Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wanted for Service: Good, Bold Men (with an Eye for Loot)...

As the poster says!  I've been thinking of which miniatures to use for Les Hussards de Sarkozy, and have decided that the ones that best suit my particular bill are these by The Foundry, which were, I believed, designed by Mark Copplestone. 

Yes, they are cartoonish/ orcish or what have you, but they have an "over the top" look to them that I actually like for the early, wild-hussar type.

The problem is that including command figures I only need sixteen of them.  

Now while I'm certainly no cheapskate, neither am I an idiot. I realize that I've been spoiled by the excellent service from companies such as Front Rank.  And in fairness, the mail order service from the Foundry is by all accounts not to be faulted for reliability.  

But by having different "stores" depending on where you are placing the order from, the Foundry in effect charge their overseas customers twice for postage.  And God help you if you fall into the East Asia/Rest of the World category!  To add insult to injury- and unlike most all other companies I do business with- they evidently do not even see fit to deduct VAT from their prices.  

While having to grudgingly grant them a certain amount of "testicular fortitude"  for the practice, I cannot- will not- validate their unfathomable policies by holding my nose and paying those kind of prices for a handful of miniatures.

 So,  if anyone out there has sixteen to spare, along with command/  personalities,  please do drop me a line and let me know how much you want for them.  Any fair price considered!  I'd of course be paying the shipping to Japan.    

In particular I'm looking for the ones in short fur hats, but I'll consider a mix.  Preferably unpainted, but painted is okay (bear in mind that I'll be stripping off the paint so that I can paint the minis in the "correct" uniforms).

Alternatively, if someone could point my way to a cheaper source of these figures through a store who actually charges postage at a reasonable rate, please let me know. 

No recasts, though.  Aside from the poor quality I have no intention of rewarding thieves, even if it was Foundry they've ripped off!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Regiment Royal de St. Vignobles

click to enlarge

The Marquis wrote:

"The outfitting of  L’armée de l’Oise proceeded apace, with overall efficiency and considerable expense- particulary on my part.  Monies for uniforms, arms and accoutrements and victuals were always in short supply.  The shortfall was inevitably made up by my dipping into my own coffers. 

While I was able to bestow some amount of patronage for some tidy sums, not to mention the occasional- and lucrative- games of chance, those gentlemen who managed my considerable estate were not averse to chiding me for such excess.  They urged that I bring the spending under control, and begged that I pressure Versailles to be more forthcoming with the resources needed to prepare the army for war.

This war within a war for ever-scarce funding alloted to me its share of little victories as well as defeats.  Yet overall, it must be said, the balance of success went to those low-bred, pestilential and mean-spirited troglodytes who inhabited the counting-houses of Versailles.  

Indeed, late one evening Count Sarkozy arrived back from a reconnaissance to find me in a most highly agitated and irritable state with my staff over the issue.  On perceiving my evident distress, he promptly offered to ride with some of his men to Versailles with the intention of hanging the scoundrels in question up by their tongues until they agreed to loosen the purse strings.  I must confess that I did mull over the merits or otherwise of the scheme for some moments before politely- yet firmly- refusing the Count's well-intended proposal.

Nonetheless, I was not without some skillful experience with the machinations of the court, and I was able to obtain some favours in return for my forbearance with such rogues, chief of which for the purposes of this narrative was the refitting and elevation of my own regiment, that of St. Vignobles.

The campaign of Dettingen in which the regiment had distinguished itself had reduced the uniforms of the men to a most wretched and deplorable state.  Having just outfitted the Regt. de Bouillon Cantinat,  and seeing clearly that my finances were not what they were during the peace, I resolved that if the Ministry of War failed to underwrite my expenses as was my due, then I would see if I could not indeed manage to elevate the regiment and my House to a status fitting with the illustrious lineage and service of the Bouillon-Cantinats.

So debts were quietly called upon to be made good, and understandings were negotiated with the mighty and influential.  As well as with their wives & mistresses, for over the years one learns where true fountains of power and decision making lay.  With such stratagems, and in the fullness of time, the carefully nurtured seeds of ambition bore their fruit.  

Many months had passed when finally we received the welcome news from His Gracious Majesty that the Regt. de St. Vignobles, ...'on account of its proven valour and dedication to the House of Bourbon', would receive the unique honour of being bestowed with the title of "Royal".  While steadfastly maintaining its independent character and certain privileges,  it was to be taken into the French army as a native rather than as a foreign regiment.   

As befitting the new status of the regiment (and in exchange for a considerable pecuniary gift of sundry movables) I was granted some small but fairly profitable holdings in the Aquitaine.  

Furthermore, it was agreed that my eldest son was to be betrothed to the Duchesse de Limoger.  A somewhat dim-witted young woman, but a niece of the King and the eldest of four children, all daughters; thus is the House of Bouillon-Cantinat to find itself tied to that of the Bourbons.

I insisted upon the condition that the regiment would all the while remain under the command of its chef, and that it would be subject to the needs of the hereditary Prince Ecclesiastical of the Bishopric of St. Vignobles whenever the principality was to find itself threatened by an external foe.   

The price of such arrangements was dear. A further reduction of a stock of the best vintage St. Vignobles had to offer, some sudden (and calculated) desertion of skill and luck on my part at the card table, and a tacit agreement that the regiment was to expect no financial support from Versailles other than that of pay (when available), arms, and equipment.  But as these were already less than forthcoming I felt it a very practical solution and a pleasing outcome to me, one which would bring further lustre to the already brilliant stars in the Bouillon-Cantinat firmament.

The day the colours were presented to the regiment by the King and his party was one renowned for its splendour, with gentlemen and ladies of quality the region over coming into camp to take part in the festivities, including also some officers of my acquaintance from the Pragmatic armies, visiting on parole to pay their respects.  

I myself performed the benediction over the new regimental drapeaux.  These were designed by a most willing and appreciative Duchess D'Argenson and her daughter.  In richness of  fabric and in their embroidery the new colours were magnificent in execution, equally the rivals of those borne by the Gardes Francaises

Dinner that evening was a sumptuous affair, in which the finest wines of St. Vignobles flowed like the melting snows of spring.  This repast was accompanied by music provided by a party of musicians led by the esteemed M. Boismortier, as well as by the regimental hautbois.  There was, of course, a display of fireworks followed by dancing, which was welcomed by the young officers of the army as being a rare opportunity for some pleasant dalliance.

The rest of the night was passed by games of vignt-et-un, in which I played with even more than my customary skill and ruthlessness in order to cover at least part the evening's expenses, which I woefully suspected would be prove to be a daunting sum. 

Indeed, my chief comptroller had rather irritably begged me to excuse him from duty that evening, as he desired to retire to bed early with what he suspected to be a case of imminent apoplexy."


Basically I was never that happy with my first design for the uniform and flag of the Regiment de St. Vignobles, and as I develop the character of the Marquis de Sangfroid and L’armée de l’Oise I have had a better idea for the flag and uniform.  I've also become a lot more familiar with the graphics programs I have, so I can do a better job than before.  

I like the idea of wine or madder-red as the distinctive colour of the Principality, and it is a colour that goes much better with off-white than with the mid to dark blue of the foreign regiments in French service.  So I had our scheming hero concoct a plan to have the regiment become a regular French one- with privileges!  

And frankly, I've enough blue to paint with the Dutch and my French Napoleonic infantry.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Noble Volunteer Company of Vintners

I have been asked to provide a uniform plate of the Noble Volunteer Company of Vintners as introduced in my previous post, and find myself most happy to oblige.  

Fortunately, the standard of the company still exists, having been carefully- and remarkably- well preserved in the vaults of the Cathédrale de Notre Dame de St. Vignobles
   (Click on picture to enlarge)

The company was always maintained at a strength of 48 officers and men, all of the nobility, as this was the number of men who sallied out with the 7th Marquis de Sangfroid to save King Louis during the Fronde in 1651.  

A detachment escorted the King whenever he made an official inspection of the vineyards of France, and an officer of the company was always present for the opening of wine casks during festivities at Versailles, tasked with tasting the wine both for quality and for safety.  

While never serving as an actual combat unit, the uniform was worn by all general officers from St. Vignobles, for whom membership in the company was a prerequisite for the rank.

-Plate made possible through some creative digital "legerdemain" and of course by David's wonderful work on his excellent blog,
 "Not by Appointment ".

Au service du Roi...

His Excellency, the 10th Marquis de Sangfroid, Comte de Roue and the Prince Ecclesiastical of the Bishopric of St. Vignobles.
This vignette is based on a written description of a painting by Édouard Detaille,  now believed to have been lost during the Second World War. 

M. le Marquis is portrayed on the morning of his great victory against the Imperial forces at the Battle of Chimay in 1745, where, after a bold river crossing at night with picked troops from L'armee de l'Oise, he turned the enemy's flank and forced them to abandon their attempt to reinforce the Allied army in Flanders.

The scene shows a scout from Sarkozy's Hussars, wearing the non- regulation mirliton that was becoming popular with officers of the regiment at this time, reporting the presence of the Imperial army to M. le Marquis. 

The Marquis is mounted on his famous dapple-grey steed, Seligenstadt, and is accompanied by his faithful personal escort, brigadier Jean-Claude Boulet of the Bauffremont Dragoon Regiment. 
Having saved the Marquis' life during the Battle of Dettingen, and having throughout the course of his service impressed his superiors with his temerity and resourcefulness, Boulet was duly promoted to brigadier and assigned to the Marquis' personal staff.  

He wears the uniform of his unit, but in splendid scarlet rather then cheap red broadcloth; it was awarded to him by a grateful Marquis to replace the uniform he lost while swimming the River Main in order to save his patron.
The Marquis himself wears the  dress uniform of the Chef of the Noble Volunteer Company of Vintners; a handsome velvet coat of deep rose, with richly embroidered gold trim.
Georges Debroullier had the following to say about the formation of the Noble Volunteer Company of Vintners, a company of guard cavalry serving with the King's Household. 

"This little-known but illustrious unit in the King's personal establishment was inextricably linked with the House of Bouillon-Cantinat.  Early in the reign of the Great Louis, during the troubled times of the Fronde in 1651, the young King was surprised by a patrol of enemy cavalry intent on taking him prisoner. 

Fortunately for His Majesty, Guillaume-Baptiste Bonhomie de Bouillon-Cantinat, the 7th Marquis de Sangfroid, was with the King's party.  He had been been given charge of supervising French wine production and distribution, and was with the King at the time in connection with the discharge of these duties. 

Upon seeing the threat to His Serene Highness' person, the 7th Marquis sprang into action, and immediately called upon his officials and their pages to arm themselves and to mount their horses to deal with the threat.  They then rode out at once to take on the enemy, successfully thwarting their plans to take the King captive.

A grateful monarch then created the Noble Volunteer Vintner Company of the King's Household in honour of their service, and made the  Marquis de Sangfroid hereditary Chef of the company in perpetuity, granting in addition an annual pension of 6000 Louis' d'or."

M. Georges du P. Debroullier;
"What Higher Master than Honour? A History of the House of Bouillon-Cantinat"
Pierre Declat & Cie.
St. Vignobles, 1902

I haven't posted here in a long time, but I hope this one makes up for it in terms of eye candy at least.  

I spent a considerable amount of time on the miniature for the Marquis.  It is a simple casting, the  Marquis de Montcalm figure from Front Rank's French-Indian war range.  No conversions or alteration, but it represents what I feel is the pinnacle of my painting efforts in the 35 years I've been in the hobby, and I'm not embarrassed to say I'm extremely proud of him.  

I'm not happy with the photos; despite tweaking on iPhoto the reds did not come out very well.  The red of the dragoon uniform in particular appears very "washed out", and in reality is a very rich, intense red.  I may try taking pictures in better light tomorrow and see how they turn out.

But in all, not bad for an "overfed gargoyle", as some vocal critics like to dismiss Front Rank's SYW range.

Our club here has been focusing on WW2 miniatures gaming for a while, with Napoleonics in the pipeline for the future.  This means that much of my time available for wargaming has  been spent on these armies.  Unfortunately, there has not yet been much groundswell of interest in the 18th. C as far as I can ascertain.    

But even if other gamers here don't seem to have much interest in the period,  I certainly do.  And receiving this excellent book three weeks ago inspired me to take out my figures and get back to work on them, somewhere in between Soviet artillery pieces and French Napoleonic voltigeurs.

I keep reminding myself that this will be a case of "build it and they will come", so I will continue to plod away at painting up L'armee de l'Oise and its foes.   

If I am to get anywhere with this project I cannot afford to fall into the trap of trying to put as much detail into the rank and file as I have been able to on the noble Marquis, but seeing what Phil Olley has been able to achieve with his splendid collection of Front Rank miniatures as seen in Wargaming in History inspires me to keep going.