Sunday 24 November 2013

New Perry AO Range greens

Here's something of a surprise - new greens on the Perry Miniatures workbench, for their Agincourt to Orleans rnage. These must be the first new sculpts for several years and although they always say that none of their ranges are ever 'completed', this is a bit unexpected - although most welcomed of course.

They are all peasants, some armed and unarmed (who can easily be armed using weapons from their plastics WotR these days) and appears to include youths.

Fingers crossed that some more may follow... looking forward to painting these.

Sunday 22 September 2013

'Bosworth 1485 - A Battlefield Rediscovered' - brief review.

Although it's outside of the intended period for this blog, I thought I maybe forgiven for posting a brief, personal review of the above book - which maybe of general interest to any 'medievalists' and also breaks the hiatus of postings too.

I purchased my copy at the Bosworth battlefield reenactment event in August, where the authors gave an hours introductory talk on some of their conclusions and sold signed copies. The book claims to be a new interpretation of the famous battle for two main reasons; firstly it applies all the archeological studies and subsequent scientific analysis on the site made since 2005 and secondly that the historical interpretations have been approached only from primary sources and seek a perspective based on the battle's mediaeval context, rather than being coloured by the Tudor age which followed.

Broadly the book falls into four sections - how the battle site had traditionally been mapped and located in the wrong place, the historiography of the battle, the relocation of the site based on the field studies and finally the battlefield finds - split between the personal items and the scientific investigations of the artillery shot.

First observation is that this is a substantive publication. It comprises of 264 pages in A4 hardbound format, including photographs and maps which aid the reading and understanding of the text. This is a study undertaken by academics (both experts in their fields) and whilst it is very readable, all of the assumptions, proposals and theories are founded on empirical evidence of some kind, either historical or scientific. Consequently there is much evidence provided and much detail to wade through. In many places the authors recognise the limits of their understanding and that many specifics cannot be known for certain. In the conclusion they describe their work as their "tentative reconstruction" and on many occasions acknowledge that evidence is not incontrovertible and that future studies may revise their own conclusions, particularly as more archeology is done on other parts of the site ( as well as other medieval battlefields) and more scientific analysis is possible on firearms etc. 

So what does the book tell us about our current understanding of Bosworth? In particular, what does it inform the wargamer contemplating a refight of the battle? I've highlighted the following, but I'm sure that others will pull out other salient points too.

The size and composition of the armies: 
In the context of other battles in the Wars of the Roses, Bosworth seems to have been relatively small in terms of the armies. Henry's army comprised of exiles, foreign mercenaries and those who joined him since his landing in Wales. For the King there is some evidence that Richard found problems in getting active support, arriving in time for the battle. Richard's army appears to have been the larger - estimated at 7-8,000. This also fits well with the likely geographic disposition of Richard, which assuming a 6 man deep formations could have been lower at circa 5,500?  However not all were engaged in the fighting on the day. Henry's army is estimated at around 5,000. Lord Stanley at 1,500.
Using ratios from the 1475 English campaign to France and known contingents of the main noble leaders, the royal army's composition is about 6:1 ratio of archers and other infantry to men at arms. Henry's composition differs due to the foreign elements - which included French and Scots - with an overall smaller number of man at arms. Its possible that some of these were pike armed (but by no means definite) and there's an argument that they may have been a mix of archers and polearms troops, akin to the 'Franc Archers'. Stanley's force is assumed to reflect a 6:1 ratio, like the royal forces, as it was raised in the same manner. Richard's army contained artillery, mostly breech loading - whilst Henry appears to have collected artillery en route, there is as yet no evidence that it was used in the battle.

The disposition of the armies:
Richard took up a defensive position on 22 August, awaiting Henry's advance from the west and attack. The most likely location of Richard's forces and the subsequent engagement are covered in some detail. Two possible locations are discussed, with the most convincing being along a stretch of high ground to the south of the Fenn Lane, with the army arrayed at an angle of roughly 60 degrees. This higher ground gave the right lie for the royal artillery to be used - which is likely to have been dispersed between the 'battles', rather than concentrated into a battery. The position also put the marsh in front of most of Richard's army - which later became a problem in restricting some of his troops to become engaged in the melees. 
Richard may have spilt his army into the three traditional battles - with Norfolk on the right wing, Northumberland in the centre and Stanley on the left. (There is even a question as to whether there's enough evidence to confirm that Northumberland was even at the battle, I think).However its possible that Stanley started the day further south and not aligned alongside the royal army as one of it's wings. Richard retained a small mounted reserve. 
Henry appears to have put most of his troops into the van, commanded by the earl of Oxford, which may have comprised as much as 4,000 of his total, which would have most probably included all of the foreign mercenaries. This would give the rebel army the unusual composition of only two battles and not the traditional three ( ...a interesting point which does not appear to be addressed in the book).

The battle:
The battle started with the royal artillery firing on the advancing rebels, moving from the west along the line of Fenn Lane. It then appears that the large van of Oxford engages with Norfolk's battle, on the edge of the marsh. Northumberland's battle then fails to advance and engage in the fighting. Whether this is due to his alleged 'treachery' or that the marsh, which was directly in front of his position on the ridge and which had assisted Richard's defensive position, effectively prevented him from doing so is for further debate. 
It's then possible that Oxford and Norfolk's forces disengaged from their melee for a short time. When Oxford advanced again, this may have been the time when Lord Stanley 'turned coat' and attacked the Ricardian army -  effectively tipping the balance of the forces in favour of Henry Tudor.
At this stage it seems that Richard saw both a  need and an opportunity to end the battle by killing Henry and led a mounted contingent of his household towards Henry's position. The fighting was clearly close to Henry, as his personal banner bearer was killed. This location is where the personal items of high status have been found - the boar badge and sword cross-guard. However this position was on the edge of Fenn marsh and in the melee Richard is likely to have been unhorsed and then finally killed by a halberd blow. 
The king's death then led to a rout of the royal forces and the death of Norfolk and others near the site of Dadlington windmill. Given the lack of may items found in the rout areas, it maybe that total deaths from the rout were small, relative to the Towton battle finds and archeological footprint?

This is a study of considerable weight, by two expert authors. Mt brief read will need to be done again and I need to spend more time on some of the chapters - so my apologies if I've misunderstood any of the content in the forgoing review. Certainly there is much thats ground-breaking in the study of late fifteenth century artillery based on the finds; this is a large chapter and which I've not mentioned above. If you have an interest in the wars of the roses or late medieval warfare - this book has to be very highly recommended.

Sunday 21 July 2013

History Live event - some images.

Warning - there will be pictures on this posting that are not of things medieval!

Not much activity on this blog since the Salute game I'm afraid - although there may well be some HYW developments coming along in the longer term. So this is interim post with some of the pictures I took this weekend at the 'History Live!' event at Kelmarsh, which is my neck of the woods or thereabouts. Bit of a dull, cloudy days for taking good pictures.

It seemed a slightly smaller event that a couple of years ago when I last attended - perhaps fewer traders and some groups appeared to be absent (but I guess they make rotate around their attendance?). Pictures are in no particular order - other than as I happened to take them. Perhaps a few familiar faces somewhere in amongst them?

Tuesday 30 April 2013

Cravant game - close up

Just before the Salute show becomes a dim and distant memory for us all, here are some bonus photos that I hadn't initially planned for. A visitor to Salute show - Alan Daniels - took these great pictures on the day and kindly sent on to me last week. Alan had a macro lens and snapped some fantastic close ups of figures and is happy for me to post some here.

Some of them have created a great atmosphere I think, which you don't normally get with pictures of games at shows - my favourite is the last one of the Scottish spearmen, which seems to create a sense of movement in it. Thankfully the figure painting just about holds up to intimate inspection!

Friday 26 April 2013

Cravant - the Salute refight

The English contingents advance towards the river in the first moves.

The initial set-up reflected the assumed pre-battle positions of the two armies,  following the three hour stand-off that occurred on 31 July 1423. The English and Burgundians were located nearest to the river bank, with the French having arrayed from their palisaded encampment. It’s most likely that Buchan would have posted a force to defend the river crossing, however to speed up the game I conveniently ignored this and the bridge was undefended. The English forces deployed with Lord Willoughby in the van opposite the bridge, Antonie de Toulongeon the Marshal of Burgundy in the main ‘battle’ and the earl of Salisbury on the left wing with the rearward contingent (who as the overall commander had the largest force). The French were slightly off-set, to be further from the bridge, with the earl of Buchan in the van (with the larger contingent) and two smaller French contingents in the main and rear battles (who in the actual engagement included Italian and Aragonese mercenaries).

The English were given the initiative for the first move and Lord Willoughby duly advanced on the bridge, in the hope that a swift crossing could potentially out-flank the French left wing. Salisbury and de Toulongeon brought up their respective longbows and crossbows to the river’s edge to fire at long-range. This fire prompted the Scots archers and French crossbowmen to move forward and engage in a duel, which resulted in both sides taking some casualties.

Lord Willoughby's contingent cross the bridge, with longbowmen wading over in support.

Lord Willoughby’s contingent followed their historical predecessors and crossed the Yonne – men at arms using the bridge with covering fire from their longbowmwen. However at this point their progress slowed, I think as the French won most of the initiatives for the following turns of play. The French advanced to counter the English attack and a melee ensured, which blocked all aspirations that Willoughby had of creating a flank attack. A protracted series of hand to hand fighting continued between the bridge and the walls of Cravant.

The French advance in response to Willoughby's attack.

The English attack and ensuing melee.

In response the French and Scots units advanced towards the river,, manoeuvring to align themselves with the English and Burgundian ‘battles’. This was despite fear of an attack in the flank or rear from Lord Chastallus, foraying out of the besieged town, as occurred in 1423. Although we gave Chastallus a modest force, this event was diced for once the French moved forwards, but on the day they were a ‘no show’ and remained cowering within the safety of the town walls.

The view from the Franco-Scots side.

The other allied contingents then crossed the river to attack – Salisbury and the Marshall of Burgundy’s crossbow units crossing the river – which was deemed to be fordable at all points as it was high summer and only waist deep waters – within a turn of each other, despite crossbow and handgun fire from the Scots and French. Initial fighting ensued between Salisbury and Buchan – including a rumour that Salisbury himself had been killed. The game was therefore interestingly poised when we ran out of both time and collective energy. The melee between Salisbury and Buchan would probably have been the key to deciding the outcome.

 The Burgundians cross the river.

Overall I think that the game played out well – we certainly managed to play more turns than we had for the Verneuil game of 2011. The layout seemed to look Ok and included all the known elements of the battle. The Impetus rules were also fit for purpose – although losing melees from a flank attack does prove fatal for the losing unit. In all, the English probably didn’t win enough of the initiative dice throws at the start of each turn, in order to cross the river swiftly enough and benefit from a speedy attack – as they had in 1423.

Salisbury prepares to attack.

 The positions towards the end of play.

My thanks once again to David Lanchester and the Lance and Longbow Society for the opportunity to put on the game and to all of the players on the day.

Some extra pics of the game taken by Joe Dever.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Cravant game at Salute (I)

Here's some promised pictures of the Cravant game at last weekend's Salute. This is largely a posting of pictures of the initial set up of terrain and troops. I will then post another re how the game progressed; some pictures are already making their way on the web as people post their pics of the day. I also believe that there maybe a forthcoming article in Hobilar, the Lance and Longbow Society publication, re the refight.

Many thanks to fellow gamers from the society on the day, including George who guided us through Impetus ruleset. Also it was great to meet blog followers, both those known and previously unknown to me and for the complimentary comments you made.

Anyway, here are some photos...

 View from behind the Anglo-Burgundian lines, looking towards Cravant town walls

View along the Yonne river, with Cravant on the left bank.

The Yonne river from the other end of the table, with the bridge.

View of the French siege camp on the hill outside Cravant.

The earl of Salisbury's contingent form up.

Lord Willoughby on the English right-hand side, opposite the bridge and road to Cravant.

Two bombards inside the French palisaded encampment.

Inside the walls of Cravant.

The industrious miller continues at work, despite the imminent onslaught.

The large Scots contingent of Buchan, constable of France.

Traditional entertainment continues in the French camp.

The Scots assemble outside the siege camp.

The bridge over the Yonne, with the English forces arrayed for battle in the distance.

The French burying casualties from the siege, perhaps resulting from dysentery rather than combat.

More Hundred Years War hot fighting action shots to come soon....