The core of all the various Christian Military Orders that appeared during the medieval period were the brother-knights, men of high birth who were well equipped and well trained in the art of war, yet followed (at least in theory) the vows of their Order. This set is nothing to do with those men. Those who were not of noble birth or who had not achieved that status could still join the Order, but only as a sergeant – basically a servant of the Order. These men were fewer in number than the knights, and were not brothers of the Order, so not subject to the same rules. In general they were of more modest means, and while armour was often supplied by the Order the best usually went to the knights. Sergeants usually carried out the role of light cavalry as well as other support roles for the knights, and were an important part of the military strength of the Order.
Most of these men seem to wear mail with a surcoat of some kind over the top and a helmet on the head. The general style suggests they are suitable for the later 12th and 13th centuries, although it is hard to assign a specific date to these. Certainly no plate armour is evident, but then such armour was very uncomfortable in the heat of the Holy Land, making mail an oft-preferred option anyway. Each man has a shield, which in most cases demonstrates the evolution from kite to heater style, although a couple of circular shields are also on show. More surprisingly one man has a rectangular shield, which would be awkward for a mounted man and for which we could find no evidence.
While it was the knights that were the heavy cavalry, charging the foe with couched lance to deliver the coup de grace, the sergeants sometimes carried lighter spears as shown on four of these poses. Other weapons were the usual sword and axe as held by the rest of the figures. Two of the figures have ring hands to take a separate spear and axe, and all the poses look fine.
The horses show the usual mix of Strelets poses, with some good and some bad gaits. All are fairly heavily decorated, which is perhaps overdone considering who is riding them, although careful trimming could resolve that if required. Two of the horses have a peg on the left side of the saddle, which along with the two pegs for shields on the figures makes four places for shields, yet only two are supplied. However it is an easy matter to trim any surplus pegs and at least the choice is there.
Sculpting is average for Strelets, and the separate weapons and shields fit quite well in the appropriate places. Detail is a bit vague in places, and the figures are a very tight and not a particularly precise fit on the horses, so while they will not fall off some trimming would be necessary to create a realistic appearance rather than having them hover above the saddle. There is no flash to speak of and the lances are pretty straight although, being attached to the sprue in many places, they take some time to trim down properly.
While the knights were inevitably the focus for the Military Orders it is good to see a set of the less celebrated sergeants. In fact the only thing distinguishing these figures from any other mounted man-at-arms of the period is that most have a large cross engraved on the front and back of their surcoat (but all the shields are plain, happily). Exactly what emblem such men wore varied between Orders and is not always known today, but was not always a large cross, so again this can be ignored, trimmed off or over painted if required. Other than that is can be just another set of medieval horsemen, with all the potential uses that suggests, and so while not an outstanding set it will doubtless find many uses.