domenica 27 novembre 2016

Roman unit: Equites cataphractarii

To prepare the Late Imperial Roman I painted many infantrymen but also cavalry units.

Cavalry units were generally divided in: light and heavy. Furthermore a great part of these units were enlisted between the Allies.

Equites cataphracactarii I painted were Armour & Aquila miniatures  and they are Palmyrian cavalrymen. 





These miniatures wear typical armours and hoods of the Eastern part of the Empire. Based on Notitia Dignitatum during the second half of the IV century there is a significant increase of these units.




(A funeral painting in which the two central figures show the armour and hood of the late Roman period)
The Cataphractarii were an heavily armored cavalry unit usually armed with a long lance called contus that the Romans copied from Parthians and Sarmatian armies.

They were specialized for shock action and they attacked usually in a wedge formation. Below two examples


Heavy cavalry against another Roman unit
Heavy cavalry against a group of Huns
The weak points of this kind of units were the difficulty to change direction during a charge and the lack of the stirrups. Ammianum and Vegetio reported different battles in which cataphractarii were involved: Maranga (Aurelian vs Palmyrian), Turin (Massenzio vs Costantin I), Strasbourg (Alamans vs Julia) and so on.

Below other details of my miniatures








domenica 20 novembre 2016

Roman unit: Herculiani seniores

One of the most important (and well known) legiones palatinae listed in the late roman documents is the Herculiani seniores. This unit was assigned to the Italian command.

The pattern of their shield is reported into Notitia. Below the Oxford version:


(second shield on the top part of the page)
Here the free links to Notitia Dignitatum resources:
Oxford version:
http://bodley30.bodley.ox.ac.uk:8180/luna/servlet/view/all/what/MS.+Canon.+Misc.+378?sort=Shelfmark%2cFolio_Page%2cRoll_%23%2cFrame_%23

Paris version:
Munich version:

The symbol in their shield was an "eagle" so it is possible that they maintain the eagle  to indicate their unit. 




The eagle (or aquila) was for centuries the symbol of the Roman legions. No original eagles arrived to us, but we have many immages on the monuments (ie Arch of Constantine, Trajan column) or on the coins.   
In the 3rd/4th century the Roman vexillifers carried different type of symbols: draco, labari but Ammianum (XX 5.1) and Vegetio (II.13) reported that the eagles were used also during that period.



The Herculiani  (and the Ioviani) were a Tetrarchic creation. The Arch of Galerius (one of the Tetrarchs - 3rd century), shows two shield patterns that apparently belong to the original Ioviani and Herculiani units.

Below some details of my minitures



The Herculiani  were a senior palatine guard under Diocletian reign (284-305 Ad). It is sure that they continued to be a military unit also in the further periods and the choice of the name was not random. The co-imperators (Diocletian and Maximian) linked their name to two gods: Jupiter and Hercules. The original Herculiani seniores were  so the personal protectores of the Tetrarch and co imperator: Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus Herculius 

Below another detail of my miniatures that are defending a breach against a Vikings shield-wall

If someone is interested to the Roman army of the late Empire  it is possible to find more details in these books:
- A companion to the Roman Army - Paul ErdKamp - Blackwell Publishing 
- The grand strategy of the Roman Empire: from the first century AD to the third - Edward Luttwak
- L'esercito romano vol III - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano vol IV - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano: da Augusto alla fine del terzo secolo - Yann Le Bohec - Ed Carocci
- 9 agosto 378. Il giorno dei barbari - Alessandro Barbero - Ed Laterza
- Le Storie - Ammiano Marcellino - Ed Utet
- L'arte della guerra - Flavio Vegezio - Ed Bur

sabato 19 novembre 2016

Roman unit: Celtae Seniores

Celtae Seniores were a auxilia palatina unit under the command of the Italian Magister Peditum

Details of their shields pattern are reported into the Notitia Dignitatum (Oxford version) and it is possible to see them below:


(the fourth of the third line starting from left)
Here the free links to Notitia Dignitatum resources:
Oxford version:
http://bodley30.bodley.ox.ac.uk:8180/luna/servlet/view/all/what/MS.+Canon.+Misc.+378?sort=Shelfmark%2cFolio_Page%2cRoll_%23%2cFrame_%23
Paris version:
Munich version:

Their shield shows a very common theme for late roman units (in particular for auxilia palatina units) that is a kind of twin-headed zoomorphic motif.


The name  "Celtae" refers obviously to "Celts"



It is possible to find references to Celtae in Ammianus. During the Julian wars against the Alemannics they are generally linked to another auxilia palatina unit: the petulantes. 

It possible that they took part to Strasburg battle (357 AD) [Ammianus XVI, 12]. It is sure that they are part of Julian army after his appointment to Emperor [Ammianus XX.5] 

Below a photo in which  a group of Celtae Seniores are attacked by an Alemannic tribe (the Lentienses Alamanni)[Ammianus XXI.10.4] 



If someone is interested to the Roman army of the late Empire  it is possible to find more details in these books:
- A companion to the Roman Army - Paul ErdKamp - Blackwell Publishing 
- The grand strategy of the Roman Empire: from the first century AD to the third - Edward Luttwak
- L'esercito romano vol III - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano vol IV - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano: da Augusto alla fine del terzo secolo - Yann Le Bohec - Ed Carocci
- 9 agosto 378. Il giorno dei barbari - Alessandro Barbero - Ed Laterza
- Le Storie - Ammiano Marcellino - Ed Utet

- L'arte della guerra - Flavio Vegezio - Ed Bur


and many Osprey Publishing books.

domenica 13 novembre 2016

TMWWBK Nov, 13 2016

Yesterday I played for the first time "The men who would be Kings" (for the friends TMWWBK ... easy to remember) published by Osprey in September.

I have to point out that all miniatures showed in the photos are painted in a masterly manner by a Ezio M. Below a little anticipation



TMWWBK is a skirmish wargame designed for fighting colonial wars (ie Indian mutiny, Boxer rebellion and so on).  The game system is easy with some improvements (under my point of view) respect Dragon Rampant as the free move or free fire for some type of units. Moreover the commands and the units traits are well designed and help the game to be a very good skirmish. 

The mission was easy: a large mass of Zulu has to attack a small group of Redcoats. Redcoats have to resist for at least five turns and can achieve a further goal if maintain the control of the farm placed on a table side.

The table before the battle


The Zulu force is approacing ... 





Unfortunately a drunken officer leads the first line of the Redcoats




After an attack the English line is disordered ... and destroyed




A second unit of Redcoats tries to resist but it is eliminated




The last resistance: the farm


Final score is a Zulu victory

sabato 5 novembre 2016

Roman Unit: Menapii Seniores

In the past days I wrote other posts regarding Late Roman Imperial units. Today is the time of another unit: Menapii Seniores

I've already posted the links to one of the most important document related the organization of the late Roman army (Notitia Dignitatum) but I have seen that these links are appreciated so I decided to insert them in each post I'll write about this matter
Oxford version:
Paris version:
Munich version:

Menapii Seniores were a unit assigned to Magister Militum Gallic command.
The shield pattern in the Oxford version of the Notitia is reported below


The fourth shield in the fourth line starting from left
Many Roman units in the Notitia have the same name but with a "seniores" or "iuniores" added. It is not clear the real reason to call the same unit in different way. I found different explanations:
- seniores/iuniores was added to the name of the unit after Diocletian's decision to split the Imperium in two parts and consequently the units 
- seniores/iuniores indicated the experience level of the unit. 
Under my point of the view I prefer the first explanation. Please consider that the Menapi iuniores were part of Magister Militum per Thracias command.

Some photos of my miniatures are below



The name Menapii derives from a Belgic tribe, in fact it is possible that the unit was enlisted or stationed in Gaul before joining to the field army. 


One of the miniature  in the second line (a foundry miniature) is equipped with a plumbata mamillata. Below an example of the weapon directly from Notitia Dignitatum


The plumbatae (tribulata and mamillata) started to be used by Romans in 4th century. It is a weapon well described by Vegetio in the De Re Militari (1,17) and by an anonymous in De Rebus Bellicis (10,11). This little dart (around 50 cm) was generally used with the bow to block the enemy advance.

Below a photo very interesting photo that explain as the dart was thrown


(Copyright - http://www.roman-artifacts.com/military%20accessories/4th%20Century%20Plumbata/Plumbata.htm)
Below a detail of the command group with the vexillifer that carries a labarum with the typical Chi-rho of the Christianity



The tribune of the photo carries a cavalry shield (may be Equites cetrati iuniores) but it was so nice that I decided to bend the rules.

If someone is interested to the Roman army of the late Empire  it is possible to find more details in these books:
- A companion to the Roman Army - Paul ErdKamp - Blackwell Publishing 

- The grand strategy of the Roman Empire: from the first century AD to the third - Edward Luttwak
- L'esercito romano vol III - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano vol IV - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano: da Augusto alla fine del terzo secolo - Yann Le Bohec - Ed Carocci
- 9 agosto 378. Il giorno dei barbari - Alessandro Barbero - Ed Laterza
- Le Storie - Ammiano Marcellino - Ed Utet

- L'arte della guerra - Flavio Vegezio - Ed Bur


and many Osprey Publishing books.

venerdì 4 novembre 2016

Roman unit: Lanciarii Gallicani Honoriani


As I wrote in an another post the Roman army of the late period (4th-5th century) can be divided into two type of units: 
- limitanei: troops  garrisoned in the fortification along the borders of the Empire. A first line of defense from barbarian's attacks
- comitatenses: the field army that had to contrast a breach in the deep.

One of the most important document related Imperial army is the “Notitia Dignitatum”. 
Here there are the links to different versions that are free available in internet: Oxford version:
Paris version:
Munich version:

The Lanciarii Gallicani were a unit of comitatenses assigned to Magister Militum Gallic command.
The pattern of their shields is reported below (Oxford version) 

Second shield ot the second line (starting from left)
Unfortunately the color changed depending on the manuscript version.
My miniatures are Gripping beast (Vikings and Anglo-Saxon) modified



The name lanciarii comes from lancea: a spear that was used both thrusting and throwing. On contrary the name Honoriani refers probably to Emperor Honorius and gallicani to the place were (presumably) the unit was raised or were it served.

Some other photos related my miniatures with a detail of the command group ...


... and another formation


If someone is interested to the Roman army of the late Empire  it is possible to find more details in these books:
- A companion to the Roman Army - Paul ErdKamp - Blackwell Publishing 

- The grand strategy of the Roman Empire: from the first century AD to the third - Edward Luttwak
- L'esercito romano vol III - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano vol IV - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano: da Augusto alla fine del terzo secolo - Yann Le Bohec - Ed Carocci
- 9 agosto 378. Il giorno dei barbari - Alessandro Barbero - Ed Laterza
- Le Storie - Ammiano Marcellino - Ed Utet

- L'arte della guerra - Flavio Vegezio - Ed Bur
and many Osprey Publishing books.

Roman units: Leones Iuniores


The roman army of the late period is very different respect the same of the first centuries of the Empire.  Starting from Gallienus the roman army changed and started the idea of a field army. With the Costantine and Diocletian reforms the army is divided between: limitanei and comitatenses.

There are no many documents related the Roman army of the 4rd or 5th century and one of the most important is the “Notitia Dignitatum”. It is an official register (dated around the beginning of 5th century) in which is possible to find different details about the late Roman army. For example; the name of the different Roman units divided between East and West respective, the shield pattern and so on. The text comes to us through four manuscripts now at Oxford, Paris, Vienna and Munich. 


Some of these versions are free available in internet:
Paris version:
Munich version:

Leones iuniores were one of the auxilia palatina, an elite unit that was part of comitatenses forces,  under the command of Italian Magister Peditum. The pattern of their shields is reported below (Oxford version)


Considering that “leones” means “lions”, it is possible that the human heads in the shield was in origin a lion head.  During the process of copying from the original Notitia document may be that the head design has been mutated.

I prepared 18 miniatures that are a mix of Foundry and Gripping beast. Some of the heads are conversion of warlord auxiliaries modified.


Some details of the miniatures



The command group


If someone is interested to the Roman army of the late Empire  it is possible to find more details in these books:
- A companion to the Roman Army - Paul ErdKamp - Blackwell Publishing 

- The grand strategy of the Roman Empire: from the first century AD to the third - Edward Luttwak
- L'esercito romano vol III - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano vol IV - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano: da Augusto alla fine del terzo secolo - Yann Le Bohec - Ed Carocci
- 9 agosto 378. Il giorno dei barbari - Alessandro Barbero - Ed Laterza
- Le Storie - Ammiano Marcellino - Ed Utet

- L'arte della guerra - Flavio Vegezio - Ed Bur
and many Osprey Publishing books.