One character we’ve encountered on previous themed rounds has been the Flemish cavalier, Antoine de Gautier, one of the young noblemen of the Flanders town of Laarden. He’s an impulsive, rash, proud and headstrong professional soldier whose military service has already taken him campaigning across the Europe of the 1680s. He’s sold his sword and pike across Germany, The Empire, the Northern Crowns, as well to his native Flanders and home town of Laarden.
He has served mainly as a gentleman volunteer and aide-de-camp, becoming a very accomplished swordsman. He has been taught in the Spanish-influenced sword-style of Flanders, but has also studied hard during his travels to hone his skills in in the fighting schools of Germany and Eastern Europe. However, he has become over-confident – mainly as a result of numerous successful duels (caused by a variety of arguments mainly regarding women, gambling debts and politics). Swollen with the rashness of youth, he has taken to fighting with a wooden dueling sword, deeming all but the most skillful opponents worthy of his fine Spanish steel blade. He dresses ostentatiously, wearing the most fashionable clothes, a ludicrous wig and remarkable hat, complete with ostrich feathers.
We see him here in two characteristic poses. First, preparing himself for an opponent in the back-streets or Grote Markt of his native Laarden. Saluting with his wooden dueling sword (and clearly already having deemed his opponent unworthy of the contest), he is oblivious to the preening cockerel parading before him.
And we also see him on the field of battle, risking all in a typically dramatic and ill-considered charge. He is accompanied by his war hound, Ares, and two retainers from one of the Laarden civic companies of Horse, both dressed slightly more soberly than their lavishly dressed commander. As ever, Antoine is taking a huge risk – living by his wits and his (wooden) sword blade, like any true risk-taker or gambler.
In this last themed round, I wanted to add another character vignette set in 1688 and the fictional town of Laarden. I chose the young Flemish cavalier who has already featured in themed rounds 2 and 4 (having his portrait painted along with the Laarden Militia in theme round 2, and declaring his love and a proposal of marriage to Mademoiselle Brochet in theme round 4).
I decided to build out his life-story a little more, giving some context before his rash gamble in battle, attacking his enemies with a frontal charge, armed only with a wooden dueling sword.
In town and in the field, Antoine still wears the outlandish ochre-yellow clothes he was seen in during rounds 2 and 4. In his dueling pose, I’ve tried to recreate his “fashionable” wig from round 4, and also added a wedding ring to his right hand – a sign that Mademoiselle Brochet has melted to the young cavalier’s charms. I thought a preening cockerel (one of the many chickens of Laarden seen in themed rounds 1,2 and 4) parading around his feet was a suitable nod to the arrogance of the young popinjay.
The wooden sword was an idea shamelessly stolen from the Syrio Forel method of swordsmanship (for all you “Game of Thrones” fans). A couple of arm swaps (with some old Mordheim plastic swords) gave both figures a weapons downgrade, and I added lots of putty for extra feathers, cuffs, hats and wigs.
For the battlefield mounted version, I’ve given Antoine’s dog, Ares (previously seen in themed round 4), a larger bow – perhaps Mademoiselle Brochet tied it on Ares before Antoine’s departure for battle? The mounted cornet and kettle-drummer each display the Laarden coat of arms, a Pelican, on the trumpet banner and pistol holsters, and the colours of the Laarden contingent deliberately echo the yellow and pale blue civic colours of Laarden’s coat of arms.