The Iberian Peninsular of the 11th century was a place of many kingdoms that fought amongst themselves for dominance and prestige. That some were Christian and some Muslim was merely one of many factors that influenced who fought who, and kingdoms of both faiths frequently fought each other as well as those of the opposing creed. This set of Spanish infantry is primarily devoted to the armies of Christendom, but as with El Cid himself they could often fight fellow Christians, sometimes in the name of a Muslim lord.
As might be expected the armies of northern Spain were similar in many ways to those of other western European states. The wealthier soldiers and knights would wear a mail hauberk with a helmet that might carry a nasal guard. Poorer soldiers such as some town militias or levies from the peasantry would have no armour and fight in their ordinary clothes. The 16 poses in this set are a fine reflection of this mixture of armed men, ranging from the fully laden knight to the simple peasant. Two of the figures wear quilted armour, which was a cheaper and in some ways preferable alternative to metal, and the design of helmets is varied, but everything seems perfectly suitable to the subject and are well chosen, with no obvious omissions. The nature of the warfare with the light and highly manoeuvrable troops of al Andalus meant that Christian soldiers tended to be more lightly armoured themselves, although still heavier than their southern counterparts, and this set provides a good range of degrees of protection to reflect this very well.
As with clothing and armour, Spanish Christian warriors were influenced by their Muslim neighbours in matters of weaponry, and here too this set is an authentic reproduction. Many in this set would be entirely familiar to Normans or Saxons of the day, with spears, axes bows and broad-swords. However in Spain javelins were more common than further north, as were slings and crossbows; the latter may have outnumbered the bow as the main infantry missile weapon. All these weapons are represented here, and naturally they are held by the lighter figures. The shields too are a good mix, with both the fashionable kite-shape found elsewhere and the simpler round shield, which remained popular in Spain longer than in the rest of Europe and was still common in the late 11th century. One slinger carries a very small shield, which is quite correct although one might wonder at how useful this would have been.
There is very little to criticise about the poses to be found in this set. As choices all are realistic and fairly typical of soldiers of the day, although a few do suffer from the very common problem of being slightly flat. For example, the man apparently resting his spear on his chest, or the man with his sword almost directly over his head, but this is a problem generally only resolved by multi-part figures, and as there is no assembly for any of these figures they have been realised about as well as could be expected. With the impressively wide range of weapons comes the inevitable meagre number of poses for each one, but no pose here has been wasted nor are there any in a particularly unusual stance.
These are extremely attractive examples of figure sculpting, and will delight anyone interested in the battles of El Cid or late 11th century warfare in general. While there is some flash in a few places the figures are mostly clean and very well detailed with good definition and proportions. There are some particularly nice faces, even on figures that are not facing the mould, and the general feel of the set is of action.
The nature of warfare in the time of El Cid meant that cavalry was much the more important, with mounted raids being the most common, but infantry played their part on the larger campaigns, and particularly during the many sieges. This is an excellent group of figures for the followers of the Cid and the Christian Spanish armies in general, and while it attempts to cover a wide and diverse subject, and therefore cannot do so in great depth, for the number of poses it does a good job and looks good too.