Tuesday, 12 September 2017

"Salsicce senza Senape" - A skirmish in the Kingdom of Naples

This blog has seen five games set in Northern France in 1513 so far. Todays post covers a game I tried out using Lion Rampant and set during the War for Naples 1499-1504. As you may know, I have rambled on about it a few times, this is a part of the Italian Wars that really interests me. I was keen to get my forces on the table in an attempt to fight out a skirmish using my early 16th century French and Spanish.

The setting for this game is the Kingdom of Naples, 1502. Following the French King Charles VIII's seizure of Naples at the start of 1495 the Spanish soon came to the aid of the Neapolitan King, Ferdinand II, and under the leadership of  Gonzalo de Cordoba successfully reduced the French hold over the Kingdom. The Spanish support for the Kingdom was short lived however, as Ferdinand of Aragon and Charles VIII's successor Louis XII of France, who had ambitions to hold Milan and was afraid of an attack from Spain, signed the Treaty of Granada at the end of 1500. France and Spain agreed to divide Southern Italy between themselves after removing the last Trastamara King, Ferdinand II's successor, Frederick, from the throne of Naples. This was confirmed by the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, father of Cesare Borgia, in 1501.

The armies of France and Spain invaded Naples in the summer of 1501. There were soon arguments between them over the division of Southern Italy. This led to war, with the French being stronger in numbers. The Spanish under Gonzalo de Cordoba had learnt from their previous Italian encounters with the French and fought a war of raid and ambush against them while they strengthened their forces. It was not until he had tested the French with skirmishes and raids that de Cordoba marched out of Barletta, now with 2,000 Landsknechts sent by Maximilian I, and defeated the French at Cerignola in the spring of 1503, later winning the war at Garigliano in December 1503.

This raid is set during 1502 when the Spanish were fighting the French with hit and run tactics. The redoubtable Bayard is captaining the French against a Spanish raiding party, under Alonso de Sotomayor. Sotomayor was the Spanish Knight later killed by Bayard in a duel so I thought it would be interesting to have him as the character leading an earlier raid on the French. The scenario is set somewhere in Southern Italy. A Spanish force is about to strike a village held by a small French Garrison. The larger local French Garrison has been alerted to this raid and heads out in strength to try and stop the Spanish before they loot and burn the village.

The game was played using Lion Rampant with some army lists I put together for the Spanish and French forces using parts from the armies in the Tudor games with quite a few new units such as Swiss Pike, Spanish Jinetes and Rodeleros added. As before I used bigger units but still with 6 or 12 points of damage respectively and had to ignore the 3" rule between units. The scenario was "Sausages without Mustard" with the Spanish having to burn the four objectives in the centre of the board: the barn doors, two hay carts and the small field. The French had to reach the village and try and stop them. The photos are of the actual game and not staged. Apologies for any bad lighting.

The Spanish raiding force with a small force of Aventuriers "guarding" the village. The four "Sausages without Mustard" objectives - the barn doors, small field and two hay wagons are shown.

The local French garrison arriving to chase off the raiders. From left to right: Italian Mounted Crossbowmen, Swiss Mercenary Pike, Aventuriers, French Ordonnance "Archers" with lances, Bayard and his Men-at-Arms, Swiss Mercenary Pike and, to the right not in the picture, Italian Men-at-Arms.

The forces are shown above and were as follows:

The Spanish

Alonso de Sotomayor and his Men-at-Arms
2 Units of Rodeleros - Sword and Bucklermen
2 Units of Arquebusiers
2 Units of Jinetes

This force is meant to represent the Spanish raiders sent out for an attack on the village.

The French

The troops billeted in the village:
1 Unit of Aventurier Crossbowmen

The local garrison:
Pierre Terrail, seigneur de Bayard and a unit of French Men-at-Arms
1 Unit of Ordonnance Archers with Lances
2 Units of Swiss Pikemen
1 Unit of Aventurier Crossbowmen
1 Unit of Italian Men-at-Arms
1 Unit of Italian Mounted Crossbowmen

This force represents the local French who have been billeted in the village and the local garrison who are riding to their aid. A mix of French, Swiss and Italians all in the pay of Louis XII.

The Spanish advance towards the village.

The local French garrison, alerted of the raiders, attempt to stop them.

The best way to follow the action is the captions under the following photos. The game started with the Spanish Jinetes heading for the objectives. Initially the Jinetes were successful, one unit managed to set fire to the small field, meaning the Spanish had taken one objective, while the other unit harassed the Aventuriers with javelins and caused casualties. The tide turned for the skirmishing horse as the Aventuriers shot back and sent one unit reeling while the arrival of the Italian Mounted Crossbowmen saw off the other Jinetes.

As the retreating Jinetes infront of the Aventuriers fled the field the Spanish Arquebusiers who were following up behind them also came under the withering rain of crossbow bolts from the Aventuriers. As with the Jinetes the Arquebusiers broke into a rout. The Jinetes who had lit the field also fled under attack by the Mounted Crossbowmen. The Spanish now had no light cavalry left.

The Spanish Jinetes initially prove dangerous. The Aventuriers in the village suffer from their javelins. To the right some Jinetes dismount and attempt to set fire to the field.

The Aventuriers strike back with their crossbows and manage to inflict casualties on the Jinetes attacking them. The send them back "battered". To the right the other Jinetes set fire to the field - achieving one objective for the Spanish.

The Jinetes on the left have routed while the others on the right are sent back by an attack from the Italian Mounted Crossbowmen in French service.

The Spanish force - one unit of Jinetes has routed. The Arquebusiers in the top of the photo are getting dangerously near to the Aventuriers.

With all their Jinetes having now fled the Spanish under Alonso de Sotomayor press on with their attack - they still have three objectives to destroy.

As the Spanish Men-at-Arms under Alonso de Sotomayor arrived they caught the Italian Mounted Crossbowmen off guard and sent them back with a vicious charge. The Swiss from the main French Garrison arrived in the village only to be immediately charged by the Spanish Men-at-Arms. The unfortunate Swiss were driven back by the Spanish heavy cavalry and as they gave ground they were exposed to a devastating close range volley of shot by the second unit of Spanish Arquebusiers. This effectively removed them from the game as a fighting unit. At the same time the heroic French Aventuriers were charged by one of the units of Spanish Rodeleros. The Aventuriers were finally broken having put up a valiant defence of the village they were billeted in. They put up enough of a fight to leave the Spanish swordsmen "battered" after their clash with them.

By the village church the Aventuriers manage to rout one unit of advancing Spanish Arquebusiers. Sotomayor's Men-At-Arms launch an attack on the Mounted Crossbowmen and send them back.

With the Aventuriers still resolutely holding the village, they've routed two units so far, the disciplined Swiss Mercenaries move in to support them.

The Swiss advance towards the Spanish raiders while the Aventuriers cause casualties to the Rodeleros who are advancing on them.

The Spanish Men-at-Arms charge into the first group of Swiss from the French garrison and push them back into the line of sight of the Spanish Arquebusiers...

...the Arquebusiers open fire on the first group of Swiss and effectively destroy them in a devastating hail of shot.

Having made a heroic defence of the village so far the Aventuriers are charged by the Spanish swordsmen and finally overcome. They put up enough of a fight to leave the Rolederos "battered" by the encounter!

The second group of Swiss mercenaries arrived in the village and launched a furious assault on the other Spanish Rodeleros. They attacked them so fiercely that that the Spanish had no time to countercharge. As this fighting took place the Spanish Men-at-Arms charged Bayard and his French Men-at-Arms. Bayard spurred his men into a countercharge and a fierce melee ensued. Both groups of Men-at-Arms backed off from the fight but the Spanish were definitely in worse shape having already broken their lances on the Swiss in an earlier charge. The remaining Swiss held firm in the face of a volley of shot only to then be charged by the Spanish Rodeleros who clashed with them for a second time. Both sides took losses but a combination of two clashes with the Spanish swordsmen and a nasty volley of shot meant that this second unit of Swiss also faltered and fled.

The Swiss send the Rodeleros back, at the same time Sotomayor and his Men-at-Arms charge at Bayard. He counter charges with his Men-at-Arms and a fierce clash ensues.

Both groups of Men-at-Arms take casualties in this melee, but Sotomayor and his men come off worse having already broken their lances clashing with the Swiss and having been harassed by the Italian Mounted Crossbowmen.

The remaining Swiss are subjected to a damaging volley of shot but stand firm. The Rodeleros clash with them again and both sides take losses. The Swiss finally break. The Spanish Arquebusiers have played a big part in both groups of Swiss being defeated.

The Fench Garrison may of lost their Swiss mercenaries but this sacrifice seemed to be enough to have persuaded the Spanish raiders that burning the village was a bad idea. The Spanish began a retreat having lost enough of their force to send them back. The French had defended the village at the cost of the elite infantry in their garrison. It had also not gone unnoticed that the Italian Men-at-Arms they had hired had not got anywhere near the fighting.

This was a fun game, and at times seemed quite close, however setting fire to all those objectives in the face of the French turned out to be too great a task for the Spanish. It was great to test out the Swiss Pike, Spanish Jinetes and Spanish Arquebusiers and to get some Italian Wars armies on the field. I still think my Italian Wars Lion Rampant Lists may need a bit of tweaking but that is part of the enjoyment.

Even with the loss of their Swiss Mercenaries as the rest of the French garrison arrive they are clearly still an effective fighting force.

The Spanish, however, have suffered badly in the fighting and start to withdraw having only destroyed one of their four objectives - the corn field.

The Italian Men-at-Arms in the French Garrison had wisely managed to avoid any conflict whatsoever during the clash.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Tudor Artillery

Despite very little painting happening over the summer I have managed to get a few bits completed. Here are two artillery pieces to add to my growing Tudor forces for Henry VIII's 1513 invasion of France campaign, although they would also be suitable for the 1520s. I have been wanting to add a couple of guns with the crew in distinctive Tudor "Base" coats for a while but there was another reason for completing these; I was keen to try out some of Stuart's Tudor dolls that he sculpted a few months back.

I picked up some of these from Stuart a while ago and they are still available, details are here: http://stuartsworkbench.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/lord-thomas-stanley-2nd-earl-of-derby.html . Before plunging into a whole unit of them, that is my current project, I wanted to experiment with a few just to make sure I could do a decent job of adding the sleeves to the coats with greenstuff. the problem facing me was that they are in quite dynamic poses to be artillery crew and I must have spent at least two hours swapping various plastic arms and trying to work out how they could be used. My final inspiration came from Simon's superb "Je Lay Emprins blog", if you have a look at this link you will see I have pretty shamelessly copied his idea for the gun on the left: http://je-lay-emprins.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/wheeling-gun.html.

I am pleased with the results, they make a really dynamic base and certainly look as though they are wheeling the gun as an officer points out the direction he wishes them to fire in. The chap lifting the trail of the gun carriage is simply a Perry Miniatures labourer figure with a head swap and shovel removed while the breech loading gun is from Front Rank. The other gun is a miniature by Redoubt, a strange thing it's kind of half organ gun, as it has only four barrels. I wasn't sure whether to keep the chariot style "scythes" on the wheels of the carriage but I am guessing it is based on the kind of things that were used by the Spanish at Ravenna in 1512 and is intended to be an obstacle as well as a gun. Any crew would have to make sure they were standing well clear of it when it recoiled as those wheel spikes could cause a very nasty accident as the gun rolled back! 

The crew for the Redoubt gun are two Assault Group figures with head swaps, the same figures that were used in the dozens for the Billmen I painted a while back, and an old Citadel Empire figure. He is in very Germanic attire but I figured this would suit one of Henry's gun crew as he hired foreign specialists for his guns. Being pleased with this initial test of Stuarts Tudor dollies I am currently working on a set of attacking archers using them, it will be a while before they are completed however.

A Tudor breech loading gun being turned

A Tudor Organ Gun and Breech Loader

The three figures in Tudor coats are from the dolls sculpted by Stuart

The Tudor Organ gun, this one only has 4 barrels so could also be used as a normal gun at a pinch

The gun crew hurriedly move the gun

Tudor artillery pieces, 1513

The guns from behind

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Battle for the Gun Battery

This is the second of the Lion Rampant scenarios that I played out last month, again pitting the French against the English in a skirmish set during the 1513 English Invasion of France. This time we join the English attempting to encircle Therouanne. The scenario is set when a French sally is attempted from Therouanne, led by the indomitable Bayard. The French target is an English gun battery which is being set up and looks to have been left vulnerable to attack. I don't know if Bayard led such an attack but such sudden assaults by defenders were very common during 16th century sieges, and attacks certainly occurred during the siege of Therouanne. Stradiots were noted as being particularly effective in riding out and attacking the besiegers. During one sally an attempt was made to seize an English standard, perhaps an idea for a future scenario.

In this game the French have timed their attack poorly. As they have marched around the walls to take the newly established battery in the flank the English besiegers have been alerted to the threat and have rushed to defend their guns in a force led by Sir Richard Carew, captain of the Calais Garrison. The scenario played out was "Hold on Tight", an objective in the middle of the board must be seized and held by a unit for 5 turns in order for that side to achieve victory. The objective was the space directly behind the central bombard in the gun battery, shown in the second image below. Holding this represents either the French taking control of the battery for long enough to effectively destroy it or for the English holding it for long enough to secure it. The figures forming the battery cannot take any part in the game and count as impassable terrain. The whole structure the battery is mounted on counts as rough terrain.

Therouanne with the two forces arrayed in front. 

The objective for this "Hold on Tight" scenario is the area directly behind the bombard. Holding this area represents having control of the gun battery. The gun battery itself cannot play any part in the game. The whole earthwork that the Battery is on is counted as rough terrain.

As in my previous "Convoy" game I scaled up the size of units but they still had the same number of damage points as standard Lion Rampant units. Again I used Stuart's 1513 Rosters, adding Landsknecht Pike as an extra unit. They joined the game as fairly tough infantry with the ability to Counter Charge against other infantry. I fielded the Landsknecht Pike as units six bases strong, totaling around 36 figures. These look good for larger sized skirmishes, making a small pike block.

The forces were as follows:

The English

Sir Richard Carew and a unit of Garrison Billmen
2 units of Shire Archers
A unit of Shire Billmen
A unit of Border Horse
A unit of Landsknecht Shot
A unit of Landsknecht Pike
A unit of Burgundian Men-at-Arms

This is meant to represent a mix of English troops supported by Maximilian's Burgundian and German Auxiliaries, the Men-at-Arms and Landsknechts.

The French

Pierre Terrail, seigneur de Bayard and a unit of French Men-at-Arms
2 Units of Picard Pike
2 Units of Aventuriers
2 Units of Stradiots
A unit of Landsknecht Shot
A unit of Landsknecht Pike

As can be seen above the French decided to sally forth with a mixture of native French troops supported by a considerable number of mercenaries in true early 16th century style.

The deployment of the two forces can be seen in the pictures above. During the deployment I tried to stick to the 3" between units rule for this game, which was quickly abandoned once the game started! I think this deployment hampered the French quite badly as it left their Picard infantry out of most of the action and seemed to allow the English to fight in a more concentrated fashion (if such a thing can ever be said to happen in Lion Rampant!). This had consequences on the game as will be seen.

The two forces begin a rush for control of the guns.

A view from the French lines showing the Stradiots and Picard Pike.

Initially the two forces both rushed forward. The first clash, predictably, taking place between the skirmishing horse of both sides. Unlike in the "Convoy" game, the Border Horse attacked the Stradiots with great ferocity and caused heavy casualties. The other unit of Stradiots in French employ were more successful and managed to get to the gun battery first, securing it for Bayard. Their position in the earthworks was threatened however by the advancing English archers so Bayard and his Men-at-Arms rushed forward in order to neutralise the threat the bowmen posed.

The English Border Horse attack the Stradiots.

The other group of Stradiots reach the objective.

Closer to the town walls the French Aventuriers advance towards the Landsknechts in English pay. 

The English Border Horse have caused casualties to the Stradiots while the other Stradiots holding the objective have harassed the Burgundian Men-at-Arms.

Bayard in the centre advances on the English Bowmen seeing that they will dominate the objective with archery. Closer to the town the Landsknecht Arquebusiers move towards the Aventuriers.

Closer to the town walls the French Aventuriers advanced and sent a hail of bolts at the English, causing some casualties. The Stradiots holding the gun battery harassed the Burgundian Men-at-Arms. Apart from the clash between the Border Horse and Stradiots furthest from the town the advantage looked to be heavily with the French. This was compounded by the English archers who faltered and allowed themselves to be charged in their panic by the French Men-at-Arms without even shooting at them. The archers were driven back by the armoured horsemen.

Bayard prepares to charge down the English Archers

The objective is, predictably, the focus of attention for both sides.

Bayard charges one group of Archers forcing them back after they have faltered and panicked in the face of the advancing Men-at-Arms.

Bayard's charge into the archers seemed to be the high water mark for the French. The French Men-at-Arms were charged by the Burgundians who drove them back with casualties. The remaining unit of archers not smashed by the French sent a rain of arrows onto the Stradiots holding the battery and drove them back. Closer to the town the Landsknecht arquebusiers in English service sent some of the Aventuriers back with a devastating hail of shot.

Bayard and his Men-at-Arms are driven back from the English lines by the Burgundian Men-at-Arms. In the foreground the Landsknechts in English service have fired upon the Aventuriers and sent them back.

The English Billmen flood into the Earthworks to defend the Gun Battery.

Under a rain of English arrows the Stradiots are driven off the objective.

Although still threatened by the Burgundians, Bayard charges the remaining English Archers and sends them back.

At the far end of the field the English Border horse finally chased off the Stradiots. In the centre Bayard continued to press his attack, charging the second group of English archers who were predictably pushed back. The Burgundian Men-at-Arms, who had put in a much more determined effort than the last game, charged Bayard for a second time. This time the French leader was unhorsed and his remaining Men-at-Arms scattered.

The fall of their leader seemed to stop the entire French sortie. Some of the Aventuriers fled immediately along with the Stradiots who had been holding the gun battery for the French. The Landsknechts in French service were then attacked by the remaining English archers and the Border Horse who rode closer to the town following their victory over the Stradiots at the far end of the field. This pressure forced the "French" Landsknechts back and, as the remaining Aventuriers fell back in the face of the Landsknechts in English employ, only the Picard infantry were left in any order.

As the English leader, Sir Richard Carew, secured the gun battery, these native French Pikemen wisely called it a day seeing the English Border Horse riding back towards them. They quickly marched back to the relative safety of Therouanne. The result was a decisive English victory with the French sally halted for the loss of only one unit of English archers.

Having charged the Archers Bayard is himself charged by the Burgundians for a second clash of arms with them.

This time Bayard is unhorsed and his horsemen are defeated.

Following the fall of Bayard the Landsknechts who were supporting his cavalry come under threat from the English Border Horse and the archers. They are soon broken by them and flee.

Some of the Aventuriers flee on hearing that Bayard is down leaving their comrades to the mercy of the Landsknechts.

Having yet to engage in combat Sir Richard Carew secures the Gun Battery.

A couple of things became apparent playing through this game. Firstly when Lion Rampant is played with the forces starting at relatively close quarters it can be over really quickly. When both armies are fighting for one objective, as in this scenario, this effect is only compounded and the result is inevitably a punch up pretty much straight away. Having more of the French deployed behind hedges and cottages at the far end of the field meant the English could really maximize their numbers on the French they faced, although it was the English archers combined with Bayards unsupported assault that really led to the French being defeated so soundly.

A briefer and more one sided game than I had expected. It reminded me of many games I played when I was younger that were often over very quickly, normally with my armies being sent running in record time! This game was fun nonetheless and I learnt some things about Lion Rampant from it. When I get time I will post up my next game where I returned to an old favourite of mine, the War for Naples 1499-1504, and tested out some Lion Rampant Italian Wars troops.

The two units of Picard Pike have yet to cross the hedges and take any part in the fighting. As the English hold the Gun Battery and the sally has failed they wisely retire.