Christian military orders appeared soon after the first crusade, when there was a perceived need for protection and care for pilgrims travelling to the newly conquered Jerusalem. Some were not originally founded as military institutions at all, but generally soon evolved that way and thanks to the considerable wealth that many such orders could command their armies, though often small, became the heart of much of the military strength of Outremer. Many were quickly recognised as the best troops the Christian rulers of that land could call upon, and while there were such lands the Orders prospered.
The common soldiery of the orders wore much the same clothing and equipment as any other soldier of the time, but probably bore devices on their coats and shields to identify themselves. For unpainted figures such as these, however, the distinction is academic and these are simply soldiers of the crusading period. They wear a mixture of mail and fabric armour along with helmets of several designs, which is what might be expected at almost any point in their history. Shields vary from the kite-shaped to the later heater type and also include a number of rectangular shields, which may not be typical of soldiers in the field but seem appropriate for a siege or similar action. One even shelters behind a pavise, an object more usually associated with archers but again not necessarily unlikely here. While the styles suggest different time periods old armour and kit was often used for decades so such a mix would not necessarily be unlikely, and we found no problems with the accuracy of these figures.
The box for this set tells us that these figures depict men repelling a cavalry charge or arrow shower, so none of them are really on the move. Indeed a third of them are kneeling, which is a reasonable stance if you are being bombarded. Overall then there is not much action here, and the poses are workmanlike rather than anything particularly interesting, but given the intended subject that is fair enough.
Those familiar with Strelets’ style will find the usual features here, with fairly chunky but not unattractive figures suffering from rather stubby items such as scabbards but with reasonable detail throughout. Some of the kneeling figures in particular have their scabbards at strange angles (designed to make the figure easier to mould no doubt), and one such man seems to have a sword with no guard at all, but this is another reasonable sculpting job although a little flat to our eyes. Most of the weapons and shields are moulded with the man, but where either or both are separate they fit the ring hand or peg pretty well, and there is no flash to report.
With a set of Military Order Knights promised for later these 'warriors', or rank-and-file as we might say today, do a fair job of filling out the ranks. Perhaps Strelets will provide some more active figures in a future set, although in truth there are plenty of sets of suitable soldiers to be had these days anyway. Another consistent offering of warriors which, despite the title, is not limited to the crusades nor to one small area of the world.