Sergeants and Town Militia: My Pavisiers

In the Hundred Years War, at least during most parts of the Hundred Years War, the French depended on feudal levies to be called out when their regions were threatened or under attack.  Some of these were rich guys in armor and horseback (mounted men-at-arms) and their retainers (mounted sergeants.) But horses were expensive and not everyone could feed a horse let alone own one, so French nobility depended on foot troops too.  In Lion Rampant these dependable foot types are called sergeants.  They are generally foot spearmen, though they can be upgraded to a nastier version with pole arms.  Together with crossbowmen, these spearmen tended to be what was turned out to defend towns and cities, or to fill out the French king’s army when it took the field.

These French spearmen were often called pavisiers, due to their enormous shield, called a pavise.  These protected them from missile fire.  They also offered shelter to crossbowmen as they reloaded their cumbersome weapons in a sort of early combined arms arrangement.

I really like pavisiers.  They are a departure from the normal depiction of medieval warriors with their cute heater shields.  They also offer a larger canvas to paint heraldry.  Usually the shields show the coat of arms for the down or duchy from which they were raised and to whom they owed fealty.

Pavisiers 007

I’ve painted a couple of units the last few weeks.  The first is a unit of Perry pavisiers.  These are very nice figures.  If they have a problem, it is they represent troops from very late in the Hundred Years War, being from the Agincourt to Orleans range (1415-1430.) As a group they are pretty well armored for a batch of militia. Their shields carry the device for the city of Calais, which was an English bastion after 1347, but I liked the heraldic insignia, so don’t let it get out.

Very serviceable pavisiers offered by Old Glory with Perry pavises.  They are armed with the dangerous Northstar spears. They carry the colors of Boulogne.

Very serviceable pavisiers offered by Old Glory with Perry pavises. They are armed with the dangerous Northstar spears. They carry the colors of Boulogne.

The second group of spearmen are from Old Glory.  I actually used their shields for a different project, so had to replace them with Perry shields, which can be purchased separately. I used a pin vice to drill a hole in the back of the shield and glued the pin on the figure into the hole.  The pavises are perfect and are painted with the device from the channel port of Boulogne, a city that will figure prominently in one my of Enfilade scenarios.

The Lion Rampant rating of sergeant for these figures is, in my mind, problematic.  Sergeants may be necessary, but I think of them as the dismounted version of the mounted troop type.  They are reasonably well armored and trained and highly motivated.  I think of pavisiers as more the draftee type who would much rather be at home with the missus in front of the fire trying to figure out how to pay his hearth tax.  That being the case, consider adding this troop type I saw suggested on BoardGameGeek on the Lion Rampant forum.

Militia, 12 Models per unit, Cost 2 Points
Attack 7+, Attack value 6+
Move 5+, Defence Value 5+
Courage 4+, Maximum Movement 6”
Armour 2, Special Rules Schiltron

I’ve used this unit in a game, though it didn’t make much difference.  Give them something to defend and life is all good.

3 comments on “Sergeants and Town Militia: My Pavisiers

  1. Dean says:

    Fabulous heraldry on all of the pavises, Kevin. I love the swan coat of arms. Amazing work.

  2. kgsmyth55 says:

    Thanks Dean. For what it’s worth, I’ve tried several times to comment on your stuff recently, but I don’t think blogger likes my wordpress name. Your DeMolay figure is just amazing.

  3. Hololo says:

    Fireforge miniatures got he nice box of foot sergeant that could be converted into early hundred year wars pavisier

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