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"Great Italian Wars Question- Italian Infantry" Topic

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mghFond29 Oct 2018 8:14 p.m. PST

Looking for some advice here from other gamers who do these wars. I'm painting figures from the excellent Blue Moon 18mm range. I love'em and they offer a very good selection IMHO.

There is one entry though I'm a bit confused by, labeled Italian Infantry. Here is what they look like:

In the various rules sets I've looked at they don't seem to have any stats or acknowledgement of these sorts. Spearmen with shields basically. Looking at some of the GIW AARs online too in other scales or at least ranges, they don't seem to ever show up.

Did these guys even still exist? Or were they city militia troops who basically defended city walls? Are they too early for the big pike battles?


ancientsgamer29 Oct 2018 9:37 p.m. PST

See Mirliton 15mm range

Warrior/WRG 7th has them as regular/drilled with long thrusting spear

The Beast Rampant29 Oct 2018 10:46 p.m. PST

I know there is at least one contemporary illustration of the early war showing such figures.

I picked up some (28mm Old Glory) in a lot some time back. The Field of Glory army book has them classed as pre-1506 Florentine city militia (armored/poor grade)- the only listing of such troops- which is why mine wear the red and white livery.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2018 7:00 a.m. PST

Yes, my guess is that they would be some type of militia, more than likely attached to the various cities. There are references in several books about these forces being in the same colors, so The Beast Rampant's idea for painting them in some sort of livery makes about as much sense as anything. I think these troops might make good mercenaries for baggage guards and garrisons as well.

olicana30 Oct 2018 7:39 a.m. PST

The spear could just as easily be a glaive or bill. This kind of troops filled the ranks of Italian shock infantry, in the early period, in support of the much more common crossbowman. They are well documented by contemporary pictures, but their actual employment, in battle, is a bit murky.

An example would be the 2,000 – 4,000 Papal foot at Ravenna as late as 1512. I, like most I've seen, field these as mixture of pike troops supported by 'shot', but I have no evidence that they were pike armed and they could just as easily be fielded as these guys and 'shot'. The proportion of 'shot' to 'shock' changes dramatically depending on which is used (I go usually 4:1 for Italians – 4 pike if using pike, 4 Xbow if using 'Italian style' shock infantry). It's a big decision, because it fundamentally changes the balance and tactics of the command group.

I tend to use them as city militia, or early Condotierre shock infantry (say, up to 1503) and I would field them in equal proportion to any sword and buckler men used. Again, they should be outnumbered by crossbows (early) and arquebus (late) by at least 4:1, and I've gone as high as fielding only crossbow /arquebus (in both late and early periods).

In any event, the Italians generally thought that infantry were 'shooters' rather than close combat troops well into the period.

BTW: The pike was a new weapon to the Italians at the start of the period, and it wasn't adopted in any numbers until after Charles V's invasion in 1495. Even then it wasn't overly popular with Italians, especially after Agnadello. See this discussion in another place:


Hope that helps.

Tarantella30 Oct 2018 9:47 a.m. PST

The gendarmes that go with the range indicate a middle to late period range but most ancient/medieval army lists up to the mid 1490's include an assortment of Italian militia and mercenary spearmen, halberdiers, pikemen and pavisiers. Depending on the city state some even have small quantities of guard spearmen. Top left and bottom right figures would do nicely here with the city emblem on the shield.

The halberdiers are well covered by 15WS-108 (Halberds) which could in turn be equipped with spears or pikes and suppliment the lighter pikemen in the range.

If the shields are separate then having these Italian infantry behind separate pavises with rear ranks of crossbowmen could also be an option.

Charge The Guns30 Oct 2018 11:15 a.m. PST

I wonder if the figures are trying to represent troops with pavises, as mentioned above? They look somewhat large for period shields, and also a bit small for pavises.

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Oct 2018 12:23 p.m. PST

Looks like infantry that would show up in the early French invasion phase, especially as depicted for Fornovo:

The Beast Rampant30 Oct 2018 2:19 p.m. PST

Top left and bottom right figures would do nicely here with the city emblem on the shield.

The the 28mm Old Glory ones (PIS-9) look like that.

Swampster30 Oct 2018 3:12 p.m. PST

shows a reconstruction of the same kind of infantry as on the Fornovo picture. Note the large bladed spearhead.

There are infantry with the same shape shield shown in the Cronica della Napoli Aragonese ‌link , including Aragonese Neapolitan and some with Sforza. There are a few instances of the same spearhead – a langue de boeuf I think.

Daniel S31 Oct 2018 3:10 a.m. PST

The large bladed "spear" is a partizan, it was a very popular polearm in Italy at the time and surviving Italian and Spanish fighting/fencing manuals include detailed chapters on how to use it. (IIRc the first extensive source is from 1509 with the last being from 1621 and Monte was clearly recording a well established art in his 1509 manuscript) (1536) Marozzo has a chapter on using the partizan together with the rotella so the masters certainly thought it could be used together with a shield as well as "single".

olicana31 Oct 2018 4:57 a.m. PST

and with polearm


and Perry version


mghFond31 Oct 2018 8:29 a.m. PST

Thanks, gentlemen, for all the great information!

Well, I bought two packs of the figs so I'm gonna paint them up and use them in my field battles. They are no match for either pikes or gendarmes but they will fill up space at least in a deployment.

lkmjbc331 Oct 2018 9:07 a.m. PST

I use them for up to 1510.
Not everyone adopted Swiss pike tactics immediately. It took a few years.

Joe Collins

Swampster31 Oct 2018 9:20 a.m. PST

"The large bladed "spear" is a partizan"

Interestingly, the Italian description of the plate I linked to calls it a 'partigiana a lingua di bue'.

It seems that partisan was used in Italy from the 15th century simply to distinguish shorter infantry spears from pikes and from cavalry arms, then eventually being used for the types with two projections below the spearhead, the meaning became used for in other areas. This form is closer to Marozzo's spiedo (and not far off the splendidly named Bohemian earspoon beloved of the D&D gamer).

The whole polearm nomenclature thing is really a morass.

olicana01 Nov 2018 4:24 a.m. PST

I'm probably wrong but, I always thought the modern print (linked by Swampster) was a badly executed because I think it follows the Fornovo woodcut of the two lead figures in the Italian infantry 'column' too literally.

In the woodcut by Marozzo, of the Bolognese Partizan, the weapon doesn't look nearly so heavy bladed, in fact it looks similar to a wide bladed Langue de Boeuf or even a boar spear (without projections). Likewise, the majority of the Italian infantry in the Fornovo woodcut are shown carrying much lighter bladed weapons, though of much the same overall shape.

They may well be early partizans, but I think the modern print might be misleading as to the blade 'weight' of a Bolognese Partizan; or, it might be a very extreme example of one. I've seen umpteen cabinets of polearms around Europe, most recently the armoury at the Doge's Palace in Venice (lots and lots of cabinets full of polearms) but I've never seen anything as extreme as that example.

Agreed about the nomenclature thing, a complete minefield.

Swampster01 Nov 2018 7:25 a.m. PST

I think the weapon is probably exaggerated somewhat.
However, there are some pretty heavily bladed weapons of that sort in link
Some examples of this shape are in the Met. They are pretty similar in size with a head just over 2 feet long, taking up a third of the total length. The blade is 4 1/2 inches wide.
There are others with a longer blade – around 3' which I'd estimate is about the same as the reconstruction – but they tend not to increase the width proportionately.
There are a pair on this page which are almost like those in the illustration.

olicana01 Nov 2018 10:50 a.m. PST

I've seen that contemporary picture before (I have an interest in Neapolitan / Spanish troops because I like the 'Gonsalvo' period). The thing I like about it is that it shows not only bills, spears / partizans and glaives, but halberds too. Oman says halberds were unknown south of the Alps, ho hum Sir Charles.

I think we are pretty much in agreement. The reconstruction is probably at the very extreme as an example, and not representative of the average partizans carried.

Nice to chat, Mr.Swampster.

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Nov 2018 11:57 a.m. PST

Interestingly I also thought of the partizans (or long bladed short spears) that I saw in Venice. Nice to see we have similar vices wasting our time during holidays :-)

Swampster01 Nov 2018 2:02 p.m. PST

Are there other things to do on holidays?

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