May 29, 2013
Second son of the William Fiennes, the 1st Viscount Saye and Sele, Nathaniel had a mixed war on the Parliament side. He was elected MP for Banbury in 1640 and took part in several actions early on and fighting with distinction at Edgehill. Later he found himself embroiled in a political argument following his surrender of Bristol to Prince Rupert’s forces in 1643. He made a spirited defence of his actions for which he was really not at all at fault, but following this he retired from public life for the rest of the first civil war. This rather splendid portrait was painted during the war by Michiel Jansz van Miereveldt and hangs still in the Great Hall of Broughton Castle near Banbury, the ancestral home of the Fiennes family and is copyright Martin Fiennes.
Nathaniel wears clothes that at first sight are understated but if you look closely it’s real quality stuff. The sleeves and skirt of his buff coat are officer thickness. I’ve seen surviving ordinary trooper’s versions and the leather is much thinner. Pay close attention also to the scalloped edges on the over sleeves. His orange parliamentarian scarf is silk, and decorated with a thin stripe of silver thread embroidery. His falling band has been and tied down for action with the bandstrings, but notice the detail on the tassels. That’s not simple work either. The lace on his band is matched with his cuffs. His breast plate and righthand gauntlet are decorated with gilt rivets as is the helmet hanging beside him. Last but not least, his sword is a serviceable mortuary hilt rather than a rapier, but the handle is wrapped with gold wire.
Update. There are, as pointed out by two commenters, a set of tassets or leg protectors peeping out from below his buffcoat at the very bottom of the portrait. This makes no sense at all, you could never sit on a horse as Nathaniel would have done with armour that reached so low. Perhaps the artist began the picture with full armour, in common with a lot of military portraits of the age and for whatever reason changed to a picture that was more representative of what was worn on the battlefield, but omitted to paint out the leg armour?
January 3, 2013
From the second page of illustrations, two scenes from what became known as the Bishop’s War. The first shows a bunch of soldiers in classic anti-episcopalian action, tearing down altar rails and removing pictures. Strange to think that this army was supposed to be fighting for the new prayerbook and Charles’ ideas of religious reform which included the very things being attacked here. Perhaps it should have made him think his ideas were a tad unpopular? Anyway, these soldiers are well dressed as far as I can tell, slashed sleeves, laced bands and hat plumes are all in evidence here, though the guy with the axe and his colleague stealing the silver from the altar are more simply dressed.
A classic view of the two armies Scots and English meeting. It wasn’t as cordial as the picture may have you believe, a battle was fought at Newburn which the Scots won, leading to a truce in lieu of a peace treaty for which Charles had to summon the Long Parliament to raise the necessary taxes. A few evident details of soldier’s coats and breeches and a smattering of morion helmets worn by the musketeers of both sides.
February 27, 2012
……for foote companies, by Captaine Lazarus Howard of Ailsford in Kent. This is the picture on the front page of Captaine Howard’s pamphlet, printed in London, 1645. The musketeer has a plain square cut coat and close fitting breeches with a pot helmet, falling band (darted). He may have been a dragoon as he wears long boots with spurs and boothose. All the accoutrements of a musketeer are present, and a nice example of a matchlock musket.
February 14, 2012
Etched by Hollar in 1644. I can find no information about Henry, but he seems pretty well-to-do in gorget and buff coat with a rather splendid full face helm on the table. Plain falling band and a simple baldrick. Note the small buckle.
January 13, 2012
by Richard Elton in three volumes. Published in originally in 1650, this is the frontispiece to the 1668 edition, though the clothes worn by the soldiers look much more contemporary to the Civil War or even slightly earlier.
The Musketeer has a nice lacy falling band and showy rosettes lacing up his shoes, a square cut coat with decorative shoulder wings and tightly cut breeches.
The Pikeman is in full armour with a collar ruff, breeches tied below the knee and bows on his shoes. Looks a bit more 1630s than 1660s to my eyes.
January 12, 2012
by Captaine Henry Hexham, quartermaster to Colonel Goring. This was printed in the Netherlands and has a lot to say about drill and disposition of troops. There are some nice plated demonstrating pike and musket drill, this one showing various postures for musketeers. At first sight this looks very English.
However, if you look closely the original Dutch captions become obvious. Not a million miles from what they would be wearing in England, but not English soldiers this time sadly.
January 5, 2012
…of the the manner of his Majesties setting up of his Standard at Nottingham on Monday the 22 of August 1642. In picture at least. A five page booklet lamenting the event that was to pressage the start of hostilities in the first Civil War. I don’t think the King’s standard ever carried his picture as shown here and the text describes in another way, which is most probably not what it looked like either:
“…it is much of the fashion of the City streamers used at the Lord Mayor’s show, having about 20 supporters, and is to be carried after the same way. On the top of it hangs a bloudy flag, the King’s armes quartered, with a hand pointing to the Crowne, which stands above with this motto: Give Caesar his due”
It seems to have been a well attended event with three troops of horse, five hundred foot soldiers and ‘diverse Lords and Gentlemen of His Majesties train’.
Lots of helmets worn by those foot soldiers if this picture is anything to go by, though as we have seen it’s not really an accurate source!