Saturday 11 May 2019

Bauge replay at Partizan - grave undertakings

We're going to replay the demo game of Bauge 1421 at the Partizan show in Newark on 19 May.

Going to make some slight adjustments to the layout. This is to include more space around the village of Vieil-Bauge; up the slope from the river crossing, where most of the fighting appears to have taken place and where Clarence most likely died fighting. This means I'll have room for my church, which I forgot to pack for the trip to Salute.

To sit alongside the church I've made a walled graveyard - one of those terrain pieces which I've had in mind for such a long while and I needed a prompt to find all those purchased bits for it and so get it completed. Visual references for what a medieval graveyard may have looked like have been hard to find. The only ones appear to be from contemporary illuminations showing the dead rising up, presumably to collect souls of the living.

From these images walled cemetaries seem to have a mixture of slabs and wooden crosses. I understand that when cemetery space was full, that bones would be dug up and reburied, most probably inside the church crypt. In the medieval world it was the soul which travelled to Heaven and was proved for after death. Its only post Reformation that the bones of the dead gradually become the focus of remembrance and so graveyards become bigger in size, with carved headstones etc. The walls are from Debris of War, which I've rendered with fine Polyfilla, with Hovels pillars on the ends. The slabs are Renedra plastics, the larger crucifixion and small shrines from a Faller HO kit, other crosses are Hovels, and the smaller wooden crosses and gateway (top part of a well) are mdf laser-cuts from Petite Properties.

Along the open side of the yard, I've embedded small magnets. This will allow me to add/remove a temporary hedge, if I need the piece to be fully enclosed at any time. The church is a Vollmer plastic HO scale railway kit - it's of Strasbourg Cathedral, but works OK as a 28mm parish church! I love the fine moulded gothic details, which I've not seen in a war-games version yet. More on it here.

If you're at Partizan, please pop over to the game and say hello!


Thursday 25 April 2019

Battle of Bauge 1421, at Salute 2019.

Apologies for the delay in getting some words and pictures together from the Salute game.

So Lewis King and I set up on the Friday evening and spent a very pleasant evening eating and drinking, and chatting about the hobby with others staying at the hotel.
Table layout, looking from Bauge
Regrettably other members of the Lance and longbow Society who were going to join us to play the game couldn't make it due to illness. We did have Ian with us for the afternoon, who led a wing of the Franco-Scots. The game ran well with Lion Rampant. We basically used the rules as they are, jaltoigh we classed Clarence and his mounted knights as "Great" - this was to ensure that he attacked any enemy in charge distance and so reflect his recklessness on the day and to avoid him hanging about and waiting for Salisbury with his longbowmen arriving.

All units were treated as they would be in the rules, we just ignored the limit of 12 figures per unit. We used counters to reflect the rising numbers of casualties and removed a dice per casualty, to better reflect the growing injuries and fatigue in a unit. The Scots archers defending the bridge were a small unit.

So this is how it transpired. Clarence headed for the Pont Godeau over the Couasnon river and quickly dealt with the Scots archers. In hindsight we should have stiffened their resistance with some men at arms, to reflect the close melee that the contemporary records refer to. At this point the Franco_scots on the hill and in the town could be activated.

Clarence crosses the Couasnon

All the other English knights also followed over the bridge. At this point we started to dice for the arrival of Salisbury with his mounted archers, but they would take a few more tunes before they appeared. Clarence they headed for the town (in historic fashion) and attacked and defeated a unit of crossbowmen, whilst taking few casualties.

Franco-Scots left wing
On the Scots left, the crossbowmen and men at arms were reluctant to advance and shoot - they repeatedly failed their activation phases. This allowed the other English knights to charge Scots men at arms - a close melee took place over a number of turns, with the Scots being pushed back. However the English knights, still fighting on horse, were starting to accumulate casualties. At this point the English mounted archers under Salisbury appeared on the table and made for the river.

Crossbowmen in flight 
Clarence continued his heroic attack, forcing his way into the centre of Vieil-Bauge and defeating a unit of Scots spearmen. At this point we ran out of time and our energy was sapped too - plus some shopping was calling us!

Ian finally manages to get the Scots to attack

Many thanks for all those who came along and were very generous in their feedback on the game or who wanted to know more about a battle which seems to be relatively unknown - the English being good at hiding their defeats under their bushel!

One of the two mills

We hope to revisit this at Partizan show, Newark, in May - with some minor adjustments to the terrain and maybe the Scots.


Friday 22 March 2019

English Mounted Archers (I)

The battle of Bauge was primarily fought on the English side by the mounted men at arms, led by Thomas duke of Clarence and other knights. The chroniclers tell that the earl of Salisbury followed Clarence with a contingent of archers, possibly comprising of the rest of the English army, or just an element of it given the apparent haste with which Clarence had set off to engage the Franco-Scots.

Salisbury’s archers appeared to have arrived at Vieil Bauge on the aftermath of the fighting and death of Clarence. They did engage with the enemy who held the field on the 22nd March. Instead they returned the following day and were able to retrieve the bodies of slain noblemen, including Clarence whose remains were eventually to be interned in Canterbury Cathedral and to bury other dead. They then retreated towards Normandy via Le Mans, evading the pursuing Scots.

For the game I’m adding the opportunity for Salisbury’s archers to arrive and fight – something which may just tip the balance? Their arrival will be decided on a randomised basis.

So I need to make some mounted English archers – who’ll then shoot and fight on foot. I’m using the new Perry Agincourt Mounted Knights box again. There are 2 bodies (separate legs and torsos) on each sprue with men wearing padded gambeson and arm options for bows, swords, covered bows, arrow sacks etc. I’ve created some variations by using heads, arms and cut-down torsos from the Perry Agincourt English archers and French foots sprues, also the (smaller) arrow bags and a pair of arms from the WotR Light Cavalry box too. I plan to add a few ‘period correct’ arrow bags from the new box to the saddles, when they’re all painted.

Again painting approach for men and their mounts will need to be speedy…


Monday 18 March 2019

English Knights for Bauge 1421

The English knights for Bauge are completed – sorry that I didn’t have an opportunity to create a posting about my work in progress with these – the Salute deadline is looming closer (…worryingly).

These are all Perry plastics from the recent Agincourt Mounted Knights box. I’ve based them on 50x100mm bases, which matches the frontage of the rest of my HYW collection. I’ve really cheated a little by basing them with a 50mm frontage but placing only 3 models on each (an idea from Lewis, who I occasionally game with). They are relatively speedy paints, so the final detail/highlight that I’d usually apply is missing from both horses and riders.  Washes on the base colours and a single highlight in most cases - but they’ll look OK in the cavernous semi-gloom of Salute.

Most figure builds are out-the-box, although with the mounts I’ve removed some tack (the straps across the rump and some studs, as I get fed up with painting these en masse). As per previous post, I’ve fiddled with some chamfrons and the peytral (removing some orbs and painting them as leather, rather than steel).

There will be 3 units of English men at arms for the game; each denoted by a leader and their displayed coat of arms – duke of Clarence, Lord Roos and the earl of Huntington (flags by GMB). The rest of the bases I want to be ‘agnostic’ so that they can also be used as French in future games (such as Patay).

I’ve done a couple of caparisoned horses. It seems that caparison were probably not commonly worn by the early 15th century apart from tournaments, although contemporary illustrations do show them, however this is possibly an artistic device to denote kings and leaders through the display of their heraldic arms? So Lord Roos sits on a Fireforge plastic horse (with Perry head) and Clarence on a Steel Fist Miniatures – both requiring some surgery to cut away the insides of the riders’ legs and the addition of saddles with modelling putty, to make a good fit.

I’m indebted to Matt Williamson of Le Hotel de Herce for his knowledge and insights on the mediaeval and modern battlefield site and information on English knights at the battle. Consequently I’ve adjusted the table layout slightly to reflect the most likely terrain for the battle (more on that anon).

Now on to creating English mounted archers…quickly!

Saturday 16 February 2019

Battle of Bauge - a potential narrative

I’ve been trying to get as much clarity as I can regarding the Battle of Bauge on 21 March 1421; in relation to its narrative, the leaders and forces involved and transferring it to a demo game for Salute show.

The battle took place the day before Easter Day in 1421, an important date in the medieval religious calendar. Although the battle has been described as “little more than a disorderly scuffle”, it’s significant for three main reasons; i) the death of Henry V’s brother Thomas, duke of Clarence and ii) the first English defeat on the battlefield since Agincourt in 1415, and iii) the involvement of Scottish troops fighting in a combined force alongside the French.

For a medieval engagement there are a good number of written sources for the battle – including English, French, Scottish and Burgundian. The challenge is that they are (inevitably) contradictory and confusing. Regrettably fifteenth century chroniclers did not write their accounts with due consideration for the critical information that wargames 600 years really need to know! One of the fullest modern accounts comes from ‘The Reign of Henry the Fifth’ (Volume 3) by Wylie and Waugh (available online) and although written 90 years ago it's both comprehensive and scholarly in relation the campaign and battle and feels more compelling than many recent writers, such as Jonathan Sumption’s account in ‘Cursed Kings’ the relevant volume in his HYW series. 

My current view of the battle narrative (but subject to adjustments) is as follows:

1. The battle resulted from the English seeking to defend territories conceded to them at the Treaty of Troyes in 1420. The duke of Clarence led an English force (of about 4,000 men) along the Loire and was encamped before Easter 1421 near Beaufort. A Franco-Scots force had been raised by the Dauphin to seek battle and had moved to Bauge from Angers. 

2. The English had discovered the location of the Franco-Scots through the interrogation of captured prisoners. Despite it being the day before Easter, Clarence immediately led a contingent of all his knights and their men at arms towards Bauge. The archers were left to be organised by the earl of Salisbury and to follow on. Clarence’s decision to engage with just the men at arms appears rash with the benefit of hindsight and when considering the role of English archery and combined arms in the battlefield victories of the HYW. 

3. The English army was outnumbered. As with most battles it's difficult to be precise on numbers; but the generally agreed figures are about 1,500 English men at arms against 4-5,000 Scots and French, with the former providing the majority, presumably with a force of mixed arms. (I’ll post a future piece on the leaders and their heraldry etc).
The Couasnon river seen from present day Pont des Fees 
4. The English approached Bauge town from the south or south east, coming up from Beaufort (possibly following the current D60 road). This led them to the Couasnon River, which runs to the east of Bauge, near where it converges with the Altree River (both rivers being cited by different chroniclers). The crossing is referred to as Pont des Fees (the D722 on modern maps).  The first engagement took place at the bridge crossing the river, where a small contingent of French were surprised by the English mounted knights. Close fighting took place and it’s possible that the English had to dismount to force their way across – after which they then remounted.
The modern Couasnon river is relatively narrow (see Google image) and appears fordable – however contemporaries do reference wet, marshy ground running alongside and so the bridge seems to have been an important tactical feature and possibly the only option for mounted men in full harness to cross at.

The area in red depicts the likely battlefield area north-east of Viliers Bauge
5. Once across another fracas ensued after some of the French fell back to a church, from where they hurled rocks at the English, until they were by-passed. This maybe the Chapel of Fauborg St Michael, on the edge of the medieval town and not far from the Pont des Fees bridge. The mounted English knights then moved towards the town,to engage the Scots troops, who were by now alerted and prepared. Where this took place we seem to have a fairly reliable location. It’s likely to be on land uphill from the river crossing, between Bauge town and the village of Viliers Bauge (to the south west), along the crest of a slope. This ridge may have masked the size of the Scots contingent from Clarence as he rode up from the river towards the shallow plateau to attack. Today there is a monument to the battle in this area and the local vicinity is called ‘La  Bataille’. There are also references to fighting near a church and a graveyard – presumably of Viliers-Bauge.

The monument on the battlefield site

6. In the ensuing melees, in which the English appear to have fought from horseback, the duke of Clarence was killed, along with a number of other English noblemen, with others being captured. It was most likely weight of numbers, along with Clarence’s death, which tipped the day for the Franco-Scots. The earl of Salisbury’s troops – the army’s archers – appear to have got close to the battlefield but not close enough to take part on the day. Instead on the following day they collected Clarence’s body and buried the English dead, then fell back to Le Mans. Clarence's remains were buried in Canterbury Cathedral, under a magnificent alabaster effigy made in 1439.

Thomas Lancaster duke of Clarence. Canterbury Cathedral

If anyone has any additional views or information, they'd be most welcome.
In the next posting, I'll consider how I can include most of these key elements and apply them to a tabletop demo game.
Toodle pip.