Aut Cesar, Aut Nihil, Wargaming the Borgias.

Aut Cesar, Aut Nihil, Wargaming the Borgias.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Renaissance Flags

One of the wonderful things about the Italian Wars from a wargaming perspective is the colourful troops and banners that the protagonists had.
The banners however are very difficult to replicate by hand,I can paint some of the simpler designs,
ie. the Swiss, but the actual condiottori flags are much more difficult.
Step in Pete Smith of Petesflags fame. Above is an example of Pete's work currently for sale on ebay.
The quality of the flags is top notch,and come either printed on paper,or on cloth.
 Pete obviously has put a lot of effort into his research and I cannot recommend them enough.
You can contact Pete at
Definitely recommended for all renaissance wargamers.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Having decided to re create my 28mm army of Cesare Borgia, I thought I'd better dig out my notes about his army and his career as commander of the papal armies.
Saint or sinner Cesare Borgia was an enigma even in his own time,depending on whether you accept the slanders of Guiliano della Rovere, who became Pope Julius II, who was the sworn enemy of the Borgis or the more balanced view offered by Machiavelli,that Cesare Borgia was a man born before his time.
Unfortunately for the Borgias',  history is written by the victors, and Pope Julius wasted no time once he was in power to torture the servants of the Borgias' into making ridiculous claims about their lives and acts. Some were probably true,some were certainly total lies.
Either way his army is a colourful and interesting one to build.
Anyway I digress.
Cesare Borgias military career started on the night of 14th June 1497.
We can be exact about that,because that was the night his brother received nine stab wounds in his neck and body.
Juan Borgia Duke of Gandia, was no general but his father had indulged him by making him commander of the papal forces,which were then heavily beaten by Fabrizio Colonna earlier that year.
 He also appeared not to be a very nice person per se, making enemies wherever he went. The biggest mistake he made however was standing in the way of Cesare. Now although no one was ever implicated in his murder,Alexander VI called off the murder investigation,and exonerated a number of noble suspects,the one name he left off the list however was Cesare.
Real politick or just hatred, who knows.
 Cesare however absolved his vows as a cardinal and became via the papal alliance with France Duke of Valentinois, he also wasted no time in marrying Charlotte d'Albret.
From this point he was to ride comet like across the history of renaissance Italy before disappearing in an insignificant skirmish at Viana in Spain on 11th March 1507.
Cesare Borgias First Army.
Cesare for his first campaign was kindly loaned 1800 heavy cavalry and 400 Swiss and Gascon infantry by the King of France, Louis XII.
Cesare added to this a further 10,000 Italian mercenaries and the services of Achilles Tiberti and Bentivoglio, both noted condottieri. Not satisfied with this he also borrowed the French artillery park!
 The first objective of this campaign,was the vicarite of Riario, namely the cities of Imola and Forli, home of the lovely Caterina Sforza.
 Having no real field army to speak of Caterina Sforza decided to resist from her citidal at Forli.
In true Italian style Imola, fell without a shot being fired,the citidal holding out for several days,before the French artillery convinced the citidal commander,the condottieri Doinigi Naldi to surrender.
He subsequently took service with Cesare Borgia [wise chap], bringing with him the startof the Romagnol Infantry that Cesare was to use.
 The city of Forli fell without a shot being fired,but Cesare,allowed the French troops to plunder the place in order to placate them.
The citidal of Forli was made of sterner stuff,plus it had the Caterina Sforza to contend with.After 21 days,the citidal fell,and Caterina Sforza was sold to Cesare Borgia by the French commander who was enraptured by her!
 Cesare was not,and loading her with chains she was carted off to Rome in triumph.
The French then abandoned Cesare in mid campaign,and he had to postpone his attack on the city of Pesaro.
Bitterly reflecting on his over reliance on the French he marched back to Rome,and the adoring crowds.
The procession was headed by his personal guard of 100 infantrymen,dressed in black,their doublets embroided with the word Cesare in silver, these were followed by 700 Swiss pikemen and 125men at arms,all dressed in black, Cesare's favourite colour.
Caterina Sforza was dumped in the Castel Saint Angelo where she was convinced to sign over the rights of the vicarite of Riario.[wise woman]
Now there's and image to conjure with, the personal bodyguard of Cesare decked out in black and silver. Couple this with the personal men at arms,that should make quite an eye catching unit.
Round one to Cesare Borgia.
In my next post, I will move away from history to discuss my wargame army etc.So stand by for a list or two.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Small Steps,big ideas.

In 1986 I bought and painted a 28mm wargames army,representing the army of Cesare Borgia,Duke of Valentinois. I was inspired at that time by the BBC series,The Borgias, starring Oliver Cotton as Cesare,and some large Italian chap playing Pope Alexander VI. I must say the Italian was rather good in the part,albeit I couldn't pick up some of the dialogue.It was full of intrigue,loose morals,perfidy and poison,a bit like modern day Great Britain.
The army was full of some wonderful figures,bought from the likes of Connoisseur, Essex Miniatures,Hinchliffe and the like.It was in my eyes a lovely army.
Sadly like a lot of wargamers, I changed scales and discovered the joys of 6mm wargaming and subsequently sold all my 28mm armies,including Cesare Borgias army.
I replaced all my renaissance armies with 6mm figures,and enjoyed the experience.

Then something happened,almost an epiphany in some ways, firstly I played Warlord Games new rules,Pike and Shotte and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.Secondly John Reidy my bette noir,and long suffering wargames opponent,painted up two wonderful 15mm Italian Wars armies which got me thinking.Then thirdly Sky brought out their new series, The Borgias,which really is the dogs bollocks,albeit with some dodgy history,but who cares. It is beautifully filmed and is clearly attempting to balance out the notoriety of the Borgias. Once again,it has loose morals, intrigue etc,etc, and more
 importantly it has lots of soldiers in it.

 That was it , I decided that I was going to re build my wargaming army of Cesare Borgia,again in 28mm,but this time it is going to be my best ever painted army,god I sound like a child.

  The metal ranges are now pretty extensive, my favourites are Eureka Miniatures,but these are so expensive the only way I would own these,is if I flew over to Australia and broke into their factory and stole them.It would still be cheaper than actually buying them legitimately.
 I like the Artizan range,but its a bit small and not Italian enough, I thought about the Connoisseur range which is still available, but these figures have become a tad on the expensive side, and the range was never completed by the late great Peter Gilder.
 So it had to be the Perry twins. Most importantly,and just in case my wife actually reads this blog,which I doubt,the majority is going to be built in plastic [plastic=cheapish]
Inspired by a really good article by the great painter Richard Lloyd in the last issue of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy [thats a mouthful] Perry miniatures is my choice.
In future posts,I intend to provide details,of the actual troops types that Cesare Borgia used, and hopefully photographs of the actual wargaming figures.Naturally this army will need an opponent which at the moment will be an Italian Condotta army,maybe Caterina Sforza or something similar.Mind whether my painting skills will stretch to Caterina Sforza proving to the Borgias that she was capable of creating another ten sons is debatable.But who knows.
I also intend to post lists of my intended army,every wargamer thrives on lists, and hopefully the composition of each unit.
Its a big ask,as I still have a mountain of metal for my Seven Years War project [Independentwargamesgroup blog ] but I think Ican balance the two. We shall see, so in the words of Cesare Borgia ,....... Aut Caesar, aut nihil .

Robbie Rodiss, The Independent Wargames Group.


Honour Guard of Cesare Borgia.

Honour Guard of Cesare Borgia.