Whilst walking around the SELWG show in at Crystal Palace in London in October 1999, I stopped off at the Museum Miniatures stand as I have a habit of doing. There, amongst other things, I noticed some naked females (15mm ones) and that reminded me of a Hordes of the Things army that Alan Patrick had done some time ago based around that famous female fighter, Xena! I couldn’t resist and picked up some figures.
Of course, to be fair, the real Xena is a leather and chainmail clad princess. I particularly wanted something quick and easy to paint so as the Museum figures were, shall we say, sans garment, they seemed a really quick and easy army to paint. I should also mention that Alan’s army is well clothed as well. Since doing this particular army, the prospect of Amazon’s has had more appeal and a number of figure ranges are available to make this type of force, particularly in 25mm scale.
I should also point out that Amazons are reported historically by the ancient Greeks and there is a reasonable quantity of evidence to suggest that females of various Sarmatian tribes used to ride forth. The classical Amazons were therefore generally of a hoplite type or mounted. In more modern times, the Dahomey in Africa have a female guard. At the same time, the classical Indian (or slightly later Indian) rulers tended to keep a female bodyguard as well. This army is from my fertile imagination however and little or no reference is made to the historical or semi-historical reports of the Amazons.
There have been a number of books published in recent years about women warriors, be they from a warrior society or simply a queen who led her forces forth. They seem appropriate to mention here although to be fair, they bear little of no resemblance to the fantasy army I’ve built to amuse me playing Hordes of the Things. A book was published in 1997 by David E. Jones called Women Warriors – A History. This provides an interesting introduction to Women Warriors, and includes an introduction to the classical Amazons. Herodotus, for example, believed in the existance of the Amazons, a group pressing on the northern borders of Greece fighting both mounted and on foot, with a double-headed battle axe their most recognisable weapon.
These Amazons are described as wearing long trousers, coats that fell to mid thigh, leather boots and Phyrigian hats. These sound very similar to the women of the Skythian tribes, also living to the north of the Greeks at the time. They were the ones who were supposed to cut their right breast off to make it easier to draw a bow, as well as increasing the strength of the right side of the body. They were also supposed to have ridden to war against the Greek demigods, Herakles (there is a nice cross-over on the TV series) and Theseus. Herodotus also suggests that the Samartians (living north of the Greeks and west of the Amazons) were a result of the union of the Amazons and the Skythians. The Sarmatian women wore male clothing, rode and hunted with the men and were expected to kill an enemy warrior to move to a marriageable status.
Plutarch also describes the Amazon hordes descending on Athens in the 5th century B.C. These women rode out of the Bosphorus and through Thrace on their way. They laid siege to Athens and were rebuffed after a long and hard siege. To be fair, Plutarch was quoting from an earlier work since lost. A number of Greek cities in the Ionian tradition are supposed to have founded by the Amazons, including Smyrna, Sinope, Cyme, Gryne, Pitania, Magnesia, Clete, Mytilene and Amastris.
I must admit, however, to a liking of a more classical feel for my Amazons so kept mine naked (and therefore easy to paint) and included some Centaurs to provide a mounted element. They therefore bear little resemblance to the Amazons that can be viewed at the Louvre – but I like them anyway and apart from being a fun army to use, their win/loss record is positive still.
The army army consists of:
- 1 element of Hero (4AP)
- 3 elements of Shooters (6AP)
- 3 Elements of Blades (6AP)
- 4 elements of Warband (8AP)
- 3 elements of Riders (Centaurs) (6AP)
for a total of 30 AP (of which only 24 will be used in a game). I was undecided for a while about how to organise all this but opted for a combination of shooters, blades and warband as I figured that these females were most likely a ‘get stuck in’ type. Later, I will maybe add a magic user or a cleric type, but I am not convinced on this yet. As a stronghold, I have done a temporary camp, with camp-fire and an unidentified roasting object roasting on a spit as appropriate (which was because I just happened to have a pig roasting on a spit to use).
For most games I use the following list:
- 1 Hero (4AP)
- 2 Shooters (4AP)
- 2 Blades (4AP)
- 4 Warband (8AP)
- 2 Riders (Centaurs) (4AP)
However, before we go further into the painting history of the Amazons, as I mentioned elsewhere, the Amazons were inspired by the whole Xena thing. on top of that, a wargamer in the UK by the name of Alan Patrick mentioned his Hordes of the Things Amazon army in an e-mail a number of years ago. Now, on his home page, he has The Lay of Xena, a wonderful song celebrating that famous of heroines, Xena the Warrior Princess. Go on, go and have a read of it, then come back and look at the painting history of the Amazons.
Note that the painting of the Amazons is covered as a separate article in Thomo’s Gallery – there is a How-To guide in there I think. Update 9 March 2015 – I will need to try and reproduce this in some other location and link to it when it is available.