Monday, April 5, 2010

The Battle of Northampton 1460

I've been struggling recently to get on with my Wars of the Roses painting, mainly down to the struggle to get enough 1p coins to base the remaining half and then start painting them. However, one army is done, I've a set of rules to try out, and I've at least assembled the unpainted army. To the tabletop!

The situation is 1460, where the Yorkist faction led by the Earl of Warwick has landed in Kent and taken London, before marching up to Northampton where the royal Lancastrian army is assembling. Warwick is aiming to see King Henry VI and explain that he's raised an army in rebellion just so he can speak with the king and reassure him he won't raise an army in rebellion, erm, and that's sort of it. I know it's crazy-sounding, but as Henry VI was only tenuously holding on to sanity this is actually how it all went at first! If Warwick wins the day, he can basically take possession of Henry and get him to agree to anything he wants.

I got this situation by playing the campaign game out, which then gave me a vaguely historical situation for the first battle. Since this was my first try of the rules I did without any fortified camp or historically accurate map, just making one up as I went. The campaign game did give me rules on assembling forces though, so here is the army each side brought to the bash:

Yorkist host (7800 men in total)
Vaward (Right Wing) under viscount Bourchier
Main (Centre) under the earl of Warwick
Rearward (Left Wing) under Abergavenny and Fauconberg.

Lancastrian Host (7420 men - pretty much equal strength!)
Vaward under the duke of Exeter (and bloody Clifford)
Main under the duke of Buckingham
Rearward under the earl of Shrewsbury

The battlefield at the start, with the Yorkists as the painted, nearest-the-camera army. Thanks to a small stream the armies were forced to offset slightly, but Warwick planned to hold back with his left while his centre and right attacked and crushed the enemy line. The Lancastrians prepared orders to sit tight and fire arrows for a bit, before advancing out to fight.

"I will speak with the king or I will die!"

The battle started off with the Yorkist advance forward, as Abergavenny refused the left as per the plan. Sadly the enemy battle under Exeter and Clifford began turning in to face them. Also, as the offset in the armies became apparent it meant that the luckless Yorkist left took most of the incoming archery fire. Luckily they remained steady!

The advance in progress (the game is card-driven, hence all the bits scattered around!)

As the above pic shows, I'm pretty pleased with the painting effort! I think I cared too much about the livery colours however, as they quickly get lost in the chaotic jumble! Beyond an appropriate standard, I doubt you'd care! Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the start of Warwick's plans going wrong! The pic above shows the Yorkist right hitting a small patch of woodland, which threw their advance off. The fleet-footed mobility to avoid it seems to be beyond our two howling mobs! Rather than flanking the enemy, Warwick's line is being compacted into the centre.

Contact! The Lancastrian host matches the advance and the two sides collide in a monster-sized scrum. Looks like it's going to be settled point-blank, by the two lines going head-to-head!

On the Lancastrian left, one of the minor magnates present gets personal! Yes, the Percy-Neville feud gets an airing as the sworn foes Thomas Percy, Baron Egremont and Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury make it a grudge-match. Percy cries "I have singled thee alone!" and wounds Salisbury, as well as getting pronged himself. The magnates are dropping like flies in the fight here - viscount Bourchier is killed, handing command to Salisbury just as he gets wounded; and on the Lancastrian side Shrewsbury dies too - the Yorkist right and Lancastrian left both lose their leaders, with other nobles taking over the job. Frankly, next to 'the bloody wood' on this part of the field, anybody that doesn't get stabbed in the face just isn't pulling their weight.

"I guess I don't speak with the king, then!"

Then, catastrophe in the centre! Warwick is cut down in the thick of it, trying to lead his men on one last desperate heave to break through the enemy horde. Now that he's down, the Yorkist morale begins to sink like a stone.

Good grief - what a tangle! There's cards everywhere as the monster headbutting match continues. It begins to dawn on me that possibly this first 'try-out' session of the rules was a good idea, just to size things up. I formed my wards into single massive formations, with all the nuance and subtlety of a breeze-block through your window. If I'd had several smaller companies I could have broken some by now, and turned flanks for maximum execution. Oh well, that's for next time. For now though, the massive grinding-match nears it's end!

"They flee!" the Yorkists decide suddenly they've something better to do today. After losing bases for a while they suddenly crack and are slaughtered wholesale in the rout. On the flanks things quickly degenerate too, and the remainder flee!

Most terrible slaughter!

We are abandoned!

The bloody day comes to an end - almost. Buckingham is killed at the very moment of his victory, and the remaining Yorkist magnates are swept up in the retreat. Sadly, while the likes of Salisbury go straight into imprisonment for defying the king, the barons Abergavenny and Fauconberg (who held off Exeter for so long) learn that crossing Henry Holland, duke of Exeter is not lightly done. The man whose violent tastes when Constable of the tower of London saw the rack dubbed "The duke of Exeter's daughter" is clearly not in the mood for make-up hugs! The pair of them go to the executioner's block. With the Yorkist cause now thrown down, it looks like Lancaster is victorious! Hurrah for king Hal!

1 comment:

  1. Great report but shame about the result! ;-) It's nice to see ACOP in use too. We are planning to try it out as soon as we can afford the ink! We are also debating whether to refight Wakefield or Northampton as our next demo game before Towton.

    The livery colours work best if you have a mass of troops in them. That is when they really stand out. I shall post some sources and colours on the Towton blog as you requested when I have time to get the info all together, probably later this week.