The late 15th and early 16th centuries in Europe were defined by near-constant warfare. National ‘standing armies’ were unheard of and the ambitions of empires were reliant on the mercenaries they could afford to hire.
Landsknechts were instigated by the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian I, as a reaction to the Swiss Mercenary Pikemen that had dominated battlefields for decades before the Italian Wars (1494-1559).
Over the course of the Italian Wars, however, the Landsknecht tactics adapted far more than the Swiss and the use of firearms in conjunction with the Pike would give them the edge, at least tactically.
The toughest of a rough bunch were the veteran Doppelsöldner – soldiers on double pay. Their extra payment was for volunteering to fight in the front ranks and the inherent risk that entailed. The trick was surviving to claim the extra pay!
Doppelsöldner would most often be armed with the ranged arquebus or crossbow and arrayed in front of the main blocks of Pikemen. Alternatively, they may be armed with the vicious six-foot-long two-handed swords, the Zweihänders. Zweihänder-armed Landsknechts would generally be found in the front ranks of the pike blocks or occasionally detached to form their own unit for special roles as well as providing protection for the unit’s colour party. The famous German mercenaries, the Black Band, included 2,000 two-handed swordsmen.
The Landsknechts, as well as other troops, made good use of the crossbow and then latterly the new arquebus black powder weapon as skirmish screens ahead of the blocks of Pikemen or as tactical units in their own right. They were equally useful during sieges.
This box set contains:
- 96 Plastic Landsknecht Pikemen with command options.
- 24 Plastic Landsknechts with Zweihänders
- 24 Plastic Landsknechts with crossbows or arquebus
- 4 Metal Officers.
- Metal Handbüchse light gun and crew.
- Full-colour flag sheet
- Plastic Bases