Thursday 25 August 2016

Burgundian barding conversions - work in progress

The next unit I'm working is planned to be the last mounted men at arms for my Burgundians. I've saved the contingent of Antony, Bastard of Burgundy as the finale - partly as I wanted to keep back a visually strong unit, and I've felt that my conversion skills have not been up to the tasks in hand until now (thanks to some sculpting coaching session I was fortunate to have).

So this unit will be a high status one - representing the duke's half brother alongside other Burgundian nobles wearing their most expensive harness and horse bards. First steps have been to 'upgrade' and vary the barding, using some contemporary images as my guide. This posting is my current progress, mainly undertaken over the last couple of weeks whilst away on hols.

Searching for reference material for horse armour for this period has been an interesting exercise in itself. Starting with extant armour, there appears to only 3 remaining full bards form the second half of the fifteenth century - Wallace Collection c1480 (A21), Berlin c 1475 (W1052) and Vienna c 1450 - images below. Two of these are accurately represented in the Perry Miniatures Mounted Men at Arms plastic set.

Look beyond these bards however and there's a bit of a void, which I'd not expected to find. The items remaining in collections and museums, which can be accurately dated as reference pieces for a Burgundian army are very limited - mainly chamfrons, a few crinnets and odd pieces of plate.

This led me to look at contemporary images. Once again I was surprised by how few I have found to date. Most of the images and illustrations for the period 1450-1490 from battle scenes, saints, classical & Biblical tales, etc show no apparent armour on knightly mounts. Armour for the horse seems to be restricted to chamfrons and the occasional plate or mail crinnet. Its in the early 16th century when horse bard appears to be more in evidence in both museum armoury collections and contemporary imagery.  This leads me to conclude that it may have been the significant increase of gunpowder weapons f(hand held and wheeled) from c 1500 which created the need for men of high status to protect their mounts with plate (as its been argued that the increased power of crossbows from the mid 14th century hastened the development from mail to plate for knights on the battlefield).

So this leaves me with a relatively limited number of visual references to work from, some of which are here. There's a wonderful Italian bard from c 1470, some Flemish and Italian images and (thankfully for my purposes) plenty in the enigmatic scenes in the Berne Chronicles Schilling - showing exactly the troop types which I'm attempted to represent in 28mm.

So, here is the work done to date on the models. I've used the Perry plastic bards as my templates (mainly the Italian style one) and have removed with scalpel and smoothing sticks all the mouldings of the plates and rivets, before applying a thin layer of Green Stuff and shaping the details with variety of dental tools and clay shapers. I've also used moulds which Oliver at Steel Fist Miniatures kindly made for me some time ago and tried to smooth out a surrounding layer of putty. The challenges has been many; the main one being to create smooth edges when its necessary to build up the armour at different stages ands so hide the joins. Its a slow process doing one small area and letting that set off before moving to the next.

I'm fairly pleased with the results to date, which is giving me confidence to try to do more. But I am apprehensive that paintwork and washes will show up the limitations of my conversion work...we'll see. A bit more to do to get me to the required nine barded mounts, before I start on the riders.


  1. Excellent conversion work so far!


  2. That looks sensational, keep going!

  3. Very ambitious, I ought to try something similar, but the difficulty always puts me off doing it. I'm looking forward to seeing how they turn out.


  4. Simon, those are smashing! I always appreciate your talent and depth of research.

  5. Just got round to viewing your efforts. Good work on the GS, I think the Italian bard will prove to be the most versatile and perhaps easiest to replicate en masse.

    It lends itself as a good base to paint a variety of decorations as you see fit as well as perhaps being a good surface to add some Burgundian transfers if there are any out there. This, or a variation of it seems to be the most prevalent design in the early 16c. The only thing i'd suggest, although it isn't shown on your source, is perhaps the addition of a raised round boss at the horse shoulder joint.

    Encouraging stuff, I must give it a go myself.


  6. Hi! Could you tell me where you found the first reference picture in your post (the one with the Italian-looking knights)?