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"Painting Italian Renaissance Gendarmes?" Topic

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GARS190012 Jan 2019 9:52 p.m. PST

So, I've been working though my recently acquired Blue Moon Italian Wars minis, and I fear I will not be able to put it off much longer; I'm going to have to paint the Gendarmes I bought. I'm using them for a specifically Italian army. However, I'm a little confused as to how I should paint them. For an army in the employ of a major city state (like Milan, Genoa, ect), is there a particular way to paint them? Would each man-at-arms bear his personal livery, or would he wear the colors of the state that employed him? Or, if he was part of a condottieri company, would he wear that companies colors?

Frostie13 Jan 2019 12:12 a.m. PST

Check out this blog

James's blog is a great inspiration to me

Swampster13 Jan 2019 4:08 a.m. PST

If Sabatini is using original sources (which he seems to be) then we do have the example of Cesare Borgia's guard wearing his colours "the gentlemen of his guard wore surcoats of his colours in gold brocade and crimson velvet".

Period sources such as the paintings of Pavia or the Voyage de Genes show the majority of gendarmes of various countries (including some Italians) in assorted colours which do not seem to be livery either of their employer or personal. There are a few exceptions and these tend to be the big names such as the Duke of Bourbon. State affiliation seems to be the French cross or the Burgundian cross on the barding and/or surcoat- I don't recall seeing any Italians with a state device in similar places but I wouldn't rule it out.

FWIW, the mix of colours is also shown in Henry VIII's companions when he met Maximilian, whereas some of the Emperor's men are in what seems to be a common livery.

For the period before the Italian wars, there are several pictures with knights with their condottiere's livery, including on the barding. I guess this may have changed but it looks so good I'm tempted to use it.

Commynes's description confirms that feathers were being worn by Italians (at least at Fornovo). He also describes the Italian lances as being finely painted, which may be in contrast to the French lances. Most pictures show lances as unpainted wood, so the Italians may have been an exception perhaps including the barber's pole look which is beloved of wargamers.

There are examples of liveries worn by various Italian troops of the period as well as those of Borgia, e.g. the archers of the Duke of Ferrara wearing white and red. Whether this was also used by elmeti, I don't know. I would guess that only the closest 'guard' would do so, if Cesare is anything to go by. This is further complicated in that the descriptions of are parades etc. – I think they would wear the same in battle but the numbers may be misleading.

GurKhan13 Jan 2019 8:55 a.m. PST

One use of an army-level emblem paralleling the French cross was that the Venetians at Agnadello may have worn a red cross, according to link

mghFond13 Jan 2019 11:56 a.m. PST

I too was greatly influenced and impressed of course with Jame's Olicanalad's blog so when I painted my gendarmes, elmeti, etc I used a wide variety of colors. Now my French gendarmes have a bunch of colored striped lances too as do my Italians. Maybe the French didn't actually do that but I like em that way and that's what counts.

BTW, it took me a long time per gendarme to paint but it looks nice once a force is assembled and based.

Here are my French gendarmarie and since that photo I have terrained the bases lest someone bring that up :)


Love the Blue Moon stuff! Good luck with your project.

Swampster13 Jan 2019 12:25 p.m. PST

"Venetians at Agnadello may have worn a red cross"

…and when allied to the French a few years later, switched to a white one.

GARS190013 Jan 2019 1:31 p.m. PST

So, the Gendarmes in the service of a Renaissance Italian city-state most likely would have worn personal liveries, not the liveries of their employers?

Swampster13 Jan 2019 2:21 p.m. PST

I think either no livery – just fancy clothing and barding – or _possibly_ employers' liveries but not personal.

Thresher0114 Jan 2019 12:09 a.m. PST

Most of the liveries I've seen for Italian gendarmes appear to be personal ones.

These were from the mid-late 1400s and early 1500s.

Not sure that is definitive proof they didn't use employers' liveries instead, but I don't recall seeing that mentioned last time I was researching them for the Italian Wars.

I am certainly no expert on the subject though.

Swampster14 Jan 2019 11:15 a.m. PST

For the mid-15th century, there are sources showing e.g Sigismondo Malatesta's elmeti wearing his livery. The paintings of Anghiari show other condotierri arms being used in a similar way. See TMP link for links.

By the late 15th ceentury, we have examples such as the Neapolitan and other knights here link where virtually all the elmeti have bards in a single colour (though sometimes a contrasting edge). These could well have had some subtle pattern but decorative rather than heraldic, and the colours seem to have no significance. The exceptions are, for instance, the couple riding horses with bards in Aragonese colours. Giacomo Montagno's tabard may also be significant, though he was a condottiere. Some of the men in the background might be wearing the same colours. The event shown is some time before the Italian Wars but it is difficult to know whether the artist has changed any fashions to reflect the several decades covered by the document.
The lack of decoration on most of the barding is not simply a limit of the medium or the artist – there are lots of shields, flags and trumpet banners with very careful detail. Some infantry and possibly some lighter cavalry may be wearing livery, particularly in the colour of their hose.

Thresher0115 Jan 2019 8:48 p.m. PST

I sometimes wonder about older paintings, especially those painted decades or centuries after a battle, how accurate they are.

Many have been proven to be out of date, armor-wise, etc., due to that.

Also, perhaps the painter was lazy, or had a limited number of paints, or chose not to change the paint color(s) for other figs he/she was working on, for simple convenience, cost, etc..

Ideally, we'd like to think they are being accurately portrayed, but I suspect in many cases they are not.

Swampster16 Jan 2019 1:03 a.m. PST

In the case of the Cronaca, laziness and lack of palette would not explain why the painter went into the effort with shields and flags but not with bards – which should be easier.

We also have early and mid-15th examples where loads of bards are painted with heraldic devices and then 50 years later virtually none are. This is not only in Italy but across Europe.

Any source material has to be treated with caution, but we are at their mercy.

Swampster16 Jan 2019 9:28 a.m. PST

Incidentally, the scenes in the Cronaca showing the Italian wars were made 5 or so years after the events, so no problem with them being unfamiliar with the actual appearance. The overall look matches what we know from elsewhere, so they are not using an archaic style.

The Hesperides of Malatesta and the Anghiari paintings are also from near contemporary events. There are examples of individuals with different bardings which might be personal, and others with matching bardings which are those of a captain, though remember this is 50 years before the Italian Wars. The point is that there seems to be a change in fashion between this period and the Italian Wars.

BTW, the Hesperides are good for examples of the stripy lances which are mentioned later on.

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