Friday, September 21, 2012

Fridericus Redivivus: 3rd Knights

Since I've started rounding off projects, it's time for another one. Actually, there are a few bits and pieces still in the making. But it's good to know that my first army for Basic Impetus has finally got ready to rumble!
So, here's the last unit of knights and the last unit for this basic force:

These men are of the Italian and Spanish variety. Spaniards in Italy? Indeed! As hinted by the jinetes I posted last time about, there were some of these guys around when Konradin descended from the Alps. Headed by the infamous Henry of Castile, infant of Spain, they cheerfully joined the young pretender's army. Actually, Henry himself had fought for Charles d'Anjou (his cousin) in the battle of Benevento, where Manfred of Hohenstaufen (Konradin's uncle) lost both crown and life. For his service Henry received the position of "senator of Rome", leader of the Roman urban community, and hence his distinguishing sobriquet "the Senator" (El Señador). However, what probably had been meant as a mere honorary title, awarded to one of Charles' and as such the Pope's loyal henchmen, quickly turned against them: Supposedly due to further debts which Charles couldn't or wouldn't amortise, Henry swiftly changed his allegiance and became a leading opposer of the self-made king of Sicily and his papal benefactor.

In fact, Henry was a typical condottiere avant la lettre. A later-born son of King Ferdinand "the Saint" of Castile-León, he had to carve out his own place, as it was, mainly by the sword. He intrigued against his elder brother, King Alfonso "the Wise", only to be exiled to France. From there he went to England to visit his sister Eleanor, who had married Prince Edward (yes, the prospective "Hammer of the Scots" one). Again, after a few years he had to leave the country. So, still unsettled, he became a professional mercenary, at one point fighting for Khalif al-Mustansir of Tunis (a vassal of Sicily and to-be opponent of King Louis "the Saint" during the Eighth Crusade). As soon as he had gained his first 'regular employment', i.e. the Roman senatorship, Henry schemed to convert it into a sovereign dominion. Contrary to his sponsor's expectations, he didn't appease the rebellious Roman nobility that had expelled the Pope from the city, instead trying to exploit the situation for himself. Thus, when Konradin entered the scene, Henry sniffed a chance to finally shake off Charles' suzerainty.

Henry's reputation as a veteran warrior made him the obvious choice for a command in Konradin's army. At Tagliacozzo he personally led the second line, which successfully outflanked the advancing troops of King Charles. This manoeuvre (indicated here by the slightly pivoting formation) almost won the battle, since the Angevines were routed. However, Charles had kept a small reserve, which was now sent in. The Hohenstaufen troops, already in pursuit of fleeing enemies or looting the fallen, were too dispersed to withstand that final onslaught. Seeing victory melting away Konradin, who had not taken part in the actual fighting, headlessly left the battlefield, the rearguard in tow. The remaining Hohenstaufen troops lost all hope and began to flee. Most of them were either immediately cut down or captured for later ransom. Henry was among those caught a few days after the battle by locals eager to prove their loyalty to the now consolidated French overlord. Perhaps mindful of his former services Charles spared Henry the fate of Konradin and his commanders, who were put to death after a short show trial. However, the king considered Henry still a serious threat, better to be locked away forever. He was eventually released after 22 years in custody. Still unbowed he continued his mercenary life, fighting for the Muslims in North Africa and against them in Spain. He died in 1303 in his seventies.

When I started Konradin's army, I had absolutely no clue about the fascinating characters who accompanied him. Henry of Castile is certainly an outstanding one, but then again emblematic for the whole period, so he had to be included. He will feature as the "general" in forthcoming Impetus games for he seemingly came up with the battle plan at Tagliacozzo. My rendition is a shameless knock-off of a version over at the Dante's Wars blog, even down to the standard bearer. A highly conjectural feature is Henry's Moorish/Spanish round shield decorated with tassels. I used a striped pattern, based on this contemporary illustration of the battle of Tagliacozzo (perhaps wrongly depicting the arms of Aragon?). Anyway, stripes were quite fashionable among Spaniards, so I painted another knight the same way. The man in red resembles a Spanish knight from Osprey's El Cid volume, while the blue one wears the arms of Giovanni Guastelloni, a Ghibelline knight who carried one of the standards of Siena at the battle of Montaperti in 1260 (though I used a generic banner here).
There were many more retainers of Konradin worth to tell their story. But that has to wait for now, since I'll turn to the "big opponent", the sinister (or just misunderstood?) Charles d'Anjou. Keep an eye out for the banner below in future postings. A few loose ends have to be tied together yet, namely a base of baggage and some markers, but these are almost finished. An army shot is to follow soon, too.

Finally, this post is meant to celebrate an anniversary as well (if a few days late): Incredible four years ago I started my conquest of the Lead Mountain. The blog has grown steadily and become an hobby activity on its own. But it has been an exciting and delightful venture ever since, and that's mainly due to you, the readers and commentators. Thank you ever so much for your support by praise and critique, by spreading the word or by just visiting! It's all greatly appreciated!

Miniatures by Legio Heroica. Flags printed and coloured by hand.


Brummie said...

They look superb especially all the different livery. Top Stuff sir!

Ray Rousell said...

Beautifully painted lovely looking flags as well.

Curt C said...

Yes, spectacular work on the heraldry and livery. Very impressive!

Dalauppror said...

Stunning wirk !!!!!

best regards Michael

Schrumpfkopf said...

WTF ich bin Besucher Nr. 100000 (!!!!!)

Wollte aber eigentlich nur Dein tolles Zeug kommentieren.



Bluewillow said...

lovely, starting my Lewes army in 28mm next week, if i ever finish my Romans....and Sassanids!



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