This army represents the militia of an early medieval Italian city or city state. List III/72a covers the period from 1029, when the first effective resistance to the Holy Roman Empire began, to 1200 when certain military reforms began. I chose to represent the militia of the Commune of Asti, simply for cosmetic reasons.
During the 11th century (which is the time period that I modelled my army for), Comunes were only in their infancy. Many cities were still ruled by noblemen, or were bishoprics. Quoting from David Nicolle’s Medieval Warfare Sourcebook, “The first recorded Communal Militia or compagna of all arms-bearing men led by elected consuls, was organised in Genoa in 1097.” So perhaps the list is misnamed in its early period.
The core of the army is five elements of spearmen. These townsmen paid for their own equipment, so the richer ones might well have been armoured. I chose to use unarmoured figures as I plan to use these elements in other armies. The figures are Old Glory, Khurasan Miniatures, and Museum Miniatures Norman unarmoured spearmen. The Old Glory figures all have spears that are of average length for the period. I based them separately so I would not have to shorten the Khurasan and Museum figures’ spears, which are a bit on the long side. The Khurasan spearheads are very nicely done too, so it would have been a shame to lose them. The element of Old Glory figures with ‘metal rimmed’ shields was one of the first elements of medieval foot I painted. I have since adopted coloured edges, representing dyed or painted leather rims. The shield patterns are mostly from the Beatus of Saint Sever which was used as a source for a number of the shield patterns in Ian Heath’s Armies of the Dark Ages. For some reason he doesn’t name his sources very often. I found this one by looking for French manuscripts of 1028 in Google! They are nice and easy to paint and give a colourful result.
Supporting the spearmen are two elements of knights (one being the command). These represent knights of the commune, as well as the feudal lords of the contado, the semi-rural lands arround the city. The general’s element includes a standard bearer holding a white cross on a red background. This implies that Asti was a member of the Ghibelline faction, supporting the Holy Roman Empire against the Pope.
The figures are by Old Glory. Most are Italo Norman Heavy Cavalry. These are modelled as wearing lamellar armour which was common in Southern Europe, copied from their Byzantine and Arab neighbours. A couple of figures from the Norman Command set are included in the General’s element.
Also supporting the spearmen are two 4Cb representing crossbowmen of the commune, supplemented by mercenaries. These are all Museum Miniatures figures.
The carroccio was a decorated wagon featuring a symbol of the city, which was used as a rallying point, first aid post, and mobile church. In DBA it is classified as a War Wagon, on account of the picked troops that defended it. In reality, given that the carroccio was a symbol of civic pride and its loss would cause great embarassment, it would never go anywhere near the front line. The carroccio is an Essex Miniatures model, defended by two Museum Miniatures armoured crossbowmen. I replaced the mast so that I could make my own banner. Carroccio banners often had a religous motif, and Asti’s patron saint was St Secundus, who was a patrician and officer in the Roman army, so I thought a saint in a martial pose would look good. The only picture I could find of him was a little tatty, so I modified a figure from the Stuttgart Psalter in Photoshop, and made it into a decal.
There are two compulsary 7Hd representing contadini peasant levies. The carroccio and contadini troops never went too far from their ‘home’ city, so there is scope here for a variant army list covering expeditionary forces, such as the Pisans in Tunisia and Sicily, and the Venetian forces in Dalmatia and Croatia. Perhaps this could have 3Ax and 2Ps elements representing sailors. The two Hd elements are a mixture of Museum Miniatures and Essex Miniatures figures. They don’t mix well size wise, and the Essex Miniatures swordsmen are a little late for the period I am depicting (they are holding their swords with their index fingers over the guard, which is a later fencing technique) but being such a mixture does help to make these look like more of a mob!
The Communal Crossbowmen can optionally be replaced by 2x2Ps, representing skirmishing archers of the Commune.
For a camp I have made 2 4x4cm square bases. One of them is almost empty and will house camp followers or defending infantry. The other is a thatched straw hut by Baueda, representing the camp of the Commune of Siena’s militia shown on this fresco. The camp is on two bases so I can use it in DBMM.