Wargaming Machines
A Site for Computer-Assisted Historical Miniatures Wargames


Nominee 2: Marianne (aka Liberty)

OK, before I start taking any flak, I never said that the women on this site had to be physically real. They just have to be historically significant. And Marianne - the French version of the Goddess of Liberty, Libertas - is nothing if not that. My favorite depiction of her is Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People.

For whatever reason, people associate this painting with the French Revolution of 1789. How could anyone make this mistake? The first clue is the top hat the guy next to her is wearing. He looks like Abraham Lincoln carrying a blunderbuss! I mean, everyone knows the top hat wasn't invented until 1791. The second clue is that all the firearms have percussion locks. (OK, OK - just joking. They're flintlocks. It's only 1830, after all...)

Apparently, Marianne was conceived in 1775, when Jean-Michel Moreau first depicted her while illustrating a poem penned in 1728 by Voltaire, but she was massively popularized by the 1789 event. In fact, Delacroix's painting depicts the 1830 July Revolution. While working on the painting, Delacroix wrote to his brother "if I havenít fought for my country at least Iíll paint for her." It seems to have worked - this has become the iconic image of revolutionary barricades through the centuries. After buying the painting, the (new) French government returned it to Delacroix, as there was unrest still in Paris, culminating in the June Rebellion of 1832. The painting was considered too revolutionary by the government the revolutionaries had just installed.

The real reason that Marianne makes it here is that she has been reproduced in miniature. Below is the Wargames Foundry set from their French Revolution range. There she is, front and center, in all her 28mm glory. Just add tricolor! When I run into something like this online, I start making excuses to buy the figure.

And now that they have spun off a lot of their older products to Casting Room Miniatures, you can get some other theme-related figures from them in the Rebels & Rioters/Armed Civilians range, including artillerists and mounted figures. They even have a stern-looking, fashion-forward woman in a top hat!

Seriously, though - this is a period that people seem to ignore. Napoleonics is only about huge battles with a million figures, and skirmishes copied from Sharpe's Rifles. Maybe I'm being a bit severe - I love Napoleonics, whether it is simulating large-scale warfare or a game of Sharp Practice, and I own all of the Sharpe-related videos and novels. But there are a lot of conflicts here which would be fun to game, if only as skirmishes, but which seem to get ignored. I mean, wouldn't you like to storm the Bastille? And take, for example, the pro-Monarchist Chouans, and the related uprisings in 1815 and 1832. Not everybody in France loved Napoleon.

And guess what? Trent Miniatures makes the figures in 28mm as part of their France Internal range. And while you are doing obscure Revolutionary skirmish games, don't neglect the Carribean - Trent makes figures for the Haitian Revolution, too. And why not push yourself a bit further, and do some of the revolutionary struggles from later in the century? Perry has a bunch of figures in their American Civil War line for the 1861 riots in Baltimore. There are four sets, including the Rioters with Firearms and the Female and Young Rioters pictured below (and yes, that one woman does appear to be hurling a chamberpot!). And - once top hats have come into fashion - they make great revolutionary figures for all sorts of conflicts (think 1848! Watch out for those figures wearing bowlers, though - they weren't invented until 1850.)

And so, all kudos to Marianne! The world she was meant to inspire - a world without kings or emperors, a world free of slavery, and a world of widespread enfranchisement - has come into being. It is the world we live in. But she can still inspire us to depict some of these revolutionary struggles on the tabletop.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Arofan Gregory. All rights reserved.