Tag: Charnwood

Seven More Swithlands

Seven More Swithlands

The 2nd regiment in the Duke’s army are the Swithland Fusiliers. I completed the first batch earlier in the year and I’m very pleased to say that today 7 more have been added to the regiment, making a grand total of 15 painted and varnished.

Just a handful more will complete the regiment and I may even aim to do that before the end of the year.

Swithland Fusiliers 2nd batch (16)
The officer and flag bearer are amongst the figures I’ve completed. Here’s the officer:

The flag I’ve chosen is from the Prinz Maximillian regiment. I’d used this regiment’s Leibfahne flag for the Charnwood Grenadiers as this is what the design of the uniform was based upon. The Swithland Fusiliers are based upon the Rochow Fusiliers, but not knowing what the Rochow’s flags were I’ve instead chosen the Prinz Maximillian’s Kompaniefahne instead. The flag has a green background (appropriately) with a rich yellow embroidery, a gold cipher on a stone pedestal surrounded by a dark green wreath and surmounted by a red and gold crown. You might be able to observe that I’ve added the word “Swithland” just below the wreath!

As the Duchy of Charnwood’s army grows, the coming of Christmas marks the 1st anniversary of this blog’s inaugural post! I always knew this would be a slow-burn project and I think steady progress has been made. Furthermore, Santa will be bringing some more figures for some more regiments. More on that in a future post!

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Duchy Personalities: The Bishop of Quorndon

2. The Bishop of Quorndon of the Diocese of Charnwood, the senior cleric in the Duchy.
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John Thomas, Bishop of Quorndon

John Thomas has been incumbent as Bishop in the Duchy of Charnwood for longer than many care to remember. His initial appointment met with some dismay in the Duchy,  and continues to provoke controversy today, chiefly as a consequence of his peculiarly liberal attitudes and eccentric interpretation of the Christian liturgy.

Chief amongst his “eccentric” beliefs is the bizarre concept that warfare and soldiering were not, in his opinion, strictly in keeping with the fundamental teachings of Christ. His predecessors were always at pains to emphasise warfare as being central to Christian teachings. Everyone in the Duchy seemed perfectly happy with this arrangement. Bishop Thomas however, has distressed many with his quasi-heretical interpretations, examples of which are reproduced below:


Biblical text – “…If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

  • John Thomas’ heretical interpretation: One should resist the urge to take violent vengeance against an aggressor.
  • Traditional Charnwoodian bishop’s interpretation: If one attacks you on the right, bring about the other flank also so as to bring to bear a greater concentration of musketry upon the enemy.

Biblical text – “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.”

  • John Thomas’ heretical interpretation: Jesus’ teaching is one of love and those who seek peace instead of war are blessed.
  • Traditional Charnwoodian bishop’s interpretation: Blessed are those who win a victory on the battlefield and thereby put themselves in a position to enforce a peace upon the beaten enemy. A previous incumbent in the role of Bishop even went so far as suggesting that Jesus had intended to say “blessed are the munition makers”.

John Thomas has been present at many of the important services in the life of the Duke of Charnwood and his family. He married His Grace the Duke to the Duchess, baptised their daughter Lady Eleanor and saw to the funeral services of both the Duke’s parents.

Charnwood Church
The Bishop is a regular preacher at the Gracedieu family’s own chapel set in the grounds of the Duke’s family home.

He is considered to be a warm and friendly man, one in no manner excessively conscious of his senior clerical position, and one who readily engages everybody in witty, humorous and relaxed conversation. It is, perhaps more than anything else, his charming manner which has done much to preserve his position in the face of significant clerical, military, no to say mercantile outrage to his pacifist teachings.

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“The devil’s chaplain” – A contemporary illustration of the bishop depicted shocking the congregation with his vile and sickening words of peace!

A curious hobby of the Bishop has emerged into public domain in recent years. It appears that John Thomas, despite his pacifist leanings, is an avid collector of artworks graphically depicting historic battles. When challenged, Bishop Thomas retorted that warfare should be graphically captured on canvas where it can do no harm save for instructing passing admirers of the horrors that await future participants on the field of battle.

Amen to that!

 

Guarding the Duke

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Guarding the Duke

In a recent post, it was announced that I would be developing a life guard for the Duke and his family – The Honourable Company of the Ducal Guard. I ordered a handful of figures from Redoubt Enterprises. Although fine enough with bags of character, on close inspection I didn’t feel that they quite had the ‘right stuff’ to be the Duke’s guard.

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Left: Redoubt Enterprises Grenadier. Right: Black Hussar Grenadier.

In the meantime, some other figures captured my attention, however. Black Hussar Miniatures are a German manufacturer based in Berlin. Their sculpting is excellent and the figures more slender and in proportion than many other manufacturers I’ve seen.

ducal guard (3)

Furthermore, I was attracted to their Prussian grenadier figures which unusually were depicted as standing to attention and presenting arms, aside from the more usual action and marching poses. Standing to attention seemed to me to be a far more appropriate pose for the Ducal Guard than any more active poses.

ducal guard (1)

So, here they are primed and ready for paint whenever I get around to that! Ten in total should be a nice quantity for now. Hopefully, with the Christmas break a matter of weeks away, I shall get some time to begin that process.

And Christmas in the Duchy is always an eagerly anticipated time of year…

Duchy Personalities: Sir Rupert Crisp

1. Sir Rupert Sebastian Percival Clarence Crisp (Bart.) 

Colonel of the Honourable Company of the Ducal Guard

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Sir Rupert Crisp is the son of a famous general of the Electorate of Belvoir’s army who shocked everyone by defecting and offering his services to the Duchy of Charnwood some decades ago. Sir Rupert has never displayed anything like the same martial attitude or soldierly inclination of his father, the general. Nevertheless, at the insistence of his father, he reluctantly entered the army as an ensign at the age of 15.

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Crisp as a boy, signs of his penchant for fashion already in evidence.

After disappointing his superiors enormously by demonstrating an outrageous lack of any military aptitude or bearing, Sir Rupert progressed only by purchasing his commissions using his family’s considerable wealth (much of which was acquired through war booty).

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Crisp the elder. His father looking stern in the uniform of a General in the army of the Electorate of Belvoir.

Fearful that his next purchase might place him in a field command role, he was coaxed into the most prestigious command position which could do the least harm; the colonelcy of the Honourable Company of the Ducal Guard. It was one of the Duke’s ministers who wisely suggested that the newly vacant colonelcy of the Ducal Guard might prove to be an acceptable option to all concerned. It was an astute appointment. The Ducal Guard was well suited to a man whose keenest military interest was in fashion rather than fighting.

The Ducal Guard are seldom involved in any campaigning whatsoever, their main duties being escorting or guarding the Duke or other members of his household. Consequently, its ranks are largely formed of either invalids or old veterans to whom the Duchy is keen to honour for their past services.

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Sir Rupert Crisp, Baronet.

Likewise, the Guards’ officers are staffed either by experienced invalids or by the less able sons of well-to-do families. In Charnwood, it is said that the most promising sons of the nobility go into the army; the least promising into the Ducal Guard! Indeed, to label someone a “guardsman” has become a popular slight within the army, intended to mean that someone is considered something of a popinjay. The term could certainly apply to the vain and fashion conscious Sir Rupert, for whom the smartness, colour and cut of his uniform, not to say that of his entire guard, takes clear precedence over any other military duty. A notorious dandy, at 47 years of age Sir Rupert is often said to be ‘married to the service’. Most certainly he is not married to anybody else, female company being of little interest to him. He much prefers the company of men; younger men most of all.

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One of Col. Crisp’s closest friends and a renowned fellow dandy.

The original uniform of the Guard featured a navy coat with tan breeches. On his appointment to Colonel, a horrified Sir Rupert made it his sole mission to develop a far brighter and more fashionable uniform for them.  In so doing, he made himself a real nuisance to the Commander-in-Chief (Crisp’s shrill tantrums were rumoured to be an audible feature of such discussions) such that only his prestigious background saved his position with the Duke.

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Nonetheless, after rejecting initial recommendations by the Duke himself, he eventually achieved his wish, the Ducal Guard becoming quickly nicknamed by the rest of the army as the “Rhubarb and Custards”, on account of their scarlet coats and yellow facings. Sir Rupert, however, is proud that he now commands, in his own words, “the gayest troops in the army”.

The Island of Albion in 1760

The Political Landscape of Albion

The Duchy of Charnwood exists in ‘some kind of an imaginary Britain’, sometime in the 1760s. This ersatz Britain is known to its continental cousins as being the island of Albion. It is a land rich in resources with a large population and a distinctive commercial culture but which remains hopelessly mired in a complex and heavily fractured political landscape.

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Being on the periphery of Europe’s mainstream politics, science, fashion and commerce, Albion’s nations are considered to be something of a cultural backwater. Attempts by other European countries to pull them into the orbit of mutually beneficial treaties and trade agreements have always been thwarted by the islanders entrenched xenophobic and isolationist attitudes towards all ‘continentals’. This obtuse pervading attitude is known to Europeans as ‘Brekschidt‘. It is so-named after the small and little-known German Principality of Breckschidt whose prince was once scandalously and unceremoniously tied to a small skiff and was pushed firmly back out across the channel by a mob of commoners in the Margraviate of Tunbridge Wells (all this apparently being simply on account of his obdurate refusal to lose his funny accent)!

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Wilhelm, Prince of Breckschidt

The Duchy of Charnwood is but a single part of a loose affiliation of similar micro-states which are collectively referred to as The League of Mercia. The Mercian states occasionally coalesce as a single force to counter threats from other similar Albion coalitions, each one usually being under the sway of a dominant nation or ruler. Other ‘leagues’ within the island of Albion are: Alba and Scotia (in Scotland); Powys and Cymru (in Wales); Northumbria, Medway, Wessex and Anglia (together with Mercia) in England. However, as soon as any external existential threat is dealt with, all the formerly allied micro-states get right back to feuding with each other.

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An Albion army on the march

Very occasionally, a majority of Albion will fight as a single entity when faced against continental threats. Decades ago, Albion famously formed a single cohesive force in the war against the mighty Austrian Emperor Adolfus Hilta, after initial setbacks the Albionian army finally destroyed the Imperial forces at the climactic ‘Battle of Wasser-Klo’. Defeating Hilta and liberating much of Europe is a source of very great pride to Albion’s people. It was a battle in which the Albionians only grudgingly admit their armies were assisted by Russia and some colonists from the Americas, amongst others. Rather than draw them together to play a greater role in European affairs, the consequence was to reaffirm an innate sense of pompous superiority over the continentals and to isolate them even further.

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The Battle of Wasser-Klo. A thumping victory for the combined forces of Albion which, even decades later, they simply will not stop harking back to again and again…

Albion Culture

Consequent to being an island of squabbling micro-states, the nations of Albion are considered somewhat culturally retarded in the fields of fashion, music and art, being usually a step behind prevailing European tastes. “En peu Albionais‘ is a common French insult to anything considered outdated or old-fashioned.

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Albion Warfare

Other nations in Europe are ever keen to seek advantages or exploit divisions between the micro-nations of Albion and, as such, Albion remains divided and constantly at war.

The near-constant presence of large and small-scale warfare across the island of Albion has, however, ensured that its experienced armies are considered amongst the most effective in Europe and Albion’s soldiers are much sought after as mercenaries.

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Albion soldiers fighting in Northern Europe, c.1755.

Likewise, its armies are occasionally hired by wealthy European nations to take part in wars which are often of no concern to any Albion state. Such mercenary activity has enabled most states to develop warfare into something resembling an industry. Smart uniforms and well-drilled troops can make armies appear that bit more attractive and effective to any other nations seeking to hire some troops for their next campaign season. Indeed, the Duchy of Charnwood has grown wealthy in recent decades from such activity.

This chronicle finds His Grace the Duke of Charnwood in the business of re-equipping his regiments to make them more attractive to other nations seeking to hire mercenary armies.


Charnwood: The Local Situation

Neighbouring states to the Duchy of Charnwood include reliable allies such as the Marquisate of Bosworth; neutral or unreliable states such as the Bishopric of Cannock or the Landgraviate of Warwick; and potentially hostile rivals such as the hated Electorate of Belvoir. The Duke of Charnwood is related by marriage to the Marquis of Bosworth, hence their long-standing close ties and cordiality.

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The Marquis of Bosworth reviews his Shackerstone Grenadiers, c.1858.

A lengthy dispute over the ownership of a triangle of fertile farming territory in Rutland is at the heart of ongoing hostility between our noble Duke and the perfidious Elector of Belvoir…