For the last three months, I’ve been experimenting with my 6mm napoleonic project. I’ve played a number of games, first with DBN, then with an increasing number of modifications. More on that some other time.
When preparing the terrain, I realised that there were no 6mm buildings that would fit my requirements. As I did a bit of research on rural structures, I wanted my models to conform to the historical types. A couple of years ago, even before I got a 3D printer, I taught myself a bit of CAD, so I decided to try my hand at desigining 3D models. It turned out that it is not too complicated, as 6mm buildings don’t need that many details, and that I even enjoy it.
As others might be interested in those buildings, I’ve decided to put them up for sale on wargaming3d.com. So, for the princely sum of $4.50, you can purchase a set of stl files for 11 buildings: a large church, modeled after the Aspern church, a small church or chapel, a granary, modeled after the Essling granary, six rural houses, a traditional barn and a windmill. The windmill has no sails, as this would be too fiddly to print at this scale – I recommend using strips of thin cardboard.
The buildings are intended for 2mm to 6mm scales. For my 6mm games, I reduce them to 80% size, as I prefer them to have a smaller footprint. All my test prints have been with a resin printer (Anycubic Photon), I can’t say how they would turn out with a FDM printer, but I guess details will be lost.
They would fit from around 1700 up to 1945 for Austria and Bavaria.
During the 1809 campaign, there was a lot of fighting in urban areas – Ratisbon, Landshut, Ebelsberg, Groß Enzersdorf, to mention just a few. How did town houses in Bavaria and Austria look at the time?
Urban architecture of the time can be divided in several categories: There is religious architecture, which I have already covered elsewhere, there are municipal and administrative buildings and there are the palaces of the nobility. However, the by far largest group is made up by so-called “Bürgerhäuser”, bourgeois or citizen’s houses. This ist not only, even not primarily, an architectural category, but also a legal and social one.
Concerning its legal meaning, for a long time, being the citizen of a town was tied to owning a dwelling space (with local differences on whether this meant owning an actual house, a house floor or being a rightful tenant). Citizenship meant the right to political participation, but also the obligation to pay taxes and to participate in communal duties, such as defending the town in case of war.
Up to the 19th century, the bourgeois house contained, like the farmer’s house, not only living spaces, but also a working spaces and sometimes a shop floor. It was the dwelling place for the house community, which not only meant blood relatives (usually three generations) but included servants and staff.
In German, for most of the time the word “Haus” (house) was used to designate this ensemble, the word “Familie” (family) only being introduced in the second half of the 18th century. The house was seen as a self-sufficient entity: The inhabitants produced goods (or traded them) and they had the right to use communal land to grow foodstuff. As such, the house was the organisational fundament of the economy. It was also the basic cell of society and sovereignty. The paterfamilias or housefather had patriarchal authority over his wife, while the pair of them had parental authority over the children and the servants.
This means that the architecture of the bourgeois houses was determined by its function. Several types can be distinguished. The most basic form is the so-called “Ackerbürgerhaus”, or famer-bourgeois house. This is the dwelling space of landowners who earn their living through farming. Here, the boundaries between rural and urban architecture were blurred. Such types of buildings could also be found in large villages, while small towns were dominated by them. In large towns around 1800, they were mostly confined to the periphery. Their actual shape was determined by the type of agriculture practised. For example, in some regions of Lower Austria, “Weinhauerhäuser” (vintner’s houses) were very common. They often developed out of a “Streckhof“, with working spaces arranged behind the narrow front.
Another very common type was the “Handwerkerhaus” (artisan’s house). Its basic shape goes back to the Middle Ages and was internationally astonishingly consistent. The ground floor was made up by a vault, which contained the workspace and shop floor. The top floor contained the living quarters. Sometimes, other rooms were added in the backyard, which were connected with arcades.
The “Patrizierhaus” (patrician’s house) was owned by a rich merchant or trader. Large, massive, and often furnished with a decorated façade, they were characterised by a spacious hall at ground level and a cellar, where goods were stored. The top floors contained the representational and living spaces.
Lastly, tenement buildings slowly became common, providing space for the many people living in towns. In Vienna, for example, from the 16th century up to the end of the 18th century, the government obliged house-owning citizens to provide living spaces for clerks and servants working at the imperial court (the so-called “Hofquartierpflicht”), which fostered the building of houses for tenants.
All those types have their origin in the Middle Ages. However, as towns are living and changing organisms, buildings were destroyed, newly erected, and modified according to needs and tastes. Therefore, in many towns different types and styles could be found next to each other.
For a long time, houses were built in narrow spaces with the gable end facing towards the street. Façades were irregular and asymmetric, often featuring projecting alcoves.
During the 18th century, however, houses began to be built with the eaves towards the street. They became wider and the façades took on a more regular, symetrical look. In some cases, several old houses were united and fitted with a false façade, often with blind windows, to bring them up to the new style. Baroque façades were decorated with elements made of plaster or stucco, such as cartouches and columns.
In Austria, the 1780s saw the emergence of the so-called “Plattenstil” (panel style), with smooth, regular panels and a bright, single-coloured coat of paint – in Austria, but also in Bavaria often in a yellow ochre called “Schönbrunner Gelb” (or “Barockgelb”).
While churches and palaces have often been depicted, there is an unfortunate dearth of contemporary visual representations of bourgeois houses. However, surviving examples can still be found in many towns today.
Andraschek-Holzer, Ralph et.al. (ed.): Das Bürgerhaus. Wohnen und Arbeiten. St. Pölten: NÖ Landesregierung 2019 (available online)
Kräftner, Johann: Bürgerhäuser. Ensembles, Einzelbauten und Details in Österreich und den angrenzenden Gebieten seiner Nachbarländer. Wien und München: Herold 1984.
Paläste und Bürgerhäuser in Österreich / Noblemen’s and Citizens’ Town-houses in Austria / Hotels Particuliers, Palais et Maisons Bourgeoises en Autriche. Wien: Notring 1970.
Religious landmarks were ubiquitous around 1800 and can often be found on Napoleonic battlefields, such as the iconic church and cemetery of Aspern. In the Habsburg Monarchy, Catholicism was the state religion. Several religious minorities, such as Protestants, Greek-orthodox and Jews, existed, and different laws regulated if and how they were allowed to practice their religion in public. Protestants were allowed to have prayer houses, but those could not have an entrance towards the street or a tower. This means that all religious symbols that could be found in public in Eastern Austria around 1800 were Roman Catholic.
In this article, I will focus on three kinds of religious architecture: prayer houses (churches and chapels), cemeteries and small single monuments. I will mention monasteries only very cursory at the end.
Churches and chapels
Churches were representative as well as functional buildings. As functional buildings, they were the place of congregation for the parish and formed the communal centre of a village or town (or town district, in the case of larger towns with several churches). Going to mass was natural for most Austrians around 1800 and only very few people – most from the educated elites – would follow enlightenment religious schools of thought such as deism, which placed no importance on religious rituals (real atheism was even rarer). Incidentally, this was also true of French soldiers, despite their reputation as atheistic heathens!
Churches also had a representative and symbolic function. As such, they followed the architectural styles predominant at the time of their construction. However, they were also continuously modified according to requirements and taste. This means that many older churches incorporated elements from different periods and rarely showed pure architectural styles.
Many Austrian churches are Romanesque or Gothic in origin. Renaissance churches are rare, but baroque architecture is quite common, as there was a veritable building boom during the late 17th century. Many new churches were built to bolster the Counter-Reformation. Those baroque churches dominated the appearance of many villages and towns. The church of Aspern is a good example, being built in 1671.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, many older churches were also supplemented with baroque elements and decorations. Churches continued to be modified and added to during the 19th and 20th century, so it is often difficult to extrapolate how they looked around 1800. Fortunately, due to their importance, they are often depicted in townscapes, so it is often possible to find drawings or engravings of specific churches.
The following image shows Herzogbirbaum (40km to the north-west of Vienna) around 1830. The church, which features prominently in the lithography, is of Gothic origin and was finished at the end of the 13th century. The tower, however, was embellished with baroque elements during the 18th century, as can be clearly seen by the “Zwiebelturm” (onion-domed tower).
The next image is a detail of an image I’ve already shown in the article on villages, namely Mayer’s late-18th-century painting of Groissenbrunn.
This church was finished in 1763 and is a typical example of baroque architecture. Note the walled graveyard surrounding the church and the simple grave crosses, to which we will now turn our attention.
Until the end of the 18th century, the church alone was responsible for the burial of the dead. However, with the government of Emperor Joseph II., state authorities started to intervene to reform the funeral system.
Up until that time, cemeteries were usually around churches, with the whole area being walled in. There was a strict hierarchy concerning the locations of graves: clergymen and very high-ranking laymen were buried inside the church, while influential families or guilds had vaulted graves along the church’s exterior wall. The rest of the population was put into mass graves in the cemetery proper, where individuals were buried in layers.
Cemeteries became incredibly crowded, and bodies had to be exhumed regularly to make space for new ones. The bones of those bodies were kept in ossuaries, which were built near the church. The cemetery at Aspern had such an ossuary, which today houses the 1809 museum.
However, the exhumation of bodies posed hygienical problems, because they often hadn’t had time to decompose properly. This caused the government of Joseph II. to order the construction of new cemeteries outside of towns. Thanks to the enlightenment regime, Austria was, after France, one of the pioneers in the development of such new communal cemeteries. For example, Korneuburg (where a small battle was fought on 7 July 1809) got a small cemetery outside its city walls in 1785. In those new cemeteries, the deceased were buried in single graves in the order of their date of death – at least in principle, as wealthy families tried to get privileged places.
Concerning grave decorations, the old church cemeteries were rather plain. The mass graves very seldom had artwork and mostly were marked with wooden, sometimes wrought iron, crosses. Here is a mid-18th century depiction of the cemetery of the Bürgerspital (hospital) near the St. Rochus chapel in Vienna.
It gives the impression of a pretty crowded hotchpotch of grave markers, most of them crosses, some of which are rather simple, others featuring elaborate carvings. The small roofs were intended to protect the wooden crosses from rain. There are also what looks like wrought iron crosses on stone pedestals and one single gravestone with a figurative relief.
Here are some images of wooden and wrought-iron grave crosses from the Tyrol, the iron ones dating back to the 16th and 17th century. It can be assumed that, despite regional stylistic differences, the overall shape of such crosses would be the same all over Austria (and probably the German states).
Up until the end of the 18th century, the graves inside the churches and the vaulted graves were also often simple affairs, as there was not enough space for elaborate monuments.
However, in the new cemeteries outside town, a new culture of often quite elaborate grave monuments began to emerge, often following neo-classicist models and introducing distinctions of wealth and status into the supposedly egalitarian rows of graves. Obelisks, urns, steles or figurative statues were the most common forms.
Cemeteries were usually surrounded by a wall (sometimes by a fence). In war time, this made them useful positions for the defence of a village, as happened at the battle of Aspern, where the cemetery was fiercely contested.
It is important to note that at the time, cemeteries were not as important as today as sites of remembrance. The dead were mainly commemorated through prayer, litanies of intercession, days of remembrance and, in Austria, small monuments called “Lichtsäulen”.
The Lower Austrian landscape around 1800 was dotted with small religious monuments in the form of pillars (many of which can still be found). In the vernacular, they are often called “Marterl”, although historians have remarked that this is an incorrect, pseudo-folksy designation. If anything, a “Marterl” would be an image or sculpture depicting Christ on the cross, something that is predominant in the Tyrol. The predominant Lower Austrian monuments are correctly called “Lichtsäulen” (light pillars) or “Bildstöcke” (image pillars). They are pillars built out of bricks and covered with plaster, topped by a sort of lantern. This lantern originally held a candle but now often features a cross or a small religious image.
The “Lichtsäulen” first appeared in the 14th century and originated in France. There are a few that were made by known gothic artisans, following the style of gothic architecture, but most of them were made by anonymous artisans in a local, less elaborate style. They housed a light inside the lantern-like top, whose function it was to commemorate the dead.
Here are more examples.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, a new type was developed, the so-called “Bildstock” or “Bildsäule” (image pillar). Commemorating events such as plagues, they often featured elaborate carvings and figures, depicting Holy Mary or saints.
There were also other types, such as crosses and single statues of St. Nepomuk, a popular saint often found at bridges. However, the most common type was and still is the simple Lichtsäule.
Often, the original meaning of the monument changed over time. For example, after the Thirty Years War, many Lichtsäulen obtained an inscription thanking god for the end of the war. While the original meaning was changed or even lost, the durable monument itself was integrated into the “mental map” of the inhabitants, acquiring a function as a landmark and geographical reference. This is probably why such monuments feature prominently in the wonderful topographical map drawn by Franz Xaver Schweickhardt in 1837.
And to show you that Schweickhardt didn’t just place them there as embellishments, but that his drawings denote real monuments, let’s have a closer look at the rightmost of the three monuments depicted in the map segment. It is located near the Neues Wirtshaus, the site of a battle between Austrian and Saxon cavalry on 5th July 1809. It still exists (it was restored in 2009-2011) and is known since long as the “Weisses Kreuz” (white cross) or “Wampertes Kreuz” (pot-bellied cross), even though its not in the shape of a cross, but in the shape of a Lichtsäule, albeit a very stocky one.
It’s an oddly shaped thing and dates back at least to the 18th century, maybe even to the Middle Ages. For battlefield walks, it is useful as it helps locate the site of the Neues Wirtshaus, which no longer exists.
Abbeys and monastaries
I want to mention them only in passing, as they only played a peripheral role during the Napoleonic campaigns and probably won’t feature on a tabletop. Napoleon visited the most famous, Melk Abbey, in November 1805 and May 1809. At the later date, he witnessed Marcellin Marbot crossing the Danube on a daring reconnaissance mission, as narrated in the memoirs of the then-ADC of Masséna (which we might believe or not).
In 1809, the French also used several Viennese monasteries as hospitals, among them the Minoritenkloster, Augustinerkloster, Servitenkloster and the monastery of the Barmherzige Brüder.
Availability of models
Churches can be found in several terrain ranges. Another option would be to use churches made for model railroads, as they often depict very local styles. Najewitz Modellbau offers very nice stl files of the Aspern church and cemetery. I built mine from scratch:
Period-specific grave crosses, however, are difficult to find, as are Lichtsäulen and other small monuments. Again, model railroad companies offer a small selection, such as a set of “Marterl” by Noch. There are also a small number of stl files on Thingiverse and cults3d, but none of this is great.
This would be a fine opportunity for someone versed in 3D-sculpting!
Berger, Walter: “Die Kultmale (Bildstöcke, Wegkreuze usw.) des Marchfeldes,” Österreichische Zeitschrift für Volkskunde 79 (1976), pp. 1-72.
Deininger, Johann W. (ed.): Tiroler Volkskunst. Bäuerliche Architektur, Wohnräume, Getäfel, Mobilien, Geräte und Erinnerungszeichen. Innsbruck: Max Schammler 1914.
Some time ago, there was an argument in one of the napoleonic wargaming groups on Facebook about the presence or not of fences in the Central European landscape during the napoleonic wars. I can only speak about Eastern Austria, as this is where my games are set and my research is focussed.
Let’s start with one of Franz Mayer’s great paintings, which he produced during the second half of the 18th century for the Abbey of Melk. This one shows Rohrendorf near Krems:
As always, there are a great many fascinating details to be discovered. For example, in the background, you can see vineyards and a “Kellergasse”, the traditional row of small earthen wine cellars. Many of the inhabitants seem to be vinters instead of farmers, so their buildings look a bit different than the typical farm buildings I have discussed in a previous post. But this would be another topic altogether!
For now, let’s first have a look at the individual farmsteads in the foreground. Closed towards the street with buildings, they are open towards the back, where you can see orchards, vegetable patches and the occasional barn (there are less barns than in farming villages, as the inhabitants seem to be mainly vinters). Everything that belongs to the farm is fenced in with what looks like a picket fence. Its function is not only to keep out animals, it also demarcates the property of the farmer and has a legal meaning. Crossing that fence would, in theory, be a criminal act. Up until the 17th century, a farmer was allowed to kill a trespasser at night if he did not answer when addressed. Those fences were permanent features and would be repaired regularly.
Next, I want to draw your attention to the fields you can see between the village proper and the hills with the vineyards. They are rather small plots surrounded by narrow dirt tracks (you can see one where the two people are standing in the middle of the picture). There are no fences around the fields (something that is corroborated by many other contemporary images) – with one noteable exception, namely the field in the middle of the image.
However, what seems to be the main road leading from the village to the vineyards – or rather, into a hollow way and through this further into the background – is flanked by a fence on both sides.
This is something that can be seen in other contemporary images, too.
For example, in this image of Markt Gerungs, there also is a fence running along the road leading to the village. It is even more prominent in the image of Joachimsberg.
Those fences were seasonal and were built only along roads leading to pastures. Their purpose was to protect the crops from animals which were driven to their pastures. In Eastern Austria, there was actually not that much cattle breeding. Herds would be very small and usually a herdsman paid by the community would collect the cattle from the farms in the morning and drive it to the pasture, from where they were driven back in the evening. The pasture was common property and often located at meadows, e.g. near an arm of the Danube. Pastures would of course be fenced in to prevent the animals from going astray.
Usually, each farmer was responsible for his own field and had to build a fence if it bordered a road where cattle was driven. However, in some areas, the building of such fences was regulated, with the fences being erected by 1st May and dismantled after harvest at the end of September. According to tradition, after that time, “fields were free”, that is, it was allowed to let animals walk or graze there with impunity.
Fields that lay fallow (because of the three-year crop rotation) could also be used as pasturage. If so, then the fallow fields would be fenced in to prevent the livestock from moving into the tilled fields and ruining the crop. The fenced field in the middle of the painting could be one of those.
Such temporary fences were usually rather simple affairs, consisting of horizontal poles of wood propped up by stakes (the exact form would differ regionally). Wooden nails or wicker would be used to hold the construction together. There were only gates for animals; to allow pedestrians to access the fields, a “Stiegl” (stile) was used, e.g. in the form of a bench to step on and over the fence.
For my gaming table, I made both kinds of fences. The picket fence was 3-D printed, using a file I found on Thingiverse. The cattle fence was built out of wooden rods.
Blau, Josef: “Zäune im Böhmerwalde,” Zeitschrift für österreichische Volkskunde 7 (1901), pp. 1-8.
Eysn, M.: “Hag und Zaun im Herzogthum Salzburg,” Zeitschrift für österreichische Volkskunde 4 (1898), pp. 273-283.
Österreichischer Ingenieur- und Architektenverein (ed.): Das Bauernhaus in Österreich-Ungarn und in seinen Grenzgebieten. Wien: Verl. d. Österr. Ingenieur- u. Architekten-Vereines 1906.