Italian Condotta 1320AD-1495AD (Book IV/61)

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Army Consist

Element Description of Troops
1x3Kn (Gen) Condottieri General
4x3Kn Mercenary Condottieri
1x2LH Stradioti
2x8Cb or 2Ps Militia crossbowmen with pavise or Handgunners.
2x4Sp or 4Pk City Militia
1x4Cb or 4Ax or 3Bd or 2LH Various Mercenary Troops. Militia Crossbow, Aragonese Targeteers (sword and buckler men), Halbardiers, or Hungarian Light Horse.
1x2Ps or Art Supplemental Crossbow or Bombard
Built Up Area The Vineyards of Northern Venice
Camp Followers Medieval Tent Camp

The army list for the Condotta covers the main Italian city states from the rise of mercenary companies to the battle of Fornovo in 1495. The Condotta style of warfare, extensively written about by Machiavelli, was employed throughout Italy and involved the use of hired mercenary units with local city militia in a supporting role.

Machiavelli had a very low opinion of mercenary troops, despite his tacit support of the condotta system. The use of the Condottieri seems to have been more successful in Venice than in Machiavelli's native Florence, possibly due to Venice's presence abroad and renowned shipping trade providing a more reliable financial base.

This army would be appropriate for any Venetian armies defending the Terra Firma or its overseas holdings in the Aegean. By changing out a few options, the army can really be fielded as any Italian city state. Venice, however, affords the General the Littoral terrain type, which gives interesting possibilities via the inclusion of a landing force. The figures for the army are equipped more in accordance with the latter years in the list, probably representative of troops from 1440-1495 AD. Psiloi are armed with gunpowder handguns, a technology just coming into widespread use. Their classification as light troops represents the fact that they were often more dangerous to the troops using them than the enemy they were fighting.

Though the army includes both a Built Up Area and an Artillery piece, I personally find both to be too problematic for general use. Otherwise, the army's composition is extremely versatile, and its low aggression factor makes it a formidable foe.

Condottieri General [1x3Kn (Gen)]

The general's stand is a combination of Essex figures (one a Byzantine command with a modified shield) and the personality figure from Mirliton's "Gattamelata" (Erasmo of Narni) command pack.

The flags show the standard of Venice, the Lion of St. Mark, and were done using inkjet printed decal sheets. For detailed shield devices I highly recommend this, as the decals are very easy to work with and give a spectacular look.

The second (alternate) general can be used as a sub-commander in big-battle games, or to field the army as a city state other than Venice. It is the Mirliton "Federico II da Montefeltro" command pack with the Duke wearing the heraldry of the City of Urbino.

Mercenary Condottieri [4x3Kn]

The four stands of knights represent the mercenary Condottieri fighting under the banner of Venice. It was common for medieval knights to wear a variety of blazons to represent their family, their liege, or even their city or province. These troops are no exception.

Their armor is somewhat more fanciful and might have been more commonly seen on a parade than on a battlefield, but no good Italian army would dare to take the field without looking their best.

Stradioti [1x2LH]

The Stradioti were light troops armed with lance or javelin. Unlike most Light Horse, they did not rely on ranged warfare as much as fast hit-and-run tactics.

The figures are Essex and Gladiator (the only Gladiator figure in the army, as the crossbowmen were much too large compared to the Essex and Mirliton figs.) The shields were modified to add the characteristic notch where the lance would be rested during a charge. This was also done to the shield on the General's stand.

The shields bear the blazon of the city of Trieste (The spear of St. Sergius, not to be confused with a fleur de lis) and the tree and twin lions of the city of Ravenna.

Militia crossbowmen with pavise or Handgunners. [2x8Cb or 2Ps]

The crossbowmen here are depicted with semi-static pavise rather than the typical tower shield carried by pavisier. Though the double-depth crossbow stands are not any more effective in the the game (less so, in fact, being more difficult to maneuver), they were not uncommon.

The Handgunners are typical of the late 15th century and because of limited numbers, inherent inaccuracy, and the short range of gunpowder weapons the troops are classified as Psiloi.

The crossbow are a combination of Essex and Mirliton figs while the Handgunners are exclusively Mirliton.

City Militia [2x4Sp or 4Pk]

Most cities would have had a standing army of local militia or hired mercenaries armed with long spears or massed pikes (especially in northern cities who employed swiss pikemen in their troops.) These figures are equipped with longer spears so that the stands can arguably be used as either troop type.

Spearmen equipped in this fashion are common in paintings of the time. The shields which came with the Mirliton figures, however, were a flat oval. Since most paintings of the time showed that the shields were semi-cylindrical, wrapping almost entirely around the front half of the body, I opted to give a slight arc to the sheilds by hammering them around a metal piece of brass using a jewelers hammer (rubber tipped.) If you do many figure modifications, I highly recommend acquiring one.

Various Mercenary Troops. Militia Crossbow, Aragonese Targeteers (sword and buckler men), Halbardiers, or Hungarian Light Horse. [1x4Cb or 4Ax or 3Bd or 2LH]

The wide variety of mercenary troops utilized by the Italian city states is probably their greatest strength, allowing augmentation of nearly any portion of the army to suit the battle at hand.

The crossbow is a pretty normal stand of medieval crossbow common to the era (again a mix of Essex and Mirliton.) The Hungarians are Mirliton figs and may be my absolute favorite stand of mounted troops for their expert sculpture and dynamic pose.

The Halbardiers are Essex and Mirliton and are classified as blades. The Targeteers may not be the most common choice, as the DBM lists do not provide many appropriate Auxilia troops. My personal feeling is that the targeteers should be classified as blades, but this stand is somewhat more representative of disorganized mercenaries acquired at the last minute.

The horned knight (second from the left) of the targeteers bears a shield which was replaced from his original target sheild. The shield device is taken from a shield depicted on the ground in the painting of the Battle of San Romano (the same source for many of Mirliton's sculptures.)

The green-plumed Targeteer (second from the right) bears a shield which was another modification. It is an octagonal shield which is commonly seen on tombs and may have only been used during formal parades.

Any of these options would be appropriate for most any of the city states, however the Hungarian Light Horse would likely be appropriate only for Venice and only when defending the Aegean holdings.

Supplemental Crossbow or Bombard [1x2Ps or Art]

These are somewhat more common representations of lesser-order missile troops (here classified as psiloi, and bombard artillery. Those fond of counter-historical army variants could easily replace the bombard with a DaVinci-style organ gun.

The crossbowmen are Essex figures while the bombard stand is a figure pack from Mirliton. The bombard is certainly the least colorful of stands in the entire army, but working with gunpowder is a dirty business, after all.

The Vineyards of Northern Venice [Built Up Area]

Though I generally disagree with the inclusion of Built-Up Areas in DBA, they are a deucedly good opportunity to build good looking terrain. I tried to think of what sort of fortification would fit all the criteria, and still be appropriate to Venice, and a Venetian stepped vineyard came immediately to mind.

It would be a nightmare to assault, especially for mounted troops. It would afford a high vantage point for Artillery or Bows, it would have been perfectly fitting for the Arable terrain, and of obvious importance to the defenders.

Because the army is usually played as Venetian, the BUA seldom sees action. It's embarassingly large (just a shade below the maximum size, in fact), and has only ever really been used in Big Battle games. Still, it was fun to build, at any rate.

The defending figures are all Essex, and the small workhouse is a J.R. Miniatures resin cast. The hill was made of layers of wood contoured with modeler's paste.

Medieval Tent Camp [Camp Followers]

There are actually two camps shown for this army, since the Venetian banners bearing the Lion of St. Mark are somewhat inappropriate for other city states. The Venetian camp centers around defending the vitally important wine wagon, while the other includes somewhat more desperate clergy imploring the doge to either send in reinforcements or flee the field (depending, of course, on how the battle is going.)

Both camps can have their primary figures removed and an insert replaced to show the camp having been overrun. The blazon on the horse rider (possibly the most unfortunately family heraldry in the whole of the Middle Ages) is for the family Albizzi. Sable, two concentric circles or. Rotten luck, that.

Almost all of the camp figures are Essex, with the exception of the Venetian standard bearers (Mirliton) and the barrel card (Museum.) Pay attention to the acolyte pointing in the alternate camp, as he may have an evil brother somewhere ... perhaps leading an Inquisition.

The tents were from a short-lived line of resin castings from (I believe) Falcon UK and is no longer available commercially.

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This page was last updated on February 5th, 2008 at 03:07 PM