Even taking into account that the armies of the 17th Century did not possess the weaponry of today, The Thirty Years' War was one of the most devastating conflicts of the modern age.
It all started when Bohemian Calvanists demanded that concessions granted to Protestants be put into action. King Ferdinand (Catholic) dispatched two of his representatives to Prague
to 'talk turkey' to the 30 guardians of Protestant rights. Things came to a head on the upper floors of the Royal Palace at Hradcany and it was there on the 23rd of May 1618 that the Kings
arguments went out the window ... literally. Luckily for them, they landed in ... er ... something soft.
One thing led to another and soon the whole of the Holy Roman Empire (the German states) as well as many foreign invading armies found themselves in more or less the same stuff until they called it a day in 1648.
What was no laughing matter was, the self destructive machine the war became. Wallenstein's citation that "The war must feed the war", became the norm as the plundering of citys, towns
and villages fed the armies and brought the homeless and destitute into their ranks. What made matters worse was, that harvests were destroyed or not gathered in, causing hunger and famine.
Unburied corpses, poor sanitary conditions and displaced masses brought a rapid increase in infections and diseases. The Plague often reared it's ugly head. More and more money was demanded and
taken from all and sundry to pay for armies and mercenary regiments.
Forces were apt to change sides whenever their commanders/princes saw an opportunity elsewhere. The same could be said of the rank and file. Desertion was common, especially when pay was not forthcomming - be it because of empty treasuries or 'witheld' by the higher officers, many men turned to the only option left - banditry.
Which brings me to my vignette ...
I've always wanted to build something from of this era.
My problem was that basically the uniforms (I'm using the term very loosely here) and weaponry changed little during the conflict - with the exeption of less armour being worn and a simpler cut to the clothing as the war progressed. So unless it's something very specific, one battle scene would look very much like another at face value.
I decided therefore to go for the atmosphere of the times, somewhere half way though.
1633 around the city of Donauwörth. The spring season found the Swedish army and their allies in a state of mutiny. The reasons for this were, that not only had they lost their commander
(Gustavus Adolphus) in the Battle of Lützen but were also short of a years back pay.
On a personal note, I do not believe that "money is the root of all evil". The stuff is amoral - it can be used for good or bad, but the love of money and wanting more is where the rot sets in. Therefore, this little piece is the conflict in a nut-shell - having a religious core but developing into cold-blooded free for all.
I've opted for a gray in gray atmosphere but with a little colour. A sort of a cross between the Osprey artwork and the etchings of Jacques Calllot (1592-1635).
English and Scottish mercenaries fought for the Protestant cause, and at first glance the kneeling figure could be taken for one of Alexander Hamilton's Scots. He is in fact an Irish musketeer of the same regiment - the blue bonnet and tartan 'trews' (not to mention the kilt) are also native to the Emerald Isle. Catholic or not, he has just committed "Murder most foul".
His victim a Jesuit priest. This rather fanatical order was one of the causes of the conflict and they were frequently persecuted by German Protestants. The accessory to this homicide is a German
Reiter or cavalryman, who has 'on the spur of the moment' decided otherwise as to the partnership and share of their ill-gotten gains.
The 'opportunist' awaiting the outcome behind the crucifix wears a Swedish Hongreline coat but looks a little too swarthy to be from the North ... perhaps a Croat? There's a red bow on his leg wrap ... maybe an Imperialist? He also carries a green Protestant identification cloth (similar to the Reiter), so maybe he could be ... could be anybody.
Whoever he is, he knows a thing or two about robbery. He is armed with an old Swedish snaplock or early flintlock - can't have the stink of a matchcord giving the game away. His presence here underlining the eternal cycle of greed.
Finally in this time of witches and witchhunting we come to the master of ceremonies himself.
Our silent witness perched high aloft bears the Latin name Corvus Corax or common raven. However, in this instance he is the symbol of something else ... another name that sooner or later we all have to work out for ourselves. I'll give you some hints though ... He was one of God's most loved, he's a lot older, stronger and darker than he looks, is often in more places at the same time and always will be a great supporter of: "Bellum Se Ipsum Alet".
Go on friend ... guess my name.
I've had this scene in my mind for a few years now but never had the will to put it into 3D.
The 'shells' have been formed - partialy via Airfix and V.P.
From L to R :
Small stuff all ready to be fitted ... yes there are 30 pieces of silver!
'A call to arms'! The top two will evolve into a snaplock and matchlock (more on these later).
On the left, the old Airfix 'cutlass' refined into a more appropriate 'hanger' of the time. I think it's somewhere between a Dutch-Swedish sword and a 'Pappenheimer'. I'm in the clear here as there were many swordmakers back then producing different versions/mixes.
I must admit, this last offering is a product of my imagination. It's half Muskettengabel (musket rest) and an early Swedish Feather. I couldn't help but think that in this type of warfare, the more something looked like a garden instrument the better!
Up to the first staging then, all loosely put together so it's not a pretty sight ... on second thoughts it won't be looking 'nice' even when it's finished!
Not much to show this time, just a bit of 'leg-work' and 'crucifix whittling'.
I've had to cut some areas back a little and re-form. I'm not to happy with my choice of heads either. The officers riding boots are too high and the priests head needs to be centralized but having said that my sculpting is slowly improving.
I've replaced two of the heads and reduced their torso's accordingly. The hat is a little on the
Don Quixote side but as I'm not in a race here there's time enough. I know the crucifix foundation looks like an ancient computer - but thinking about it ...
It's been awhile, I know ... but I thought I'd invest some time improving my sculpting before continuing with this project. Allthough there's still a lot of work to do I'm very happy with the results up to now.
At long last I've managed to finish the figures and give them an acrylic white basecoat.
Sometimes all that glitters is ... dark ... very dark.
See you soon ... very soon.
Here's a snapshot of the main subject near completion ;o)
At this stage he looks more like a Rhode Island Red, just had to move the legs forward a little.