About Royal Armouries

The Royal Armouries is the United Kingdom’s national museum of arms and armour, and one of the most important museums of its type in the world. We will be blogging about all aspects of our three museums - our head office in Leeds, our historical home in the White Tower at the Tower of London, and Fort Nelson in Hampshire. Content comes from many contributors throughout the Museum including the Communications, Conservation and Curatorial teams.

Agincourt 600: The Prisoners of Agincourt

As part of our 600th commemoration of the battle of Agincourt, the Royal Armouries is exhibiting a unique temporary collection of arms, armour, art, music and manuscripts at the Tower of London. To accompany the exhibition, the Royal Armouries has produced a catalogue with Yale University Press, edited by our Curator of Tower History and Tower Special Collections Malcolm Mercer and trustee Professor Anne Curry. Here, one of the contributors of the publication, Rémy Ambuhl of the University of Southampton, writes on the contentious element of the prisoners of the battle.

A French noble man encourages his men toward the English lines.

Pictured Jean le Meingre, Marshal Boucicaut, who is taken prisoner at the battle.

The significance of ransoming has long been recognised by students of medieval chivalry and diplomacy. The system led to a pan-European conception of a chivalric brotherhood, as ransoming a defeated member of the military elite became seen as indicative of much that was civilised about Western European aristocratic culture. By contrast, those who slaughtered, mutilated, or enslaved members of the aristocratic elite were considered inherently ‘barbarous’.

The increasing professionalisation of military activity had a considerable impact on the process of ransoming during this period. Changes in recruitment, strategy, tactics, payment, equipment, and other facets of military activity brought new pressures and possibilities. As ransoming had developed primarily as a practice between members of the aristocracy, the increasing importance of the ‘common soldier’ – of longbowmen, infantrymen, and gunners – had major implications on this elitist system.

Because of this change of nature of the battlefield, the Plantagenets established clear rules by which they could acquire prisoners of note or public standing. In despite of this, at Agincourt 25 October 1415, Henry V famously ordered the slaughter of the French prisoners towards the end of the battle, when fears arose that the French may begin a fresh wave of attack. Although this was understood strategically by his contemporaries, many captors or ‘masters’ were displeased that they had lost the opportunity for significant income raised by these prisoner’s capture.

Despite the estimations of contemporary chronicles, which vary from 700 to 2,200 prisoners, records indicate a possible total of 300 French were captured – 50 of which were very high ranking nobles.

The fate of these survivors is unusually well documented, but who were these ‘lucky ones’ and what happened to them? While French literature sheds light on the distress of prisoner’s families, narrative and administrative records give an unusual insight into their fates at the hands of the enemy.

For instance, the capture and long captivity of Charles duke of Orléans, ‘the poet prisoner’, who had become second in line of succession to the French throne at the death of the Dauphin John de Touraine in 1417, was made famous by a miniature picturing him imprisoned at the Tower of London (see below).

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A manuscript (British Library, MS Royal, 16 folio 73) of poems by Charles, Duke of Orléans (1391–1465) [1]. The original manuscript is held by the British Library. A copy of the image is available on plate 1 of Parnell, Geoffrey (1993), The Tower of London, Batsford, ISBN 978-0713468649.

The miniature depiction of the imprisonment of Charles, Duke of Orléans, in the Tower of London from a 15th-century manuscript. The White Tower is visible, St Thomas’ Tower (also known as Traitor’s Gate) is in front of it, and in the foreground is the River Thames.

Many other French aristocrats fell into the hands of the king in the aftermath of the battle: the duke of Bourbon, the count of Richemont, and the French marshal called ‘Boucicaut’ among them (see their miniatures below).

Charles, Duke of Orleans miniature from the Agincourt Model

Charles, Duke of Orleans miniature from the Agincourt Model, currently featured in our exhibition at the Tower of London.

Louis De Bourbon, Count of Vendome miniature from the Agincourt Model

Louis De Bourbon, Count of Vendome miniature from the Agincourt Model

Arthur of Brittany, count of Richemont miniature from the Agincourt Model

Arthur of Brittany, count of Richemont miniature from the Agincourt Model

Jean le Maingre miniature from the Agincourt Model

Jean le Meingre, Marshal Boucicaut, miniature from the Agincourt Model

These men were the cream of the cream, those important and wealthy prisoners from whom the king of England could possibly secure a political advantage. Their higher public and social standing secured them the attention of the chroniclers of the time. But these greater men only represented a very small fraction of the number of prisoners from whom the English Chancery and Exchequer have kept a record. The surviving contracts detailing captors’ payments to the crown on the ransom of their prisoners is simply unique, and gives an exclusive insight into the extent of the ransoming practice in the late Middle Ages – challenging widespread views on the killing of lower-ranking prisoners.

Late Medieval English armies were contractual. The opportunity to make profit out of the ransoms of prisoners must have been a powerful driver for many a man to go to war. Documents on the survival and fate of lower-ranking French prisoners at Agincourt show how deeply rooted this mercantile mentality was in late medieval warfare. Whether, from a broader perspective, combatants were right to believe that war would make them rich is another question. The wheel of fortune turned fast.

To discover more from our ‘Agincourt’ catalogue publication, please see further posts, or pick up a copy for yourself at the Royal Armouries shopThe Royal Armouries Agincourt exhibition is open at the Tower of London now until 31 January. For more details please visit our website.

Agincourt 600: The Battle of Agincourt

General view of the Agincourt diorama on display in the Agincourt exhibition at the Tower of London.

General view of the Agincourt diorama on display in the Royal Armouries’ Agincourt exhibition at the Tower of London.

As part of our 600th commemoration of the battle of Agincourt, the Royal Armouries is exhibiting a unique temporary collection of arms, armour, art, music and manuscripts at the Tower of London (pictured above).To accompany the exhibition, the Royal Armouries has produced a catalogue with Yale University Press, edited by our Curator of Tower History and Tower Special Collections Malcolm Mercer and trustee Professor Anne Curry. Here, one of the contributors of the publication, Matthew Bennett, writes on the battle itself and what happened on that fateful day.

The Battle of Agincourt, Edited by Anne Curry and Malcolm Mercer. (Yale University Press, 2015)

The Battle of Agincourt, Edited by Anne Curry and Malcolm Mercer. (Yale University Press, 2015)

The English march from Harfleur to Calais was a piece of bravado by Henry which his senior commanders advised against. It should have taken one week, but the French had blocked all the crossing of the River Somme, forcing the English to make a long detour which trebled the length of their intended journey. The French commanders’ policy was to avoid combat until the English forces were depleted, in part owing to the state of civil war in France which made coordination difficult. Certainly the English believed themselves outnumbered, and when, after crossing the Somme, they saw the churned-up tracks of what appeared to be huge army, they were highly alarmed and feared imminent attack. However, the French marched parallel on the route north for the next few days and only turned across the English advance where the road went between the villages of Azincourt and Tramecourt, in a narrow gap between two woods.

General view of the Agincourt diorama on display in the Agincourt exhibition at the Tower of London.

Even then battle was not inevitable. The official French commanders, Marshal Boucicault and Charles I Lord of d’Albret (pictured below), feared the English archers and had devised a plan to neutralise them, by charging them with cavalry on armoured horses. Since the archers were normally deployed as ‘wings’ on either side of the dismounted men-at-arms, these took the form of flank attacks.

Jean le Maingre miniature from the Agincourt Model

Jean le Meingre, Marshal Boucicaut, miniature from the Agincourt Model

Charles I Lord of Albret miniature from the Agincourt Model

Charles I Lord of d’Albret miniature from the Agincourt Model

Meanwhile, in imitation of the English the French nobles and knights also dismounted in an attempt to overwhelm them by numbers. Professor Anne Curry, trustee of the Royal Armouries, has pointed out that despite all the stories of being hugely outnumbered it is likely that the English had a superiority on the day, with perhaps 8,000 archers and 1,800 men-at-arms (although not all authorities agree on this) against a French force with a core of 6,000 men-at-arms and other supporting troops. The French sources talk of an equal number of arches and crossbowmen; but even if present, they were brushed aside by the nobles, confident in their 3:1 advantage in the men who mattered – the nobility. They were so enthusiastic that they crowded into the front rank keen to have the honour of capturing Henry.

Credit. Daniel Faulconbridge, Wargames Illustrated.

Credit. Daniel Faulconbridge, Wargames Illustrated.

Agincourt exhibition

As a result, no-one followed the plan: the cavalry wings were undermanned and shot down by the archers, protected by their stakes. The horsemen then bolted back into the mass of dismounted men slowly ploughing their way through the mud towards the English line. Chaos ensued, made worse by the rain of arrows which the archers delivered. It used to be thought that these killed many of the knights, but since they were well-protected this is unlikely; however, they certainly caused more disruption. By the time the French reached the English line their superiority in numbers had become a disadvantage, as the men in front were attempting to retreat and those at the back pressed them forwards.

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The fighting was tough, if brief, with Henry himself threatened. So desperate was the situation that the lightly-equipped archers joined in the fray, mobbing the enemy knights who were well-armoured but bogged down. Soon the French began to surrender, expecting under the laws of ransom to be protected. Initially, they were, but two events sealed their fate. One was an attack on the English baggage camp and the other a renewed assault (or the expectation of one) by those French arriving late at the battle. Fearing that he would be overwhelmed by these new threats, Henry ordered the killing of the prisoners. Initially, the English captors refused, the knights by reason of honour the archers for fear of losing their windfall; but the king formed an execution squad, which went around stabbing the prisoners in the face, (they having removed their helmets), armpits and groin, the only vulnerable places for a fully-armoured knight at the time. This may seem like a war crime today, but at the time it was the French who were held culpable for challenging a victory already ordained by God, and Henry was not blamed for this brutal necessity.

King Henry V encourages his English army to victory

King Henry V (centre) encourages his English army to victory

Casualties on the French side were high: claimed as 1,500 knights and nobles and another 5-6,000 of the lesser sort (it was a very class divided society), the English just a few hundred, mostly from the Duke York’s division (who was himself killed). Henry left for Calais the next morning, which suggest that he still feared attack, even though the main French force had been so stunningly defeated.

Agincourt 600: Meet the men of the battlefield

Agincourt exhibitionTomorrow marks 600 years since the battle of Agincourt, on the 25 October 1415. (For an introduction on the battle and it’s context, click here please see this link.) In this post, you can get to know the key figures that fought on both sides on that day, and find out more about their experience of the historic battle.

Each of these individuals is represented on the Royal Armouries’ Agincourt diorama, a key component of our commemorative exhibition now showing at the Tower of London. The images used below feature these stunning figures, made by Perry Miniatures. To find out more about how the model was made, please see this link.

 

King Henry V of England

King Henry V miniature from the Agincourt Model

King Henry V miniature from the Agincourt Model

Henry V, the great-grandson of Edward III, became king of England in 1413. On his succession he made his plans to recover English rights under the 1360 Treaty of Brétigny. The victory at Agincourt was followed by further campaigns in France culminating in the Treaty of Troyes in May 1420 whereby Henry was recognised as Regent of France and heir to Charles VI. Henry V died suddenly aged 35 on 31 August 1422 at Vincennes apparently from dysentery. To find out more about the Hundred Years context of Agincourt and Henry’s claim to the French throne please click this link.

 

Edward, duke of York

Edward, Duke of York miniature from the Agincourt Model

Edward, Duke of York miniature from the Agincourt Model

Grandson of Edward III and cousin of Henry IV, Edward, duke of York had fought with Prince Henry in Wales. For the Agincourt campaign he undertook to provide 400 troops. He died at the battle of Agincourt. His body was boiled and the bones brought back to England for interment at Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire.

 

Humphrey, duke of Gloucester

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester miniature from the Agincourt Model

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester miniature from the Agincourt Model

Humphrey, duke of Gloucester – the youngest brother of Henry V – was twenty-five at the time of the 1415 expedition. He agreed to provide 200 men-at-arms and 600 archers for the campaign, the second largest retinue after that of his elder brother, Clarence. Wounded in the battle he was reputedly protected by the King. Upon the death of his brother, King Henry V of England in 1422, Humphrey became Lord Protector to his young nephew King Henry VI. He died suddenly on 23 February 1447 and is buried at the abbey of St Albans.

 

Thomas, Lord Camoys

Thomas, Lord Camoys miniature from the Agincourt Model

Thomas, Lord Camoys miniature from the Agincourt Model

Thomas, Lord Camoys was one of the oldest men at Agincourt having been born in c. 1350 (making him 65 years old). A warrior of considerable experience his age gave him natural authority over other captains and soldiers. He commanded the rearguard which was intended to enter the battle slightly later. He died in March 1421.

 

Sir Thomas Erpingham

Sir Thomas Erpingham miniature from the Agincourt Model

Sir Thomas Erpingham miniature from the Agincourt Model

Sir Thomas Erpingham contracted to provide 20 men-at-arms, including himself, two knights bachelor and 60 archers. The Burgundian chroniclers Monstrelet, Le Fèvre and Waurin describe him drawing up Henry’s archers ready for battle as well as exhorting everyone to fight well. Riding with an escort in front of the archers, he supposedly threw a baton into the air, which was the signal to attack. These chroniclers then say that he joined the battle of the king. He died in 1428.

 

Sir John Cornewall (Cornwall)

Sir John Cornwall miniature from the Agincourt Model

Sir John Cornwall miniature from the Agincourt Model

Married to Henry IV’s sister, Elizabeth, and therefore Henry V’s uncle by marriage, Sir John Cornewall was closely involved in the events of 1415. For the campaign he contracted to provide 30 men-at-arms, including himself as knight banneret, and 90 archers. The battle was very profitable for Cornewall. One of his principal captives was Louis de Bourbon, count of Vendôme (see below).

Louis De Bourbon, Count of Vendome miniature from the Agincourt Model

Louis De Bourbon, Count of Vendome miniature from the Agincourt Model, who was captured by John Cornewall during the battle.

For a brief period between 1429 and 1432 the duke of Orléans was imprisoned at his castle at Ampthill in Bedfordshire.

 

Charles, d’Albret

Charles I Lord of Albret miniature from the Agincourt Model

Charles I Lord of Albret miniature from the Agincourt Model

Charles, d’Albret had been Constable of France and therefore commander-in-chief of the French royal armies since 1402. He and Marshal Boucicaut (below) advised caution at Agincourt, but their advice was ignored by the young French princes. D’Albret died during the battle while leading the vanguard and was buried in the Franciscan convent of Vieil-Hesdin in Artois.

 

Jean le Meingre, Marshal Boucicaut

Jean le Maingre miniature from the Agincourt Model

Jean le Maingre, Marshall Boucicaut miniature from the Agincourt Model

Jean le Meingre, Marshal Boucicaut was a seasoned military commander with experience in the Northern Cusades and against the Turks. In the week before the battle of Agincourt, Boucicaut, Alençon and Richemont apparently drew up a plan for how to tackle the English army in the field. Events of course took a very different course. Boucicaut was taken to England as a prisoner in November 1415 with other leading commanders. Boucicaut remained in custody, his ransom unpaid, probably dying at Metheley in Yorkshire on 25 June 1421 at the age of fifty-six. His body was returned to France and buried at Tours, alongside that of his father. More information on this gentlemen to follow soon…

 

Jean, duke of Alençon

Jean I, Duke of Alençon miniature from the Agincourt Model

Jean I, Duke of Alençon miniature from the Agincourt Model

Jean, duke of Alençon led the central body of the French army and was among the ‘young princes’ who advocated fighting the king of England in a pitched battle. According to the chronicler Monstrelet, Jean attacked the main body of the English army, killing the duke of York and cutting a fleuron (a flower-shaped decoration) from Henry’s crown with his axe, but was then killed by the English king’s bodyguards. The duke’s body was taken for burial in the abbey of Saint-Martin de Sées within his duchy.

 

Charles, duke of Orléans

Charles, Duke of Orléans miniature from the Agincourt Model

Charles, Duke of Orléans miniature from the Agincourt Model

Charles, duke of Orléans fought in the vanguard and was found at the end of the battle lying on the battlefield under a heap of dead. He was taken to England where he remained until 1440. During his captivity, Orléans kept himself occupied by writing poetry in French and in English. He is in fact remembered more as a poet than a warrior.

 

Clignet de Brébant

Clignet de Brébant miniature from the Agincourt Model

Clignet de Brébant miniature from the Agincourt Model

Clignet de Brébant, Admiral of France was connected to the Duke of Orléans, and as a young man was part of his household. He  led the cavalry charge at Agincourt against the English archers on the Tramecourt side of the battlefield. He was not taken prisoner at the battle and remained active in the Orléanist party for some years until his death around 1428.

 

Arthur, count of Richemont

Arthur of Brittany, count of Richemont miniature from the Agincourt Model

Arthur of Brittany, count of Richemont miniature from the Agincourt Model

From 1413 Arthur, count of Richemont, lived in the entourage of the Dauphin Louis, Duke of Guyenne and became one of his favourites. Richemont was in the vanguard at the battle. He was found lying wounded on the battlefield and was taken prisoner by the English. He remained in England until his provisional release in 1419 to collect money for his ransom. He accepted the treaty of Troyes and in 1421 paid homage to Henry V.Exhibition-39_smaller

To hear about how our Agincourt diorama was created directly from the model-makers David Marshall and the Perry Brothers, please click here. The model forms part of the Royal Armouries Agincourt exhibition at the Tower of London, open from 23 October until the 31 January. During the October half term there will be a lively programme of family events and activities to accompany the exhibition. For all the details please visit our website. To find out more about Agincourt, take a look at our other exhibition blog posts here.

Agincourt600: The Installation of the model

As part of the museum’s commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt, the Royal Armouries is exhibiting a unique collection at the Tower of London from 23 October until 31 January. For this special exhibition, the museum commissioned a bespoke diorama of the battle with David Marshall, model maker of MMDioramas, along with the Perry brothers of Perry Miniatures.

So far in our blog series on making the model…

  • David Marshall has given an overview of how the project took place – see this link
  • The Perry brothers have detailed how they produced the bespoke figures for the battlefield – see this link
  • David has detailed how he shaped the terrain of the battlefield – see this link. 
  • Rob Henson (Painted Wargames) and Aly Morrison have taken us through how they painted the armies of Agincourt – see this link.
  • How the figures were placed into battle formation, with the help of Professor Anne Curry – see this link.
  • and how the model was prepared for the Tower – see this link

Here David Marshall concludes with (for now) the final chapter of the Agincourt model project – it’s installation into the White Tower at the Tower of London… (Until its move to Leeds later next year!)

The big day was finally here. The diorama had to be at the base of the Tower of London at 7.30am on the 22nd of September ready to be winched up into the top floor.

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I picked up the van on Monday 21st morning, the Perrys arrived at my house about midday, and off we went to the Hub in Redditch to pick up the diorama. They had been storing it since making the table and frame for it, and could make sure everything fitted and worked at their factory – ensuring a problem free fitting into the Tower.

The diorama was loaded into the van and so started the most nervous part of the whole two year project – driving the model to London. Throughout the whole build I had been in control, however, in the two hours it took to drive to the hotel anyone could have thumped into me and devastated the whole thing. The model was all insured, but still it would have been a catastrophe.

Thankfully everything went smoothly, the hotel was located and the van parked in a secure car park for the night. Massive sign of relief and we all deserved a beer or two! We soon found ourselves in the local bar for a meal and a drink. Amazingly, while we were there, Michael Perry was recognised by a couple of Italian figure manufacturers so handshakes and photos were swapped before they left.

Tuesday morning came. It was early and the rain was bouncing off the road – not really the best weather to winch an exhibition into the top of the White Tower. The last nervous moment was getting to the van and checking the model hadn’t been nicked overnight. On discovering all was well we found ourselves at the Tower at 7.30am as arranged. It was still raining…

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There was a lot to get into the Tower so we waited until it was out turn. I expected to be worried about the diorama being winched up, but after watching the various other precious items being lifted up by the skilled crane operator my nerves were eased.

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The diorama pieces were 1 metre wide but the crates were 1.30 metres wide. The window which was our entry point into the tower was over 1.4 metres wide, but there was another arch on the inside of the Tower that was 1.1 metre wide, so if we kept the diorama in its travelling crates then we would have to turn it on its side. I wasn’t 100% confident that the diorama would stay secure if that happened, so the Perrys and I decided to take the four sections out of their crates before we winched them up. It was a good idea and worked well – and thankfully it had stopped raining!FullSizeRender

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I stayed on the ground and Alan and Michael went upstairs to check it all went well up there. There were no problems so I worked my way up to the top floor and found the 4 pieces arranged on the floor. We were in – so it was coffee and cake time.FullSizeRender[2]FullSizeRender[1]

There was a lot of other activity going on in the exhibition, so we had to wait until a space was cleared for us to work. We had allowed two days to install the diorama. We didn’t have two days of work to do on it but we needed to allow for fillers and glues to dry overnight so we could paint it the next day. It meant we could be quite relaxed about it all as long as we could get what we needed done by the end of that first day.

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A strange moment – lying on the floor of the Tower by myself admiring the wooden ceiling – all for research of course!

There was another event at the Tower in the evening so we had to be finished about 5.30. It meant we had not quite done what we had planned, but we had done enough to make the next day a success. We left the Tower, walked back to the hotel and then off to the pub again for more food and beer.

The next day was not such an early start. We got there about 9am and started filling the gaps between each section of diorama. During the morning the Royal Armouries team arrived and we arranged a final sign off meeting for 2pm that afternoon. IMG_0748

The rest of the day was taken up with the gap filling, painting and generally tidying it all up and making sure nothing had been missed. We were finished by 1.45pm. Plenty of time to spare!

At 2pm on the dot – Emma Carver (Director of Public Engagement at the Royal Armouries) and Edward Impey (Executive Director and Master of the Royal Armouries) arrived and by 2.15pm we had final approval. We were finished.

The two days at the Tower were a wonderful experience. We knew exactly what we needed to do and knew we had quite a lot of time watching paint dry so it was pretty relaxed. It meant we could enjoy and appreciate the surroundings and I let it finally sink in that we really were in the Tower and the diorama was going to be seen by everyone who visits for the next 3 months. Mind blowing really.

I was home in Loughborough in time to have a bite to eat and sit and watch the Great British Bake Off! I know how to celebrate a job well done.

The project that had taken over two years to complete was pretty much over. The only things left were the official opening on the 22nd October, the day before it is open to the public and then finally installing it in its long term home at the Royal Armouries in Leeds next year.

Below are a few shots of the David Marshall and the Perry’s stunning diorama happily sitting in pride of place in our new Agincourt exhibition – open as of today until the 31 January! For more details please visit this link. To find out more about how the model was made, including how the terrain was composed, and how the figures were made and painted, please visit this link.

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The stunning diorama in situ in our Agincourt exhibition - open TODAY!

The stunning diorama in situ in our Agincourt exhibition – open TODAY!

A dying French knight reaches out for his horse as The French cavalry charge the English lines.

A dying French knight reaches out for his horse as The French cavalry charge the English lines.

English archers behind their defensive stakes

English archers behind their defensive stakes

General view of the Agincourt diorama on display in the Agincourt exhibition at the Tower of London.

General view of the Agincourt diorama on display in the Agincourt exhibition at the Tower of London.

King Henry V encourages his English army to victory

King Henry V encourages his army to victory

A French noble man encourages his men toward the English lines.

Marshal Boucicaut encourages his men toward the English lines.

The French cavalry charge the English lines

The French cavalry charge the English lines

Agincourt 600: Transporting the battle

English archers behind their defensive stakes

English archers behind their defensive stakes

As part of the museum’s commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt, the Royal Armouries is exhibiting a unique collection at the Tower of London from 23 October until 31 January. For this special exhibition, the museum commissioned a bespoke diorama of the battle with David Marshall, model maker of MMDioramas, along with the Perry brothers of Perry Miniatures.

So far in our blog series on making the model…

  • David Marshall has given an overview of how the project took place – see this link
  • The Perry brothers have detailed how they produced the bespoke figures for the battlefield – see this link
  • David has detailed how he shaped the terrain of the battlefield – see this link. 
  • Rob Henson (Painted Wargames) and Aly Morrison have taken us through how they painted the armies of Agincourt – see this link.
  • and how the figures were placed into battle formation, with the help of Professor Anne Curry – see this link.

Possibly the trickiest element of this project was going to be it’s transportation to the Tower of London. Here, model maker and project manager David Marshall writes on the highs – and challenges – of the model’s journey.

3A1DD2E4-2A74-41AB-A260-222B128FF721Right at the beginning I quickly identified that the packing and delivery of a 4m x 2m diorama would be the most challenging and unpredictable part of the whole project. The model had resided in my workshop for the last two years in a controlled safe environment, but as soon as the model left the building into the big wide world anything could happen!

I contacted a supplier of purpose built crates as early as the tender-stage of the project, to price up and advise on the best way of packing the finished diorama to deliver it safely to the Tower of London, and later to the museum in Leeds. I also checked at this point that I could hire a van big enough to contain the model – as I was determined I would drive it down myself rather than hand it over to a courier company! Call me paranoid but I wanted to make sure I had done everything in my power to get the model safely to the Tower after two years intense work.

When it was time to order the crates for the model, the Perrys and I discussed how they should be designed, how we would get the boards out of the boxes and other practical things like that. We decided we would go with an ‘upside down box’ approach, as recommended by the company. The ‘lid’ was the base of the model and once the diorama piece was sitting on this lid we would then slide the sides and top over it – which avoided lifting the pieces in.

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In the process of ordering the boxes I double checked on the size of the van. The original design of the crates made them 2.25 metres long each. It was a good job I checked as the longest van I could get was 4.25 metres long. I had intended to lay two crates end to end, which meant the van was by 25cm short!  Fortunately, we were able to amend the crate size to 4.15metres long. Crisis averted!

When the crates were delivered, I hired an extra-long transit van for an hour just as a final belt and braces test to make sure everything fitted… and it did.The diorama was due to be delivered and installed into the White Tower on the 22nd September, but before this could happen the model needed to be framed in a special case ready for the general public. This meant the model had to be close to complete sign off well before that date.

The final meeting at Loughborough with me and the team from the Royal Armouries came in early August, and I expected it to be one of the most nervous days of my life – two years work came down to this meeting and their final approval. The Perrys and I had worked very closely with the Royal Armouries throughout the model’s development, but even so when it came down to D-Day I was expecting some serious nerves.

I decided to do a big reveal, so as everyone arrived I ushered them into a meeting room until the whole party was present so I could show everyone at once for a (hopefully positive) big reaction. Whilst we waited for the whole party, we chatted with cups of coffee and enjoyed a batch of my wife’s home-made cookies (Frances had baked regularly for the team over the last two years and had deservedly gained legendary status amongst them for her delicious treats).

It was at that moment I realised I was completely confident that the Perrys and I had done a great job on the diorama, so I wasn’t nervous at all! I was confident it was going to be well received which was a fantastic feeling. My instinct was thankfully rewarded as the model was met with an abundance of ‘wows’ and ‘greats’ which was such a thrill, with only a few final amends to organize before the big move. I arranged the final additions to take place whilst I was away, so I could go off on holiday a happy man.

When it came to moving the model for its journey to Redditch, to be encased ready for the exhibition, I arranged for a friend to help with the loading.

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We learnt a lot very quickly! It turned out that two people really wasn’t enough to move the crates safely – the diorama and crates weren’t very individually heavy but together suddenly they were hard to lift. Also, and this was a big one, not all extra-long transits are the same length! We got one crate into the van and it became obvious there wasn’t enough depth to get another crate in. Disaster was looming but a quick call to the van hire company and we were able to swap it over for the van I did the dry run with. After collecting the new van we headed back to the studio, picking up my friend’s son Ben on the way – who at 23 was the perfect addition to the loading/unloading team.

Now we had the right sized van and enough people for the job – so after a false start we got the other 3 crates in the van quite smoothly. That morning was tricky but I’m glad we could work those issues out before shipping the model to the Tower, when timings were very tight indeed. The lessons learnt that morning made the move to the Tower go without a hitch.

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The Hub in Redditch, where the model would be fitted with its case, was about an hour away from me in Loughborough so a nervy drive later we arrived and the van was empty in no time as there were 4 or 5 people to help.

Soon after that, the full team met at the Hub with the Royal Armouries for the last project meeting I would attend. I was there really to answer any questions about the diorama and be ready to sort out any unforeseen problems. As it turned out everything was fine so I could just enjoy finding out how everything else was going. Before I left I arranged with The Hub when the model would be packed away ready for its journey to the Tower, as I would collect it on route down to London.

As I drove home to Loughborough that day I realised that my model-making role was complete (until installation on the 22nd September). It meant that for the first time in two years I didn’t have to think about Agincourt…. for just over a week anyway!

Coming up – the final ‘making the model post’ on installing the model in the White Tower.

To see the model visit the Royal Armouries’ Agincourt exhibition at the White Tower of the Tower of London from Friday 23 October until the 31 January. For more details please see this link.

Agincourt 600: Getting into battle formation

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As part of the museum’s commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt, the Royal Armouries is exhibiting a unique collection at the Tower of London from 23 October until 31 January. For this special exhibition, the museum commissioned a bespoke diorama of the battle with David Marshall, model maker of MMDioramas, along with the Perry brothers of Perry Miniatures.

So far in our blog series on making the model…

  • David Marshall has given an overview of how the project took place – see this link
  • The Perry brothers have detailed how they produced the bespoke figures for the battlefield – see this link
  • David has detailed how he shaped the terrain of the battlefield – see this link. 
  • and Rob Henson (Painted Wargames) and Aly Morrison have taken us through how they painted the armies of Agincourt – see this link.

Here Alan Perry (one half of Perry Miniatures) details how the miniatures were placed ready for battle.

King Henry V encourages his English army to victory

King Henry V (centre with sword raised) encourages his army to victory

As the painted figures were finished in batches of 500 we started to work out the formations and dispositions on the terrain. The first thing to nail down was the positions of the main French ‘battles’. Their cores were made up from the resin ‘bricks’ mentioned before (see this link). These had to be glued down before David Marshall could finish the terrain around them.

However before anything was secured David placed all the figures in polystyrene blocks so we could arrange them in various ways to get the correct positions. We had quite a few meetings at this point with the Royal Armouries’ committee to pin down what they wanted to show i.e. how close the French vanguard were to the archers, how far round the archers were on the flanks, where the nobles should be with their banners etc. The meetings were all carried out in Loughborough where David had his studio.  It was great to watch Anne Curry (Royal Armouries trustee and ‘Queen of Agincourt’) moving the blocks of figures around the terrain like a seasoned wargamer – it looked like she was enjoying it!

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Professor Anne Curry, Royal Armouries trustee, commentating on figure placements with Alan Perry and Curator at the Royal Armouries Thom Richardson.

After the positions were agreed we could start gluing them onto the terrain. Surprisingly the placing of the figures didn’t take that long, less than a week in total. A couple of friends Aly Morrison and Dave Andrews came along to help the three of us (myself, David and Michael) on one of the days. We drilled holes into the groundwork and simply glued the pegged figures in. The horses needed a bit more attention as they were on bases so needed to be blended into the terrain.

The French cavalry charge the English lines

The front two French formations are shown packed in close together (something that was commented on at the time) as they surge forward whilst being hit in the front and in the flanks by the arrow storm. The archers on the other hand are in a loose formation, so they can use their longbows, which created a comparatively wider frontage – suddenly the French started to look like they’re up against it!

A French noble man encourages his men toward the English lines.

Arrows needed to be shown in the ground so Dave Andrews came up with a brilliant idea of using bristles from a broom. Before cutting them down to size, the ends were dipped in light paint to simulate the goose feather fights. Once cut off, 1000 of these were placed by five of us, a painstaking task and one which will hopefully be noticed (if you look closely)!

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The last bits to add were the banners. We asked Graham Black of GMB Designs if he would be interested in the creating the banners for the diorama. He’s known for the high quality of his flags so it was a no-brainer! The RA wanted to show the main leaders with their banners and heraldry, this in the end worked out to be around 40 in all. As you can see the banners are all shown stiff, not fluttering. During this period banners (as opposed to standards) were silk stiffened with buckram (a treated linen/canvas) in the middle, like a sandwich, or had a wooden baton along the top edge so they didn’t ‘fly’.

AgincourtWI6To see the model visit the Royal Armouries’ Agincourt exhibition at the White Tower of the Tower of London from Friday 23 October until the 31 January. For more details please see this link.

Agincourt 600: Key items of the exhibition

This Sunday, 25 October, will mark 600 years since the battle of Agincourt, arguably one of the most famous Medieval battles in both British and French history. To commemorate the battle, the Royal Armouries museum has created a very unique exhibition of objects relating to the battle – including arms, armour, music and manuscripts create a full sensory experience of what happened that fateful day. Below we introduce you to the star objects of the exhibition, which opens this Friday 23 in the White Tower at the Tower of London.

by Unknown artist,painting,1570. C. National Portrait Gallery.

by Unknown artist,painting,1570. C. National Portrait Gallery.

Portrait of Henry V, late 16th century

This painting is a version of the standard portrait of Henry V that was widely reproduced in England in the late 16th century. It is believed to be based on contemporary images and reflects Henry’s known appearance and dress. © National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 545)

 

The Agincourt carol, English, 15th century

There are several poems which celebrate the victory at Agincourt but the only one in carol form is ‘Deogracias Anglia’, popularly known from the 18th century as the ‘Agincourt Song’ or ‘Carol’. © Bodleian Libraries (MS. Arch. Selden. B. 26)

 

 

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The Lyle bacinet, North Italian, late 14th century

This is arguably the finest surviving late medieval bacinet. This style is commonly called a ‘pig-faced’ bacinet because of the protruding snout. Helmets like this were used between c.1380 and 1420, and worn on both sides at the battle of Agincourt.

The Lyle bacinet was a bequest to the Royal Armouries of Sir Archibald Lyle, in memory of his sons Captain I A de H Lyle, Black Watch, killed at El Alamein, October 1942 and Major R A Lyle, 79th (Scottish Horse) Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery, killed in Normandy, June 1944.

 

Credit. Daniel Faulconbridge, Wargames Illustrated.

Credit. Daniel Faulconbridge, Wargames Illustrated.

The Agincourt diorama

The Agincourt diorama, made by David Marshall of MMDioramas, is 4 meters by 2 meters in size and made up from four 2m x 1m sections. 4,400 28mm figures make up its face, supplied by Perry Miniatures. The model itself took two years to make and will form a key element of the exhibition in the White Tower. For further information on how this model was made please click this link.


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 Warwick shaffron, European, c. 1400

The Warwick shaffron is a head defence for a war-horse and is the earliest surviving piece of European medieval horse armour as well as an important example from the period of Agincourt. Formed of a main plate and two side plates in steel, it is pierced with large holes for the ears. The eyes are protected by a high embossed plate pierced with holes.

 

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Angel figurine, 15th century.

A wooden angel from the tomb of Alice Chaucer, duchess of
Suffolk, 1404-75, from St Mary’s Church, Ewelme. Alice Chaucer survived the loss
of three husbands during the course of the Hundred Years’ War including her first husband, Sir John Phelip, who died on the Agincourt campaign.

 

54.DI 2012-1569Long sword or ‘sword of war’, probably German, Passau 1350 – 1400

Swords such as these were used by men-at-arms throughout the Hundred Years War. The longer grips and heavier blades enabled them to be used with two hands to deliver a more powerful blow. Henry V had at least two swords made in Passau; this example came from the medieval arsenal at Alexandria.

 

10.DI 2011-0074 (1) A saddle, possibly for the Hungarian Dragon Order

Early fifteenth century, constructed of wood and veneered with bone, the saddle has a high forward curved bow; the outline of the cantle forming two semi-circles set at an angle to the tree. It is pierced on each side with slots for the girth and stirrups, and holes for the panels and harness. The bone plaques are decorated with dragons and foliage, and on either side of the pommel with a scroll held at the top by a hand and below in the mouth of a dragon, inscribed in Gothic lettering, in South German dialect, right side, ich hoff des pesten/ dir geling (I hope the best fortune may attend you); left side hilf got/ wol auf sand Jogen nam (Help God! Forward in the name of St George). Two scrolls at the back of the cantle are inscribed im ars/ is vinster (in the arse it is black)/. At the point of the bow is a cross of St George, and the whole design is emphasised by inlays of black, red and green mastic.

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Tabard, worn by Richard Burton as Henry V, United Kingdom, 1951

This tabard was worn by Richard Burton in the title role of King Henry V at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1951. It was made of hessian and felt which simulated armour at the shoulders so it would appear to have been worn on the battlefield. © Victoria and Albert Museum (S.2076-1986)

 

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Pollaxe, North European, probably English, 1450-1500

The pollaxe was a two-handed infantry weapon designed to hack, crush and pierce armour plates as well as flesh and bone. The pollaxe head was made up of three parts, an axe-blade, rear hammer-head, and a top-spike.

 

Agincourt 600: Painting the armies of Agincourt

As part of the museum’s commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt, the Royal Armouries is exhibiting a unique collection at the Tower of London from 23 October until 31 January. For this special exhibition, the museum commissioned a bespoke diorama of the battle with David Marshall, model maker of MMDioramas, along with the Perry brothers of Perry Miniatures.

So far in our blog series on making the model David Marshall has given an overview of how the project took place (see this link), the Perry brothers have detailed how they produced the bespoke figures for the battlefield (see this link), and David has detailed how he shaped the terrain of the battlefield (see this link). Here, Rob Henson of Painted Wargames takes you through how painted the figures for the battle, and Aly Morrison gives you a quick ‘how to guide’ of how he painted key figures of the battle.

From Andrew Isherwood of Painted Wargames:

When David Marshall and the Perry brothers first spoke to Rob Henson and me about the diorama, we were very excited to be involved in a project of this size and scope. We have both been involved in painting wargaming figures for the better part of two decades each, and in that time it’s rare that a project comes along that you can sink your teeth into as wholeheartedly as this one. The scale of the display is also a lot larger than most dioramas that have been attempted (to our knowledge).

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Credit: Daniel Faulconbridge, Wargames Illustrated.

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The initial plan was that Rob and I would be asked to do a portion of the painting, and then as the display brief evolved and the numbers of models were finalised we became more heavily involved – until we were set to paint around 4,000 figures! (The final count I believe came to 4,109.) We kept a white board in our office that we updated every time we finished a batch of miniatures and increased our percentage tally closer and closer to the 100% mark. This helped motivate us both, whilst also showing how far we had to go!

In the past both Rob and I have painted numerous wargaming armies of over 200 figures, but this was an order of magnitude higher than that. From an early stage we discussed what we believed would be a taxing, but settled on a realistic target of 500 figures per month and then set about dividing the models that had been delivered into batches of around that size.

65D413D6-39C7-45B5-AEEA-E66727E25FBA A4276330-D3E6-4572-A132-4858FC19A1B1The first 500 painted figures on their return from Painted Wargames.

This project was made more interesting (and exciting) because both Rob and I were getting married to our respective fiancées within a week of each other at the end of May 2015, and this meant that we had to keep that in mind on the run up to the final few months of the project as well as preparing for our respective big days.

Throughout the 12-18 months that we were directly involved with the project, we made sure that we were constantly liaising with David, Alan and Michael with regards to any queries we had regarding the models, the uniforms and the painting palettes that we were working from. This meant that we were able to keep to these self-appointed targets and provide each batch of miniatures at the end of each month on time, as well as making sure that the finished models were suitable and coherent with each previous batch and the display as a whole.

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One of the most exciting things about the whole display was seeing the models starting to be laid out on the table and the finished display before it was transported to the Tower and installed.

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With the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt fast approaching next week (Sunday 25th October), the interest that is being received for the display goes to show how the events from our history are still relevant and interesting to people now.

If you are a student of history you may have a particular appreciation for the efforts that have gone into this reproduction and diorama however, if you are not aware of the events that led up to and followed on from the Battle of Agincourt then this may just be a gateway to the period. This is one of the most powerful things that dioramas (and historical wargaming) allow, by giving a visual backdrop to key moments in history and thereby putting events and actions in context.

With other events of historic significance (such as the centenary of The Great War) also reflecting and resonating in the collective public consciousness at the moment, it would be fantastic to see more projects such as this commissioned and produced to allow the general public to really engage with these significant conflicts.

We’re both looking forward to working on new projects and glad that the involvement of both of us at Painted Wargames has received such a fantastic response. We encourage you all to see the model itself at the Tower of London, and hope you enjoy it!

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A ‘how to guide’ by Aly Morrison

The first thing I do when painting any miniature is give it a coat of spray primer, usually grey but black or white can also be used. Once the primer has completely dried I like to start painting the largest area of colour first – with a medieval man at arms this is silver (if I were painting a large number of armoured figures I may even be tempted to prime the models with silver spray paint).

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The next stage is to give the armour an ink wash, I like to use a mixture of blue and brown ink – this gives a nice warm shade of grey, once this is dry I put a second coat of wash on any mail.

The armour is then highlighted using a slightly dilute silver paint, followed by pure silver to the edges of the plates, top of the helms, knees, elbows etc.

Thomas, Lord Camoys miniature from the Agincourt Model

Thomas, Lord Camoys miniature from the Agincourt Model

Next the various items of clothing are painted in turn using the same principle as the armour; base coat, ink wash, dilute highlight, final highlight.

Now we come to the heraldry, I use a darker shade of the base coat to draw the initial design then paint it in using an appropriate none dilute shade, the design is then defined using an undiluted highlight colour. The big secret here is to take your time and be as neat as possible – which is common sense really!

Sir Thomas Erpingham miniature from the Agincourt Model

Sir Thomas Erpingham miniature from the Agincourt Model

When painting straps and belts I try to use a colour that is a good contrast to the clothing and armour to make these details really stand out.

Once everything is coloured and shaded I like to leave the miniature for a while, and then go back to it with a fresh pair of eyes to check if anything needs tidied up or given a bit more shading.

The final thing is a coat of varnish, which can be matt or gloss depending on the finish required. For the Royal Armouries’ Agincourt diorama the finish was kept matt to give the model a more authentic appearance.

To see the model visit the Royal Armouries’ Agincourt exhibition at the White Tower of the Tower of London from Friday 23 October until the 31 January. For more details please see our website.

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Agincourt 600: the defeat of armour?

As part of our 600th commemoration of the battle of Agincourt, the Royal Armouries is exhibiting a unique temporary collection of arms, armour, art, music and manuscripts at the Tower of London.To accompany the exhibition, the Royal Armouries has produced a catalogue with Yale University Press, edited by our Curator of Tower History and Tower Special Collections Malcolm Mercer and trustee Professor Anne Curry. Here, one of the contributors of the publication, Thom Richardson of the Royal Armouries, writes about the developments of armour leading up to the battle.

The accounts of the privy wardrobe (the fourteenth century organisation which ran the armoury at the Tower of London and is the earliest ancestor of the present-day Royal Armouries), give incredible detail about the manufacture, storage and issue of armour and weapons, especially longbows and arrows, throughout the first half of the Hundred Years War. Unfortunately the records run out after 1410, so the details about what went over to Harfleur with Henry V for the Agincourt campaign don’t survive. But we have a pretty good idea of all the processes from what went on before.

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The Lyle bacinet, North Italian, late 14th century.

By about 1375 plate armour for the well-equipped man-at-arms was pretty much fully developed. The effect of improved missile weapons (the longbow in England but especially the crossbow elsewhere in Europe) had driven men-at-arms to dismount and fight on foot. The plate defences which protected them from arrows and crossbow quarrels allowed them to discard the shield, so they could wield close combat weapons in two hands. The cumbersome great helm, brilliant protection for a headlong mounted charge with the lance, had long been relegated to the tournament. The closely fitting bacinet (see above) had now taken over as the helmet of choice for most men-at-arms. On wearing mail under armour, we now know that complete mail shirts largely ceased to be worn under plate harness. In their place mail sleeves, collars and paunces (literally mail pants!) replaced them as soon as plate became widespread in the middle of the fourteenth century.

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Brigandine, Italian c. 1470. Royal Armouries.

The last big change in plate armour was the replacement of the pair of plates, a cuirass formed of iron plates riveted inside a textile covering which evolved into the brigandine (above), by the solid plate breastplate and backplate. We find the very earliest references to solid breastplates around the time of Agincourt, and the few surviving fragments of armour of the period, assembled in the exhibition, illustrated how plate armour was close to achieving the pinnacle of its expression. As well as the account of armour in our excellent catalogue (see here) readers might also like to consult our learned colleague Tobias Capwell’s brand new Armour of the English Knight.

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Pair of cuisses, probably Italian, c. 1420. Royal Armouries.

Pair of vambraces, Italian, 1430-1440. Royal Armouries.

Pair of vambraces, Italian, 1430-1440. Royal Armouries.

Ballistic testing of longbow arrows against plate armour remains controversial. Recent research has confirmed the experiments of the 1970s, that 2mm of medieval plate armour could resist any medieval arrow or crossbow. Our experimental work at Ridsdale in 1996 (Royal Armouries Yearbook 3, 1998, 44-9) supports Peter Jones’s earlier work, and Matheus Bane’s recent piece (see this link) does so as well. To the contrary, much of the work suggesting the longbow arrow could pierce plate  is theoretical rather than practical (P. Bourke and D. Wetham’s article in Arms & Armour 4, 2007, 53-81 has been roundly criticised and generally condemned) but work by the highly respected archer and broadcaster Mike Loades, Longbow, Oxford 2013, continues to support the armour piercing longbow as do Mark Stretton and his circle (H.D. Soar, M. Stretton and J. Gibbs, Secrets of the English war bow).

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Longbow stave, English, c.1545. Royal Armouries.

Also controversially, research conducted at the University of Leeds with the help of the Royal Armouries, suggests that the wearing of armour to fight on foot might seriously have hampered the French knights at Agincourt: G.N. Askew, F. Formenti and A.E. Minetti, ‘Limitations imposed by wearing armour on medieval soldiers’ locomotor performance’, The Royal Society Proceedings B, Biological Sciences, 279, February 2012, 640-44.

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Image of the Royal Armouries’ Agincourt diorama. Credit: Daniel Faulconbridge, Wargames Illustrated.

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Image of the Royal Armouries’ Agincourt diorama. Credit: Daniel Faulconbridge, Wargames Illustrated.

The arms and armour of the medieval knight remain wonderfully controversial, even after close to two centuries of scholarly research into the subject. To be as well informed as you can be on the controversies, why not visit our Agincourt exhibition at the Tower of London!

To discover more from our ‘Agincourt’ publication, please see further posts via this link, or pick up a copy for yourself via the Yale University Press websiteThe Royal Armouries Agincourt exhibition is open at the Tower of London from 23 October until 31 January. For more details please visit our website.

Agincourt 600: Shaping the battlefield, with David Marshall

As part of the museum’s commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt, the Royal Armouries is exhibiting a unique collection at the Tower of London from 23 October until 31 January. For this special exhibition, the museum commissioned a bespoke diorama of the battle with David Marshall, model maker of MMDioramas, along with the Perry brothers of Perry Miniatures.

So far in our blog series on making the model David Marshall has given an overview of how the project took place (see this link), and the Perry brothers have detailed how they produced the bespoke figures for the battlefield (see this link). Here, David will take you through how he made the terrain of Agincourt for this extremely detailed diorama.

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When we started the project in January 2013 we had an outline of what the battlefield would look like and its size, but the details and final decisions were still to be made. The first few months were taken up with working out these elements until we had a final design concept.

The completed diorama would be 4m x 2m in size, with woods flanking on either side comprised of a selection of autumnal trees and evidence of coppicing.

(Coppicing is a traditional English term for a method of woodland management, which takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level. In subsequent growth years, many new shoots will emerge, and, after a number of years the coppiced tree, or stool, is ready to be harvested, and the cycle begins again.)

The plan and terrain of the fields of Agincourt where the battle took place was then decided on, and a contour map supplied of the area for reference. The terrain of the battlefield would be muddy as a result of the trampling armies (think Glastonbury festival), but there would also be evidence of ploughing and planting in areas less touched by the action. There would be no roads and no buildings.

As the model would have to be installed into the top floor of the White Tower in the Tower of London via crane through a 1.2 meter wide window (the Normans weren’t big on wide access stairs or lifts), the whole model had to be split into four smaller sections of 2m x 1m. This dividing of the model also made the diorama easier to work on.

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Making the terrain of the diorama – shaping the field of battle:

The contour map of the battlefield was converted into a series of profiles so a carpenter could use them to make four wooden carcasses. Each one was 2m x 1m and was the foundation of the whole diorama.

Once I had these delivered back, I filled each one with polystyrene and weighted them down and left them to dry for a week or so. This keeps the weight down but still gives me a firm base to add all the texture and figures later on.

3CAE359E-2E41-45D9-9545-363FA34A164CThen I shaped the polystyrene with a hot wire cutter and sandpaper until it resembled the right shape. This job turned my workshop into a snow storm as the polystyrene went everywhere!

3C4517CD-6507-417A-BCF5-0A871CFD8AFBAlthough I had used sandpaper the surface was still quite rough, so I then skimmed it with a thin layer of tile grout before putting another thicker layer on top, so it would be strong enough to support the figures later.

Up until now it was just hard work with no creative touches. Now the fun could begin, starting with a layer of Artex. Most have heard of this used to create texture on ceilings, but it is great for model making. It is a powder that you mix with water to the thickness needed. The result was I could use a more watery mix for the areas that were very muddy and firmer for the ploughed areas. It also takes ages to dry, so I was able to work a long time on it as it set.

The trampled area needed hundreds of small footprints added so it looked like an army had walked all over it. I found a piece of resin that resembled a small footprint so I just set to pushing this into the Artex until the whole area was covered in tiny footprints! This process was rather time consuming so I wasn’t sorry to finish it!EF5DB256-38C2-402F-8CC9-CC40F193C973

For the ploughed areas, I ran a small trowel repeatedly over it in a series of straight parallel lines until the field was covered in furrows.IMG_0626

I left that to dry for a week or so and then painted the whole battlefield a special mix of brown wall emulsion paint that I selected to match the sample of Agincourt earth I had been given by the Armouries.AF702946-C3DB-41D3-986E-3D303F42D6F4

82849A75-5BB6-441A-AC76-9C7AFFC4554DA single coat of brown paint gives a very dull and uninteresting finish, so I then diluted raw umber acryllic paint and splashed that all over the brown base. This ran into all the footprints and furrows adding extra colour and tone to the whole field, which started to bring it to life.FFF49013-D0D7-4AC3-B263-787DDA45DB47

The final paint job was to dry brush a cream paint all over it. Dry brushing is the technique where you add paint to a brush, wipe as much of it off as you can and then very lightly draw the brush backwards and forwards over the field. The cream paint stays on the peaks of all the footprints and furrows highlighting all the detail and adding more contrast and life to the field.1DA7CC97-08C9-4C9B-87DD-8F62C8238769

Months before I had ordered the trees and coppicing from Realistic Modelling Services. We had long discussions about the colour of autumnal foliage on the trees and worked very closely with the Royal Armouries to get the coppice looking authentic. It was worth the effort when all the trees were planted.

Then I had to add the grass where the English army was deployed. I used a series of coloured ‘flock’- different shades of green, brown and cream of finely chopped foam and static grass. I counted 7 different layers and shades by the time I had finished.5404C27C-ED47-4653-9A70-EAFB1B32F027

Finally, I needed to add a few puddles where water hadn’t drained away. It made sense to use the low areas of the field where water would collect and just left to slowly drain away. The field’s high point runs along the middle of the field and then slopes away to each of the woods on both flanks so the puddles were added near the woods. I remember it fooled a number of people who thought we had had a water leak. Very satisfying!

The finishing touches on the battlefield occurred was once the model had been safely craned into the White Tower. We needed to fill the gaps between each section with Artex, once this was done the final footprints or furrows could be added and finally painted with the same colours as the rest.

All of this, of course, was the canvass to display the battle involving 4,500 figures…..that is another story….

Next up – painting the armies of Agincourt.

To see David Marshall and Perry Miniatures stunning diorama in the flesh, be sure to visit our Agincourt exhibition at the Tower of London, running from October 23 until the 31 January.

Find out more about how the model was made and the figures made in the posts below.

For more details about the Royal Armouries’ Agincourt exhibition please click this link.