Like a lot of wargamers I was initially confused by the fact there were two famous Black Bands, one German and the one I was interested in the Italian one.
I think its fair to say the German Black Band was landsknect in nature and was made up in the main by pikemen with a supporting section of arqubusiers. These I believe saw their demise at the Battle of Pavia.
Giovanni di Medici's band saw their demise a couple of years later in the Neapolitan campaign fighting for the League of Cognac, ie French at the siege of Naples.
Having been able to get hold of the book The Black Bandes of Giovanni [ thanks Jim] and now having been able to purchase a copy via Amazon I am happy about my organisation of the band.
It is a bit of a deviation from the building of the army of Cesare Borgia, but after travelling to Florence last year, the story of Giovanni di Medici intrigued me.
Di Medici was clearly ahead of his time in that he organised his large mercenary band to be able to take on diverse roles on the battlefield. While the Swiss and landsknect units tended to still be the battlefield winner, they refused to get embroiled in close skirmish work, ambushes, sieges and virtually anything that didn't entail close order push of pike. That doesn't mean they couldn't do it, just they were reluctant to stand the causalities that such fighting risked.
Anyway from what I have now read, the Italian Black Bande in 1527 was in 15 companies totaling 4,229 men.
The band did have a backbone of pike so any wargamer can justify their inclusion in their army, but the majority of the band were heavily armed arqubusiers, ie they were equipped to fight at close range with any weapon they wished to carry, usually sword and dagger. It seems clear that the band operated in close support of each troop type.
I intend to have three sub units of arquebus of three bases each, a pike block and some light cavalry attached. The band under Giovanni could be mounted on smaller Arabian horses to allow them to recce the area and also act as an early form of dragoon. Any wargamer should not think they were super troops they weren't. The band were mercenaries, however they were well drilled and clearly sought after by the Italian states. In fact the French were reluctant to undertake the invasion of Naples until they were sure the band was coming south with them.
Dress wise, the band dressed in sombre colours, certainly after the death of Giovanni di Medici. The officers wore black sashes, and I think wargamers could be justified in a predominance of black in the unit. Mention was made of the armour being very dark which suggests to me that it may have been more of a very dark gunmetal colour. But at the end of the day, we are talking wargaming here.
One thing of particular interest is mention of the use of a devil motif on company standards and even emblazoned on several officers clothing. Now that would look great on the standards of the unit. Pete of Pete's flag fame is hopefully going to create a conjectural standard for my units. It may not be totally accurate, but it will look the bollocks.
For my additional arquebus sub units I have opted for more Pro Gloria figures, now that they have released their arqubusiers. Not cheap, but well worth a bit of expense.
The photographs have absolutely nothing to do with the Black Bande, but are some more sub commander bases I have completed in my winter sojourn.