in mind.

Regarding Normans,Gascons,allied Burgundians,Scots and Italian mercenaries where might I look for figures to get?

willlucv Inactive Member13 Mar 2017 1:33 p.m. PST

I'm with ugly fat bloke on this, I think differences in clothing and equipment are overstated for medieval troops, and were more down to means than cultural tradition.

uglyfatbloke13 Mar 2017 3:15 p.m. PST

Captain, Scottish troops certainly look just like any others of he same type – they're all long spears, longbows, men-at-arms – the MAA might well be dismounted in among the spearmen depending on the tactical situation; just like the french of he English. Same applies I think to Gascons, Normans etc.

Khusrau13 Mar 2017 5:47 p.m. PST

Scottish troops in France in the 1420s didn't contain bodies of spearmen according to contemporaries. They would have been very similar to English feudal contingents with indentured archers, bill/axemen and men at arms.

Great War Ace13 Mar 2017 7:03 p.m. PST

You need more longbowmen, that is for sure. As far as mounted MAAs goes, they would only appear in skirmishes, not on a formal battlefield. I can't think of a single HYW battle where English MAA fought as cavalry. Poitiers forms the only possible exception, but that is a hastily gathered flanking attack, very small and not part of the original battle array. It was, in other words, extemporaneous.

Griefbringer14 Mar 2017 1:13 a.m. PST

Regarding Normans,Gascons,allied Burgundians,Scots and Italian mercenaries where might I look for figures to get?

I think you should be able to put together most of these from the Perry Agincourt to Orleans range, selecting appropriate figures and paint schemes.

I can't think of a single HYW battle where English MAA fought as cavalry

Bauge, 1421.

uglyfatbloke14 Mar 2017 2:23 a.m. PST

Khusrao, I'd love to see some record documentary evidence for that. I spoke at length with a chap who was doing his Ph.D. on the Scottish army in France and he was pretty clear that the army was one third archers to two thirds heavy infantry with a sizeable proportion of MAA who would, in a general engagement, fight dismounted. That's certainly the pattern of larger Scottish armies up to 1400, though with a smaller proportion of archers – most actions were small affairs with nothing but MAA of course.
I've never encountered anything at all to indicate billmen or axemen in a Scottish army, but that does n't mean that the evidence is n't there, just that I've never come across it.
I'm not at all clear about what you mean by 'feudal contingents with indentured archers'?

Captain Gideon14 Mar 2017 6:30 a.m. PST

You all have given me much to think about regarding the English Army and until I get it(which won't be too long now)I'll have to keep doing research.

One thing Griefbringer with regards to the Normans,Gascons etc do you have any books that I could get with the information?

janner14 Mar 2017 3:09 p.m. PST

Ditch the billmen, there is precious little evidence to support them in an army led by Heny V.

Stick to archers, mounted and dismounted, and Men at Arms. Men paid as mounted archers might have been employed as light horse, but that is speculative.

Great War Ace14 Mar 2017 7:22 p.m. PST

Don't ditch the billmen. As the 15th century progressed, "archers" increasingly showed up with a bill and other weapons instead. I forget which muster rolls this evidence comes from. But an "archer" did not necessarily bring a bow! Bows and arrows became increasingly difficult to acquire as firearms became increasingly more common. By Roger Ascham's day (Henry VIII), the bow had slipped far down the priority list. Technically it was still the "national weapon". But in reality there were comparatively very few archers shooting the war bow anymore.

Griefbringer15 Mar 2017 5:09 a.m. PST

with regards to the Normans,Gascons etc do you have any books that I could get with the information?

I am not aware of any good publications that could give an overview of all (or any) of these for the period in question, mostly the material seems to be scattered in small amounts over a variety of sources.

In case you are looking for troop types, the following might serve as a rough guideline:

- Italian mercenaries: men-at-arms (preferring to fight mounted, possibly with well-armoured mounts), crossbowmen
- Scots: I will leave these to uglyfatbloke
- Bretons: men-at-arms, archers
- Normans: men-at-arms, archers, crossbowmen
- Gascons: men-at-arms, crossbowmen
- Burgundians: men-at-arms, archers, crossbowmen, Flemish militia with pointy sticks, artillery (for sieges)
- Paris Militia: crossbowmen, infantry with pointy sticks

Besides the men-at-arms, there might also well be cavalry with lighter armour (sergeants, coustiliers etc.). And in most cases you can probably also add infantry with pointy sticks, polearms etc.

As for painting, your best starting points might be heraldry sources for men who fought in this period (if you want to paint your leaders with historical heradlry). For specific groups, Burgundians had adopted Saint Andrew's cross as their field insignia, so could feature that sewn somewhere on their clothing, while Paris militia is often associated with colours red and blue.

uglyfatbloke15 Mar 2017 7:16 a.m. PST

Scots…well-protected long spears, longbow archers, men-at-arms (mounted or dismounted depending on circumstances) but they all look just like their English or French counterparts; you don't need to get anything special. if a figure is advertised as .medieval Sots' it's probably not a good idea – Claymore is the exception but do't bother with the 'highland' types.
GWA is quite right BTW.

Captain Gideon16 Mar 2017 6:24 a.m. PST

If all goes well I should get my English Army today and with the figures I got yesterday(Perry English Army,Perry Agincourt Knights)this leaves me with a few questions mostly regarding painting Bowmen.

First off what colors would be good for painting the Bowmen?

Also regarding the Bow and Arrows would a wood color be good for the Bows and Arrows and if not what would work?

Great War Ace16 Mar 2017 6:55 a.m. PST

Plain wood color for the bows. You could get all OC about this and research what yew, fresh and seasoned/veteran looks like. :) Goose feathers were the preferred fletching, so greyish.

Livery for the padded and jupon colors. If there were any plain archers, not liveried, they would be wearing subdued colors, because fading occurred right away. Don't go for too bright, in other words. Even plain linen would look realistic. Woolen tunics and hose could be black (faded) or bleached (off-white and greyish), blues or greens, lots of different shades. Armor bits would tend toward weathered, i.e. a brownish iron, and blackened, to prevent rust. Accents of a satin or buffed steel look on the edges and high spots will bring out the metal.

Great War Ace16 Mar 2017 6:58 a.m. PST

Oh, and if I were to offer advice for your Medieval English, it would be this: "Don't get involved in a land war in France!" ;)

uglyfatbloke16 Mar 2017 9:45 a.m. PST

Everything that GWA says plus plenty of faded reds and murky brown to buff colours.

Captain Gideon16 Mar 2017 10:21 a.m. PST

What would be the ratio of Liveried archers to Plain archers?

I know I'm getting 36 Archers in the Army I'm getting and I also got a box of Perry English Army which has 24 Archers and 12 Man at Arms so when I start painting up the other Archers I might need to know that.

uglyfatbloke16 Mar 2017 3:59 p.m. PST

You decide captain. Just because someone is recruited by a contractor does n't necessarily mean that they will be wearing anyone's livery.

Great War Ace16 Mar 2017 9:03 p.m. PST

A mixture of new and weathered is fun. A recently arrived contingent of some expensive Lord's liveried troops, standing between the guys that have been campaigning since the siege of Harfleur, would still have their comparatively clean outfits. Of course, by the time they fight at Agincourt, all of them are looking pretty miserable, even barefoot, with their hosen (if any) loosened and tied off around their knees because of dysentery, and everything is looking more "muddy" than colorful. Natty colors tended to run in the rain. A rich guy could keep a dry outfit in a trunk under a waterproof tarp on the march. But the rest marched and camped in the damp and wore all they had. I am sure you don't want to paint an army that has been campaigning for months in the rain and the mud. But that was life.

Captain Gideon16 Mar 2017 9:17 p.m. PST

Great War Ace I got my English Army tonight and am very pleased with them.

The 36 Archers look great and most have good colors Blues,Browns and other colors but I still need to look thru them.

janner17 Mar 2017 5:01 a.m. PST

Don't ditch the billmen. As the 15th century progressed, "archers" increasingly showed up with a bill and other weapons instead. I forget which muster rolls this evidence comes from.

I am unware of primary sources that support this – any suggestions, GWA?

Great War Ace17 Mar 2017 7:39 a.m. PST

I read it here, years ago. Somebody posted on one of TMP's interminable "Longbow" threads. I want to say that the information was in the form of a link, but it's been too long. I do remember it was the first time that I read that the word "archer" did not de facto mean, anymore, someone with a bow and arrows. The muster roll was from the 15th century; iirc, it was WotR period. But it may have been early 16th century. Since then, I have not run across this assertion that "archers" were not always archers. That might be indicative of its tenuous status as a theory.

Captain Gideon17 Mar 2017 2:49 p.m. PST

As I mentioned in my other topic I've decided to use individual and thus be able to use the figures either in skirmish or larger.

Now my English(mostly are based on square bases 1x1 inch)are painted and flocked and I don't wish to ruin them.

So as I also said in most of the rules how many figures are in a Unit?

Warspite119 Mar 2017 11:50 a.m. PST

Terms like archer or bowman need to be taken with a pinch of salt. In the muster roll for the Edward IV expedition to France in the mid-1470s it appears that this roll is an account of the wages paid and all we can be certain is that these troops were PAID as longbowmen. Separate records show many hundreds of pole arms were also stockpiled. Who carried those?

Actual percentage figures are difficult to come-by but as a general trend the number of longbowmen declined through the later 15th century and into the 16th century. One reason may be longbowmen deaths during the Wars of the Roses. Other factors may include lack of foreign wars, the great length of time required to train a longbowmen, the rise of easy-to-fire gunpowder weapons, etc. Another thing that should not be under-rated is the effect of health and sickness. It appears there was a syphilis epidemic in Europe due to increased trade (and consequent movement of seamen no pun intended) and the French/Italian Wars which kept many 'camp followers' in business. This illness has a long-term and debilitating effect on fighting men and their strength. It should be noted that nasty syringes and mercury treatments were found aboard the Mary Rose.

Such figures as we do have show that in, 1452, Walter Strickland, a Westmoreland squire contracted with Richard Neville Earl of Salisbury to raise the following:
bowmen horsed and harnessed 69
billmen horsed and harnessed 74
bowmen without horses 71
billmen without horses 76
(source: Oman's The Art of War In The Middle Ages)
'harnessed' almost certainly refers to armour. So what you have here is about 300 troops, half mounted and half on foot. A nice compact little body. I would suspect that they would be fielded as two separate units with the mounted riding with the 'aforeriders' in the vanguard and the foot serving somewhere in the main body of the army.

It is recorded that Warwick the Kingmaker attended London once with 200 men-at-arms and 400 archers. These would probably have all been mounted.

The grave pit at Towton has about 40 bodies of which around 25% have anatomical changes which might relate to longbow use the thickening of certain arm bones and some grooves in teeth where bowstrings may have been drawn through.

The few levy returns for Bridport and Ewelme suggest a parity of bill and bow but by the 1520s Tudor units were officially 40% bow to 60% bill while one village I found in Rutland could produce only 1 bowmen to 17 billmen in the same decade.

Barry Lance and Longbow Society member

janner20 Mar 2017 2:33 a.m. PST

I read it here, years ago.

Many thanks for the response, GWA, and I agree on your point about pay scales not necessarily relating to function, eg someone paid as a mounted archer maybe employed as a light cavalryman. I'm just not convinced the data supports billmen making an early appearance. For example the Bridport return of 1457 did not include a single bill, but does mention glaives and poleaxes thumbs up

Thanks for the data Barry (from another long term L&L member). I always approach Oman with caution, especially on the middle ages. Do you know the term used in the primary source he draws from, ie was it specifically billmen or is this an assumption by Oman? A similar thing has happened with the Bridport data where glaives been interpreted to mean bills.


Warspite120 Mar 2017 5:33 a.m. PST

I worked from a photocopy of the Oman book.

When looking at terms like glaives, bills, halberds, etc I regard them as synonymous – they are all 'stab and slash' pole-arms and I rate them as such in my rules. Old WRG would call them 'two-handed cut and thrust' or THC.


Griefbringer20 Mar 2017 6:50 a.m. PST

Warspite1, did that reference from Oman also list any number for men-at-arms? Considering that the list above contains 140 bowmen and 150 billmen, one would also expect to see a number of men-at-arms present to bolster them.

Warspite120 Mar 2017 8:17 a.m. PST

@ Griefbringer

No, not a one. Remember that Walter Strickland was a squire then (he later became a Sir) so this was a contract to recruit 'rank and file' for Salisbury's larger personal retinue. Salisbury would almost certainly have had other such agreements, which have not survived, with other squires and knights in his area. If there was a large town within his fiefdom Salisbury might even have had such an agreement with the mayor and town council. Say 100 men in return for market privileges, etc. Again these have not survived. It is sometimes a wonder that anything survived.

The men-at-arms would come from Salisbury's personal household plus any others who had the right equipment. So… Strickland himself might count as one man-at-arms. For an English army of this period I would guesstimate men-at-arms as less than 10% and probably less than 5%. In Paddy Griffiths' book on Blore Heath he comes up with 1% men-at-arms for Salisbury's forces at Blore Heath in 1459 so it is tempting to suggest that Strickland's men were there and that 1% maybe the answer to your question.


As you can see Blore Heath was fought by a largely Neville private army, all three commanders were Nevilles including Salisbury himself.

Great War Ace20 Mar 2017 8:30 a.m. PST

I too consider "billmen" to be a catch word for all guisarmes. There isn't anything special about a "bill".

Oman's opinions are suspect, or not, depending on whether you agree with him. But he does list sources in his footnotes. And where his sources are quoted verbatim I don't think that there is anything to argue about.

Warspite120 Mar 2017 8:55 a.m. PST

@ Griefbringer
Correction: I just dug out Paddy Griffiths' book on Blore Heath and the full figures are these:

25 knights
6,000 to 7,000 fighting men
40 men-at-arms.

Assuming we add the 25 knights to the 40 MAA that makes 65 men or about 1% of the force. The percentage is higher if the army is actually smaller (see below).

The source for these figures is the chronicler De Waurin.

A Lancastrian writ of attainder later named five knights and two squires and added that the army was above 5,000 men.


The above link confirms that Strickland was at Blore Heath and also repeats the same numbers as Oman and myself.


janner20 Mar 2017 3:14 p.m. PST

Oman's opinions are suspect, or not, depending on whether you agree with him. But he does list sources in his footnotes. And where his sources are quoted verbatim I don't think that there is anything to argue about.

When the sources match his commentary then there's less to disagree with. wink

As this thread demonstrates, many use 'billmen' to mean non-MAA foot soldiers armed with a variety of pole weapons, which is fine as long as everyone understands that thumbs up

However, I suspect that the bill had specific characteristics that distinguished it from guisarmes and that it was designed to confront a variety of different threats: mounted and dismounted. That's not to say it was some kind of wonder weapon mind wink

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