Sunday, February 3, 2019

'Mercenary' from NoelW: Medieval Irish

This one was a bit of a problem for me, mainly because it seems just about every military unit might be considered mercenary in some context or other, so I'm spoilt for choice. On the other hand, nothing visually exciting suggested itself.

So I decided to paint some new figures I'd been given for Christmas, the Irish in Perrys' Wars of the Roses range. These clearly are mercenaries, brought over to boost the final flourish of Yorkist dissent in 1487, in the rebellion against Henry VII headed by Lambert Simnel, the Young Pretender. It ended with a crushing defeat of the Yorkists (boo! hiss!) at the Battle of Stoke Field. These are characterful figures which I'm really fond of though, unusually for the Perrys, some of the sculpting seems a little rough. Perhaps it was just the castings I received. Anyway, as usual, they paint up extremely well.

I like the "saffron" robes that the kerns (the lightly armoured warriors) wear, both for their unusual style and colour. I really enjoyed painting them, though most of the subtlety of shading is lost in the photos.

Here's some kerns attacking:

And some defending:

The heavily armoured troops, gallowglasses, generally wear heavy chain or quilted gowns, and carry massive weapons - two handed axes and heavy swords, making them formidable on the battlefield (but quite easy to paint!)

Here's the command:

The banner is a hand-painted saltire of St Patrick. It was apparently the arms of Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, who recruited the bulk of the 4500 troops who took part in the battle. I don't think it's very historical for a C15th banner to look like this, but I felt that something unusual for "foreign" troops would be appropriate. If I can track down the correct standard for Kildare, I might substitute that.

I believe there were Irish troops recruited in other Roses' conflicts, but have no reliable info on that possibility. I guess the same figures can be used against Tudor English for several decades, though it would probably be stretching too far to incorporate them in Montrose's Irish of the Civil Wars, which was what I'd been hoping.

And here's (almost) all of them in a wild charge:

There's 29 figures (there were 30, but somehow one has slipped off the painting table). So that's 145 points (and maybe 1 for the flag?) plus the bonus.


  1. Nice work. The Gallowglass with their imposing looking weapons must have been a discouraging sight on the battlefield. Yours look suitably intimidating.

  2. Cracking stuff Noel. You don't see many gallowglass which is a pity as they look amazing.

  3. Great looking Irish,I really want some of these chaps to double as scots Highlanders at Flodden,very nice work!
    Best Iain

  4. Great work, Noel, the gallowglas are especially fine - effectively late medieval huscarl equivalents!