If you’re into Czech action cinema you might already know Jan Žižka as the titular hero of the upcoming Jan Žižka film from director Petr Jákl – the man famous for films such as Pterodactyl and Born Into Shit. If you’re not, lemme walk you through this trio of classic 1988 Citadel Miniatures.
Left to right: Taborite Infantryman, Jan Žižka and Teutonic Knight.
Who are these miniatures? Welcome to my history lesson. A wise man once said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” And I don’t want you, dear reader, to be doomed to fighting in a series of 15th century Eastern European wars.
Teutonic Knight (1412)
The Teutonic Knight was, for many years, the Holy Grail for Blandford Warrior collectors. Wargames Foundry had quietly reissued the other eleven Blandford Warriors across a couple of blister packs, making Teutonic Knight the one you had to hunt for as an original 1980s Citadel Minaitures release. Luckily they brought him back in to production at Bring Out Your Lead 2017, so we johnny-come-latelies can be completists.
A literal white knight.
Teutonic knight attacked by Lithuanian horse-archers at the Battle of Tannenberg, 1410.
At the start of the 15th century the Teutonic Grand Order had turned its crusading ire on the Baltic peoples, and invaded Greater Poland. Against these Catholic invaders the Kingdom of Poland allied with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and crushed them at the Battle of Tannenburg in 1410. A certain man was (probably) at that battle, and (maybe) got his left eye stabbed out of his face by the knights. This man was …
The cover star of the Medieval Warlords book. The Medieval Warlord. Angus McBride paints two colour pictures of him while medieval warlord Gaiseric, with his own whole chapter, gets none! Jan Žižka is sculpted as he would have appeared in 1423, after he lost his right eye to an arrow while besieging the castle of Rábí, and holding the famous fist-shaped mace he used in battle despite being totally blind.
“No one’s ever really disabled so long as he has courage.” – Chip Chase
Jan Žižka enters Prague with his Orebite Warriors, 1421.
Jan Žižka was one of the greatest military leaders of all time. He was never defeated in battle. He invented the war wagon – the earliest form of tank warfare. He stood against the power of the Catholic Church and served as an inspiration for the Reformation a century later. After he died he asked to be flayed and have his skin used as a drum so he could continue to lead his followers into battle. What more can a man achieve in his life? (Fighting a Pterodactlyl?)
Who did Jan Žižka lead into battle? It was people like…
The Pope as the antichrist, attended by a large number of whores. The Pope celebrating mass, served by the devil, while an entourage of demons stand around the altar. These vivid religiously-charged images were served up by the Taborites, unhappy with the corruption of the medieval Catholic church, and wanting to spread their ideas to the illiterate peasant masses. For battle they decorated their shields similarly, like this tiny peasant behind earthworks squaring up to the Catholic knight – presumably evoking a David-and-Goliath narrative with the peasant’s sling and relative size of the combatants.
The shield design is based on the design of a surviving pavise at the National Museum of Prague.
Taborite war wagons await the attack of Sigismund’s Hungarian horsemen, outside Kutna Hora, 1421, Eastern Bohemia.
The Taborites were named after their fortified city in Bohemia, which was in turn named after the Mount Tabor of Biblical fame. They were a radical sub-faction of the larger anti-Catholic movement, the medieval equivalent of anarcho-communists who wanted to share everything they had – to the point where they even practised free love. Jan Žižka led them into battle numerous times against the Emperor Sigismund, but eventually found their theology (and perhaps their free love) too radical, and he parted ways to found the less hardline Oberite faction.
That’s seven of the twelve Blandford Warriors painted. I almost included Vlad Dracula with this lot, as he was a member of the Ordo Draconis that Emperor Sigismund founded to stamp on people like Jan Žižka. At times like this I love history; it’s like the Marvel Cinematic Universe – a shared reality with potential for crossover events.
Coming soon to Ninjabread – Big Trouble in Little Tang Dynasty.