Background image is Les Dernières Cartouches (The Last Cartridges) by Alphonse de Neuville

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Carlist Wars

Isabellino Infantry Command
I confess, to no one's surprise, that I'm a huge fan of the work of the Perry brothers, amazingly talented sculptors who produce an impressive range on historical wargaming figures for their own company, having previously worked for Games Workshop and Wargames Foundry.

One range I've been very tempted by, but so far resisted, is their line of figures for the First Carlist War. As far as I know, they are the only company that produce figures for this conflict, a post-Napoleonic civil war (1833-1839) between the national army (supporters of the liberalist, centrist government of Regent Maria Christina) and a rebel alliance (advocates of the pretender Carlos de Bourbon, a highly conservative member of the royal family with allies among Spain's autonomous regions of Catalonia and Euzkadi).

BAL Infantry Command
The Perrys' work never fails to impress, and this line is no exception. The Isabellino (loyalist) forces include government troops and their foreign allies--the British Auxilliary Legion (BAL) and the French Foreign Legion (FFL). This was the FFL's first taste of battle outside Algeria and was the end of the orginal Legion, as the French government turned it over to the Spanish, lock, stock, and barrel, and raised a new legion in its place some years later.

The Isabellino regulars include infantry, artillery,
heavy cavalry, and lancers. BAL forces include line infantry, riflemen, lancers, and British Royal Marines. FFL troops include infantry, artillery, and Polish lancers.

Don Carlos and His Generals
The Carlist list includes a large number of civilian figures, both Carlist militia/volunteers, noncombatants, and armed clergy. Their troops also include Navarrese Guides, Valencian Volunteers, and most of the troops wear the Basque bonnet (rather like a large tam-o-shanter).

I was reminded of this line by two recent events, wholly unconnected. One was my reading a trilogy of short historical novels set in Spain immediately
Carlist Infantry
before the war. Another is the current standoff between the Catalonian government and the Spanish central government over the former's desire to hold a referendum on whether to form an independent country. Interestingly, though the current political climate puts the movement for Catalonian separatism at the liberal end of Spain's political spectrum, Catalonia, Navarre, Euzkadi (the Basque country) and other regions favoured the Carlist rebels in the 19th century because that highly reactionary faction promised to retain their ancient separatist privileges, while the liberal, modernist central government took the position that Spainish unity should be preserved so that government and social reforms could be applied throughout the country.

I am still resisting the temptation to dive into the First Carlist War with both feet, though I did pick up the excellent book produced on the conflict by Conrad Cairns and sold by the Perrys (and other outlets).

Armed Priests
To make things even more difficult, the excellent Warmodelling (a Spanish miniatures company) also does the Carlist War, in their case in 15mm rather than the Perrys' 28mm. Very handsome figures there, too, though.

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