Royalist Command (Again)

After much prevarication I finally took the plunge and purchased the Steel Fist commanders packs to boost my command figures representations.

A gentle reminder that these figures are true 15mm sized; the names given but figure manufacturers and sculptors is 'nominal' at best, as they are too small to look definitively like portraits of the people that they are supposed to represent. Whilst some of the Steel Fist character figures do have more than a passing resemblance to portraiture, they can represent whomsoever you jolly well want them to be - very few will have any idea, and the few that do, probably don't have a magnifier with them. These figures are tiny.

With this in mind, I have picked my Fantasy Football League team of Royalist command figures...

Steel Fist list their Royalist command figures (pack ECWH 22) as King Charles I, George Digby Earl of Bristol, Sir Jacob Astley, officer with telescope, aide delivering message and standard bearer.

The standard bearer would come in handy as I depict 'senior' command with an ensign on a larger base. 

I had long thought that I needed to represent some other army commanders other than just Charles and Rupert. But first I needed to work out how much space there was in the storage boxes. I worked out that the boxes could accommodate two more 'senior command' stands and lots of 'normal' commanders.

Hopton and Maurice would be elevated to having senior command stands.

Prince Maurice and ensign

Prince Maurice is a Matchlock figure, the horse is a good match for Peter Pig horse, but the figure is a little plump. Looks okay but his helmet is massive in comparison. So I paired him with a Peter Pig cuirassier ensign from my spares box. As I had already utilised a conjectural Maurice Regiment of Horse cornet, I would need to come up with a cornet. Unlike his brother there is no banner associated with Maurice, I discovered a conjectural 'Maurice's lifeguard of horse' cornet which ticked my boxes so I have plumped for that one.

An all Steel Fist affair: Hopton and ensign

I already had a Hopton figure, but thought he needed jazzing up a bit. The SF pack contained a Charles I but I am very happy with my Charles I and did not want to change it. The SF Charles would be used to represent Hopton , and my 'old Hopton' would be repurposed. The 'new Hopton' would be paired with the ensign from the SF pack. A similar saga for a cornet as with Maurice - I've already used the recorded Hopton cornet for his Regiment of Horse, so came up on a bit of an impasse. Whilst there are two recorded cornets for Hopton's I decided to go with a plain red, fringed red and white cornet. I might reconsider this in the future and go with the 1646 Torrington cornet which bore the motto I will strive to serve my Sovereign King.

Sir Bevil Grenville

The 'old Hopton' would become Sir Bevil Grenville. Bevil had been MP for Cornwall (1621-1632) and was a fierce supporter of the crown. He raised a troop of horse for the Bishops' Wars, commanded much of the Cornish Trained Bands, and had been a member of the King's Bodyguard (for which he was knighted). In 1642 he raised a regiment of foot, and would endorse Hopton as commander of Royalist forces in the west. Bevil was a bold, fearless man leading his men from the front - at Braddock Down he led an uphill charge which probably won the day for the King; his rearguard stand at Sourton Down saved the King's army from destruction; his boldness and local knowledge would earn a famous victory at Stratton, ultimately leading to Parliament's men being driven from Cornwall. This attitude would be his undoing, at Lansdown he led the counter attack which would be his demise: his men took the hilltop but he would be die from his wounds after a halberd blow to the head.

Sir Bevil had a loyal bodyguard, Anthony Payne, known as the Cornish Giant, who was well over 7 feet tall. I suppose I could have represented him with an 18mm figure, but I chose not to. (I think Warlord Games make a Bevil Grenville and Payne pack, for those of you of the 28mm persuasion.)

Steel Fist Astley astride a Peter Pig mount

The SF pack contains Sir Jacob Astley, again I already had an Astley. 'Old Astley' would be repurposed, and the SF figure would become 'new Astley'.


'Old Astley' would become Spencer Compton, Earl of Northampton with a minor repaint - I'd never been particularly happy with this figure, I thought he looked a bit too much like a cowboy, but with a change of colour scheme he looks much more appropriate.

Spencer Compton was a great friend of Charles I, then the Prince of Wales and would be one of two bearers of his ceremonial train at his coronation.

He commanded the Royalist forces against Gell's Parliamentarians at Hopton Heath; routing the Parliamentarian cavalry and capturing eight pieces of artillery. Just as victory seemed assured, his arrogance got the better of him: he found himself too far forward, isolated and surrounded, and to make matters worse his horse stumbled, having fallen foul of a rabbit hole. Parliamentarian soldiers offered him quarter, but he refused to accept quarter from "base rogues and rebels". And so he was killed by a blow to the head from a halberd.

Night fell and both sides withdrew to regroup. Sir John Gell took Northampton's body, attempting to exchange the body for the captured ordinance. Northampton's eldest son, James (who had been wounded in the battle), now the new Earl, refused to pay what he believed to be a ransom demand. 

There are now two differing stories about what happened to Spencer's body: the commonly believed story is that Gell paid to have the body embalmed and paraded it through the streets of Derby (on hearing that his demand for the return of the ordinance and the cost of embalming would not be met), where the jeering crowd desecrated the corpse. Gell had the body buried in Derby; it being returned to the family church after the Restoration.

The alternative version of events is somewhat different, and I think slightly more realistic. Hyde, writing in Clarendon’s History of the The Great Rebellion (Oxford University Press, 1967) states that Parliament allowed the Compton family surgeon to eviscerate and embalm the Earl's body; the viscera being taken to Banbury for safe keeping. Gell kept the body, parading it through Derby (the damage reported being that caused by evisceration), and had it buried in Derby at All Hallows Church (which has since been promoted to be Derby Cathedral). 

Compton family history believes the body to be in the Cavendish vault alongside the  Countess of Shrewsbury in Derby. The viscera being entombed in the family crypt at Compton Wynyates.

Archaeological investigations do seem to support this train of events as two unlabelled sealed drums were found in the Cavendish vaults (one of which is believed to contain the Earl's body) in 1994; a slightly more recent excavation (1998, published online 2015) in the Compton family crypt found an unlabelled viscera container from the seventeenth century, and no evidence of Spencer Compton's coffin. Nothing definitive, but certainly has potential to support the less commonly held version of events.


Lord John Belsasyse would utilise the officer with a telescope figure. Belsasyse served in the King's lifeguard during the Bishops' Wars and would represent Thirsk during the Short and Long Parliaments. He would answer Charles's call to arms in York raising a Regiment of Horse in 1642, and would command his father's Regiment of Foot. He commanded a brigade of foot at Edgehill and Bristol (where he took a head wound). He recovered from his wounds to take part in First Newbury but would be criticised for failing to support Byron's horse.


Lord George Digby, Earl of Bristol was an easy one: I didn't have a Digby. Digby was elected MP for Dorset in both the Short and Long Parliaments and was initially inclined to side with Parliament. He would be appointed to the committee for the impeachment of the Earl of Strafford, but would object to his execution. His speech in defence of Strafford caused furore in Parliament, copies of his speech being burnt by the hangman by order of the House. Charles would elevate him to the Lords as Baron Digby of Sherborne. By now a strong supporter of the King, he would encourage Charles to attempt to arrest the Five Members in the Commons. Digby would infuriate Parliament further by attempting to take the arsenal at Kingston-upon-Thames for the King - this was a step too far and Digby fled the country.

When war was declared Digby raised a Regiment of Horse, fighting at Edgehill. Digby quarrelled with the King's nephew Prince Rupert at the siege of Lichfield in April 1643, after which he resigned his commission and returned to Court; this animosity between him and Rupert would simmer for many years. 

He was made Charles I’s secretary of state in 1643, and in 1645 he became lieutenant general of the King’s army in the north. When he was defeated at Sherburn, Durham, in October 1645, the Parliamentarians captured his correspondence, which disclosed Charles I’s intrigues with foreign powers. Digby escaped to Ireland, then to France; while in France he inherited the earldom of Bristol. Although in 1657 he became secretary of state in the government-in-exile maintained by Charles II before his restoration, Bristol was forced to resign after converting to Catholicism.


The messenger figure would become Charles Gerard, Earl of Macclesfield. Little is known of Gerard's early years, until he started his military education on the continent. He would raise a Regiment of Horse for the King in Oxford in 1642, and a Regiment of Foot in Lancashire. He commanded a brigade of foot at Edgehill (where he was badly wounded).

Gerard was wounded (again) at the siege of Lichfield. He would be wounded, for a third time, at Newark. Gerard's courage and ruthlessness in battle were noticed by Prince Rupert, and he become one of the select group of "Swordsman" officers favoured by the Prince.

Gerard accompanied the King on his last marches of 1645 as a brigade commander and fought at Rowton Heath. He remained loyal to Prince Rupert during the Prince's court-martial at Newark in October 1645, during which he denounced Rupert's enemy Lord Digby as a traitor. Gerard was dismissed from the King's service along with other officers loyal to Rupert. He was pardoned early in 1646 and fought in the final siege of Oxford in June 1646 after which he went abroad with Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice.

Gerard was frequently engaged in plots against Cromwell; his cousin Colonel John Gerard was executed in July 1654 for his involvement in one of these plots. 

Gerard also served in the French army and would go on to command a troop of cavalry in Charles II's Royalist army in Flanders during 1657-8.

When Charles II entered London at the Restoration in 1660, Gerard rode at the head of the King's Horse Guards. He would be elevated to the Earldom of Macclesfield in 1679. Accused of involvement in Monmouth's Rebellion he had to flee the country to avoid arrest.

He returned at the head of the King's Lifeguard in 1688 with William of Orange in 1688. He died in January 1694 and is buried in Westminster Abbey


I also had a sample figure which I think is from the Hopton/Maurice pack (ECWH 09), who has a good deal of gravitas, so he would become Colonel Richard Fielding. Fielding was appointed a Colonel of Foot for the Second Bishops' War of 1640, raising his men from Essex, Huntingdon and Bedfordshire. In the First Civil War he served as a brigadier at Edgehill, where he was captured but soon exchanged. He would be Sir Arthur Aston's second in command at Reading. After the debacle resulting from his surrender to the Earl of Essex he was court-martialled and sentenced to death but was reprieved at the last-minute following pleas by Prince Charles and Prince Rupert. He was stripped of his command, but not his rank, and went on to fight for the Royalists as Master of the Ordnance at Cheriton under Hopton and Forth.


Last but not least is Lord General Robert Bertie, Earl of Lindsey. When I represented Lindsey I gave him a three bar pot, in order to hide his hair style. Bertie was bald and I thought that that was a bit beyond my greenstuff skill level. Not long after Peter Pig released a bald head pack, so the thought has been brewing for a wee while. Lindsey has had yet another headswap, this time for a bald head. The PP bald heads are Kojak bald, rather than just bald on top. A little greenstuff hair and goatee were added, and his collar rebuilt. Then a simple bit of touching up his paintwork. Pretty pleased with the result (we'll just gloss over the fact that he almost certainly wore a hat, as it was deemed ungodly to go bare headed).

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  1. Great post, love the history and your hair and beard look great on Lindsey. For my command Hopton command stand I wanted a flag with the Hopton family crest on it but my computer/art skills are not up to the job.

    1. Thanks Codsticker. I was a bit worried about the phot of Lindsey's face, the wash looks much heavier than it is in real life. Quite pleased with his hair and beard though.

      Flags? I subcontract that out to Stuart at Maverick Models. Much easier than trying to learn graphics packages!

  2. A fabulous set of command bases! A very handy history for each too.

  3. These are absolutely brilliant. Considered historical research and fine miniature choices leading to splendidly executed vignettes.


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