Saturday, June 16, 2018

Back to the Wars...

Although this blog is intended to cover all sorts of war gaming stuff, if I had a 'great work' on the go, it would be my Wars of the Roses (WotR) campaign that I've been pursuing, on and off, for years.  (Just checked my old posts - since 2010, dear god!)  

I've been away from blogging, but not the hobby, for a year or two now - mostly down to real-life stuff, like having a family, getting in the way of things.  However, I'm determined to get my hobbying back on the go again, so this is part of my effort to make myself progress my campaign narrative onward.  

Last time I was gaming this, things had broadly reached an historical parallel: York had pursued the crown but died in the trying; his son Edward had taken up his claim, and won a massive victory at Baunton to sieze the throne.  It was the narrative equivalent of the battle of Towton in 1460, and brought things to a bit of a climax for a while.  

I dabbled in a side-narrative, pursuing the story of a minor noble who was involved in the local wars in the north, to keep myself busy.  However, he was inconveniently killed in a minor skirmish, and the whole thing rather lost momentum.  No problem however, as I had of course blogged all the results of my grand campaign, so I knew I could take it up again at some future date.  

So, We are now faced with an England under Edward IV, some time around 1465-1470.  Things are set for the tenuous Yorkist hold over the land to be tested once again, mainly because the previous battles had an unlucky habit of leaving a lot of powerful personalities still alive and making mischief, who historically had been killed off by this point.  Grudges need to be settled, so let's recap the main power-houses that have started to emerge up until now...  

The ruling dynasty, under King Edward IV.  Although notionally top of the pile, things are very worrying beneath the surface.  Many Lancastrian die-hards are still living in England, merely waiting for the chance to rebel and restore the house of Lancaster.  Edward relies on a network of close allies like his brother Gloucester, and Lord Hastings, to help him keep a lid on things.  In Edward's own mind, he fought to avenge himself on the Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset responsible for opposing his father, and succeeded in doing do when Edmund died at Baunton.  The wars are, to him, basically over.

Henry VI, and more accurately his wife, have kept the opposition going in exile with French and Scottish backing.  Henry VI is in no fit state to rule, but his claim is still pursued and has many supporters.  He has an active and ambitious young son in Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales.  He himself, in tow to his wife Margaret of Anjou, is in Scotland and poised to invade to stir up resistance.  Although his initial pool of supporters is small, he has potentially huge reserves across England and Wales, so if the queen manages to build up any momentum, it could all swiftly turn around for her family.  

The Duke of Buckingham has had a fine time in the wars.  Although his historical equivalent died at the Battle of Northampton, our re-fight version has kept going in the Lancastrian army up to Baunton.  He escaped from the resulting disaster and made it to France, where he notionally remains a supporter of Henry VI.  However, his success in the war can hardly have gone unnoticed, as the principal figure keeping the Lancastrian cause afloat, militarily speaking.  There is the serious chance that the Duke could wind up on the throne himself (he is a great-grandson of Edward III, after all) or at least the de-facto ruler in Henry's name.  

He's turned into a strange figure, old Buckingham: his men killed the Duke of York in battle, then he defeated Warwick at Gerrard's Cross to take London from the Yorkists, becoming one of the principal Lancastrian commanders alongside Edmund Beaufort.  At Baunton he fought well - practically the only Lancastrian to do so - and made it off the field with the biggest surviving chunk of the Lancastrian army.  Of course some might say his holding back in the early stages of the battle was what doomed his rival Edmund Beaufort and possibly lost the battle, but who can say for certain?  

The Earl of Warwick was a major figure in the historical wars, but in this re-fight he has been embarrassingly absent.  Rather than fight at places like Northampton, 2nd St Albans, and Towton, Warwick here has fought once at Gerrard's Cross, and was humiliatingly betrayed and routed for his trouble.  He fled to Calais, and thus missed the climactic battle at Baunton - although he doubtless feels the mercenaries he sent to assist Edward IV were crucial in securing the victory.  Now he's a man with something to prove, trying to get his diminished Neville family a bit of influence and credibility back.  Doubtless with the Yorkist regime being so frail, he is a critical supporter - but far from a reliable one.  His historical counterpart flipped between supporting Edward IV and Henry VI pretty much at will, and history seems set to repeat itself.

A curious one here, more an individual curiosity over a faction: Edmund Beaufort, the great enemy of York, is dead at Baunton.  Now Henry Beaufort has inherited his title as the Duke of Somerset, and hasn't led Lancastrian armies in bloodthirsty victories yet - due to his fathers' protracted a-historical survival.  Now he is following the historical path set by the real Henry Beaufort, of submitting to Edward IV and apparently becoming a close companion.  The real Henry however couldn't live with his betrayal of the old king, and historically broke with Edward IV in 1464 and died at Hexham.  Our re-fight Henry is currently, nominally, a Yorkist favourite, but of course we know he's on a hair-trigger to defect to Lancaster under even the most long-odds conditions.  

So, how will these forces compete to try for the throne next?

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