Aut Cesar, Aut Nihil, Wargaming the Borgias.

Aut Cesar, Aut Nihil, Wargaming the Borgias.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Battle of Novara 1513.

It must be well over thirty years since John [Reidy] and I fought all the main battles of the Italian Wars. At that time we were using George Gush's Wargames Research Group rules which to be honest I really liked, although I wouldnt want to use them now.
 Anyway for a change I thought we would re fight the Battle of Novara 1513, which is a decent battle for a day game.This time we would use With Pike and Shotte, a Blackpowder derivative, and an easy set of rules for a refight.

 Scenario, The Battle of Novara 1513;


In 1512 Maximilian Sforza and a force of Swiss mercenaries had seized Milan from the French who were struggling to deal with an invasion of France by Henry VIII and Maximillian.
  Sforza, the heir to the Duchy was placed on the throne but was by no means universally popular, due to the rapacious Swiss, who effectively were n charge of the duchy.
 Ignoring any logic the French disregarded the invasion of their lands and sent a  sizable French army under Louis, La Tremouille to recapture the Duchy.
 The the city of Milan was betrayed from within and given to the French. 
 Duke Sforza surprised by events was with 4,000 Swiss foot at Novara, from where the Swiss captains sent an urgent request for reinforcements as they were not strong enough to challenge the French. 
  Most cities in the duchy surrendered fairly quickly and La Tremouille set about investing Novara to complete the re conquest. While this was in progress about 6,000 Swiss had been raised and were marching to relieve the city. They arrived literally in the nick of time. The French artillery had breached the walls in several places and La Tremouille had made plans to assault the place.    On June the 5th 1513 La Tremouille received warning of the approaching Swiss and withdrew to the small town of Trecate, two miles away. There the French camped for the night. What happened next was a total surprise to them, because when the Swiss reinforcements reached Novara they did not stop to rest for the night. Instead they chose to make an immediate attack on the French in typical Swiss style.    Whilst scouts determined the disposition of the sleeping French army the Swiss stopped for a brief rest. The relieving troops plus a contingent from the garrison then formed into three columns which, with the help of local guides, moved into position to attack the French. Allowing for the time required for all this, the attack must have come near dawn. The first warning that La Tremouille had of all this was when Swiss skirmishers attacked the guards around his lodgings. He just had time to escape, partly armed, from the back door. The French began to form up, in great confusion, expecting an attack on Trecate.    Once again the Swiss wrong footed the French, and instead sent one weak column supported by 200 Milanese horse to make a holding attack against the camp to the north of the town. 
 In fact they were strong enough to drive off the few troops there, and went on to loot the baggage. A centre column, slightly stronger, made a demonstration against the town (the cause of La Tremouille's rude awakening) before attacking the French and Italian infantry south of Trecate. These were totally surprised and routed immediately. The largest Swiss column, 6,000 men, was detailed to attack the artillery park where the landsknechts were encamped in isolation. These had managed to form up in some sort of order and bring a few guns into action. The Swiss took heavy casualties as they charged in. Nevertheless when they reached the landsknechts the fighting was vigorous but brief. The Germans broke, taking heavy casualties as they ran.    La Tremouille was able to escape with his cavalry, but he had lost his army and the Duchy of Milan. The Swiss followed up their victory by invading France, but were quite happy to make peace in return for a substantial payment from Louis XII.


Points to note 
1. The success of the Swiss relied on surprise, speed and determination, as a consequence they move first.I gave them two sub generals with a steady 8 factor, and Duke Sforza their nominal C in C an 8 factor. The French were allowed three generals, all on an 8 factor, that included the unfortunate La Tremouille.


2. The French should suffer surprise and to represent this all their generals suffer a minus two to their command in move one, followed by a minus one in move two. 3. The two woods are difficult terrain and no formed pike, cavalry or artillery can move through them. 4. There was a swamp to the right of the town of Trecate which is passable at half speed.

3. I decided that the French landsnects should have ' Bad War' which means they are on a par with the Swiss pike. This was to reflect the fact they fought well on the day.

4. All the stradiots were allowed crossbows and light bows.

5. If the Swiss/ Milanese enter the French camp, they should throw a dice to see whether they stop to plunder the place, AFTER they have disposed of the small camp guard. I thought there would be a good chance, so a 3+ on a six sided dice should throw a spanner in the works.

6. The French in the town could only react when the Swiss arqubusiers came with range [12''] of the town. That did not mean the remaining French couldn't attempt to form up and move in their turn.I placed Tremouille and a unit of gendarmes in the town to reflect the fact he was nearly captured early in the battle.

7. The Milanese/Swiss must capture the French camp, Trecate and drive the French from the field in order to win.

8. The French, if they can hold onto both the town and camp and halt the attack qualify for a win.

I have provided two maps, one from the Edinburgh Wargames Club, and the second simpler one from an original article by Andrew Murdin, who funnily enough was the inspiration for our original re fight way back in the 1980's.


     Image result for battle of novara 1513



  



   So onto the actual refight.
John won the toss and opted to lead the Milanese/Swiss. On his first move he was able to send the largest Swiss contingent forward three moves, towards the sleeping Landsnects. In the centre he again [!] was able to send his arquebusiers 3 moves Forwards. In BP based rules the lower one's dice score is in comparison to the command level then it allows the respective units to make up to three moves. When he managed to do the same on the right wind I knew I was in for a bad time. Surprisingly I was able to activate my stradiots but then naturally failed all my other command rolls.

 Part of the initial French position, I allowed a French camp guard of 'wavering' classed guards, about as good as a chocolate fireguard.

                                                  The camp scene.
                  La Tremouille, and command, asleep in the village, in the background one can see the advancing Swiss.
                                             The main Swiss pike block 72 figures strong, with two light guns and a smaller 36 figure pike block, just to help the attack along!
       The Swiss arqubusier units coming down the road to pepper my Gendarmes.
             I had to include an image of this chap, a Games Workshop figure, in the French camp.
                      I think my French had other concerns than the advancing Swiss.
                      The Milanese cavalry with Swiss support advance into the French camp, I forgot to insist on a dice for looting?
                                  The beginning of the end, French Stradiots legging it.
 As the main Swiss attack developed against my landsnects, I managed to inflict six hits on the main block which would have been sufficient to stop their advance. That was until John threw SIX yes SIX sixes to save all the hits.Talk about a fluke, except he kept doing that throughout the battle.
 Poor Tremouille, minus any command watching as a the smaller and weaker attack turned the French flank.The French Gendarmes performed as poorly as their historical counterparts.
  The final blow, the Swiss hitting the flank of my poor Gascon pike who folded like a hanky.



Not satisfied with routing my Gascon pike, the Swiss then swept through some Gascon crossbowmen. 


This failed charge by some French gendarmes summed up the battle really, they fell short in their charge and took a volley at close range.



 To be honest the battle wasnt as one sided as appears, my Landsnects halted the main French attack before finally succumbing to the pressure and my Gascon crossbowmen gave a very good account of themselves and were the last units to disappear from the table.
It is a big ask for the French to win the battle, however nothing is certain in a wargame and any delay by the Swiss attacks would have allowed the French to maneuver into a better position. Although the Swiss were slower than their historical counterparts and suffered causalities accordingly, the French just couldnt co ordinate any counter attacks. By the end although the main Swiss attack had stalled the Swiss right wing had turned the French position to crush all opposition. A clear Milanese/Swiss victory as in history.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Still plugging away.

 Its been a while since I posted on my renaissance blog, and thats purely because I have been spending my time painting ACW figures. I have however also been plodding away painting up 1/32 plastic medievals for a hoped for Lion Rampant game sometime next year. Hardly renaissance but near as damn it.
 Painting plastic is a whole different ball game as regards preparation and well, actually painting them. I have enjoyed the experience though.As one can see I now have a few infantry, well actually over 60, but I still need to do some foot archers and then some knights which have been harder to source. I only hope the game is worth the effort.
 I havent given up on my renaissance armies, and I can assure anyone that I have a large number? still left to paint, including two French Wars of religion armies.


Friday, 23 September 2016

Royalist Foot.

 Well Ive completed my first battaille, for the French Royalist forces, only another five or so to go, not counting the cavalry of course. John suggested a great idea regarding basing the pike, which I am keen to use on the next block. As he correctly pointed out, that for Baroque rules, my two pike blocks are actually one unit, so would look better if each base when they came together was based more towards the middle of each base to give it a better look. Probably not explained too well, but I know what I mean.
 The French Wars of Religion were still a period where pike and shot were separate entities, especially on the Huguenot side, where they fielded large musket units. As I have said before, they will look better once I get some standards on the units.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

French Wars of Religion Pike.

  I intend to use the new Baroque rules for my War of Religion project, as I have found them a great set of rules that capture the feel of late renaissance period really well. Who says I'm anti European?
 This is the first base of a two base pike regiment, containing a mix of figures from the old Citidal range and the new Warlord range. They are fairly compatible. The pike were again supplied by that most excellent wargamer Jason Williams who sent me a number [ large ] of pre painted pike which I have touched up. Again they will look far better when they receive their standards, which I hope Pete from Pete's Flags will supply when he stops doing his distracting day job.
  I'm not certain how the Royal Swiss were dressed during this period, but it was well documented that they were the best pike armed troops on both sides of the war, hence the Huguenot reliance on arquebus and musket armed infantry. Its a start anyway.  

                                   

Saturday, 10 September 2016

French Wars of Religion, Reiters.

 I have mentioned the extreme kindness and generosity of fellow renaissance wargamer, Jason Williams before, and this unit of Reiters is an example of his kindness. Jason sent me this unit of painted but unwanted reiters some time ago, and I have finally got around to re painting them and re basing them for the Baroque rules. They are brutes and really capture the period.
 The actual figures are from Redoubt Miniatures, a company that I have rarely used, but having now seen them in the flesh I will be buying more. The French Wars of Religion armies were predominantly cavalry based, so there will be a need for a lot of these brutes.
 This regiment are for the Royalist side, simply because Pete of Pete's Flags is creating the Royalist standards first, [ no pressure there Pete] A start anyway, with a fair way to travel, and thanks again Jason for your generosity.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Battle of Agnadello 14th May 1509, King Louis strikes terror in the Venetians..

Battle of Agnadello 14th May 1509.

Well today John and I fought the renaissance Battle of Agnadello, between the Venetians and the French led by King Louis XII.
 We fought it using the Pike and Shotte rules which we both enjoy.
Below are the orders of battle for both forces.
 When I set the game up, I was a bit concerned that it seemed too small a game by our standards, but to be honest it turned out to be a good size for a day game.
 I was also concerned that the French were too outnumbered, well I was very wrong on that score as the commentary will show, because basically my Venetians were slaughtered, as in real life, [ well I think my defeat was worse from a numbers point of view.]

 The Count of Pitigliano leading his invincible Venetian heavy cavalry, well that was until they met Louis and his bodyguard.

Using the Peter Sides booklet Renaissance Battles volume one, the Venetians were positioned on the slopes of some vineyards, in front of their position was a long dry riverbed, which was classed as  difficult terrain. Not exactly good terrain for a battle of this era, but fine if one wanted to fight a defensive battle, which I didnt.
 For a change the generalship on both sides was pretty mediocre, with all the commanders ending up as 7's. Sadly it didnt affect the French as much as it did my Venetians.



                                  
  The Duc d'Alviano [ level 7] sat on top of the hill with his bodyguard, during the battle he took an age to get his troops to actually move.

Background;
 Louis XII King of France was a consignee of the League of Cambri an alliance created to punish the Republic of Venice. He personally led an invading army made up of approximately 20,000 men.
Included in this army was 6000 dreaded Swiss .
The Venetians led by the Count of Pitigliano attempted to manoeuvre the French away from the republic and took up a position on vine clad hills. The French ignored this threat and marched towards the city of Rivolta, which drew the Venetians away from their defensive positions in pursuit. They then simply circled behind their pursuers in order to attack their rear.
The Venetians deploy first, the French move first.

French;   Louis XII.........Rash........7
Gendarmes d'Ordonnance............HvHrs.   Lance,   H/H 10  /  M 3+  / 4.  Heavy Cavalry D3 Elite 4+

Duke de'Amboise.............Dice for Generalship.

 Gendarmes d'Ordonnance............HvHrs.   Lance,   H/H 10  / M  3+  / 4.  Heavy Cavalry D3 Elite 4+
Gendarmes d'Ordonnance............HvHrs.   Lance,   H/H 10  / M  3+  / 4.  Heavy Cavalry D3 Elite 4+
French /Italian Light Horse...........Horse. Arquebus, sword,  H/H 7  / shooting value 1 /  M4+  /3.


Gascon Crossbow.....   Foot Battle Line.  Xbow.  H/H3,  2/ M 5+  /  3.
Gascon Crossbow.....   Foot Battle Line.  Xbow.  H/H3,  2/ M 5+  /  3.
Gascon Crossbow.....   Foot Battle Line.  Xbow.  H/H3,  2/ M 5+  /  3.
Gascon Crossbow.....   Foot Battle Line.  Xbow.  H/H3,  2/ M 5+  /  3.

Swiss Pike....Foot Pike Block. Pike. H/H7  / M4+  /  4 .   Hedgehog, Ferocious Charge, Elite.
Light Artillery Piece; H/H1  /3,2,1.  / M 5+  / 2.
Swiss Pike....Foot Pike Block. Pike. H/H7  / M4+  /  4 .   Hedgehog, Ferocious Charge, Elite.
Light Artillery Piece; H/H1  /3,2,1.  / M 5+  / 2.

Victory Conditions;
Must decisively defeat the Venetians, causing 2/3 of units to be shaken at any one time.
French move first.


Battle of Agnadello 14th May 1509.

Venetians....Count of Pitigliano....7  [cautious] ]
Bodyguard........HvHrs.   Lance,   H/H 8  / M  3+  / 4.  Heavy Cavalry 1 Elite 4+

Italian Men at Arms..........HvHrs.   Lance,   H/H 8  / M  3+  / 4.  Heavy Cavalry 1.
 Italian Men at Arms..........HvHrs.   Lance,   H/H 8  / M  3+  / 4.  Heavy Cavalry 1.
Italian Men at Arms..........HvHrs.   Lance,   H/H 8  / M  3+  / 4.  Heavy Cavalry 1.

Duke d'  Alviano...........Dice for Generalship.
Bodyguard........HvHrs.   Lance,   H/H 8  / M  3+  / 4.  Heavy Cavalry 1 Elite 4+

Stradiots:..Light Skirmish Horse,  H/H6   /  SV  1 /   M 5+   /  3.  Fire and Evade.
 Stradiots:..Light Skirmish Horse,  H/H6   /  SV  1 /   M 5+   /  3.  Fire and Evade. 
Stradiots:..Light Skirmish Horse,  H/H6   /  SV  1 /   M 5+   /  3.  Fire and Evade. 
Stradiots:..Light Skirmish Horse,  H/H6   /  SV  1 /   M 5+   /  3.  Fire and Evade.


Italian Pike;... Foot Pike Block. Pike. H/H6  / M4+  /  4 .   Hedgehog, Large Unit.
Italian Crossbow.....   Foot Battle Line.  Xbow.  H/H3,  2/ M 5+  /  3.

Italian Pike;... Foot Pike Block. Pike. H/H6  / M4+  /  4 .   Hedgehog, Large Unit.
Italian  Crossbow.....   Foot Battle Line.  Xbow.  H/H3,  2/ M 5+  /  3.

Italian Pike;... Foot Pike Block. Pike. H/H6  / M4+  /  4 .   Hedgehog, Large Unit.
Italian  Crossbow.....   Foot Battle Line.  Xbow.  H/H3,  2/ M 5+  /  3.

Italian Militia;.... Foot Battle Line.  Xbow.  H/H3,  2/ M 5+  /  3.
Italian Militia;.... Foot Battle Line.  Xbow.  H/H3,  2/ M 5+  /  3.
  
Romandiole Foot;... Foot Pike Block. Pike. H/H6  / M4+  /  4 .   Hedgehog.

Medium Artillery Piece; H/H1  /3,2,1.  / M 5+  / 2.
Medium Artillery Piece; H/H1  /3,2,1.  / M 5+  / 2.

Victory Conditions;
Must decisively defeat the French causing 1/2 of units to be shaken at any one time.


French move first.


 The Venetians had about 3000 stradiots in their army, that proved to be badly handled by me, never use them against large numbers of Gascon crossbowmen..
 I attempted to harass the French crossbowmen, but consistently lost the firefights.
 John had trouble moving most of his right wing, where Louis was in command, however using a 'follow me' order he attacked the Counts bodyguard. I expected a close fought fight, but took eight hits in their initial charge.

These are my saving throws. My gendarmes save on a four!
                                   Following the initial slaughter, this was my morale score!

 I had to take a reaction for my supporting cavalry, so what should have been a relatively easy throw resulted in the below!

 
By move five, a third unit of Venetian heavy cavalry was routing due to a mauling by Louis and his Gendarmes. So three quarters of my offensive cavalry was gone.
That damned King Louis laughing his metal pants off.

Not satisfied with mauling my heavy cavalry, Louis later linked back up with his bodyguard and attacked my disordered cross bowmen, that had advanced towards the Swiss. It didnt help that they were caught in the rear. They routed naturally.



Louis and his damned body guard, applied the coup de grace in the final move by charging the flank of my disordered and shaken large Italian pike block. These routed as well.

The Duke d' Alviano finally got his command to move after a lot of failures, unfortunately his cavalry was destroyed by the French artillery.

 The dreaded Swiss was very tardy in marching towards the enemy, and never came into contact with their Venetian counterparts, they didn't need to as they had routed by the time they got withing charge distance.


 So after a mere three hours of fighting I had 12 units classed as shaken or routing, and John had suffered a mere four shaken units. A very comprehensive defeat for me and a great lesson in avoiding the French Gendarmes led by their king, who virtually won the battle singlehanded.

Honour Guard of Cesare Borgia.

Honour Guard of Cesare Borgia.