The 15th century saw much progress towards the map of Europe that we know today, with several modern states becoming more recognisable at this time. However Burgundy, although an important state for much of the century, was destined not to be one of them. Before the death of the last Duke in 1477 and the effective absorption of the dukedom into France, Burgundy prospered and was the first in Western Europe to introduce something akin to a standing army. However Duke Charles the Bold was not impressed with the quality of his own citizen infantry, and so hired large numbers of mercenaries, especially Italians, to form the core of his foot soldiers. Yet in terms of weaponry and tactics Burgundian armies were not so different to those of other states, and this set from RedBox is something of a part-work depicting some of those infantry and knights on foot.
Although the title mentions knights there does not seem to be much here that looks like a knight to us. Knights were generally mounted, but of course the nature of warfare by this time meant they often had to fight on foot. They would still have worn the incredible plate armours, but none of these figures would seem to have such a complete suit, although clothing could and was sometimes worn on top, and not all knights could afford the best white armour. Nevertheless these look to us more like well-armoured infantry, as all have a helmet and many have other armour visible, particularly on the arms and legs. The body is mostly covered by a coat, sometimes quite elaborate, onto which the cross of St Andrew, the Burgundian field sign, is clearly seen on some. Certainly there is evidence of a mail hauberk beneath the clothing on some, but some may have no more than padded fabric clothing instead. Four of the figures have a small banner attached to their helmet; this seems to have been a squadron recognition device carried by what might be called section leaders (see review of first set), and so by no means common to all knights. Luckily it is easily trimmed off so not a problem.
Most of the poses carry what is a fairly short pike. The total length here is 46mm, which equates to about 3.3 metres, which is really much too short for the day. Even the Swiss had pikes four metres or more in length, and after contact with the Burgundians they lengthened theirs to more like five or almost six metres. We could find no reason why the pikes are so short in this set. The third row shows different weapons. On the left is a rather old-fashioned-looking weapon with a forked head, and that on the right appears to be a plancon à broche, again rather old-fashioned, certainly by the later part of the century. Each man also has a small round buckler shield attached to his belt. Such shields were certainly in use at the time, but there is some evidence that bucklers were not particularly popular with much of the infantry, so having every man here with one is possibly overstating their usage.
Sculpting as usual is very nice, with the kind of sharp detail and good proportions we would expect. Inevitably there is some excess plastic between pike and man as all come as a single piece, but there is little flash. The pikes are being held in various ways, all of which are legitimate, so we had no problems with any of the poses, all of which seemed natural.
Ducal regulations in the last years of the Duchy stated the infantry was only to be armoured on the right arm – the left was to be left to hold the shield, but no one here seems to be following this rule. Also the men of the Ordinance (i.e. the regulars) were instructed to wear blue and white plumes as a recognition sign, but again no one here has plumes. That plus the old-fashioned weapons makes us see these figures are more for the earlier part of the century than the final years under Charles, although as always such attempts at precise dating are fraught with dangers.
As with any part work there is much that is missing from each element. Here there are no crossbowmen, archers or gunners, but the pike remained an important weapon throughout the period so plenty will be needed. Our only real concern was the short length of the pikes, though that is an important issue, but otherwise the set provides some useful poses nicely sculpted and perfectly appropriate for the century for which it is intended.