Continuing my Wars of the Roses revision, I have decided to overhaul the painting-scheme and make it far more organised. Research into the different colours used for various nobles' retinues has been awkward, as I've only found isolated snippets of data here and there. The only book I think is of potential use is the Osprey guide to the wars, but it is currently listed as out of stock on their website. The whole thing is complicated a little more by the fact that records are incomplete and far from reliable, so it may just be wrong to start with! No matter, I suppose - I am going to press on as best as I'm able.
I have been pondering my basing system, and for a bit I was tempted to mix up the bases a little, with the figures displaying a more 'mixed' set-up within a base. I pondered putting an armoured Captain in the middle to represent the relevant Noble in charge, surround him with about 2 or 3 figures in livery to represent his retinue, and then complete the base with around six or seven local levies surrounding them, as the men the noble had brought along through his Commission of Array. I'm not entirely decided however, and may opt for a straight interpretation and just have ten archers on a base for a force of longbowmen, for example. As I am keeping the individual basing system, I suppose I can pick and choose as I want.
For all the attention, the liveried retainers will be making up only around half of the force I paint. They seem to have made up potentially far more of a historical force, but nobody seems really sure of just how much or what they would've looked like. As the retinues are the focal points of the armies I shall be giving them increased prominence for gaming and practical reasons. Leaders shall be individually based, and I have the notion of attaching the leader figures (possibly with an accompanying man holding their personal standard) to whichever base I want to mark as containing a Ward Commander.
So, who to do? The campaign game I'm planning on using (Columbia Games' Richard III) has counters for a grand total of 32 magnates of various rank, so it is impossible for me to represent each one with a dedicated stand! However, 32 nobles doesn't mean 32 different liveries, thankfully. Colour-combinations were limited, and a few well-chosen livery colours seem able to represent several nobles - once fielded and given a banner, the plastic figures should be able to represent everybody with passable accuracy. After researching about on the internet and plundering the books on the period I do own, I have managed to get colours for many of the nobles and made an educated guess for the remainder (basically I usually go for the two most prominent colours on their personal heraldry, and this seems to be a generally accepted 'guesstimate' in use by others, as well!) My resulting break-down of colours is as follows:
Blue & Red (or Blue & Murrey) can represent March, Gloucester, Clarence, Rutland, Hastings, & Herbert. It is also handy through most of the period as the default 'Yorkist' colour-scheme.
Blue & White can represent Henry VI, York, Somerset, Stanley & Fauconberg. It can also serve as the default 'Lancastrian' colour-scheme as it covers both Somerset and the king himself.
Black & Red can represent Buckingham, Northumberland, Shrewsbury, and Prince Edward. A good one for the Percy family, should a bit of the Percy-Neville feud turn up on the field.
Green & White can represent Richmond, Rivers & Pembroke. (Henry VII's colours, basically.)
Blue & Yellow can represent Norfolk, Suffolk, Beaumont & Wiltshire.
Red can represent Warwick & Oxford (Kingmaker Warwick himself.)
Red & Yellow can represent Devon, Salisbury, Arundel, Worcester & Clifford (quite a popular colour-scheme on coats of arms, it appears! Correspondingly, it turns up a lot on liveries when I indulge in guess-work.)
Red & White can represent Exeter, Essex & Westmoreland.
Through the number of nobles that could use the colours, plus the general usefulness of each, I have weighted the number of bases I will paint with each. The initial plan from my calculation is:
4 Blue & Red/Murrey bases
3 Blue & White bases
2 Black & Red bases
1 Green & White base
2 Blue & Yellow bases
2 Red bases
2 Red & Yellow bases
1 Red & White base
15 un-liveried bases. Mostly Commission of Array Levy bases, but also includes 4 'Dismounted Nobles' bases (in the typical 'white armour' of the day, with no specific markings, and therefore interchangeable with no difficulty.)
I'm sure I've got some errors and false assumptions in there, but I believe the plan is a good starting point. I hope the explanation of how I've worked out the markings for maximum flexibility is of interest to other gamers out there struggling with the same problems as me!