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"Looking for good books on the Battle of Breitenfield 1631" Topic

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655 hits since 4 Mar 2018
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Joe1870 Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2018 12:22 p.m. PST

I am looking for some good books (in English) that detail this battle. I'm just starting to do my research for a future miniatures game between the Swedes/Saxons vs. Imperials.

Daniel S04 Mar 2018 9:28 p.m. PST

I am afraid there are no good books on the battle in English, the best is probably the chapter covering the battle in Michael Roberts "Gustavus Adolphus" but it is rather dated as it was published in the 1950s. Swedish and German books of the battle are also dated and/or incomplete. The last Swedish study that used promary sources is an article from 1963, all later works have only used secondary sources.

nickinsomerset04 Mar 2018 11:01 p.m. PST

I was going to say that one of the best sources I have seen on here, is Daniel S,

Tally Ho!

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2018 5:43 a.m. PST

Yes, Daniel S is extremely helpful!

takeda33305 Mar 2018 8:04 a.m. PST

Daniel S is the go to source….I have enjoyed his posts,OBs and his knowledge of this period. Always well written and informative.

Daniel S05 Mar 2018 10:52 a.m. PST

Thank you for the kind word guys :) Much appreciated.
I have been working on a book on the battle (in English)but my health took at turn for the worse last year (two turns actually,"bad fortune seldom travels alone" as we say here in Sweden)So rather than writing it's been a focus on treatment, recovery & rehab and making some pretty large changes in life in order to get better. The good news is that my recovery is much speedier than expected, the bad news is that it will still be some time (possibly quite some time) before I will be able restart work on the Breitenfeld project.

Daniel S05 Mar 2018 10:55 a.m. PST

They may not have all the details one wants for a wargames project but I have order of battles for all 3 armies posted on my blogg. link

The lack of detail in some areas is due to the fact that we don't have detailed information for a number of things including Imperial&Leaguist unit strenght and the details of which regiment was where in Tilly's battleline.

dwight shrute05 Mar 2018 3:36 p.m. PST

Does anyone have this book on the battle ? link

Joe1870 Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2018 4:43 p.m. PST


Thank you much for the help. This explains why I have been having trouble finding a book on the battle. Daniel S – Thanks for the link. I will take a look and begin my path to organize what I want to do.

Much appreciated.

Marcus Brutus05 Mar 2018 7:51 p.m. PST

I was wondering Daniel what you would recommend one do in gaming Breitenfeld. I'd like to build Tilly's army and yet the information for it seems very incomplete. What figures to purchase and how to paint the various units? In the imperfect world one needs to begin somewhere.

SteveTheTim Inactive Member06 Mar 2018 1:43 a.m. PST

Hi Daniel. Sorry to hear of your health problems. Hopefully you'll be able to visit GothCon in Gothenburg at Easter (31 March and 1 April) where I'll be putting on a participation game with my full 28mm collection. 'Spanier auf dem Albuch'. Thanks for all of your advice and information.


Daniel S06 Mar 2018 9:51 a.m. PST

I have the book and it turned out to be a disapointment. It is mostly written using Italian and English sources with a few German ones but no Swedish sources. The book seems to in parts rely heavily on the erronous description of the battle in Guthrie's "Battles of the Thirty Years War" and as a result the battle map among other things have only a very limited resemblance to the actual battlefield.

The colour plates showing soldiers and flags are a very mixed bunch, the best ones are those copied from the Osprey Men-at-arms about Gustavus army but you also get a bunch of fake flags that seem to reappear every few years. Most of the soldiers not copied from the Ospreys are problematic in one way or another with clothes that are 10-15 years too late or armour not used at least 20-30 years, loads of sleevless buffcoats and so on. Though the "Swedish officer of the Suck regiment" made me smile. (Strongly suspect a typo, it is probably meant to be "Sack" i.e Otto von Sack who commanded a regiment of native Swedish cavalry from the Södermanland province.

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Mar 2018 3:59 p.m. PST

I'm sorry to hear that you have health issues, Daniel; I hope you make a speedy recovery and look forward to your book!

Daniel S07 Mar 2018 9:38 a.m. PST

Marcus Brutus,
I'll try to anser the question though it is a pretty large subject.

With regards to figures it depends on the scale you want to use but in almost all scales the problem is that a lot clothing and equipment that was typical for the first half of the war in general and German armies in particular is missing from the figures. This is hardly surprising given that most figure ranges were sculpted at a time when there was limited access to important artwork while most published reconstruction left a lot to desire. (Add to this the language barrier and the fact many of the best sources are not "military history" but rather "art history" or "costume history" and you have a subject that was not easy to research.)

The best available source for the general appearance of the troops in Tilly's army in 1631 are the paintings of Sebastian Vrancx, Peter Snayers and Jan Martszen de Jonge. As always one has to watch out for paintings that are mislabelled, museums and collectors used to like to connect their paintings with famous battles even if the evidence was flimsy or non-existent. There is also a problem with outright fakes, copies or paintings made in the master's style by members of his workshop. But with time you will begin to recognise the style of a particular master.

Do note that Snayers painted a fair number of paintings with troops in late war clothing and equipment, for example his Lutzen painting from 1642 shows troops from the early 1640's rather than from 1632. Vrancx painted the battle of Nieuport (1600) in 1640 but actually chose a earlier style of clothing from the 1620's for the painting.

Because of all 3 men painted primarily Dutch and Spanish troops certain things are missing, for example the Zischägge helmet which was in extensive use among both Harquebusiers and Cuirassiers in Germany and was worn in a lot of different styles, from the decorated ones worn by officers and cuirassiers to the simple round styles used by harquebusiers. Nor do you see certain German styles of infantry armour in the paintings


These were in use alongside the "Dutch" style which lacked the "Almain collar" with it's distinctive integrated spaulders. (Dutch style armour also used various forms of "pots" and "morions" for head protection rather than a burgonet.)

The paintings also do not show the new style of military clothing that Wallenstein began to introduce in 1626, it was the same combination of less voluminous breeches and the elusive "Hungarian jacket" which Gustavus began to issue to the Swedish army at roughly the same time.

By 1631 you probably had the following mix of apperances in Tilly's army.
1. Troops of the Catholic League dress in the "old" fashion with baggy breeches and short waist-length jackets, musketeers were issued a "schützrock" (a simple form of cassock) to wear over their jackets. Clothes could be uniform in colour and sometimes had decorative bands on seams and edges in a contrasting colour. While researching the 1621-1622 campaign Freiherr von Reitzenstein found evidence for uniform sets of jackets & breeches being issued in the colours red, blue, "ash grey" and "silver grey". Uniforms sets were issued either at a company or regimental level and this applied to the "schützrock" as well even if it was the only piece of clothing issued from central stores.
2. Imperial troops in Wallenstein style uniforms, these were probably a minority as Wallenstein never had had the resources to issue the new uniform to more than a part of the massively expanded Imperial army before he was removed from command in 1630.
3. Imperial troops in "Old style" military clothing, it is not clear if the Imperial troops were issued with uniform sets of clothes before Wallenstein's "New" uniform but as with the Leaguists the aim was for the "Schützrock" to be uniform colour at either the regimental or company level.
4. Imperial &Leaguist troops wearing a mixture of military and civilian dress, clothes were always an important part of a soldiers loot and period paintings of the aftermath of the fighting show both the dead and wounded being stripped of their clothes with at most a shirt left behind when the looting was finished.

All of the above is a very rough and simplified version of the reality on the battlefield but should give you some idea of possible ways to create different units. By all accounts Tilly's men were for the most part well dressed and equipped on the day of battle though less so than the "painted" Saxon soldiers in their fresh and colourful uniforms.

As for figure choice I would go with the figures you like the best and which in your opinion gets closest to the period style given the limitations imposed by the available ranges. Try to avoid figures with the details that are obvious historical errors such as monteros, Monmouth caps and English 3-bar pot helmets. But in the end it you who will have to paint and play with the army so select the figures you will like rather than those that would seem to please obsessive researchers like myself. wink

Daniel S07 Mar 2018 9:52 a.m. PST

Thank you, GothCon is in my hometown and I used to go regularly back in the day. An Albuch game in 28mm sounds grand, will you be running the game both days?

SteveTheTim Inactive Member07 Mar 2018 10:02 a.m. PST

The first photo below is a quick snap of a German 'mercenary' regiment that I'm painting for my Breitenfeld project. It will be enlisted into Swedish service but has had no issue of Swedish QM stores yet, so is somewhat 'general'in appearance. The soldiers are long-time squaddies and any original semblance of uniformity has long gone. The inspiration for the look and the palette is Snayers' work. If this regiment turned up in Tilly's service, I doubt that it would look out of place. The musketeers are a mix of Bohemian Miniatures figures, Warlord figures and a couple of Foundry interlopers. The pike are all Foundry.

The second photo is of the Swedish Green Regiment, who wear the long coat and tighter breeches of Swedish QM issue. Some of the companies are, indeed, in green 'uniforms', but others wear the 'any at hand' cloth stipulated as a fall-back in Swedish standing orders. All of these figures are 1st Corps.

These manufacturers plus TAG (The Assault Group) and Old Glory are the ones that provide the most authentic 'Mittel Europa' feel. Steer clear of ECW ranges if verisimilitude is your aim.

This, of course, applies to 28mm. Other scales are available, I'm told.

Good luck.


SteveTheTim Inactive Member07 Mar 2018 10:06 a.m. PST

Hi Daniel. We'll be there Friday and Saturday with the game. Hope to see you there.


Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Mar 2018 11:34 a.m. PST

Fine looking regiments, Steve!

Marcus Brutus07 Mar 2018 5:23 p.m. PST

Thanks so much Daniel for the information. That gives me a lot to chew on. I am an obsessive gamer so I like to try and get it right with the figures and painting.

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