Friday, 13 June 2014

Imperial Landsknechts – Italian Wars

The first row of what is to become a Landsknecht pike block.
Figures and flags are all Pro Gloria.

As part of an on-going Italian War club project with fellow Stockholm historical wargamers Jonas and Michael, I left the year 1870 for a trip to the lace-clad pike blocks of the Renaissance, and finished this first line of my projected Landsknecht pike block.

The Imperial Eagle of Charles V.

Miniatures are all from the excellent Pro Gloria range, from which I also found some suitable flags. Pro Gloria offers a wide selection of really nice flags for the period, and as I'm painting for the imperial side, I naturally chose the classic Imperial Habsburg Eagle on the signal yellow, and perhaps more interesting, but certainly just as beautiful, the graphically attractive Fugger Family flag.

The Fugger banner.
Couldn't resist the beautiful graphics and colors.

Upon deciding on the flags, I set out to investigate the background of this interesting family of Imperial allegiance. 

Jakob Fugger 1459 - 1525.
The wealthiest and most powerful man of his time.
With both popes and emperors in his pocket, this man called the shots.

The Fuggers were based in the Imperial city of Augsburg – many times the seat of the Imperial Diet (The council for the Holy Roman Emperor and the electors of the German states) With a background in banking, not unlike that of the Medici, the Fugger family grew it’s wealth by combining strategically placed loans at the very top of Imperial/Papal society cleverly gaining political influence and a very lucrative range of mining monopolies as part of their loan interests. The Fugger Family is said to be both politically and financially behind the election of both Maximilian I and Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor. Imagine that in Kick-Back-City. 

The Imperial Diet at Augsburg.

Interestingly, Jakob Fugger (a.k.a Jakob Fugger the Rich) played an unwilling role in what was to become the Reformation and religious fragmentation of the Empire.

The unit shot from the rear.
Red pikes makes the post battle clean up so much easier.

Jakob, accredited as the World’s richest man in his time, received a letter from Pope Leo X, enquiring about the possibility for the Papal State to attain a loan with the wealthy banker as creditor. The Pope had ambitious renovation plans in Rome, amongst other the Basilica of Saint Peter would ring a bell – and artist like Michelangelo didn’t come cheap. Only one problem, the Catholic Church was more or less broke.

Renaissance Augsburg. 

Taking a step closer to God, or perhaps divine power, Jakob happily wrote up a large loan for the Pope, only to put the holder of the divine office under further financial pressure. The Catholic Church had to increase their taxation, sell their German bishoprics and accelerate the collection of funds through the sale of Indulgences. 

The unit's Doppelsoldner captain.
A man of many tales and the clothes to prove it.

All the above was not too popular among the people of Germany, whom began to feel somewhat distant to the ambitious and costly projects in Rome, more resembling cardinal sin rather than divine guidance. This increase in taxation subsequently leads to the proclamations of Lutter, originally an Augustinian monk, thus sparking the Reformation.

City life as I image it in Renaissance Europe.

As an interesting note to these events, it was to the Fugger Family’s newly build residence in Augsburg that Lutter was called to meet with Cardinal Cajetan, and by order of the Pope recant his statements against the Catholic Church. Lutter rejected to do this, thus signalling the start of the Reformation in 1518. Perhaps not what Jakob Fugger, who died in Dec 1525 age 66, had in mind when he wrote out that loan to Leo X.

Thank you very much for reading!


  1. Fantastic looking figures and a fascinating post. Must admit I'd never heard of Fugger before but he seems to have (unwittingly) managed to change the course of history.

    1. Thank you very much - indeed the Fuggers, and Jakob in particular, seemed to have held the strings on many of the political events of late 15th early 16th century Europe. I read that his fortuned would, if translated into todays value, be greater than any person alive now.

  2. Holy cow those are stunning figures

    1. Thank you very very much for the kind words Andrew!

  3. Oh my word, they are sensational! The colours really stand out, but the quality of painting is superb.

    1. I'm a little humbled by your words - You're very kind to say so Michael!
      I painted the gang over a weeks time, each figure painted individually as I used to do as a kid before painting units. The Pro Gloria figures have a lot of individual character so it felt like the right way to approach the job. Glad you liked the results :0)

  4. Some really good brushwork going on there. Beautiful work on great miniatures! I like your strong colours. If possible I'd use some dull coat on the banners to get rid of some of that glossy feel. I'd will be nothing short of spectacular when your Italian Wars project hit the table, looking forward to see more.

    1. Thank you very much Mattias! Much should be accredited to the minis as well, they are really fresh and crisp sculpts - makes it so much easier to the the mark. You know you're very welcome to drop by for a game with Jonas, Micke and myself. Jonas have, as you probably saw, also started his ITW collection with a really beautiful unit. I'm thinking we could really need your advise when it becomes time to hit the terrain part of this project ;0)

  5. Wow! Truly stunning work as Andrew stated. The colors really pop and the detail is rendered exquisitely! The mix of clothing adds greatly to the visual appeal. I must look into Pro Gloria figures and flags.

    Great job!

    1. After a weeks work on these chaps, I really appreciate your kind words Jonathan, and yes - you should really look into Pro Gloria if you've got Landsknechts on the painting menu. Stephan, who runs the company is a great guy. Really ambitious and has put so much effort and time into hitting this top notch quality, with the help of sculptors like Paul Hicks. Gendarmes are on the way, and so are a plastic box of landsknechts so those pike blocks will become more affordable. Look at their Facebook site, great stuff!

  6. Excellent post, the paint job is amazing, colors are just perfect!

    1. Thanks Phil, really appreciate your comment and visit! More Landsknechts are on the way, got inspired and decided to finish the pike block while I'm caught up in the 16th century.

  7. Fabulous colors! You really created a masterpiece with theses.

    1. You're too kind Dean, thanks a lot! More a painter at heart, it really is a treat to get such minis under the brush. They are wonderfully sculpted with character in abundance, so credit to Pro Gloria for giving us these "toys to play with".

  8. Oh these are wonderful, really lovely landsknechts, I have those flags too, and they sure compliment the excellent paint job you have done.
    Thanks for the historical back ground on the Fugger family , very informative.

    Great post

    1. Happy you liked the write up and mins, Chris! As I regard you as the master and myself as the Padawan, when it comes to painting this period, your words are much appreciated. Thanks!

  9. Wonderful looking landsknechtes complimented by some great flags! Very nicely done!


    1. Cheers Christopher - thanks for the nice comment and for dropping by for a read. More men of the Empire are on the painting table at the moment, so a pike block should be on the blog very shortly!

  10. Very fine work and interesting post!

    1. Thanks Jason, like I wrote above, when spending a week with these minis at the painting table, it's nice to share them with such kind comments as a result. Cheers!

  11. Spectacular painting of remarkable sculpts! I was aware of the Fugger rile as the bankrollers of the Emoire, etc. One could argue that the Reformation got started in earnest with the Hussite rebellion 100 years earlier, but became a regional rather than a local issue with the actions of Martin Luther.

    1. Thanks Gonsalvo, couldn't agree more - the Pro Gloria range really was what sparked my interest in this period, Stephan have done a wonderful job on creating these minis for us. I think your argument on the Hussites is correct. Funny how things always started cooking in Bohemia back then, right? Another example connected to the break up of the Empire is the start of the 30 Years War, also initiated in Bohemia. I read somewhere that Renaissance Prague had a long tradition of alchemy and the black arts of the Occult, and that was why Emperor Rudolph II moved there. The city really seemed to fester and attract all kinds controversial Renaissance thinkers, like fellow Dane Tycho Brahe who worked as astrologist and alchymist at the imperial court.

  12. Very, very impressive paint work Sören!!! It will be a joy to see them on the gaming table in August with the rest of them that you will paint during the summer.

    But I say as I told Jonas about his landsknechts...or more about the basing...the look a bit to lined up, yes I know they are standing and are not moving, still I think they are a bit to lined up on the bases...

    Pleas keep up a good pace on the painting and bloging so we can see more of your splendid minis

    Best regards Michael

    1. Cheers Micke, I’m also looking very much forward to some Italian Renaissance Warfare come August. This is perhaps the most visual attractive period I’ve painted so far. Can’t wait to see a whole table of Landsknechts and Gendarmes.

      I appreciate your comment, but I’m not worried about the chosen basing; I like this stringent lined up style for the pike block. Especially when you start adding the second and third row of bases, you’ll see the pikes lining up nicely in depth – that’s exactly what I’m after.

      More Landsknecht on the painting table at the moment, so don't despair :0)

    2. Good to hear Sören that you have a set plan:)

  13. What a spectacular start you're off to Søren! A splendid looking unit, where your clean and crisp painting style really pays off, together with some excellent combinations of colours and finally, as icing on the proverbial cake, those magnificent flags.

    You have given me much inspiration for my continued painting here, and I can't wait to eventually see our armies lined up on the tabletop and clashing – it will be a visual treat for sure!

  14. Thank you very much Jonas, I'm quite humbled here by your kind words. I'm really happy we decided to start up this project, it has so much visual appeal. Something enjoyable, and quite different from the uniformity I'm used to when painting. And, like you, I'm also really looking forward to field the finished result. We're in for some great gaming this Fall!
    But as you previously suggested, let's get together for a coffee and a painting session in the near future. I'll PM you and Micke to settle on a date! Cheers, Sören

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