Jan 18, 2013

In laudem confiniorum

As I've picked up some Janissaries and the Inter Arma rules are almost done, I figured out why not take some inspiration from local history. This will come handy for the XVII century Imagi-Nations project too.

A Soldier's Song or In laudem confiniorum is a poem by Bálint Balassi, soldier and songwriter (a sort of celebrity) from the XVIth century, when two kings and the Ottoman emperor all ruled parts of the Kingdom of Hungary. After the Turks settled down like a huge wound in the heart of the land, holding the capital and most trade routes, a series of fortresses were built both by the Princes of Transsylvania and those under the Habsburg rule in the west. 
From 1521 on to 1689, battles and raids were fought almost constantly in the realm. Once the territories reached a semi-final state, 'ends' or 'end forts', varying from simple bulk-and-ground 'hussar fortresses' dwelling twenty riders to huge stone castles with thousands of defenders, were raised to be manned by mercenaries. And those mercenaries, like any others since the trade of the soldier of fortune was born, were not paid well or weren't paid at all.

The average soldier was poorly equipped, not differing much from peasants' wear. It's not accidental they craved for Ottoman arms and armor (superior Damascus steel and co.) and took most what they found.
As the payment usually never arrived, the soldiers ended up looting villages on the other side of the border, so for the countryfolk, serving in the forts was a step forward in wealth: the sacked became the sackers.
The average footman of the age would be similar to one from the Zvezda Zaphorozian Cossacks set, wearing a combination of traditional East European clothes and some Turkish-influenced pieces. While the westerners fancied the broader rapiers, again, taken from the Ottomans, Hungarian soldiers preferred the saber.

The 'lobster' hussar helmet was of Turkish origin too (like many other things. Invaders are quite an influence). The Zvezda winged hussars would provide enough 'head' material for some conversions. Hair was not usually worn like that above, but is possible. Most pictorial evidence shows manly beards and long coats. The frilled short coat, mente or dolman has become a fashion in this age, and with slight modifications it prevailed as a traditioinal Hungarian piece of clothing for a long time.

Another good choice is the Zvezda Strelets. Bearded, long coated, the only problem is the bardish axe but that can be removed. I'm still searching for the Peasant Army, now there's an extra reason as most peasants would wield straightened scythes and such in battle and that set has enough of them.

Mars produces some Haiduks, from the early 17th century these people, originally cattle drivers were an essential part of the armies, usually fighting the Imperials.

I cannot prove but eventually, on the parts ruled by the Habsburgs, a more Western fashion was in common, especially later, in the late 17th century. Any generic pike&shot figure would suffice for this.

Speaking of the Turks, I have no idea how to represent more of them. Zvezda has the Janissaries I'm painting at the moment (an old box apparently, suffering from mould lines everywhere and I didn't have the scalpel with me so a double pain in the bum) and the cavalry (which is great again), but that's only the hard core of the Ottoman might. They had a lot of  Eastern light infantry like Persians, heavy cavalry as well, and, of course, Hungarian allies too (another good use for the Mars Haiduks). The available sets of Mongols could provide some savage Tatars too. It's essentially the same as with the World in Chaos topic: a few hundred figs can make up an interesting game. Even a campaign if you ask me.


  1. This sounds like the beginning of a fime project. I'll be following this one closely, methinks! I began an Ottoman Turk army (1600-1650) some years ago, and lacking specific figures opted for Mongols (Zvezda and I think Italieri) for the mounted arm. I have since acquired some very acceptable Janissaries, but haven't yet built them into an army.

    Basically I wanted a third 'player' in my pseudo-30YW Imagi-Nations project-of-the-future, to go with the Imperial Austeria and the Northern Kingdom of Severia.

    1. Thank you. The only problems is I need only a few figs from some sets (like the Zvezda Mongols you mentioned). Hopefully I'll find someone who buys the rest.

  2. a very interesting project I must say. lots of good material for many games ranging from all out battles to the normal skirmish type raid that is so often overlooked by history.

  3. Looking forward to this project Andrew! Sounds good!


  4. Sounds like an interesting project. Look forward to seeing what you do with them.