Friday, 27 September 2013

Sir Ralph Hopton

Here's the second of my two ECW command vignettes.  In was way back in May 2009 that I started painting a Royalist force for the English Civil War - my efforts can be seen here.  I began work on two command stands, one for the complete army and a second for its (forthcoming) cavalry element (Sir John Byron).  I painted 3 of the figures and began work on 2 cornets, but failed to complete them; I think it was painting the cornets' grey horses that scared me off.  As I said yesterday, I eventually finished these stands in February last year, together with several things that had lain half-finished over the past few years (including lots of Darkest Africa arabs and beluchis, which I might blog about at some stage).  This stand feature Sir Ralph Hopton with his escort and cornet.  Hopton is a personality figure from the Bicorne Miniatures range; the other two figures are Renegade, I think.

Sir Ralph Hopton (1596-1652) is one of the better known characters of the ECW, leading the Royalist charge in the West Country.  He was MP for Shaftesbury from 1621 and then gained early military experience as part of the entourage of Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia (Prince Rupert's mother), whose husband, in 1620, was defeated in battle and deposed by the Holy Roman Emperor.  He saw further action in the early stages of the Thirty Years' War before returning to England to become MP for Bath in 1625.  He returned to the army in 1639 to serve the King in the Bishops' Wars as a captain in the King's Lifeguard.  In 1640, Hopton became MP for Somerset in the Short Parliament and for Wells in the Long Parliament and was active in supporting the King against his political enemies.   He supported Charles' attempt to arrest five members of the Commons in January 1642 and was subsequently arrested and imprisoned in the Tower for 2 weeks.

In summer 1642 Hopton went to Cornwall to raise the county for the King, which he managed to do by mobilising the militia and driving out the local Parliamentarians.  He then recruited a local army and won his first victory of Braddock Down in January 1643.  A further victory at Stratton enable Hopton to meet with reinforcements from Prince Maurice and the Earl of Hertford and march into Somerset, where the Royalists won a pyhrric victory over Sir William Waller at Lansdown in July.  Among the heavy Royalist casualties was Hopton himself, who was injured and temporarily blinded after the battle when an ammunition cart exploded.  The Royalists regrouped, were joined by reinforcements under Lord Wilmot and then won a more decisive victory over Waller at Roundway Down a week later.  Joined by Prince Rupert, Hopton's army then captured Bristol.  Hopton was appointed lieutenant-governor of the city and raised to the peerage as Baron Hopton of Stratton.  He was then appointed as commander of Royalist forces in south-western England and ordered to advance on London.

Hopton captured Arundel Castle in Sussex in December 1643, but his march on London was checked by Waller at the battle of Cheriton in March 1644.  After a brief return to Bristol, Hopton was appointed General of Ordnance and fought at the second battle of Newbury in October 1644.   The following spring saw Hopton besieging Taunton, but the defeat at Naseby meant the effective end of the Royalist military struggle and Hopton withdrew to Devon.  Hopton held his army together long enough to enable the Prince of Wales to escape to the Continent and then surrendered in March 1646.  He too went into exile and, after providing some further assistance to Prince Charles, died in Bruges in September 1652.

I've always had a soft spot for Hopton and his dashing Cornish army.  He rather reminds me of Cornwallis in the southern campaigns, winning most of the battles but ultimately losing the war.  There's a rather bad painting mistake on the Hopton figure.  I clearly confused myself about what clothes he's wearing, and assumed that the buff coat was some sort of tabard such that the visible sleeves would be those of an under-coat or tunic.  On reflection, that's wrong - the sleeves should also be buff as they are part of the same coat, although the light blue does give quite a nice contrast to what otherwise would be a buff-heavy vignette.  Portraits of Hopton, like the one above, also show a slight goatee beard, but I didn't see one on the figure so he's clean shaven here.  I also notice that the gloves of the chap with the pistol look rather yellow - they remind me of the Marigolds that my mother used to wear when doing the dishes.  But I remember when painting this figure that I wanted a slightly different colour for the cavalryman's gloves, otherwise everything would look, well, "buffy".  As for the cornet's horse - I have no idea what I was doing there, but, while the dappled effect probably isn't 100% quite right, at least it's a change from plain white or grey.

3 figures.  Painted May 2009 and February 2012.


Phil said...

Beautiful vignette...and post!

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Looking just great Giles and as ever superb background info! Your making me want to get out my Scot's Royalist army that is gathering dust and needs new recruits.


AJ (Allan) Wright said...

I particularly like the shading on the sashes and sleeves. It's all wonderful, but the shading on those bits is the star of the show.

El Grego said...

Very nice!

paulalba said...

I do enjoy a nice command stand and you do a cracking command stand Giles, this again is lovely. I have always like tge ECW period. Very cool uniforms and all that push of pike stuff.
Keep em coming!
P. S. Also enjoy the history bit as well, always good to put a name to a figure or 2.

legatus hedlius said...

Excellent! I want to see the Baluchis!

Doc Smith said...

Glorious Giles - a really nice vignette and some awe-inspiring painting. And a great potted history too - great post all round I'd say!