Archive for the ‘Medieval’ Category

The Battle of Saint-Aubin-Du-Cormier – 28th July 1488   Leave a comment

The Duchy of Brittany, at the northwestern tip of France. had considered itself an independent region to the rest of France since the Battle of Balon in 845AD when the Breton called Nominoe defeated Charles the Bald of West Francia. Over the centuries the Bretons had supplied mercenaries and allied troops to fight for most of its neighbours, including Duke William of Normandy and his invasion of England in 1066, but by the late medieval period it was finding it harder to maintain its independent status against the expansionist plans of the French monarchs wanting a united France.  Brittany found itself repeatedly allying itself with England and Burgundy in an attempt to resist French aggression, however with the English being occupied with its own civil war, the War of the Roses, then the death of Charles the Bold of Burgundy in 1477, Brittany suddenly found itself virtually alone.

It was also around this time that the French monarchy embarked on centralising control of the nation, and looked to end the older medieval and feudal regional control, this caused a rift between the crown and several dukes, barons and nobles, who found sanctuary in Brittany whilst plotting against the king.  The French king saw this as a potential hotbed of treason and demanded Brittany hand over the nobles residing there. When Duke Francis II of Brittany refused, hostilities broke out.  Knowing his Dukedom would not be able to take on the might of France on its own, Francis sent out pleas for help to other dissatisfied nobles, as well as to Henry VII of England and Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire, warning them of the dangers of an over powerful France in their midst.

Henry VII declined from sending troops but offered to negotiate a peace treaty, however on of his nobles, Edward Woodville from the Isle of Wight, defied the king and personally supplied 700 English longbowmen.  The Bretons decided to bluff the French by dressing many of their own archers as the English to try and suggest that Henry VII was assisting them in full. As for Maximilian I, he was suddenly pre-occupied by a rebellion in Flanders, which meant he was unable to support Brittany as Francis had hoped.

It meant that for the Battle of Saint-Aubin-Du-Cormier, the Breton army consisted of a mixture of local professional and levy soldiers, a number of local knights and men-at-arms, a small number of English archers, Gascon crossbowmen, Spanish infantry sent from Castille and Aragon, and a small number of Landsknecht pikemen.

Suggested initial set up for the Battle of Saint-Aubin-Du-Cormier, 28th July 1488

 

ORDERS OF BATTLE

In response to popular request, we are listing these armies as actual numbers, present, suggested figures on a 1:25 ratio, and as the number of stands if using rules such as MeG or ADLG.

Breton Army

Marechal de Rieux – Commander in Chief – Veteran, experienced, respected leader

Levy – (1700 men) – 68 figures – 7 bases – medium infantry, light armour, militia, trained, militia morale, 1/3 bow 1/3 halberd 1/3 spears/swords

Men-At Arms – (600 men) – 24 figures – 2 bases – heavy knight cavalry, armoured, well trained, experienced, impetuous, lance, shield

Breton Infanry – (300 men) – 12 figures – 1 base – close order infantry, medium armour, trained, steady morale, spears, swords, shields

English Archers – (600 men) – 24 figures – 2 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, very experienced, well trained, excellent morale, longbow, sword

Gascon & Bearn Crossbowmen – (2500 men) – 100 figures – 10 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, experienced, well trained, crossbow

Castillian & Aragonese Infantry – (1000 men) – 40 figures – 4 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, experienced, well trained, 1/2 pike 1/2 halberd

Breton Archers (imitation English archers)- (1000 men) – 40 figures – 4 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, experienced, trained, longbow, sword

Knights & Men-at-Arms – (2000 men) – 80 figures – 8 bases –  heavy knight cavalry, armoured, well trained, experienced,  impetuous, lance, shield

Landsknechts – (850 men) – 34 figures – 4 bases – close order infantry, light armour, well trained, experienced, pike

Artillery – ( 3 Culverins) – 2 models – 2 stands – light cannon and crew, trained

 

French Army

Louis II de la Tremoille – Commander-in-Chief – Veteran, experienced, respected leader

Gascon Crossbowmen – (700 men) – 28 figures – 3 bases –  close order infantry, medium armour, experienced, well trained, crossbow

Knights & Men-at-Arms – (2 x 600 men) – 2 x 24 figures – 2 x 3 bases –  heavy knight cavalry, armoured, well trained, experienced,  impetuous, lance, shield

Royal Guard Archers – (200 men) – 8 figures – 1 base –  close order infantry, medium armour, very experienced, well trained, excellent morale, longbow, sword

Archers – (2 x 1400 men) – 2 x 56 figures – 2 x 6 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, experienced, trained, longbow, sword

French Infantry – (2 x 1500 men) – 2 x 60 figures – 2 x 6 bases – close order infantry, light armour, trained, average morale, 2/3 pike 1/3 halberd/polearm

Swiss Infantry – (3000 men) – 120 figures – 12 stands – close order infantry, light armour, well trained, veteran,  elite, 5/6 pike 1/6 halberd

Artillery – ( 1 Culverin & 4 Large Culverins) – 3 models – 3 stands – medium cannon and crew, trained

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

The Breton army deployed first, in readiness for the French advance, who arrived in a fragmented approach giving the Bretons their best chance of a quick victory, but disagreements within the Breton command meant that the French were allowed to deploy without interference and they set out in a strong defensive formation.

Around mid afternoon the Breton army began their attack, using their English archers and supporting units, they hit the French hard forcing back those sent forward to meet them, but when Edward Woodville was killed the attack slowed and halted by the French. However, during this attack the French artillery had been hard pounding the Breton centre, causing significant casualties to the Breton cavalry especially. The commander of the Breton knights, Alain d’Albert requested permission to advance, which Francis granted, but d’Albert moved only the cavalry forward, without support, which created a gap in the Breton the lines.  This opportunity was spotted by the French cavalry commander, the Italian Captain, Jacques Galliota, who immediately led a large into the gap to try and force a wider break for the French infantry behind him. Galliota was killed in this daring attack, but his men succeeded in forcing a wider opening, through which the French infantry charged forward.

To add extra dram in the Breton ranks, around this time a French cannon ball appears to have overshot and struck a Breton magazine, causing a massive explosion behind their lines. This sent panic through the ranks, which again the French capitalised on. Their attack pressed home and a slaughter ensued, with over 5,000 of the Breton army killed, including all the English archers who made a gallant stand against overwhelming odds. The French lost around 1,500.

Francis II was forced to accept a peace treaty which obliged him to hand over the renegade nobles, as well as promise the marriage of his daughter, who was his sole legitimate heir to the Duchy, to marry into the French monarchy, thereby absorbing Brittany into France.

Although the war dragged on for two more years, in modern Brittany and their political nationalist movements, this battle and its consequences is marked as the date that France stole Brittany’s independence.

WARGAMING NOTES

This battle occurs right at the very end of the Medieval period, in fact some would say on the cusp of the Medieval/Renaissance changeover, but for the purposes of refighting this battle we have found late Medieval rules are best, be they specific for the period like Never Mind The Billhooks, or more all encompassing like MeG and ADLG.

Figure wise, those with Wars of the Roses armies or Burgundians and French Ordonnance will be able to field this battle with minor additions such as the Landsknects and Swiss.

 

Posted 14/12/2021 by The Little Corporal in Category 1, Medieval

The Battle of Durazzo – 18th October 1081   Leave a comment

Robert Guiscard by Merry-Joseph Blondel

“Hic terror mundi Guiscardis”

Reads the epitaph on the tomb of Robert Guiscard, translating as “Here lies Guiscard, terror of the World”

Guiscard had gone to southern Italy as the sixth son of Tancred of Hauteville, a minor noble within the homeland of Normandy. Robert and decided to seek his fame and fortune in Italy, the country that news kept flowing back to northern France about as a land of opportunity for those who liked a fight. He followed his two eldest bothers, William Iron Arm and Drogo, allegedly arriving in Italy with a following of just five mounted knights and thirty foot soldiers. For some time his band roamed southern Italy, giving military service to several local Dukes and Lords, including his brother Drogo. In true mercenary fashion he switched sides depending who shook the heaviest purse in his direction, but almost always provided victory for those who could afford it.

His reputation elevated, he found through a series of deaths and conquests that he became the Duke of Apulia and Calabria, before he and his brother, Roger, set their sights on conquering Sicily. The full conquest of Sicily took some time, as well as costing the life of Roger, but having established himself as Duke of Sicily, and having fought and defeated the Byzantines several times on the Italian mainland, Robert set his next ambition as invading the Byzantine Empire, using the excuse of assisting a disrespected clergyman to invade.

He took with him his son, Bohemond and the Count of Ami, as his sub-commanders and invaded by sea, landing in modern day Albania with an army of around 20,000 men including a quantity of the feared Norman knights. Facing him was the Byzantine Emperor, Alexius I.

The Byzantines had suffered a major defeat ten years earlier at Manzikert against the advancing Muslim forces, but despite huge losses Alexius had as a new Emperor, managed to assemble an army of a formidable size (22-25,000) which included an elite unit of Varangian Guard. These feared warriors armed with deadly two handed axes were largely made up of exiled Anglo-Saxon veterans who had escaped England after Hastings and were more than happy to have a rematch against the Normans.

After landing his ships, Robert Guiscard, now aged in his mid 60.s but still very fighting fit, ordered the fleet torched; giving his men a simple message – victory or death.

 

Suggested initial set-up for The Battle of Durazzo 1081

NOTE – Responding to feedback from followers, most prefer for us to now suggest “base numbers” rather than individual figure numbers; so along the lines of the current most popular rules Mortem et Gloriam and L’Art de la Guerre, we list numbers of troops by suggested bases.

ORDERS OF BATTLE

BYZANTINE ARMY

Left to right as per map above

Melissenous – Sub-Commander – Veteran, experienced, respected leader

Skirmishers – 2 bases – light infantry, experienced, javelin

Turco Light Cavalry – 4 bases – open order cavalry, experienced, mercenary, bow

Kavallarioi – 2 bases – heavy close order cavalry, veteran, experienced, lance, shield,

Kontaroi Archers* – 2 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, poor morale, bow

Kontaroi Spearmen* – 3 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, poor morale, spear, shield

* these can be played as one large unit of mixed troops if your rules allow.

Alexios I – Commander-in-Chief – Veteran, experienced, excellent tactician, inspirational leader

Armenian Spearmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, medium armour, spear, shield

Varangian Guard – 3 bases – Close order heavy infantry, veteran, experienced, elite morale, heavy armour, 2 handed axes

Vestiaritai Guard Cavalry – 1 base – Close order super heavy cavalry, veteran, experienced elite, barded horses, armoured riders, lance

Archers – 2 bases – Open order skirmish infantry, experienced, levies, no armour, bow

Manicheans – 6 bases – Medium infantry, veteran, experienced, impetuous, swordsmen, spear, shield

Pakourianos – Sub-Commander – Veteran, experienced, respected leader

Tourkopouloi Cavalry – 4 bases – Light Cavalry, veteran, experienced, bow or javelins

Latin Allied Knights – 1 base – Heavy Cavalry, veteran, experienced, mercenary, armoured rider, lance, shield

Kavallarioi – 2 bases – heavy close order cavalry, veteran, experienced, lance, shield,

Kontaroi Archers* – 2 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, poor morale, bow

Kontaroi Spearmen* – 3 bases – close order infantry, medium armour, poor morale, spear, shield

* these can be played as one large unit of mixed troops if your rules allow.

Skirmishers – 2 bases – Open order, light infantry, veteran, experienced, no armour, javelins

NORMAN ARMY

Left to right as per map

Bohemund – Sub-Commander – Veteran, experienced, good tactician, inspirational leader

Norman Light Cavalry – 3 bases – Open order cavalry, veteran, experienced, minimum armour, javelins, shield

Milites Knights – 3 bases – Close order heavy cavalry, veteran, experienced, impetuous, armoured rider, lance, shield

Sicilian Spearmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, levies, light armour, spear, shield

Norman Spearmen – 2 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, elite, medium armour, spear, shield, “shieldwall” capable

Robert Guiscard – Commander-in-Chief – Veteran, experienced, excellent tactician, inspirational leader, ferocious warrior

Norman Light Cavalry – 3 bases – Open order cavalry, veteran, experienced, minimum armour, javelins, shield

Milites Knights – 3 bases – Close order heavy cavalry, veteran, experienced, impetuous, armoured rider, lance, shield

Saracen Archers – 4 bases – Open order light infantry, veteran, experienced, mercenary, bow

Sicilian Spearmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, levies, light armour, spear, shield

Sicilian Crossbowmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, levies, light armour, crossbow

Count Ami – Sub-Commander – Veteran, experienced, respected leader

Italian Spearmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, levies, light armour, spear, shield

Italian Knights – 2 bases – Close order heavy cavalry, veteran, experienced, armoured rider, lance, shield

Italian Spearmen – 6 bases – Close order infantry, veteran, experienced, levies, light armour, spear, shield

Italian Archers – 4 bases – Open order light infantry, veteran, experienced, no armour, bow

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

 

Varangian Guard of the period of Durazzo

The battle began with an an advance by the feared Varangian Guard. Guiscard tried to slow their approach by making several feint charges with his cavalry, but each time his men were forced back by Byzantine archers. As the Varangians got half way across the battlefield, the Count Ami launched a cavalry and infantry charge, swinging left to try and hit the Varangians in the side, but as his men struck their target the Byzantine left flank under the command of Pakourianos launched their own charge into the flank of the Italians, who were now at right angles to them. The Italians were routed, and made a hasty retreat off the battlefield towards the shoreline, presumably hoping to find some of their ships that were still seaworthy. As they fled, the Byzantine left wing chased after them in pursuit, which greatly depleted Byzantine numbers, and left the Varangian left flank completely exposed.

Seeing an opportunity, Guiscard ordered a full assault by all of his army, his knights and crossbowmen targeting the Varangians especially. On the Byzantine right wing, Bohemund,s men launched forward and a fierce battle ensued, before the Normans finally broke the Byzantine resolve and the army began to melt away. Alexios was almost killed when struck on the head by a Norman knight’s sword blow, his personal bodyguard, the Vestiartai surged around him, forcing back the Normans long enough to rescue their Emperor and escort him from the field, bleeding and virtually unconscious.

Bohemund’s Norman knights shatter the Byzantine cavalry

Down at the shoreline, the Italians were rallied by Guiscrad’s wife, Sichelgaita, wearing full armour and having been riding with her husband and his knights. A true warrior queen !

On the main battlefield it was only the Varangian Guard who now still stood their ground for the Byzantines. Their warriors were taking heavy casualties, mainly from crossbow fire which could not respond to. They decided to pull back in formation to the Church of St. Nicholas which was at the back of the Byzantine’s original position. Here they made a gallant last stand, refusing to surrender with the last few survivors seeking refuge inside the church building. Finally the Normans set fire to the church and the last of the Varangian Guard were burnt to their death,

Guiscard stopped his men from pursuing the Byzantines, instead they gratified themselves by looting the Emperor’s camp which had been simply abandoned in the haste to escape to safety. He spent the next few weeks consolidating his position immediately around Durazzo and made winter quarters there in preparation for a Spring campaign deeper into the Byzantine Balkans.

WARGAMING DURAZZO

This is a brilliant battle to re-fight. With lots of different troop types on both sides and despite the actual historical outcome, it is a battle between two fairly evenly matched armies that could produce an outcome either way.

Depending on your scale preference there are lots of figures available.

For 28mm fans, Gripping Beast make some great Byzantines and their Early Crusader range is perfect for the forces of Robert Guiscard. The new plastic range of Normans by Victrix are also ones to consider in your ranks, with beautiful animation and detail.

Victrix Normans

For 15mm we would obviously suggest our two “home brands”, Splintered Light Miniatures for the Normans and Lurkio for the Byzantines.

Splintered Light Normans

For smaller scales, then look at Pendraken 10mm. Although they don’t currently produce a Byzantine range, with careful buying from their Late Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Arab ranges, a suitable Byzantine force can certainly be put together.

You don’t even have to use figures to re-fight the battle, with the French game manufacturer, Historic.One recently launching the second edition of their game GUISCARD, which allows to you re-fight Robert’s battles across Sicily, Italy and the Balkans. You will find that in our online store too.

Finally, for those who wold just like to learn more about the period, we have several excellent books available in our Book Shop specifically about the Normans in Italy, Sicily and beyond.

Click on our Book Shop tab at the top to see our full selection, and all our books include FREE UK P&P.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Medieval

The Battle of the Standard (Northallerton) – 22nd August 1138   Leave a comment

Coronation of King Stephen

After the death of Henry I in 1135, a power struggle for succession that turned to civil war broke out across England and Normandy.

Before his death Henry had asked his barons and earls to swear their allegiance to his daughter, Matilda, and for her to become Queen. But as soon as he died, their moods changed, unsure as to be ruled by a woman, and one who was married to the Count of Anjou, a rival of Normandy.

Stephen of Blois, King Henry’s nephew, made a claim to the throne, and many barons rallied to his banner. He was crowned King of England in December 1135, but war was now on the cards.

The war largely centred around the old capital and religious centre of Winchester in southern England, however there was also fighting in Normandy, the east of England , and today’s battle, in northern England. Today, Northallerton is a busy and attractive market town about 15 miles south of where we, The Little Corporal are based. Back in 1138, it was just a small hamlet and became the site of this decisive engagement purely by chance in so much that it sits the distance of one day’s march north of York, from where the English Royalist army was marching from.

1138 was a troublesome year for Stephen, with several barons rebelling in southern England that needed his personal attention to put down the uprisings. Seeing that Stephen had his hands full, King David I of Scotland, who was Matilda’s uncle, took the opportunity to invade England in support of his niece. With an army around 16,000 strong he marched south.

As Stephen was otherwise engaged in the south, he entrusted the defence of the north largely to two men; William of Aumale, the Earl of Yorkshire, and Archbishop Thurstan of York. Between the two of them, through preaching and persuasion, they raised an army of Yorkshire levies which were bolstered by professional knights and archers, bringing their numbers up to possibly 10,000 men. Still far short of the numbers David advanced with. As a morale boost for the smaller army, Thruston had created a carroccio, a wagon upon which was mounted a ship’s mast. At the top of the mast was fastened a pyx containing the holy host and from the mast was hung four religious banners; those of the cathedrals of Durham, York, Ripon and Beverley. It was a method of creating a “sacred” army banner and rallying point that had been used for sometime by the Italians, as well during the early Crusades, but was the first, and to my knowledge, the only time such a banner has ever been used in England. It is this elaborate holy wagon that of course gave this battle its name – The Battle of the Standard.

Setting off from York to intercept the Scots, Aumale’s army made only one day’s march before meeting the Scots on the foggy morning of 22nd August near Northallerton.

 

Suggested initial set up for The Battle of the Standard

Wargaming Notes

Due to popularity now of ancient & medieval rules like Mortem et Gloriam and L’Art de la Guerre, which use “bases” rather than individual figures like the traditional WRG rules and Shock Of Impact, we are now listing suggested base numbers in our Orders of Battle instead of figure numbers. As always, our army lists, although thoroughly researched, are just a suggestion and designed to be as generic as possible so you can apply them to whichever rules you prefer.

ORDERS OF BATTLE

Scottish Army

King David ! of Scotland – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, competent leader.

Royal Knights (200 men) – 1 base – mounted medium knights, veteran, elite, lance, shield

Prince Henry of Scotland – sub-commander – Experienced, impetuous, ordinary leader

Knights (2 units of 250 men) – 2 bases – mounted medium knights, impetuous, lance, shield

Bowmen (2 units of 1,000 men each) – 2 x 2 bases – bowmen, medium infantry, experienced, bow

Spearmen (4 units of 1,500 men each) 4 x 3 bases – heavy infantry, experienced, spear and shield

Galwegian Warriors (4 units of 2,000 men each) 4 x 4 bases – medium infantry, impetuous, unarmoured, swords and shields.

Royalist Army

William d’Aumale – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, competent leader

Household Knights – (200 men) – 1 base – mounted medium knights, veteran, elite, lance, shield

Carrocccio & Guard – (Scared banner/camp with 200 men) – Camp base + 1 base – dismounted knights, heavy infantry, veteran, elite, swordsmen

Yorkshire Levy – (5 units of 1,000 men) – 5 x 2 bases – heavy infantry, mediocre morale, spear, shield

Bowmen – (2 units of 1,000 men) – 2 x 2 bases – bowmen, medium infantry, experienced, bow

Dismounted Knights – (2 units of 750 men) 2 x 2 bases – dismounted knights, heavy infantry, veteran, swordsmen

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

William d’Aumale, having a much smaller army, and despite the “divine standard” supplied by Archbishop Thurstan, opted for a practical way to bolster the morale of his newly raised Yorkshire Levy. He had the majority of his knights dismount, and placed them in the front line interspersed with archers; a formation normally attributed to much later battles of the 100 Years War. Having his knights present and relatively static, he hoped would steady the more nervous levies. The only knights that remained mounted were his own Household guard which he no doubt kept mobile in case of an emergency exit being needed.

Across the battlefield King David had initially planned to deploy in a similar fashion. He was an experienced commander and knew how to fight the Anglo-Normans. However his Galwegian allies demanded that they lead the battle and take the front line. David eventually gave in to their demands as they did make up almost half his army and he had witnessed them defeat English knights before, but that was on a far smaller scale and in advantageous terrain. This battle was very different.

The Galwegians took the front line and with screams and war-cries, launched their charge across the open ground towards the English army. Fast moving, but unarmoured, they came under devastating clouds of arrows unleashed by the English bowmen. Despite taking considerable casualties they pressed home their charge and smacked into the wall of dismounted knights who had filled the line as the bowmen moved back. Their sheer weight of numbers and ferocious fighting style began to push back the knights and the front line levy units, who thankfully held under the pressure. The Galwegians kept up the fight and forced the English line back to the carroccio which had it’s own guard of knights. The reserve Yorkshire Levy were now committed to the fight too and eventually the Galwegians were halted and then pushed back before being routed.

All the while King David had watched from the opposite hill without sending his other troops forward, but his impetuous son, Price Henry decided to support the Galwegians and launched a charge of his cavalry without orders from his father. But it was too late, by the time his men hit the English lines most of the Galwegians were either dead or fleeing and Henry found himself and his knights fighting alone. William d’Aumale launched his own Household knights to counter attack the Scots cavalry in the flank as they battled with the Yorkshire Levy, which quickly sent them into retreat.

It was now that King David decided to send forward the rest of his army, another 8,000 men, but it was too little and certainly too late. Half way across the battlefield his fresh troops were confronted with fleeing Galwegians and Henry’s knights in full retreat. The remaining Scots immediately halted and opted to turn around and fall back too.

Despite their smaller numbers, the English Royalist army had won. The Scots lost over 10,000 men, mainly Galwegians who were reported on by an eyewitness as “looking like hedgehogs, there were so many arrows in their bodies”. English losses were minimal.

POST SCRIPT

As I hope you can see from the account of the battle, it could have all been different with different tactics, or even just a speedier intervention by David’s reserves. It would certainly make an interesting re-fight in miniature, and if you do re-fight it from this the article then please send us a picture of your game and we’ll send you some freebies.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

We have both games and books available on this site if you want to learn more about The Anarchy, just click on the images below to see more information on each item.

 
 

The Anarchy – “Cry Havoc” hexmap game

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Medieval

The Battle of Shrewsbury – 21st July 1403   Leave a comment

When Henry Bollingbroke usurped the English throne in 1399 by capturing Richard II he had enjoyed the support of many English Lords and Earls in his fight, but since proclaiming himself King Henry IV his style of rule had distanced some of his previously loyal supporters. One such noble was Henry “Hotspur” Percy, Earl of Northumberland. As a noble who’s land bordered Scotland, Percy was an important noble to keep loyal, as he and his men were often the first line of defense and peacekeepers in the troublesome border regions. When the King failed to keep promises of granting land and Scottish prisoners to Percy for ransom Percy’s loyalty was tested too far, and in 1403 he openly challenged the authority of Henry IV by launching a rebellion.

Initially with just a personal retinue of 200 men, Percy marched cross country to Cheshire, an area loyal still to the late Richard II, where he raised several thousand men including many of the famous “Cheshire Archers” with their deadly longbows. After joining up with his uncle, Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester, his army had reached almost 13,000 men. His next plan seems to have been to march into Wales to join forces with the rebel self-proclaimed Prince of Wales, Owain Glyndwr and his army. However his movements and gathering of forces had not gone unnoticed and Henry IV, along with his son Henry Prince of Wales (future Henry V of Agincourt fame) and a Royal army of 14,000 men marched to intercept them before the two forces could meet up and it was near Shrewsbury in Shropshire on the Welsh borders where the two armies met.

 

Suggested initial set-up for the Battle of Shrewsbury

ORDERS OF BATTLE – using the figure/man ratio of 1:50

REBEL ARMY – left to right

Thomas Percy 1st Earl of Worcester – sub-commander – experienced, veteran, respected leader

Longbowmen (1000 men) -20 figures – open order, lightly armoured infantry, well trained, experienced, longbow

Billmen (1500 men) – 30 figures – close order infantry, medium armour, trained, steady, bill

Men-At Arms (500 men) – 10 figures – close order, heavy armour, experienced, veteran, 2 handed swords

Henry “Hotspur” Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland, Commander in Chief – experienced, veteran, ferocious warrior, inspirational leader

Knights (150 men) – 3 figures – close order, fully armoured cavalry, experienced, veteran, impetuous, lance, shield, sword

Longbowmen (1500 men) -30 figures – open order, lightly armoured infantry, well trained, experienced, longbow

Billmen (2000 men) – 40 figures – close order infantry, medium armour, trained, steady, bill

Men-At Arms (1000 men) – 20 figures – close order, heavy armour, experienced, veteran, 2 handed swords

Archibald Douglas, 4th Earl of Douglas – sub-commander – experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

Longbowmen (1000 men) -20 figures – open order, lightly armoured infantry, well trained, experienced, longbow

Billmen (1500 men) – 30 figures – close order infantry, medium armour, trained, steady, bill

Men-At Arms (500 men) – 10 figures – close order, heavy armour, experienced, veteran, 2 handed swords

ROYAL ARMY – left to right

Henry, Prince of Wales – sub-commander – experienced, ferocious warrior, inspirational leader

Longbowmen (1000 men) -20 figures – open order, lightly armoured infantry, well trained, experienced, longbow

Billmen (2000 men) – 40 figures – close order infantry, medium armour, trained, steady, bill

Men-At Arms (1000 men) – 20 figures – close order, heavy armour, experienced, veteran, 2 handed swords

King Henry IV – Commander in Chief – experienced, veteran, respected leader

Longbowmen (2000 men) -40 figures – open order, lightly armoured infantry, well trained, experienced, longbow

Billmen (2500 men) – 50 figures – close order infantry, medium armour, trained, steady, bill

Men-At Arms (1500 men) – 30 figures – close order, heavy armour, experienced, veteran, 2 handed swords

Edmund Stafford, 5th Earl of Stafford – sub-commander – experienced, veteran, respected leader

Longbowmen (1000 men) -20 figures – open order, lightly armoured infantry, well trained, experienced, longbow

Billmen (1500 men) – 30 figures – close order infantry, medium armour, trained, steady, bill

Men-At Arms (500 men) – 10 figures – close order, heavy armour, experienced, veteran, 2 handed swords

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

For many historians the Battle of Shrewsbury is viewed as an early prelude to the Wars of the Roses that would be a reemergence of the rivalry between supporters of the House of York and the House of Lancaster fifty years later and like those battles, Shreswbury began with a duel of longbows.

Percy had formed his army up along a ridge behind a hedgerow in front of farm land planted with peas that sloped gently down towards the Royal army, this subtle geographical advantage meant the Rebel’s longbows achieved a greater range and began to inflict serious casualties to the Royal army. Earl Stafford decided enough was enough and launched a charge on the right wing. The incline, though looking slight, proved to be more difficult to scale, also the Rebels had used the pea crop to their advantage, knotting the long vines together to create trip-traps that the armoured knight struggled to see and avoid before falling over, all the while coming under a hail of arrows.

Finally Stafford and his men reached the Rebel lines and hand to hand combat began, the exhausted Royal soldiers attacked hard, but when Stafford himself was cut down in the melee, his men began to retreat before deciding to fully flee the field. So intense had the archery been that Rebels had almost run out of arrows and as Stafford’s men fled the Rebel archers ran after them to recover arrows from the ground and pulling them from corpses of the fallen.

King Henry now decided his only option was an all out advance, and both he and his son’s divisions moved forward up the slopes, once again under a hail of longbow arrows and trying to avoid the knotted pea traps.

Henry Prince of Wales is hit by an arrow in the face

In the slow advance young Henry, Prince of Wales lifted his visor to get a better view of the slopes and traps in front of him and at that moment a longbow arrow struck him in the face, lodging itself in his cheekbone. Heroically he kept on fighting and leading his men to the Rebels, before then engaging in viscous hand to hand fighting with the arrow still stuck in his face. His father King Henry, was also under intense attack, the Rebels now holding superior numbers as well as the terrain advantage. Percy saw his chance to finish the battle and mounting his warhorse he led his 150 knights around Douglas’s flank to hit the Royal army in the side. His target was the Royal Standard, and his hope was to kill King Henry IV. Luckily for Henry his bodyguard had sensed the potential danger and had ordered the King to the rear lines, leaving his standard bearer in the front. Percy and his knights smashed into the Royal army’s flank and began hacking their way towards the Royal Standard which was loyally carried by Sir Walter Blount, Walter was allegedly cut down by Archibald Douglas at which point Percy lifted his visor and shouted ” The King is Dead, aren’t you Henry?” only for King Henry to shout back “I’m here and alive, Lord Percy is dead”, at which point, no doubt by coincidence rather than good planing or the “Hollywood effect”, an arrow struck Percy in the face, only unlike Prince Henry, this once struck an inch further up, piercing his eye then brain and killing him instantly.

So chaotic is any medieval battle, that only those in the immediate vicinity either saw, heard or knew what had happened, and while fighting generally continued, small then growing numbers of both Rebel and Royal soldiers began to flee believing that their own leader had been killed. It was once again, Price Henry, the future Henry V, that saved the situation, rallying his men to push another attack in to the Rebel lines and proclaim that Percy was dead, prompting the end of any Rebel resistance and routing their army.

In the rout, Earl Douglas was captured and held for ransom, while Thomas Percy, also captured was less fortunate, and was instead executed two days later.

By the miracle of medieval medicine using alcohol and honey, Prince Henry’s arrow to the face was safely removed, leaving a scar, but no other damage.

WARGAMING THE BATTLE

Shrewsbury is an often overlooked battle, but holds lots of potentials as well as possibility of a “what if” campaign where the rebellion continues and builds to a full civil war as would happen fifty years later.

Figures for gaming this are readily available, being basically “Agincourt era” 100 years war as far as dress and weapons are concerned.

The new 15mm Plastic Starter Army – perfect for this battle

And rules that reflect the levels of generalship such as Mortem et Gloriam would allow a natural flow of events without having to add additional rules to compensate for differences in ability.

All in all it’s well worth playing and your figures can double up for 100 Years War battles too.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Medieval

The Battle of El Mansurah – 8th February 1250   Leave a comment

Fierce fighting in the town of El Mansurah

After the losing the city of Jerusalem a second time in 1244, Pope Innocent IV requested yet another crusade to try and recapture the holy city. King Louis IX of France gave the idea his full backing and began to assemble what would be known as the Seventh Crusade. Louis was supported by his two brothers, Robert d’Artois (appointed his second in command), and Charles d’Anjou; he was also joined by an English contingent led by William of Salisbury as well by the Holy Orders of the Knights Templar and Knights Hosptillar. In their planning they decided that the power base of the Muslim forces was Egypt, and that rather than attack Jerusalem again they should attack Egypt and Cairo and in doing so destroy the Muslim armies at the source.

After making diplomatic arrangements with the Mongols, an invasion of Egypt was agreed; the Seventh Crusade would attack the Muslim forces in Egypt while the Mongols attacked the Muslim’s eastern forces in Turkey, Syria and Persia.

The Crusade initially went to plan, the christian forces landed near Damietta and local forces fled before they arrived at the town, although Louis’s army was harassed by Muslim skirmishers their advance to Cairo continued without any great events. In fact they received only good news as they marched, being reinforced by Louis’s third bother, Alphonse de Poitiers, and receiving the news that Ayyubid Sultan, as-Salih Ayyub had died.

As they progressed towards Cairo their route was blocked by a canal near the town of El Mansurah, The Muslim army was camped on the opposite side outside the town, and were quite relaxed in the belief that the canal was impassable and the crusaders were now stuck.

However a local sold information to the crusaders of a ford downstream that was passable at this time of year. With a Vanguard force of 1500 knights, including 300 Knights Templar and William’s English knights, Robert d’Artois made a secret crossing under strict orders from Louis not to attack the Muslim army, but instead protect the canal bank while more crusaders crossed and a temporary bridge could be assembled.

 

Suggested initial set-up for the Battle of El Mansurah

ORDERS OF BATTLE

We are suggesting a scale of 1-50 men as this is quite a large battle’ but you can adapt these to suit your favorite rules.

CRUSADER ARMY

VANGUARD

Robert d’Artois – Vanguard commander, veteran, experienced, impetuous

French Knights (900 men) 18 figures – extra heavy armoured cavalry, impetuous, veteran, lance, shield, heavy armour

William of Salisbury – sub-commander, veteran, experienced, tactician, steady

English Knights (300 men) 6 figures – extra heavy armoured cavalry, disciplined, veteran, lance, shield, heavy armour

Guillaume de Sonac (Grand Master of the Temple Knights) – sub-commander – veteran, elite, disciplined, inspirational leader

Kinghts Templar (300 men) 6 figures – extra heavy armoured knights, veteran, elite, disciplined, excellent fighters, stubborn, lance, shield heavy armour

MAIN FORCE

King Louis IX – Commander-in-Chief, veteran, experienced, tactician

Knights (700 men) 14 figures – extra heavy armoured cavalry, impetuous, veteran, lance, shield, heavy armour

Knights Hospitaller (300 men) – 6 figures – extra heavy armoured knights, veteran, elite, disciplined, excellent fighters, stubborn, lance, shield heavy armour

Spearmen (1000 men) 20 figures – heavy infantry, trained, steady, veteran, medium armour, spear and shield

Crossbowmen (2000 men) 40 figures – heavy infantry, trained, steady, veteran, medium armour, crossbow

Alphonse de Poitiers – sub-commander – veteran, elite, disciplined, inspirational leader

Knights (900 men) 18 figures – extra heavy armoured cavalry, impetuous, veteran, lance, shield, heavy armour

Spearmen (1000 men) 20 figures – heavy infantry, trained, steady, veteran, medium armour, spear and shield

Crossbowmen (2000 men) 40 figures – heavy infantry, trained, steady, veteran, medium armour, crossbow

AYYUBID ARMY

Fakhir-ad-Din-Yusuf – Commander-in Chief – experienced, veteran, steady

Toassin Cavalry (1000 men) – 20 figures – armoured cavalry, trained, veteran, disciplined, lance, bow, shield, medium armour

Turcoman Cavalry (500 men) – 10 figures – light cavalry, skirmish order, trained, steady, javelins, shield

Ahdath Infantry (1000 men) – 20 figures – medium infantry, militia, nervous, unreliable, spear, shield

Baibars – sub-commander – veteran, ferocious fighter, inspirational leader, elite

Mamluk Guard Cavalry (600 men) – 12 figures – armoured cavalry, veteran, elite, disciplined, lance, bow, shield, medium armour

Kipchack Mamluk Cavalry (1000 men) – 20 figures – light cavalry. open order, trained, veteran, steady, javelins, bow, shield

Ahdath Infantry (1000 men) – 20 figures – medium infantry, militia, nervous, unreliable, bow, shield

Sudanese Archers (1000 men) – 20 figures – light infantry, open order, trained, experienced, steady, bow, shield

Sudanese Spearmen (1000 men) – 20 figures – light infantry, open order, trained, experienced, spear or javelins, shield

Faris-ad-Din-Aktai – sub-commander – experienced, impetuous, nervous

Turcoman Cavalry (500 men) – 10 figures – light cavalry, skirmish order, trained, steady, javelins, shield

Toassin Cavalry (1000 men) – 20 figures – armoured cavalry, trained, veteran, disciplined, lance, bow, shield, medium armour

Sudanese Archers (1000 men) – 20 figures – light infantry, open order, trained, experienced, steady, bow, shield

Sudanese Spearmen (1000 men) – 20 figures – light infantry, open order, trained, experienced, spear or javelins, shield

Ahdath Infantry (1000 men) – 20 figures – medium infantry, militia, nervous, unreliable, javelins, shield

ADDITIONAL CITIZEN FORCES INSIDE THE TOWN

Militia/Citizens (1000 men) – 20 figures – light infantry, open order. militia, untrained, unpredictable, half armed bow, half armed javelins or slings

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

Having crossed the canal, Robert d’Artois decided to disregard his brother’s orders and instead attacked the Ayyubid camp immediately. Both the Templar’s Grand Master and William of Salisbury tried to persuade him otherwise, but asserting his authority and claiming that they would dishonor the cross by not attacking, he led an all out charge on the camp.

The Ayyubids were taken totally by surprise and the crusaders inflicted heavy casualties, killing Fakhir-ad-Din-Yusuf in the attack. In panic the Ayyubids fled to El Mansurah with Robert and his knights in hot pursuit, however once inside the walled town the knights found themselves trapped and fighting for their lives. The narrow streets hampered their movement and citizens took to the roof tops throwing clay tiles and rocks down onto the knights below. The Muslim army rallied and overwhelmed Robert’s men, killing Robert himself, as well as William of Salisbury and the Grand Master of the Templars. Only five Templar knights and less than fifty other knights escaped the massacre and out of the town.

Meanwhile Louis had been moving the remainder of his army across the canal and was furious at Robert’s attack. His force was little more than half across when the survivors returned, this time with the Ayyubids in hot pursuit.

Louis made a defensive crescent formation protecting the ford and a hastily assembled bridge while the remainder of his men crossed the canal, all the while under repeated attacks. It was only when the crossbowmen (who were at the rear) crossed the canal, that Louis was able to put up a defense strong enough to force the Ayyubids back.

During the night the Muslims returned and made several ferocious night-assaults on the crusaders bridgehead, inflicting casualties and terror throughout the ranks. After regrouping and resting the Ayyubids attacked again two days later, once more being fought back, but now losses on the crusader army were mounting. A third of all the knights were now dead, half had no horses left alive, and the contingents from the Holy Orders had been wiped out.

The battle was a disaster for the crusaders; unable to advance or retreat Louis’s army stood it’s ground but eventually began to fall to disease as well as being surrounded by an Egyptian flotilla sent down the canal. Surrendering to the Ayyubids, all those who were sick or weak were massacred (about 7,000 men), the remainder (including Louis IX King of France) were held prisoner until he was able to secure release with a ransom payment of over one million gold bezants. Once released, Louis remained in Outremer for several more years but was unable to muster any realistic fighting force and the Seventh Crusade came to an end.

ADDITIONAL RULES FOR WARGAMERS

‘ll note that we have left it up to you to decide if the vanguard should charge straight in to Ayyubid camp, or follow orders. If it does charge in then the Ayyubids should all be classed as disorganised and/or demoralised to reflect their surprise and rout to El Mansurah.

If the crusader player decides not to instantly attack then we would suggest each game turn a D6 is rolled by the Ayyubid player, on a 6 they become alerted and can deploy, otherwise the crusaders can keep crossing the canal unobserved. Maybe after three game turns of crossing if a 6 has not been rolled, allow a 5 or 6 then 4,5,6 etc to reflect the growing noise and dust clouds that must have developed. making their presence more obvious.

If alerted by a successful dice roll the Ayyubids will no longer be disorganised/demoralised, but can deploy in good order.

 
 
 

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Medieval

The Battle of Minatogawa – 5th July 1336   Leave a comment

Shogun Ashikaga Takauji – head of the Ashikaga Clan

Japan was in a period of internal power struggles in the wake of the Mongol Invasion in the late 1200’s. The Ashikaga Clan began challenging the old Imperial Order and this eventually spilled over into civil war known as the Nanboku-Cho Wars.

Initial engagements between the two factions favoured the Imperial forces loyal to Emperor Go-Daigo and by February 1336 the Ashikaga Clan was on the defensive, and the loyal Imperial general, Natta Yoshisada set about gathering forces to finish off the threat. However as Yoshisada launched hi offensive, previously loyal samurai, Akamatsu Norimura decalred support for the Ashikaga cause, forcing Yoshisada to divert hi attention and forces to besiege Norimura’s Shirohata Castle. This delay in pursing Ashikaga gave him time to muster new forces, persuading more clan leaders to his cause and assemble a new and bigger army to counterattack the Emperor’s army.

Another samurai clan leader devoutly loyal to the Emperor was Kusunoki Masashige, he counselled the Emperor to make peace with the Ashikaga but his suggestion was dismissed, with both the Emperor and Yoshisada claiming the Ashikaga army was now ready to be finally crushed once and for all. However, in April 1336 the newly reinforced Ashikaga forces won a victory at Tatarahama, capturing the island of Kyushu. By the summer Ashikaga’s army was gathering even more strength and they began to advanve towards the Imperial capital, Kyoto.

Again the loyal subject, Masashige, counselled the Emperor suggesting their army was not able to beat Ashikaga and should instead leave Kyoto and take refuge in the heights of Mount Hiei from where they could launch guerilla style raids on Ashikaga’s supply routes until such time they were strong enough to face them again in open battle. Appalled at the thought of abandoning the capital city, Emperor Go-Daigo ordered the still over confidant Yoshisada to face Ashikaga’s army in battle and that Masashige and his clan should be the vanguard. Loyal to the end, Kusunoki Masashige obeyed, along with his brother, Masasue, but not before sending his 10 year old son, Masatsura, back to the family stronghold having made him promise to always be loyal to the Emperor and to carry on the family name.

Initial deployment – Battle of Minatogawa

ORDERS OF BATTLE – suggested scale 1 figure = 25 men

IMPERIAL ARMY

Vanguard

Kusunoki Masashige – Sub-Commander – Excellent tactician, Inspirational Leader, veteran, elite

Samurai Masashige Clan (700 men) – 28 figures – Open order armoured infantry, elite, veteran, longbow and 2 handed sword

Left Wing

Nitta Yoshisada – Commander-in-Chief – Over confident, veteran, elite

Mounted Samurai (400 men) – 16 figures – Heavy cavalry, armoured, elite, veteran, lance, 2 handed sword

Samurai (400 men) – 16 figures – Open order armoured infantry, elite, veteran, longbow and 2 handed sword

Centre

Odate – Sub-Commander – Average, veteran, steady

Samurai (600 men) – 24 figures – Open order armoured infantry, elite, steady, longbow and 2 handed sword

Right Wing (rear)

Wakiya – Sub-Commander – Average, veteran, steady

Mounted Samurai (200 men) – 8 figures – Heavy cavalry, armoured, elite, veteran, lance, 2 handed sword

Ashigaru (800 men in 2 units) – 2 x 16 figures – Medium infantry, light armour, trained, steady, halberd

 

ASHIKAGA ARMY

Shiba Clan

Shiba – Sub-Commander – Good, veteran, elite

Mounted Samurai (250 men) – 10 figures – Heavy cavalry, armoured, elite, veteran, lance, 2 handed sword

Samurai (250 men) – 10 figures – Open order armoured infantry, elite, veteran, longbow and 2 handed sword

Ashigaru (500 men) – 20 figures – Medium infantry, light armour, trained, steady, halberd

Tadayoshi Clan

Ashikaga Tadayoshi _ Sub-Commander – Excellent, veteran, elite

Mounted Samurai (1000 men) – 40 figures – Heavy cavalry, armoured, elite, veteran, lance, 2 handed sword

Samurai (500 men) – 20 figures – Open order armoured infantry, elite, veteran, longbow and 2 handed sword

Ashigaru (1500 men) – 60 figures – Medium infantry, light armour, trained, steady, halberd

Shoni Clan

Shoni – Sub-Commander – Good, veteran, elite

Mounted Samurai (250 men) – 10 figures – Heavy cavalry, armoured, elite, veteran, lance, 2 handed sword

Samurai (500 men) – 20 figures – Open order armoured infantry, elite, veteran, longbow and 2 handed sword

Ashigaru (750 men) – 30 figures – Medium infantry, light armour, trained, steady, halberd

Ashikaga Clan

Ashikaga Takauji – Commander-in-Chief – Inspirational, excellent, veteran, elite

Mounted Samurai (250 men) – 10 figures – Heavy cavalry, armoured, elite, veteran, lance, 2 handed sword

Samurai (500 men) – 20 figures – Open order armoured infantry, elite, veteran, longbow and 2 handed sword

Ashigaru (750 men) – 30 figures – Medium infantry, light armour, trained, steady, halberd

Hoskawa Clan

Hoskawa – Sub-Commander – Excellent, veteran, elite

Mounted Samurai (1500 men) – 60 figures – Heavy cavalry, armoured, elite, veteran, lance, 2 handed sword

Samurai (500 men) – 20 figures – Open order armoured infantry, elite, veteran, longbow and 2 handed sword

Ashigaru (2000 men) – 80 figures – Medium infantry, light armour, trained, steady, halberd

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

The Imperial army positioned themselves in what they felt was strong defensive position. Lacking any naval forces, they formed up along the coast and facing the river, Minato-Gawa with Masashige on the far river bank as a vanguard, his rear protected by the rest of the army.

Ashikaga’s plan was a three pronged attack and it is difficult to recall any other battle in history where everything fell into place and worked as this plan did from the start.

Tadayoshi advanced first towards Masashinge, drawing him forward which allowed both Shiba and Shoni on the flanks to begin an encirclement.

Meanwhile Hosokawa who commanded almost half the army in ships off the coast, sailed beyond the Imperial army tp the mouth of the Ikuta-Gawa where he disembarked some 4,000 men behind the Imperial army and attacked their flank. Wakiya’s men fought briefly, but then began to flee, the panic spreading along the coast line as Hosokawa’s men advanced. Yoshisada attempted to a defence and turned his men and advanced to meet Hosokawa, but in doing so left an undefended gap on the shoreline, where Ashikaga Takauji now landed his men, totally unopposed. Yoshisada, now fearing encirclement, fled the field with his men. The only Imperial forces now left on the field were those of Kusunoki Masashige, the samurai clan leader who had advised against the battle, but still honoured and obeyed his Emperor and agreed to fight.

It was a blazing hot summer’s day and as the sun beat down on the armoured samurai they repeatedly beat back attack after attack by the now overwhelming numbers of Ashikaga’s army, several hundred men fighting several thousand. For over six hours the totally surrounded men of Masashinge kept fighting against all odds. Finally, suffering from multiple wounds, Masashinge ordered his remaining men to do the thing of honour, and as their attackers momentarily withdrew to regroup for another attack, Kusunoki Masahinge, next to his brother and with his loyal men, all knelt and simultaneously committed harikari (suicide by disembowelment). The battle was over.

Ironically, Yoshisada and the Emperor then fled the capital for Mount Hiei.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Medieval, The Far East

The Battle Of The Herrings – 12th February 1429   Leave a comment

Since October 1428, the English had been laying siege to the French city of Orleans. In February 1429 a wagon train loaded with supplies was despatched from English occupied Paris to the besieging troops at Orleans; 300 wagons and carts loaded with arms, cannonballs, and most notably, 80 barrels of herrings (from where the battle takes it’s name), to feed the English soldiers during the meatless season of Lent. The French assembled an intercepting force of 4,000 men and artillery to be led by the dashing and accomplished 28 year old military commander, Charles de Bourbon. Included in his retinue was a Scottish contingent of 600 men under the command of Sir John Stuart of Darnley.

After passing through the town of Rouvray-Sainte-Croix, the English convoy began to cross a featureless flat plain, it was here that their forward scouts reported the approaching French force. The English commander, Sir John Fastolf, (later made famous as a fictional version of himself as Falstaff in Shakespeare’s plays) knew his options were limited. His wagon train too was too slow to outrun the French, and his cargo too valuable to simply abandon it, so even though he would be heavily outnumbered, he took the decision to stand and fight. He ordered the wagons and carts to form a circle (laager) and for his men to plant sharpened stakes in the ground to protect the front and gaps between the vehicles. His men, 1000 Paris Militia and 600 English longbowmen, were positioned inside the wagon fortress, to wait for the French to make their move.

Battle of the Herrings – Initial Deployment

ORDERS OF BATTLE

ENGLISH ARMY

Sir John Fastolf – Commander In Chief

Longbows (600 men) 24 figures – Armoured, Trained, Veterans, Excellent Morale, Longbow & 2 Handed Sword

Simon Morhier of Gilles – Sub-Commander

Paris Militia (1000 men) 40 figures – Armoured, Militia, Average Morale, 2 Handed Bills & Swords

Wagons in a complete circular laager with stakes around the entire perimeter

FRENCH ARMY

Vanguard

Sir John Stuart of Darnley – Sub-Commander

Scottish Men At Arms (150 men) 6 figures – Dismounted, Armoured, Impetuous, Good Morale, 2 Handed swords

Scottish Foot (450 men) 18 figures – Light Armour. Impetuous. Good Morale, Spears & Side Arms

Wings

French Men At Arms/ Knights (2 x 500 men) 2 x 20 figures – Mounted, Heavy Armour, Impetuous, Good Morale, Lance

Main Body

Charles de Bourbon – Commander In Chief

Crossbowmen (600 men) 24 figures – Light Armour, Trained, Average Morale, Crossbow

Brigans (1500 men) 60 figures – Medium Armour, Trained, Average Morale, Spears & Shields

Artillery – 4 models of Organ Gun “Light” – crew, Trained, Average Morale

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

Seeing the English withdraw inside their laager, Charles de Bourbon, a young and “modern tactician”, decided to bombard the defences with artillery. Bringing his guns forward with his crossbowmen he began a barrage of shot and bolts into the English wagon fortress. The term “barrage” is used loosely here, as in medieval warfare the deployment and use of gunpowder weapons to their best was still an unknown. Even so, sources say that the French were beginning to inflict damage on the English defences when the Scots became impatient and suddenly launched into a charge, forcing the French artillery & archers to cease firing in case they hit their allies. The English longbowmen stepped into the gaps between the wagons and launched volley after volley of deadly arrows into the Scots, mowing them down, including Sir John, before they ever made contact with the English. In an impetuous moment, seeing their comrades be shot down, the French cavalry charged to try and support the brave Scotsmen, only to also be shot down in droves. Among the wounded knights was Jean de Dunois ” The Bastard of Orleans”, who was to later play a big part alongside Joan of Arc in the retaking Orleans.

As the Scots and French Men At Arms fell in front of them, the English noted that the main body of French infantry was still a long way behind and advancing very slowly. they seized the moment and rushed out from their wagon circle and cut down the remaining wounded and hesitant enemy, sending the swifter of foot into a rout back to their lines. As the fleeing French cavalry hit the main body of advancing French infantry their resolve dissolved also, and the entire French army turned to run.

Losses are put at just 4 English killed, compared to the Franco-Scots losing 120 Men At Arms and 500 others (mainly Scots).

WARGAMER RULE ADAPTATION

Sources suggest that had the Scots not charged, that the French artillery would have eventually either routed the English, or forced them into another tactic. To recreate the Scots impetuous nature we would suggest a dice roll at the start of each game turn, a 5 or 6 on a D6 triggering the Scots charge.

To recreate this battle we suggest the Perry range of miniatures, which you will find in our online store. Their range includes English archers, foot soldiers, Men At Arms, Knights, Mounted Knights and French infantry. Use the code “Herring” at the checkout and get 10% off until the 1st March 2020.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Medieval

The Battle of Tewkesbury – 4th May 1471   Leave a comment

Edward IV (House of York) had seized the English crown some ten years earlier after his overwhelming victory at the Battle of Towton in 1461. He held the deposed King Henry VI (House of Lancaster) as a prisoner, however Henry’s wife, Margaret of Anjou and their son, Edward Prince of Wales remained at large and ran a “Court in Exile” from France whilst plotting how to regain the English crown, if not for Henry, then for their son Edward. When Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (known as “the Kingmaker”) changed his allegiance from the Yorkists to the Lancastrians, Edward IV was forced to flee the country only to return not long after with his mind set on stamping out the Lancastrian claim to the throne for good.

At the Battle of Barnet on 14th April 1471, Edward IV won a resounding victory. Richard Neville was killed and Henry VI again was captured and placed in the Tower of London. By coincidence on the same day, Henry’s wife, Margaret and their son Edward, landed in England again, at Weymouth, with a fresh Lancastrian army. Hearing of her husband’s defeat as she arrived her heart must have sunk, however she quickly devised a plan to move her force swiftly to Wales where Jasper Tudor, Henry’s half-brother, was positioned with more men. If they could link up and create a large army they could wipe out Edward IV. The race was on.

As Margaret moved north, Edward IV began a march from London to try and catch her. In need of supplies she lost time in Bristol gathering provisions, before marching north further, this time to Gloucester, the first crossing point over the River Severn and taking her into Wales. Gloucester was however loyal to King Edward, the city’s elders and garrison refused to open the gates to let her pass through. With no time to force her way in, she opted to move further north still, to the next river crossing, situated in the small Abbey town of Tewkesbury. It was here that King Edward, after force marching across the country, caught up with the Lancastrian army who had little choice but to turn and face Edward for battle.

The Battle of Tewkesbury – 4th May 1471

ORDERS OF BATTLE

YORKIST ARMY

Left Division

Richard Duke of Gloucester (future Richard III) – sub commander

Dismounted Knights (200 men) 8 figures – Full Plate Armour, Superior Fighters, Elite, Veterans, 2 Handed Weapons

Billmen (400 men) 16 figures – Armoured, Excellent Fighters, Trained, Veterans, 2 Handed Bills

Archers (750 men) 30 figures – Light/Minimal Armour, Trained, Veterans, Longbows

Artillery – 2 models – “Organ” gun – Light cannon, trained crew

Centre Division

King Edward IV – Commander in Chief

Dismounted Knights (200 men) 8 figures – Full Plate Armour, Superior Fighters, Elite, Veterans, 2 Handed Weapons

Billmen (400 men) 16 figures – Armoured, Excellent Fighters, Trained, Veterans, 2 Handed Bills

Archers (750 men) 30 figures – Light/Minimal Armour, Trained, Veterans, Longbows

Artillery – 2 models – “Organ” gun – Light cannon, trained crew

Right Division

Lord William Hastings – sub commander

Dismounted Knights (200 men) 8 figures – Full Plate Armour, Superior Fighters, Elite, Veterans, 2 Handed Weapons

Billmen (400 men) 16 figures – Armoured, Excellent Fighters, Trained, Veterans, 2 Handed Bills

Archers (750 men) 30 figures – Light/Minimal Armour, Trained, Veterans, Longbows

Artillery – 2 models – “Organ” gun – Light cannon, trained crew

Cavalry Detachment

Currours (200 men) 8 figures – Light Armoured Cavalry, Trained, Vetrens, Lance

 

LANCASTRIAN ARMY

Left Division

John Courtenay, Earl of Devon – sub commander

Dismounted Knights (250 men) 10 figures – Full Plate Armour, Superior Fighters, Elite, Veterans, 2 Handed Weapons

Billmen (500 men) 20 figures – Armoured, Excellent Fighters, Trained, Veterans, 2 Handed Bills

Archers (1000 men) 40 figures – Light/Minimal Armour, Trained, Veterans, Longbows

Artillery – 1 model – “Organ” gun – Light cannon, trained crew

Centre Division

Lord John Wenlock – Commander in Chief

Edward Prince of Wales – sub commander

Dismounted Knights (250 men) 10 figures – Full Plate Armour, Superior Fighters, Elite, Veterans, 2 Handed Weapons

Billmen (500 men) 20 figures – Armoured, Excellent Fighters, Trained, Veterans, 2 Handed Bills

Archers (1000 men) 40 figures – Light/Minimal Armour, Trained, Veterans, Longbows

French Crossbowmen (200 men) 8 figures – Medium Armour, Trained, Mercenaries, Crossbow

Artillery – 1 model – “Organ” gun – Light cannon, trained crew

Right Division

Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset – sub commander

Dismounted Knights (250 men) 10 figures – Full Plate Armour, Superior Fighters, Elite, Veterans, 2 Handed Weapons

Billmen (500 men) 20 figures – Armoured, Excellent Fighters, Trained, Veterans, 2 Handed Bills

Archers (1000 men) 40 figures – Light/Minimal Armour, Trained, Veterans, Longbows

Artillery – 1 model – “Organ” gun – Light cannon, trained crew

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

The battle opened with an exchange of massed archery and artillery fire, the Yorkist army having the numerical advantage having brought theirs and captured guns from Barnet. Lord Somerset then split his division, leaving a screen of archers in their original position, he led a flanking action of knights and billmen in an attempt to catch the Duke of Gloucester in the side. King Edward had foreseen this plan and had hidden 200 Lancers in woods on a small hill to the left. As Somerset advanced passed the hill and charged Gloucester’s flank, the cavalry themselves charged into Somerset’s rear. Even so, Somerset’s men began to push back Gloucester’s force before the cavalry attack in the rear began to take it’s toll. Bizarrely, both Wenlock and Devon’s divisions simply stood and watched.

After fierce hand to hand fighting, Somerset’s men made a run for it, many being cut down in an area now known as “Bloody Meadow”. Lord Somerset himself only just escaping capture, ran to Lord Wenlock in a fury at his men not supporting his advance, and promptly killed Lord Wenlock, cleaving his skull with a battle axe. At this Edward IV ordered a general advance and all three Yorkist divisions charged the Lancastrian army. With Wenlock dead, and no overall commander, the Lancastrian army struggled to fight with any cohesion. In the ensuing melee, Edward Prince of Wales was slain and soon the entire Lancastrian army was in rout. Hundreds of fleeing men were either cut down or drowned trying to escape.

Lord Somerset and several other nobles took sanctuary inside Tewkesbury Abbey, the Abbot initially refusing any armed pursuers inside. After a couple of days though he realised that Edward IV was going to be King for a while longer now he had won such a decisive victory, and upsetting the King may not be such a good idea. He therefore let Somerset and his companions be removed from the Abbey where they were beheaded.

With Edward, Prince of Wales dead, as well as Somerset and Richard Neville, the Lancastrians had few people left to lead their cause. To make sure they had even fewer, Edward IV now ordered the captured Henry VI to be killed too, leaving himself as undisputed sovereign of England until his death in 1483, when “The Wars of The Roses” would start again.

 

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Medieval

The Battle of Poitiers 1356   Leave a comment

The French advance on foot under a hail of arrows

The Battle of Poitiers on September 19th 1356 is regarded as the last battle of the “Edwardian” phase of the Hundred Years War between England and France. The English army was led by Edward III’s eldest son, Prince Edward “The Black Prince” who had won his spurs at Crecy some ten years earlier. The French army was led by King John himself, accompanied by most of the nobility of France as well as his 14 year old son and heir, Philip.

As is our rule in Battles For Wargamers, we do not list for particular rules, but rather a broad outline of forces and events that you can use to your own favourite ruleset.

Working on a scale of 1:50 men

ENGLISH ARMY

Left Flank

Earl of Warwick – Knight – sub-commander

Earl of Oxford – Knight – sub-commander

Dismounted Knights (500 men) 10 figures – elite, veteran. heavy armour, swords and shields

Medium Infantry (500 men) 10 figures – regular, steady, light/minimal armour, spear and shields

Longbowmen (1500 men) 30 figures – veteran, excellent shots, unarmoured, longbow and side arms

Centre Division

Edward the Black Prince – Knight – CinC

Sir John Chandos – Knight – sub-commander

Dismounted Knights (1000 men) 20 figures – elite, veteran, heavy armour, swords and shields

Dismounted Squires (1000 men) 20 figures – regular, veteran, heavy armour, swords and shields

Dismounted Men At Arms (1000 men) 20 figures – regular, steady, armoured, halberds/bills

Right Flank

Earl of Salisbury – Knight – sub-commander

Earl of Suffolk – Knight – sub-commander

Dismounted Knights (500 men) 10 figures – elite, veteran. heavy armour, swords and shields

Medium Infantry (500 men) 10 figures – regular, steady, light/minimal armour, spear and shields

Longbowmen (1500 men) 30 figures – veteran, excellent shots, unarmoured, longbow and side arms

A total of 160 wargames figures + commanders

FRENCH ARMY

Forlorn Hope

Jean de Clermont – Knight – sub-commander

Arnoul D’Audrehem – Knight – sub-commander

Mounted Knights (400 men) 8 figures – elite, impetuous, heavy armour, barded horses, lance & shield

Mounted Knights (400 men) 8 figures – elite, impetuous, heavy armour, barded horses, lance & shield

Vanguard

Gautier De Brienne – Knight – sub-commander

Men-At-Arms (1000 men) 20 figures – regular, steady, armoured, halberds/polearms

Militia (1000 men) 20 figures – trained, poor, light/minimal armour, swords & sidearms

Crossbowmen (1500 men) 30 figures – regular, steady, light armour, crossbow & sidearms

1st Division

Dauphin Charles – Knight – sub-commander

Men-At-Arms (1000 men) 20 figures – regular, steady, armoured, halberds/polearms

Light Infantry (1000 men) 20 figures – regular, steady, light/minimal armour, spear and shields

Militia (1000 men) 20 figures – trained, poor, light/minimal armour, swords & sidearms

2nd Division

Philippe D’Orleans – Knight – sub-commander

Men-At-Arms (1000 men) 20 figures – regular, steady, armoured, halberds/polearms

Light Infantry (1000 men) 20 figures – regular, steady, light/minimal armour, spear and shields

Militia (1000 men) 20 figures – trained, poor, light/minimal armour, swords & sidearms

3rd Division

King John of France – Knight – CinC

Geoffroi De Charny – Knight – sub-commander

Dismounted Knights (1000 men) 20 figures – elite, impetuous, heavy armour, swords and shields

Dismounted Squires (1000 men) 20 figures – regular, impetuous, heavy armour, swords and shields

Men-At-Arms (2000 men) 40 figures – regular, steady, armoured, halberds/polearms

Militia (1000 men) 20 figures – trained, poor, light/minimal armour, swords & sidearms

Crossbowmen (500 men) 10 figures – regular, steady, light armour, crossbow & sidearms

A total of 316 wargames figures + commanders

The battlefield should have a gentle, steadily increasing slope from one end to the other, with the French positioning at the lower end facing uphill and the English on the top of the slope facing downhill. There should also be some hedgerows along the upper slope that in reality the longbowmen positioned themselves behind.

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

The Black Prince positioned his men among the hedges and tress in a defensive formation, the longbowmen standing behind a particularly prominent thick hedge through which a road ran at right angles.

King John was advised by his Scottish commander, Sir William Douglas, that the French attack should be on foot, as horses were particularly vulnerable to English archers, the arrows fired with a high trajectory falling on the unprotected necks and backs of the mounts. King John took this advice, his army in the main leaving its horses with the baggage and forming up on foot.

The French attack began with a mounted charge by the forlorn hope of knights commanded by two Marshals of France; Barons Clermont and Audrehem. The force reached a gallop, closing in to charge down the road into the centre of the English position. The attack was a disaster, with those knights not shot down by the English archers dragged from their horses and killed or secured as prisoners for later ransom.

The English archers then began firing at the massed French infantry as they made their way forward in heavy armour up the slope. The 1st Division commanded by the Dauphin finally reached the English lines, having suffered a hail of arrows but with far fewer casualties and disorder than if they had been on horseback. Savage and brutal hand to hand fighting ensued and the opposing forces fought for over two hours before the French, exhausted, began to fall back in retreat. However their retreat was met by the 2nd Division’s advance and the the two merging caused considerable confusion and disarray in the ranks, and soon both Divisions were retreating. King John decided to try and steady his army by advancing his 3rd Division, encouraging some retreating men to turn again and join his advancing men.

From the crest of the slope, the English too were getting a confused vision of events before them, seeing the 1st Division repulsed and then the 2nd Division retreat without even making contact with them, the Black Prince thought the entire French army was leaving the battlefield. Eager not to let them slip away, he ordered some of his knights to mount their horses and in an encircling move to the right, trap the retreating French while his main army charged forward down the slopes to give chase.

Mounted English knights appearing at the rear of the French army led King John’s men to panic and run in any direction to avoid being trapped. King John and his son, Philip the Bold, found themselves encircled by English soldiers and surrendered. Fleeing French soldiers found the city of Poitiers gates locked and unable to escape many were killed or captured including a large number of French nobles. Reports after the battle quoted 3,000 French dead with only 40 English being killed, and French prisoners included the King and his son, 17 great lords, 13 Counts, 5 Viscounts, and over 100 Knights.

The capture of King John and his son Philip

 

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Medieval