Sunday, January 23, 2022

13th century Mangonel


Thought to be designed by the chinese and moved west by the 6th century the Mangonel was used widely as a siege engine across europe and asia. The engine was simple to build leverage system and used pulleys and ropes to launch the rocks or rock at the enemy walls, some drawings exist of a torsion type rope system with a pin which would create more energy to release stones further. The Mangonel was replaced by the trebuchet by the middle of the 13th century when stone tower and wall fortifications became the norm for fortifications in the middle east and europe.

I am not certain where the Mangonel comes from but the crew are Mirliton 13th century figures with with new arms. I am intending adding twisted wire or cord at some stage when I get back into 13th century medieval later in the year.



Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Gallic Chieftain Virdovix,

 Doomed Gallic Chieftain Virdovix 

Victrix chieftain Virdovix

I have painted the plastic Victrix gaul to represent the Gallic Chieftain Virdovix, he lead the Uenelli, Aulerci and Lexovii federated tribes (all local western tribes in cotentin peninsula and Normandy) in rebellion against the Romans incursions in 57BC and 56BC.

Three Roman legions lead by Quintus Titurius Sabinus campaigned in the peninsula in 56BC to put down the local uprisings by the Uenelli, Lexovii and Aulerci Federations after they had removed their tribal senators and rebelled against Caesars treaty. Sabinus then built a 3 legion encampment at Petit-Celland (close to modern Avranches) to control the area overlooking the Vire valley.

Virdovix, wth his federated army besieges the Romans but Sabinus refuses to be drawn to battle, the gauls daily taunting his cowardice for several days trying to draw him out to fight them.

Sabinus deceives the gauls that he was departing the encampment by sending a gallic auxiliary deserter to convince theVirdovix that the majority of the Roman army was in fear, had low morale were lacking in food and were deserting. Sabinus was withdrawing the following morning early to join Caesar in the south who was fighting the Veneti ( Nantes). Sabinus however places one legion at each gate in along with auxiliary cavalry.

The following morning the Roman commence the apparent departure and the gallic assault commences, Sabinus coordinates the two other legions departing from the encampments other gates to assault the flanks and the rear of the gallic attackers by the auxiliary cavalry. Many of the Gauls were killed pressed between the fortifications and the Roman legions on each flank. The Auxiliary cavalry follow up the fleeing gauls turning it into a slaughter, Virdovix is killed in the fighting at the battle of Vernix and the tribes sue for peace.


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Star Wars Sith Scimitar

Star Wars Sith Infiltrator

The Scimitar, also known as the Sith Infiltrator, was a heavily modified Star Courier and the personal starship of Darth Maul. Along with its deadly armament, the Scimitar was equipped with a cloaking device, powered by rare stygium crystals from the planet Aeten II, that allowed it to disappear from view and any pursuing ship's sensors. Owing to the craft's experimental ion engines, which were of questionable design radiator fins on the ship's wings were required to be open during flight in order to expel excess heat.

 The kit is Revell 1/285th scale so it fits two other models they make, I will use it for my own Galactic space rules I use. It was simple build, a quick airbrush and paintbrush job with a oil filter. 

Another entry for the analogue painting challenge




Monday, January 3, 2022

Western Gaul - Lyonnaise under late Roman Governance

The Fall of Lyonnaise 

I sometimes while on holidays turn to researching for the following years projects or just catch up on interesting articles primarily early medieval. As I have a French Academia membership I regularly come across articles and papers during the year which I save and then read during my holiday breaks. One of those papers sparked my interest whilst in transit to Australia into completing this document I have been putting together over the last three years to help me understand the western region where I live during the collapse of the western Roman empire. 

Western Gaul under Late Roman governance 

 The Lyonnaise was divided into:
  • Lyonnaise premier (Saône and Allier valleys), capital Lugdunum, (Lyon)
  • Lyonnaise second (present-day Normandy), Rotomagus capital, (Rouen)
  • Lyonnaise third (mainland Brittany, Maine, Anjou and Touraine), capital Caesarodunum (Tours).
  • Lyonnaise fourth or Sénonaise (Orléanais, south of Ile de France, Sénonais), capital Agendicum (Sens),

Lyonnaise Troisieme

Western Gaul where I live was named the Lyonnaise Troisième with its capital in Tours, it was subdivided into eight cities corresponding as many administrative centers based around or close to the ancient gallic tribal capitals of the first century: Vorgium (modern Carhaix ) for Osismes,  Fanum Martis (modern Corseul) for Coriosolites,  Darioritum (modern Vannes) for Venetes,  Condate Riedonum (modern Rennes) for Riédons,   Noviodunum (modern Jublains) for Aulerci Diablintes,  Vindinum ( modern Le Mans ) for the Aulerci Cenomans,  Juliomagus (modern Angers) for the Andecaves and Condevicnum (modern Nantes)  for the Namnetes.

Troops stationed in the West
A valuable document for the researcher is the Notitia Dignitatum, datable between the end of the 5th and the beginning of 6th century, it indicates the presence of a number of army units and foederati german, sarmatian and Alan tribes posted in the west : 

Saxon Shore
The following tribunes and prefects along with their units are listed as being under the command of the Duke of the Armorican and Nervican Tract (the numbers in front of the names refer to Ingo Maier's numbering scheme): Some units were broken into smaller detachments of both cavalry and infantry and spread across Normandy and Brittany coastline, predominantly placed into forts to protect the ports from Saxon and Frank raids. Made up originally by Limitani until the mid 4th century then Foederati troops sometimes pulled together forming a legion of pseudo-Abrincaturi (border troops) I have tried to place the troops as correctly as modern discussion agrees, but it deserves a whole article to be more thorough.

i. Tribunus cohortis primae novae Armoricanae, at Grannona (granville) in litore Saxonio (saxon shore) (Tribune)

i.2 Praefectus militum Garronentium, at Blabia (Hennebont port, Brittany) 


ii. Praefectus militum Maurorum Benetorum, at Benetis (Vannes Port, Brittany) Milites Maurorum Benetorum? (sailors see Roman Navy below theory)


iii. Praefectus militum Maurorum Osismiacorum, at Osismis (Brest, Brittany). (see naval theory below


iv. Praefectus militum superventorum, at Mannatias (Nantes, Brittany) Legio Superventores Iuniores


v. Praefectus militum Martentium, at Aleto (Aleth, St Malo Brittany) Martenses



vi. Praefectus militum prima Flavia, at Constantia (Coutances Port, Normandy) Prima Flavia Gallicana Constancia (I Flavia seems to have stationed at Coutances from 296 to 400)


vii. Praefectus militum Ursarientium, at Rotomago (Rouen, Normandy) Ursarienses 

viii Praefectus militum Dalmatarum, at Abrincatis (Avranches, Normandy) May of been a mixed unit of cavalry and infantry?



ix. Praefectus militum Grannonentium, at Grannono (Granville, Normandy)



x. Although not mentioned in the Notitia, the port of Gesoriacum or Bononia (Boulogne-sur-Mer, Bayeux port), which until 296 was the main base of the Legio Classis Britannica and later Batavi Iuniores Laeti. 

Foederati Units

The following units are listed as being with the Master of Horse in his Gallic command; the numbers in front of the names refer to Ingo Maier's numbering scheme):

Laeti - Foederati Sarmations
  1. Praefectus Sarmatarum gentilium, in the Rodunensem et Alaunorum (Rennes-St Malo)
  2. Praefectus Sarmatarum gentilium, at Allones (south of Le Mans)

Laeti- Foederati German

  1. Praefectus laetorum gentilium Suevorum, [.missing] 
  2. Ceromannos (Le Mans) in Lugdunensis tertiae
  3.  Praefectus laetorum Francorum, at Redonas (Rennes) in Lugdensis tertiae

Roman navy

The Roman navy is really hard to pin down to any units based in the west, which considering the trade and the piracy of the saxon shore is confusing, plus the navigable rivers of the Loire, Seine, l'Orne and Villane rivers. This suggests that in large parts of the late Roman empire where naval commands would be anticipated, no classes or barcarii commands are recorded, whereas both archaeological evidence and contemporaneous historical sources suggest a late Roman naval presence that was larger than that documented by the Notitia . Two well known examples are attested on the Rhine and Danube.

This is where the Milites hypothesis rises, so the units listed above as Milites are actually sea or riverine units. This solves a number of challenges why no shield pattern for the Milites Maurorum Benetorum based at Benetis (Vannes).

This leaves the late Roman navy with three types of commands Classis , Barcarii and Milites (theory) in the Notitia Dignitatum and not two as currently believed. 

Therefore, the late Roman navy consisted of eighty units rather than the currently accepted twenty commands, which suggests that the Roman navy was a substantially larger and more significant asset than currently understood. (perhaps another article here too.)

Fortified Centres

The cities of Vannes, Rennes, Le Mans, Angers and Nantes belong to a first category of town centers, which are equipped with enclosures whose enclosed area varies between 5 and 18 ha in response to the Germanic invasions. None of them is certainly dated, but they can be located in all likelihood, between the last quarter of 3rd century and the middle of the 4th  century. In the best documented archaeological cases - Angers (275-6), Rennes (275AD) , Le Mans (268-9), there is an urban abandonment which begins as early as the end of 2nd century, while that on the contrary some neighborhoods remain outside the walled centres and persist until the middle of 4th century. 

Rennes Roman walls

Le Mans famous Roman walls 

To the second category are attached the capital cities without city walls, namely Noviodunum (Jublains -Diablintes, Mayenne),  Fanum Martis (Corseul - Coriosolites, Brittany) and  Vorgium (Carhaix-Osismes, Brittany) 


The case of Jublains is the simplest: The city was historically not in the Diablintes capital location (which was 13klm west at modern Moulay on the Mayenne River ) and was declared the capital of the tribe in the late 1st century due to the tribes constant rebellion to Roman rule. The city by the 2nd century was in decline because of the water shortage being not based on a river for a reliable water source, nor for trade down into the Loire using the river systems (as the other capitals are). In the late 3rd century is an imposing stone fortification on the southwestern outskirts of the then city. The “fortified complex” of Jublains is a building surrounded by two concentric enclosures: a Central Building is organized around an impluvium and has four towers at the corners which give it the shape of an H. The first enclosure consists of a Vallum, a levee bank probably surmounted by a palisade and preceded by a ditch now filled. The outer enclosure is made of stones and bricks; it has numerous circular and U-shaped towers, projecting externally from the curtain walls 

The nature of the fortress is not in doubt: it is an attic of Annone  well located in the center of an important starred road junction towards which converged four lanes coming from the coast of the Channel and three roads which linked it to Le Mans, Rennes and Angers, that is to say to the Atlantic coast.  Its purpose however remains unclear, possibly it was as a tax store for grain and livestock, plus a way station for officials and military units. A full time barracks was possible as it has its own baths, stables and the central castrum but of no more than a cohort in size as no structures exist for larger long term barrack rooms and no references to any units being posted there currently exist. The Jublains urban area in turn is gradually neglected neighborhoods between the end of 2nd century and 4th century. The city retains its position as city chief town until the early days of the 5th century, when its territory was attached to that of the city of Le Mans. No bishop is mentioned there, but an occupation persists there however until the invasion of the Franks and the Diablintes capital is moved back west to modern Ville Mayenne, on the Mayenne river by Chlothar I in the mid 6th century.

Jublains Roman Fortress


The cities of Carhaix and Corseul also have several common features to Jublians, since they experience urban withering past the mid 4th century and are not built in the original oppidum sites of the gallic tribal capitals.  Also they were not provided with an defensive enclosure, and where milestones that led to their medieval occupation also remain poorly known . Added to this is the fact that a transfer of the capital has often been considered from the first to the castellum identified in Brest under the name of Osismis and the second to the fortified site of Aletumin (Saint-Malo).  We note in any case, around the year 1000, when the textual sources reappear, that the osism and coriosolite area is now divided into six bishoprics: Quimper, Saint-Pol-de-Léon, Tréguier, Saint-Brieuc, Alet in Saint-Malo and Dol and the former cities of Carhaix and Corseul have lost their importance.

Minor Cities

In Quimper, a city was founded sometime in the first two decades of the 1st Century AD, the desertion of several neighborhoods and is effective as of the last quarter of 3rd century, but it lingers on as a regional centre until revitalisation in the 7th century. 

In Carie (Entrammes, south of the modern regional capital Laval, Mayenne department)  had the urbanized outskirts of the ancient city, with baths, temple and theatre which was largely abandoned at the beginning of the third century (due to destruction), but poorly characterized occupation was however still functional in the second half of 4th Century. Roman Port facilities on the Mayenne river, a bridge over the Mayenne river , and was a road junction west to Rennes, east to le Mans and Tours,  and south to Nantes and Angers seen it as an important crossroads in this period helping it linger until the early middle ages. 

Three of these sites, a little better documented, illustrate the impossibility of deciding between continuity and discontinuity, that is to say reinvestment of the same place after a hiatus. The first is that of Brest (Finistère) among the Osismes. In this city, seriously remodeled after the Second World War, the hypothesis of a Roman agglomeration is little supported, but the site is however characterized by the construction of a fort which occupies a promontory overlooking the mouth of the river Penfeld. Partly preserved at the base of the town's medieval castle - now the maritime prefecture - it takes the form of a trapezoid, with a curtain built in regular courses of rubble which alternate, on the external face, with rows of bricks. Its thickness could be estimated at 4.50 m in the south and at 3, 50 m to the north and its course is, it seems, regularly punctuated by circular towers. If we admit the last restitution to date, this enclosure would encompass 1.74 ha. For a long time, we wanted to recognize the Osismis in which the Notitia Dignitatum (XXXVII) situates a body of Mauri osismiacori from the Tractus Armoricani and Nervicani , but the fact is not firmly assured. This work can probably be considered as a military fortification, of which we know other examples, of larger scale however, on the coast at Yaudet (Côtes-d'Armor) and Alet (Saint-Malo) (see below ). It can be surely dated (the late 4th century about 360-370?) And its fate is unknown. We only have a Life of Saint Gouesnou , written at the beginning of the 11th century who brings back the memory of the existence in Brest of an ancient city to then indicate that it “has almost ceased to be a city and bears the name of Brest-sur-la-Chevrette ( Bresta super Caprellam ).

In Alet, in the modern town of Saint-Malo, the former capital city of Coriosolites, the development is quite similar. Starting from an oppidum of the late bronze age an agglomeration is attested there in the High Empire, the importance of which was undoubtedly underestimated and often reduced to its port on the edge of the ocean. An enclosure encompassing 14 ha was then built there around 270-275 and at least one new district built within it. Part of the latter is then destroyed by the construction of principia , around 365-375 AD, while, at the same time, more or less, a small fort was built on a rock protecting the port area. These last two developments were rightly compared to the mention of a military prefect commanding at Aletum.a troop of Martenses soldiers as part of the Tractus Armoricani and Nervicani ( Notitia Dignitatum , XXXVII). Subsequently, an agglomeration remains, attested items of homes and furniture as well as the location of Principia , a church 'tau Loïc Langouët ' was in the first half of the dated to 6th- 7th century.

In the town of Sainte-Gemmes-le-Robert (Mayenne), the fortress of Rubricaire, partially excavated in 19th and early 20th  century, dominates the Laval basin. It takes the form of a quadrangular enclosure of about forty meters on a side, of which an angle walls perceived inside have been interpreted as the remains of barracks, but the fact is uncertain, while small contemporary thermal baths (90 m 2 ) were unearthed outside. This set, attributable to late Antiquity without further clarification, was interpreted as a military fortress of the quadriburgium type.  possibly built in the late 3rd century, but the plan view is too incomplete to allow us to be more affirmative. 

Sainte-Gemmes-le-Robert (Mayenne)

Although the archaeological record remains thin, the combination of available information also enables excluded to date, as in the capitals of city, the existence of violent destruction between 3rd  and 4th century is likely to be attributed to the Bagaudae, to the actions of Saxon and Frankish "pirates" or to incursions by various "barbarian" peoples from across the Rhine such as the Goths, Huns or Alans in the late 4th and mid 5th century.

Public Facilities

Regarding public facilities, there is little information outside the places of worship. The sanctuary of Mauves-sur-Loire (Loire-Atlantique) is definitively abandoned sometime in the second half of 4th century, like that of Allonnes (Sarthe), while others like that of Aubigné-Racan (Sarthe), with its baths, market and theater, are dismantled in the last quarter of 3rd century and the temple in central plan Oisseau-le-Petit (Sarthe) is re-used for secular purposes in early 4th century.  But these examples should possibly be interpreted as signs of changes in religious practice and not as signs of urban disaffection because of excessive taxation.

Oisseau-le-Petit sanctuary

The Christian church

All of the cities are to become nominally christian following a movement that seems to take place from west to east between the second half of the 4th century and the first half of the  5th century. Dateable bishopric seats include, Angers 372, Rennes 453, and Le Mans 348.

For the bishopric of Le Mans, covering a large part of Mayenne and all of Sarthe, potential attributions are also rare. In the first department, besides Bais and Jublains, we can only consider as possible the single case of Javron-les-Chapelles (Gavaronno)  where several sarcophagi were unearthed around the church and which was the seat of the condita Gabronensis monastery founded in 460. 

In modern Pays de la Loire, a few other vici are reported by Grégoire de Tours. Two of them are anonymous, which obviously makes it impossible to locate them with precision. The first is noted among the Cenomans for miracles operated on the relics of Saint George. The other, located in the territory of Nantes and on the banks of the Loire, is cited in connection with a basilica housing the relics of Saint Nazaire. The relationship with the town of Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique) is quite probable , with the support of some ancient discoveries attributable to the early Middle Ages.

In the 6th century the ecclesiastical province of Tours comes under the Frankish kingdom which will later take the name of Neustria, and includes, in addition to Touraine, the five bishoprics of Vannes, Rennes, Nantes, Angers and Le Mans. The Bretons who occupied the west of the Armorican peninsula maintained good relations with the Franks, until the death of Childebert in 558, following which many conflicts were mentioned by Grégoire de Tours until the end of the century.

Decline of city centres

It seems that some of the most western cities cut themselves off from imperial power for the first time in 409, according to the Byzantine chronicler Zosime. Subsequently, several uprisings with interspersed repressions took place until the middle of 5th century from which the cities of Vorgium (Osismii) and Fanum Martis (Coriosolites) gradually became totally independent. Both of the former Roman territories while experiencing an influx of refugees composed of insular Britons, arriving especially to 5th and 6th centuries from pressure of the situation in Britannia.

The arrival of families and tribal germanic clans from the east is a continuation of a less massive movement that began at the end of 3rd Century and the 4th Century. In 418, while the kingdom of the Visigoths extended in Aquitaine up to the Loire river,  the territories located north of the river still seem to be controlled by official representatives of Rome, like Count Paul, of Lyonnaise who died in 469. during the siege of Angers by the Saxons. 

After the defeat of Syagrius, by Clovis at the battle of Soissons in 485 finally seen the collapse of Lyonnaise Troisième and the coming of Frankish rule for western France. Many of the cities remained but some as mentioned withered and were moved by the new masters of western Gaul.

hope you found that interesting


Ancients markers

Ancient Impetus Markers 

Impetus Markers

Another project completed last year. These markers were simple and have been sitting in my table to do’s pile for some time, the shields have been completed for a long time, all hand painted  except for the Roman one. I just needed to go upstairs sand the bases paint and glue them on.