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"Italian City-States" Topic

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846 hits since 28 Mar 2018
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Ficinus28 Mar 2018 7:16 a.m. PST

I'm wondering what people's thoughts are on colors for Italians in the 14th/15th century should look like, particularly Florentines, Venetians, Milanese, and Romans (for time period, from about Cola's tribunate to the Peace of Lodi). My thoughts are that Florentines should wear colors based on either their quarter of the city or their guild, while Romans would wear colors based on either their baron or the city (if I want them to be under Cola's regime). For Venice and Milan I feel like city colors are most appropriate, but I really don't have any more complex ideas. Of course, there would also be lots of mercenaries, who would probably have some sort of vague colors.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2018 10:10 a.m. PST

There are Osprey books on Venetian and Italian medieval armies that have some great artwork, but if you're expecting uniformity you're in for a surprise. Late medieval and early Renaissance forces wore nothing that would resemble uniforms as it was pretty much everyone for themselves, especially in the field.

Sir Walter Rlyeh28 Mar 2018 10:10 a.m. PST

A year or two ago I found an Italian wargame book on the Battle of Campaldino and have been painting up figures for it. It's a late 13th Century battle but not too far off. I am painting a lot or Florentines in red and white. I have gotten a fair amount of figures from the Mirliton Miniatures Commune Wars line and have shamelessly copied the paint schemes from his website with the red fleur de lis on a white shield. I did an Iberian game and painted the bulk of the figures in kingdom colors to make it easier for the various players at cons. This is a lot more uniform than any but the best city militias or retinues would have been but I think it aids in gaming and looks good on the table. You have some room to play since I saw at least three different depictions of Guglielmo Ubertini and picked a color scheme I liked.

Prince Alberts Revenge28 Mar 2018 2:55 p.m. PST

I asked this question when I was first seriously getting into historical gaming 20+ years ago and was assisted by some very learned gamers who helped me achieve a historically plausible look and some semblance of "uniformity". As Aegis stated, uniforms weren't what they are now (in fact they weren't really uniforms save for a select troop of guards or something). However some people would be dressed in party/guild/civic colors. For soldiers under the direct pay of a Condottiere or a City, you could go with the colors in their coat of arms. Florentine militias would look good in a mix of red and white tunics, hose, etc. with other colors randomly mixed in. Venetians with reds and yellows as predominant colors in the army's palette, etc. I believe Roman pike were described in reds and whites also. I read that Cesare Borgia clad his soldiers in red and yellow. Look at the aranceri teams in The Battle of the Oranges festival for some inspiration for color schemes to loosely apply to units.

GurKhan29 Mar 2018 1:17 a.m. PST

There's quite a bit about colours in Predonzani's book on Anghiari 1440 – link – including for instance surviving documents indicating the colours of plumes worn by various men-at-arms. The same author's website – – is also valuable. Dobson's book on San Romano – link – identifies colour schemes used in the San Romano paintings to identify the two sides, but he treats them as artistic conventions whereas Predonzani's parallels suggest they could well be factual.

Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 8:16 a.m. PST

The sequence of pictures shown in the Hesperides link show a number of uniforms being worn by companies, with the focus on Malatesta's forces.
These could be argued as being part of an artistic convention of an idealised appearance but alongside the items mentioned by GurKhan plus various other works such as items in Siena cathedral it would appear that a degree of uniformity appeared here.
With some pictures, the colours are fairly uniform but the arrangement can vary. In others, there are very specific designs being used on part of the clothing – especially hose. In yet others the whole ensemble is uniform across a number of men.
Even if it is an artistic ideal, I shall argue that my army is trying to represent the same artistic ideal – when I get round to finishing it.

Ficinus30 Mar 2018 7:47 a.m. PST

Thanks for all the responses. Yes, I didn't mean to imply uniforms, more whether there was just some coherence.

The use of artistic conventions seems appropriate for model painting, so I'll probably use white and red, white and blue, and yellow and red for Florentine, Milanese, and Roman troops as unifying colors to keep the forces on theme, but with plenty of more natural colors, colors from family coats of arms, and guild colors throughout, while also checking out some of the linked books before putting paint to brush

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