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"Must-Have Nobles and/or Factions for the Wars of the Roses?" Topic

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Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Oct 2020 7:35 a.m. PST

Given that the Wars of the Roses span quite a period of time, and that many/most/all flew banners and flags, and that some even had house-hold livery jackets for their troops, which are the best, and/or most needed ones to represent on the tabletop, e.g. must haves for each side?

I suspect that will be dependent a lot on the battles chosen, and whether their troops wore livery jackets, or not.

Clearly, I'd like to be able to do Towton, just because, but some of the other big battles too. I might be interested in some of the smaller battles, sieges, and/or skirmishes as well, if that's workable.

Is it possible to create and/or paint up some fairly generic troops, and just swap out the banners and flags for those, as needed/desired, for those that don't wear livery jackets?

How common were the liveried troops?

Huscarle Supporting Member of TMP15 Oct 2020 8:00 a.m. PST

The big 3 noble houses IMHO for each side are
Beaufort (Somerset), Percy & Clifford for the Lancastrians.
Neville (Warwick, Salisbury, Fauconberg et al), Hastings & Howard for the Yorkists.

Dennis15 Oct 2020 12:47 p.m. PST


I like the look of livery and lots of variety in poses for my figures-I'm mostly using Peter Pig figures in 15mm with some compatible figures from other companies-some of the figures are in what appear to be livery jackets or can be painted as such and some can't. So for troops that might be in livery I'm painting "units" consisting of some in livery and some not to get the most variety.

Looking at the identifiable livery colors-several sources available for these-there seem to be quite a few using the same colors, so if you don't paint your figures with livery badges they should be able to do double or triple service for different leaders-lots of murray and blue (and blue and murray) for example. I'm also a bit of a heretic about uniform specifics and am willing to use proxy units, in the AWI for example, with the facing colors or flags of units not present for the actual battle I'm playing-I simply see no point in limiting the battles I game to only those for which I have the exactly uniformed units and I lack the funds and time to paint all of the units for every battle in the wars I wish to game-although I do have every infantry and artillery unit of the Prussian army for the 7 Years War (including all garrison units and siege batteries) painted by a friend who then sold them to me without any cavalry.

So I'm painting up various "units" with common livery colors, and command or leader stands with the various banners and standards for the nobles and leaders and once done I should be able to game most battles with a few proxies.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Oct 2020 1:32 a.m. PST

I agree with you very much Dennis.

However , using the wrong facing colour will get you a fair bit of censure I think. On your own head be it.


Warspite116 Oct 2020 4:25 p.m. PST

The question of livery colours is something I have mentioned before and I have put together a master list which I eventually intend to publish as an appendix to my own WOTR wargame rules, Bills Bows and Bloodshed.

In theory the troops' livery should be the background colour/s of the long standard. Where a colour is the top strip of the standard this goes on the wearer's right (our left when we view) and the lower colour goes on the wearer's left (our right as we view). It is unclear what happens when the colours go over the shoulder to the wearer's back. The colours may repeat or reverse. It is more likely to reverse if the sleeves are also in livery colour (see the Burgundians in the Osprey Men at Arms).

For greatest economy go for for popular livery colours first (especially at 15mm scale) and simply change the colour party or base for one showing the banner or standard of a different family.


Red: red is used by Richard Neville (junior) Earl of Warwick. According to some sources Sir William Stanley also used red although a ballad suggests red and white for Sir William.
Also used by Lord Berkeley;
Thomas Courtney Earl of Devon;
Lord Grey of Ruthin. It may also be the troop livery of John Howard as Duke of Norfolk but several contemporary documents say his household colour was black. It is possible that Howard's retinue wore red but his close household or just the family members wore black.

Blue/Yellow: Francis Viscount Lovell;
John De La Pole Duke of Suffolk.

Red/Black: Richard Neville (senior) Earl of Salisbury;
John Neville Marquis Montague;
various Percy Earls of Northumberland. This combination is unfortunate as the Nevilles and the Percys were neighbours and were fighting each other before the Wars of the Roses started.
It should also be noted that a renegade branch of the Nevilles, who sided with the Percys and Henry VI wore reversed colours of Black/Red.
It should also be noted that later Percy standards show three colours possibly to prevent confusions between the families. See also Blue/White below.

Black/Red: Stafford Dukes of Buckingham;
Lord Cobham;

White/Green: the Tudor family including Jasper Earl of Pembroke and later Henry Earl of Richmond/Henry VII. If creating a colour party for Henry note that at Bosworth Henry displayed the royal banner of quarterly France and England which infuriated Richard III as it was also HIS banner. This may have led to Richard's fatal charge.
Edward Neville as Lord Abergavenny displayed green and white.

White/Blue: King Henry VI but he had few troops of his own he mainly relied on the Beauforts;
the Beaufort Dukes of Somerset;
William Neville Lord Fauconberg who was a Yorkist! It is possible that the Calais garrison under Andrew Trollope wore this livery as they were directly employed by the king.

Blue/White: Richard Duke of York. You will see that this will cause immediate confusion with the White and Blue of the king. Instead of inheriting the family colours on the Duke of York's death, the sons Edward (Edward IV), George Duke of Clarence and Richard of Gloucester/Richard III symbolically dyed the white half in the blood of their dead father and brother and switched to blue and murrey which is a wine red similar to dried blood. So a Blue and Murrey unit can double for any of the sons of York. Just change the colour party.
It is possible that Richard Duke of York died at Wakefield in 1460 due to an accidental confusion (or deliberate deception) over livery colours of incoming troops, luring him out to his destruction. It is noticeable that his sons changed their colours around this time but it is recorded that Edward IV also used 'bends' strips of coloured cloth like gym bands.

In 1475 Edward IV settled a long overdue bill for 'crimson cloth' for bends for his knights and squires who had fought at Towton in 1461. This probably pre-dated his later livery of blue and murrey.

It is clearly dangerous to change colours in mid-campaign but Edward may also have feared confusion with Henry VI and Beaufort's own white/blue at Towton. Thus he issued red bends for his troops to wear over either his new blue/murrey or his late father's existing blue/white livery. Sons normally adopted their father's livery so it is possible that Edward still made some use of the old blue/white at Towton, with the red bends across them, while also distributing to his own new colours IF he had time to.

This shows a red bend in use:
My only quibble with this re-enactor picture is that I think the bend goes over the wrong shoulder. This is a bend sinister which indicates illegitimacy in heraldry.

Warspite116 Oct 2020 4:58 p.m. PST

Photo examples:

Yorkist longbowman:
His livery is sleeveless and repeats on the back. The badge is Edward IV's white rose over the sun in splendour.

Duke of Buckingham gunners:
Here the livery is sleeved and the sleeves are one colour so the colours reverse on the back. The badge is the Stafford knot.

Earl of Warwick's longbowman:
All-red with a ragged staff badge and white metal ragged staff badge in his hat.

Duke of Somerset's men at Salute:

Edward IV's men at Salute:
Note that a couple of the nearest archers have the blue/murrey reversed on the front of the figures.


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