After the colourful and glorious sight of the knights before, this time we proceed to the other end of the food chain: Come the archers.
No pretty (hi)story about them really. Apart from Wales (and England later on), Medieval Europe had no tradition of bow and arrow as a weapon. Archery was taught and practised merely as sport, complementing the art of hunting. It could be used in sieges or, less frequently, in open battle to disorder enemy formations. However, with mounted knights in heavy armour dominating the battlefield, the military use of archers was limited: In general, they lacked training either to shoot accurately or to draw a bow providing sufficient power to penetrate metal armour. So for the most part archers were lowly footmen, often servants usually employed as foresters or hunting helpers (hence the green cloths here).They were able to fend off other lightly armed troops or to scout ahead of the main column, but they didn't feature prominently in battle.
Despite the few figures needed for this unit, these were a real pain. Reason? I rather like my miniatures to interact with each other. With just a few skirmishers that's a bit of a problem, and it's even worsened by the somewhat limited supply of "character figures" in 15mm. I know, people usually get excited by the prospect of units built from very few miniatures. I've seen bases with just a single figure on it – and, admittedly, it can look nice, if you make good use of terrain features. But that's the point: I'm no good at building terrain. Consequently, basing is one of those things which really wind me up.
Here, in order to emphasise the 'fighting in broken ground' aspect of skirmishers, I envisioned a wattle fence which could provide cover for some advancing archers. After several trials, however, the scratch-built version turned out way too low and, at the same time, too fragile to raise it any further. Now, the nasty thing's rather invisible, and I thought it fit to let one man just carelessly step over it. Maybe next time…
Another note on painting: On these figures I tried the 'heavy blacklining' approach. Though it make the models appear more pronounced and well defined even if viewed from a distance (certainly quite important with 15mm!), I cannot cope with it. Perhaps it needs more practising, but to me it doesn't look right, especially with skintones. I'll definitely go for 'smoother' transitions, if at the cost of clear-cut.
Miniatures (again) by Legio Heroica.