Although, as has been pointed out previously, morions and the lack of chainmail are issues of historical accuracy for this set for its presumptive period setting (the Conquest of Mexico 1519-21), it works fine for the mid-16th century, and in case others might derive inspiration from what I have planned for it… :
For rules I’ll be using one of the in-between, 16th century variants of Lion Rampant/The Pikeman’s Lament that are out there (e.g. Pikeman Rampant), and some of these figures will become Portuguese for the Indian Ocean/East Indies theatre, with at least one unit with mixed assorted polearms, swords, and boarding axes (there’s bound to be something in my stash of spare weapons that looks the part for the axes). The rest will be multi-purpose. The crossbowmen can serve as either Portuguese or Spanish. Pikemen, arquebusiers, and swordsmen could also be either, or could triple as English in Ireland c1550 (give or take a decade or so), but…
What about the Irish, you ask? Well, it happens that WA already makes a set, and Irish armies changed little in appearance or armament from the Dark Ages until the late 16th century, but the big plus is that it now becomes possible to make figures that aren’t available anywhere in metal or plastic; e.g. Scots Redshanks mercenaries, by attaching two-handed sword wielding arms to an Irish body, and Irish arquebusiers (one unit of commanded shot is justifiable in this period, but not shot units; they didn’t appear in Irish armies until the 1590s). In fact, so-called English units contained a high proportion of Irishmen, who continued to wear their native costume.
On that last point, some bodies in the Irish set (mainly the ones wearing the innar jacket, which doesn’t seem to have been worn in this period) won’t be strictly accurate, but even they could be rendered usable by giving the figure a Green Stuff mantle (cloak) to hide the jacket. Some other costume details, such as the front of the leine (shirt), might need to be disguised with Green Stuff (depending on how fussy you are). Also, at least some of the English-Irish figures should have heads from the conquistadors set in morions or caps (probably best with the hair lengthened with Green Stuff, too) .
As it turns out I won’t have much use for many of the older helmet types that belong to the Mexican conquest period; all the morions and burgonets will get priority with the others used only where there’s a shortfall. It’s acceptable for some older equipment to appear on these figures as both the Portuguese and English were notoriously old-fashioned and out-dated in terms of costume and equipment, and the English in Ireland were also poorly clad and equipped (see below).
For guidance in planning this project I relied largely on the Osprey book ‘The Irish Wars
1485-1603’, by Ian Heath, but two other Osprey titles were useful:
‘Henry VIII’s Army’, by Paul Cornish
‘The Armada Campaign 1588’, by John Tincey
Two of the plates in the Armada book actually depict English troops in Ireland, and it also includes three of the twelve woodcuts from Derricke’s 1581 work ‘Image of Ireland’, all of which appear in the Heath book. Interestingly, you have to read the caption to one of the woodcuts in the Armada book to learn that it’s ’Derricke’s idealised picture of an army on the march. In fact Tudor troops in Ireland were usually poorly equipped and badly clothed. This point isn’t raised in the Heath book. Elsewhere in the book English troops are described as ‘scruffy’.
So there you have it: a project that allows you to mix two disparate WA sets putatively separated by about a millenium! You will need to resort to metal for a few other troop types for Ireland: cavalry for both sides, Irish galloglasses, and English artillery – but one unit of each should suffice.
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