My regular DBA opponent is accommodating in supporting my preference for historically plausible opponents. As a result over the last couple of weeks my Wars of the Roses English have been campaigning in Europe against historical and historically plausible opponents. My expedition was of course based on Edward IV’s expedition in 1475. They were to face, last night, an historical opponent in the form of French Ordonnance (IV/82a).
As far as army composition there are limited options with the Wars of the Roses English list. However, rather than use the optional Irish (3Ax) I typically select I supplemented the army with additional dismounted men at arms. It seemed a little more appropriate for the invasion.
The English, having landed and set our from Calais, were soon faced by the advancing French. Edward deployed on an open plain with only an enclosure and a scattering of fields to break up the battlefield. He dispersed his men at arms and billmen to support the archers and placed his artillery on the right. A mounted reserve was placed in the rear under his personal command with a further body of curriors on the right rear.
Unlike the English the French were initially somewhat constrained in their deployment by an area of fields divided by high hedges. This resulted in an initially complex deployment.
Edward was concerned with the massed French artillery train opposite his centre and initially advanced his own artillery to engage the French left rather than advancing his centre. The French countered by advancing, on their left, a large number of Francs “free” archers into the nearby enclosures. No doubt the French hoped to use the relative safety of the enclosures to disrupt the English right.
However, the English artillery, and advancing English billmen and men at arms, quickly resulted in a rapid retreat of the French archers.
Above the view from the English right as the Francs “Free” archers have pushed into the enclosures. Already a large number have been routed by English gunnes. The English billmen supporting the artillery would soon advance.
Below, a more general view of the battle with the English on the right and a portion of the French in the distance.
Undeterred the French commander now ordered forward his right, which was comprised mostly of mounted gendarmes and retainers. They had been confusingly deployed but French enthusiasm now found them redeployed quickly. As they pressed forward English archers and men billmen struggled to extend their own line. An initial volley of English longbows had limited success and soon the French surged forward.
In the ensuing melee a significant body of English archers were broken by this initial charge. However, English resolve stiffened and a second charge by French gendarmes was stopped by English resolve. As the French charge faultered archers hacked survivors with knives, swords and axes.
Above, English archers are both outflanked and engaged to their front by gendarmes, yet the French attack was halted.
However, it was in the centre that the focus of both commanders now turned. For some time the the French artillery, comprising a mix of types had been belching smoke and ball at the English centre. Edward had previously repositioned his own artillery to engage the French centre. English billmen, stiffened with dismounted men at arms, advanced on the French guns.
Below, the English centre before it prepares to advance supported by English artillery to its flank.
Unfortunately French artillery fire was unforgiving and the advancing English were broken up and suffered heavy casualties. Finally, a body of French gendarmes, the last fresh French troops, charged forward cutting down the English foot.
Edward, watched helplessly as his centre collapsed. It would seem the French had, this time at least, secured the advantage and with it the field. Despite this his campaign against Louis was far from over…