Friday, 31 January 2014

Unit the second

At this point I think I should make it clear that I have a very limited knowledge of heraldry apart from the odd word here and there, therefore I hope the reader will indulge my possibly long-winded explanations. This is why I have used the Anglicised names for everything rather than try and be clever by using the Latin ones.
Another point to clear up is that all the standards I have used are completely conjectural –as far as I am aware- and have been made up using the clan charge on the clan background. I am not even sure that some of the shapes of the standards are contemporary either –they may be more modern, but in the absence of any accurate depictions, I will stick to any type of design I think looks alright.

Here is another unit of with three bases of differing clans of Polish nobility.

First up with an azure blue field, yellow horseshoe surrounding a cross charge is the Jastrzębiec clan. This clan had lands in the region of Sandomierz. Jakób of Raciborowice, who was castellan of Sandomierz at the time, was killed at the Battle of Chmielnik.

The second base with the white flower on a red field is that of the Poraj clan. This clan is one of the few with a flower as its charge and I have taken a little artistic license with this one. They had lands in the area of Kraków but the first recorded mention wasn’t  until 1358 but I like the charge and hope that the clan is old enough to be included in the roll of 1241.
Third up is the Leliwa clan with a charge of star above a horizontal crescent moon, both in yellow on a blue field. The clan had lands in the regions of Kraków, Poznan and Sandomierz in Poland, as well as holdings in Wolyn and Podolia in what is now the Ukraine.

And here is the whole unit.

By the way, I’ve cracked the grammar problem. I simply write the information as a Word document and then copy it across. Mind-blowingly simple when you think about it but I hadn’t until this post. (I know, if I had a brain, I’d be extremely dangerous.)

On another note, work has started on the first unit of levy infantry but there is no break from cavalry as I have also started the first LC unit of Pendraken Mongols.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Something I just had to do

You know when you get an urge which won’t away until you’ve sorted it? Well I have just sorted one. Earlier this month, in fact last week, I had a package drop through the letter box and inside were my figures from the brand spanking new Pendraken 10mm Mongols range.  Now I know I said this bit was all supposed to be about the Polish but... the new chaps were an itch that I just had to scratch.
If you fancy 10mm Mongols then you can’t go far wrong with these. The detail is great, attention to detail is good and the poses are quite dramatic for the scale. This first mingghan is the first of two heavy cavalry mingghat units. This will be slightly smaller than the other two with only 2 HC and 4 LC mingghat making a total of 101 cavalry in this, my third tümen.
The Polish are coming along apace as well. I have two-thirds of the next nobility unit finished and as well as the final third from that I have started on the first of the infantry levy units. The rest of the army turned up earlier in the week so in total there will be 240 infantry and 85 cavalry in this army when it’s all finished..
On another note, I was quite chuffed with MWBG this month...I was mentioned three times. Not only because of the last in the first series of Mongol articles that I have written but also in the Editorial and also my name was used for the Pendraken quiz.

So, here it is.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Some Background Material

I thought it might be an idea that instead of just giving you pictures and some notes on heraldry, it might be a good idea for a brief synopsis of the Mongol campaign in Poland in 1241.
Once the campaign in the Russian Principalities had drawn to a successful conclusion the Mongols turned their eyes towards the main object of the campaign which was the conquest of Europe. While a large proportion of the army was to cross the Carpathian Mountains from a number of different directions and invade Hungary, a smaller force of two tümet was to head northwest, alongside the mountains, and into Poland to stop the various Polish armies from interfering with the main Mongol invasion force.
Note: I have used the more Anglicised spelling of the various names for the sake of convenience.
Three royal princes, namely Kadan, Baidar and Orda and grandsons of Chinggis Khan, were chosen to perform this task. They rode through Red Ruthenia and into the southeast of the country via Lesser Poland burning and pillaging as they went to draw attention to themselves. Poland, which at the time was divided into a number of duchies, all ruled by members of the same Piast family, was slow to respond, Lublin was taken and the province of Sandomir was mostly ravaged before any real resistance could be begun. The Mongols then split their forces to try and to create as much trouble as they could, Kadan riding north towards Warsaw and Masovia while the other two headed south westwards in the direction of Krakow and Silesia.
There was a battle at Chmielnik in Sandomir on 18th March between Baidar and Orda and a local force which resulted in an overwhelming Mongol victory. From there the two headed for Krakow. They destroyed most of that city before moving onto Wroclaw where they had agreed to meet with Kadan. He had not long defeated a Polish army at Tarczak on 19th March when he received a message from the others saying that a Polish army was forming at Liegnitz and that another, reputed to be 50,000 strong, was marching to join it. Kadan set off and the two Mongol tümen were reunited at Wroclaw on 1st April.
Unaware that the reinforcing army was not too far away, Duke Henry II of Silesia with his army rode out of Liegnitz and rode to a plain southeast of the town where he was utterly destroyed by the Mongols.
Their work complete, with no remaining force in Poland capable of disrupting the plans, the three returned to the main army.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

First of the Many

By using my usual basing system of 60mm x 40mm I reckoned that, to make it look good, I could have between 5 and 7 knights and followers on a base. Then I decided that, to start with at least, I would make each base a family or clan with the option to increase them to full 3 base units at some date in the future if necessary.

Now I find a glitch in the system. I cannot post the grammatically correct looking name of some of the clans because Blogger will only allow me to use English characters so apologies in advance to any and all Polish speakers who might tear their hair out at my pathetic attempts at the language. However, if you look closely at the clan name in the link it shows the correct rendition. Underneath each clan description I have supplied a link for those who wish to go to the Wikipedia page that supplied the coat of arms and most of the history of the clan.

So, here is the first unit of the army:

The first base on the left is of the Odrawaz Clan. They had lands in both the centre of the Poland just south of Lodz as well as lands in Red Ruthenia -the border country between  Poland and what is now the Ukraine, quite close to Przemysl and the Carpathain Mountains, and Lesser Poland. The capital of Lesser Poland was Krakow. Due to this geographical split it is possible that they could be represented at both the Battle of Chmielnik and any actions around Krakow.

The base in the centre is from the Korczak Clan.  Apparently, the charge is of Hungarian descent and the three lines represent three rivers, the Danube, the Tisza and the Sava. Most of the bearers of this emblem were from Red Ruthenia.   

The unit at the rear is the Debno Clan. I can find no knowledge about the clan apart from the fact that it existed, quite possibly in this form, at the time of the Mongol invasion. The notes on the heraldic page say that it is a modern interpretation and my take on this is the cross without the 'w' style of emblem in the lower right quadrant.

A word on Polish heraldry

The first thing to note is that heraldry of the Polish nobility (or szlachta) of the early to mid Thirteenth Century is that it is nothing like the heraldry of western Europe. Theirs is much more basic in design and stems from ancient tribal markings to denote territorial boundaries and ownership. For longevity, these would have to be simple to carve on wood or stone, so the heraldic designs are usually a series of lines or gentle curves. For example, one clan –the Korczak Clan from the Kraków area- has a series of three white lines with each succeeding line shorter than the one above on a red field. Another example is a stylised white arrow, sometimes with lines across the shaft, again on a red field, as used by the Lis Clan. All of this will be made clear as the entries are written. I will also include some relevant notes on the heraldry as well as a picture of the heraldic shield as they are displayed on Wikipedia for the clans I have used.
The devices used are specific to a single clan which is made up of a number of families, sometimes not even from the same area of Poland. For example, there are about 1740 names or families that make up the Jastrzębiec Clan (or Herb Jastrzębiec in Polish) and there were no differences in the device used by various members of the family; they all carried the same device on their shields. These types of changes were gradually worked into the system at a later date, sometime around the time of the Polish Commonwealth of the Seventeenth Century.
Another thing about Polish heraldry is that the predominant colour for the shield is red with the charges mainly in white but sometimes in yellow. The other colour is blue and in Polish heraldry blue means azure or sky blue. Again, this will be made clear as I progress.

New Year, new project

I have left the blog for far too long so now, with what I think is an unusual project I will be able to document proceedings.
Since moving down to Kent, as written about in previous posts, I have painted a few plastic Medieval Russians. Then I started painting my 10mm Khwarazmians. Finished all that I had of them and painting went off the boil for a while, not because I didn’t have anything to paint, it was just that nothing seemed to inspire me. Then at a chance meeting with Henry Hyde, the editor of Miniature Wargames and Battleground magazine (MWBG), I happened to ask him if he would be interested in any articles on the Mongols. Since then I have written six; the first three about the Mongol Reconnaissance into Georgia and southern Russia in 1219-1221 -the third article will be in February's issue- and the following three about the 1241 campaign in Europe proper. As you will be aware, writing them has taken a fair wedge of time. Alongside that, the writing of the articles has inspired me to start writing a book on said campaign, my magnum opus if you like. At the writing of this post I have written over 25,000 words and am about halfway through. The only foreseeable problem is that I am no historian –not on a professional level anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I can write and I would like to think that I can make things interesting, but have had no prior experience. I am not attempting to regurgitate dusty minutiae ad nauseum, but trying to put my slant on how and why things happened. Whether or not it ever gets published will be another matter but I hope so.
So, moving on.
One of this year’s resolutions was to try and spend at least one hour a day painting, and so far, after eleven days, I have been successful. My latest project, 10mm Medieval Polish, was inspired from two different directions. Firstly as an adjunct to writing about them –the chapter on the Polish Campaign is pretty much finished- and secondly because I happened onto the Pendraken forum about a new Kickstarter project for a Mongol range. I pledged some cash to what I considered a worthwhile cause and then proceeded to have a look at their Early Medieval range. I found knights on caparisoned horses, backup cavalry in chainmail, infantry with spears, bows, crossbows, most of which had heater shields but I could work with what was there. So then I had a look at the Saxon and Norman ranges for some levy types. Norman cavalry with kite shields for variety –bosses would need to be filed off, peasant infantry with round shields and spears etc. Again, all figures I could work with and all very nice looking little chaps to boot.
It just so happened that while I was running all this through my mind the MO phoned and asked if I wanted any figures as a Christmas present. Funny you should mention that, I replied and soon an e-mail was flying through the ether with the required codes mentioned. They arrived in time and then I had another stroke of luck. Ever since I can remember my birthday has been the 12th January so when I got another phone call from the same son asking if would like to finish off the army as a birthday present I nearly did a back-flip with unashamed joy. (Kids, you can try this at home, for a 58 year old man this is not a good idea, trust me.) So now I am the owner of a 99% complete just-started-painting 10mm Polish Medieval Army.
And that is what I intend to do –keep an ongoing account of the army as it grows.