This weekend Stuart of https://stuartsworkbench.blogspot.com/
visited and we played a series of games that we have been planning for a while now, all based around the Siege of Venlo in 1511. This siege was part of the Guelders War and was a campaign where Henry VIII provided 1,500 Englishmen in one of his first forays in overseas aggression.
The roots of the Guelders War, like most of the conflicts of the early 1500s, lay back in the 15th Century. Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, had lent a sum of money to the Duke of Guelders and as a guarantee of repayment it was agreed that Charles would assume the Duchy if said repayment was not forthcoming. Suffice to say the Duke of Guelders failed to repay Charles and thus the conflict began. By 1511 the Hapsburg Low Countries were under the leadership of Margaret of Austria, daughter of Maximilian I, following the death of her brother Philip IV in 1506. Margaret was trying to retake Guelders by force by laying siege to Venlo on the river Meuse. Henry VIII was allied to Maximilian I, and thus Margaret, as he would be when he invaded France two years later in 1513, and had sent Sir Edward Poynings and 1,500 Englishmen to aid the Hapsburgs in the campaign.
There is not much, in English at least, available on this campaign but over the past couple of month's I have been looking for information on Poynings involvement and Hall's Chronicle has a couple of pages detailing some of the events that took place. If you have the patience, and inclination to decipher it, this source is online: https://archive.org/details/hallschronicleco00halluoft/page/522
. I have quoted some passages from it below, which, once you get used to the old spelling or lack of it, have plenty of information from which a few great wargaming scenarios can be taken. In the passages below, I have added the extra text in brackets just to help a little with the "translation" into modern English.
As per usual all the photos are of the actual games. For rules we used our Renaissance Rampant hybrid of Lion Rampant and The Pikeman's Lament. For the Guelders forces we used a combination of Landsknechts and then various English or French unit profiles to form the various militia forces. For all of the games Stuart played the English under Poynings while I took control of the Guelderlanders. A brief write up on the highlights of each game is included, as always following the captions under the photographs is probably the best way to see how they played out.
|Margaret of Austria as a widow, after 1518 - Circle of Bernard Van Orley.|
The Storming of Brymuoyst
"Tharmie to the nombre of x M of the ladies part (Margaret of Austria), & xv c Englishmen passed through Brabant, & came the x daie of August beyng s Laurece daie, before a litle castle stadyng on the higher side of the river of Mase (Meuse) called Brymuoyst (Grubbenvorst?) strongly bulwarked, in the whiche wer c men belongyng to the bastarde of Gelders, with a capitain called Lankesell van Gelder, whiche robbed & spoyled all the parties of Brabat (Brabant). Thei within shot fiersely at tharmy as it passed by, and did them litle hurt. The same night Thomas Hert chief gouernor of theglish (the English) part made his approch of his ordinauce, & in the morning bet doune as much as might be beaten doune for the bulwarkes, & the next daie beyng the xi of August the castle was assaulted valiantly, & taken by force, & the capitain and lxxx & odde me were slaine and xix taken, of which xi were hanged, Ihon Morto capitain of c Englishme, & one Guiot an esquire of Burgoyn (Burgundy) criyng Burgoyne S George: there was one Englishman slain and no more".
|Brymuoyst Castle or Kasteel Grubbenvorst, Thomas Hert's English guns have fallen silent after battering down some of the bulwark and now the archers prepare for the assault.|
On their way to Venlo, as they passed through Brabant, the English and Margaret of Austria's forces passed Brymuoyst castle. This seems to have been Kasteel Grubbenvorst, https://www.absolutefacts.nl/kastelen/data/grubbenvorst.htm
although amusingly if you follow the link and translate the text it says the castle was destroyed by Scots troops in the service of Maximilian I in 1511. I am pretty sure this is the place Hall is refering to. It was assaulted by the English and Burgundians and it's lawless captain killed.
For our scenario the English deployed outside the castle and were assaulting it. Brymuoyst's garrison were inside the buildings and could leave any building on a move activation. They needed to get out of the castle and make for the river in an attempt to escape before the English got to them. Once the English reached the castle they could try and set it alight as per the "Sausages without Mustard" scenario in Lion Rampant page 50. Once all the buildings were burning the Guelders troops could no longer escape.
The English Objective was to stop the Guelders troops escaping. The Guelders troops had to try and race across the board to the river and escape.
The Guelders Defenders - Lankesell van Gelder in control of the Bastard of Guelder's men
1 Unit of Foot Knights (Lankesell Van Gelder)
2 Units of Shire Bill (Guelders Infantry)
1 Unit of Franc Archers (Guelders Archers)
1 Unit of Aventuriers - (Guelders Crossbowmen)
The English Attackers
1 Footknights (Sir Edward Poynings
1 Unit of Shire Bill (Sir John Morto)
2 Units of Garrison Archers
|The English form up to assault the castle.|
|The Bastard of Guelder's men make a run for the River Meuse....|
|...while their archers and crossbowmen distract the English.|
The fight started well for the Gulders Rebels with the garrison's archers and crossbowmen keeping up a steady rain of arrows and bolts on the English attackers. While the English were engaging the missile armed troops Lankesell Van Gelder and his band of infantry (or outlaws!) climbed over the earthern bulwark and headed for the river. Things seemed to be going the way of the Guelders forces and the English Archers were taking casualties. The bowmen soon proved their worth in Margarets forces however and silenced the garrison's crossbowmen, even though they were in a strongly fortified position.
The English pulled back to block the escaping infantry, allowing the castles archers a chance to get away as well. Once in the open the Guelderlanders came under a rain of arrows and were also fired upon by one of the English culverins. Not to be stopped Lankesell Van Gelder made it down the hill and personally defeated Sir Edward Poynings. Poynings was injured and dragged from the field by some of his archers. The Guelderlanders could not make it out though. The archers were silenced by the English Bowmen and Sir John Morto's billmen and Poynings bodyguards, including Sir John Digby, charged up the hill and into the castle's garrison as they attempted to escape. Those left, including Lankesell were cut down or surrendered to the attacking English. Brymuoyst or Grubbenvorst Castle had fallen.
|The English Archers press the attack through the castle's ditch.|
|Lankesell Van Gelder leads the Bastard of Guelder's men out of the castle that they have been trapped in and attempts to flee via boats on the river.|
|Lankesell is no coward though and engages Sir Edward Poynings in hand to hand combat. A veteran of Bosworth, Ireland and an earlier Low Countries Campaign he may be, but Poynings is injured and only just rescued by his men.|
|Poynings may have been removed from the field but all is lost for Lankesell Van Gelder. As they attempt to escape he and his men are cut down by the English Archers and Guns, before being captured and defeated by the Men-at-Arms and Billmen. Brymuoyst is taken.|
|Margaret of Austria's gunners attempt to bring Venlo's walls down.|
Assaulte on the Trenches
"The siege thus continuyng, not without skirmishes, xxix daies sir Edward Pounynges (Poynings), sir Ihon Dighby (John Digby) dined with monsire Rony and all other Englishe capitaines and petie capitaines, dined with an Almain (German) called Clene Anderlyne, except sir Mathew Broune, and Ihon Fogge whiche kepte the felde, and Richard Wethill whiche kepte the trenche and was sore besette: and in the dinner tyme, thei of the toune issued out on thenglishmen hurt and toke, one Sheldwiche of Caterbury prisoner, and one Miles: and thenglishmen hurt and slew many of theim, and comeplled theim to returne by force of Arrowes, and so thei reculed with one prisoner. For Miles, whiche was led betwene two of the Gelders, perceiuying rescue commyng, after as he came to an hill, thrust the two Gelders doune the hill before him, and so ranne back to his compaignie, which thyng the two Gelders that led him perceiuyng ranne to Sheldwiche and slew him, The Burgonions (Burgundians) perceiuyng, that sir Edwarde Pownynges was displeased with this chaunce, exhorted him with his menne to assault the toune, whiche, by thaduise of bastard Emery answered was that the cause was theirs, and not his Maisters: And if he gatte the toune by assault, the king his Master, should not haue it, but if they would geue the assaulte, he would ioyne with theim, whiche thing would not do because thei had kinsmen and frendes, within the toune: sauyug one daie a fewe Almaines assaulted a Bulwerke and wer slain and taken".
The battlefield for this scenario was set up to represent a segment of the walls and moat of Venlo and the English trenches and guns outside. Both retinues of the Guelders raiding force were deployed at one end of the table with the retinue of Sir Mathew Brown at the other. The large gun battery was considered impassable terrain and was included as a scenic item to really give the flavour of this being a siege. The Guelderlanders had the two prisoners Sheldwiche of Canterbury and Miles with them having already raided a part of the English trenches. They had to make their way across the field and pass the deployed English retinue to leave at the opposite table edge as they were assumed to be making their way back to an open gate further around the walls.
The two prisoners were placed with two units of Guelderland Troops. Units with a prisoner moved at a maximum of 6" but could otherwise behave as normal, save evading and skirmishing. If the unit with the prisoner was destroyed, routed or battered the prisoner would run 8" towards the nearest English in each English turn. If the prisoner reached the English unit the token was removed.
There could only ever be two prisoners in play but if one or more escaped then the Guelderlanders could capture prisoners by routing, destroying or making a unit battered in combat. A retinue leader could also be captured by loosing a challenge. The winning unit then had a token placed by them and had to leave via the opposite table edge with the token. If they routed, were battered or were defeated in combat the unit lost the prisoner as with the starting two prisoners. Running prisoners were automatically recaptured if an enemy unit moved into contact with them.
Once the first attack in combat or via missile fire was made between the Guelderlanders and the defending English then on the English turn a D6 roll of 5-6 meant that Poynings retinue, racing back from dinner, could enter from behind the Guelderlanders. On the next turn a 3-6 would allow them to enter and 3 turns from the first clash they could automatically attempt to activate to enter. The Retinue of Poynings entered via move activations.
The Guelderlanders would gain 5 glory for each prisoner they escaped the table with and the English gained 10 glory if no prisoners were taken.
The moat counted as rough terrain and offered +1 armour as cover.
The trench was rough terrain unless infantry were moving straight down it and offered +1 armour as cover unless both units were in the trench in which case neither had cover.
The Sconces were not rough terrain and offered +2 armour as cover as long as the unit had at least one base in the sconce. Similarly the Earthworks did not count as rough terrain but would give +2 armour for units on the correct side of the defences.
The Guelderland Sally
1 Unit of Foot Knights (Landsknecht Captain)
2 Units of Landsknecht Pike
2 Units of Landsknecht Arquebusiers
1 Unit of Landsknecht Halberdiers
1 Unit of Demilancers (Guelders Captain)
2 Units of Mounted Crossbowmen
1 Unit of Picard Pike (Guelders Militia Pikemen)
1 Unit of Shire Bill (Guelders Infantry with Polearms)
1 Unit of Aventuriers ( Guelders Crossbowmen)
Sir Mathew Brown and Richard Whethill in the trenches
1 Unit of Footknights (Sir Mathew Brown)
1 Unit of Garrison Billmen (Richard Whethill)
1 Unit of Garrison Archers
1 Unit of Shire Archers
1 Organ Gun
Sir Edward Poynings
1 Unit of Foot Knights (Sir Edward Poynings)
2 Units of Garrison Archers
1 Unit of Demilancers (Clene Anderlyn)
1 Unit of Landsknecht Pike
|The English trenches are thinly manned as most of the Captains and Petty Captains dine with Monsire Rony or the German Captain, Clene Anderlyne. The Guelders raiding party can be seen in the distance with a couple of English Archers fleeing down the trench in front of them!|
|The Guelderslanders have sallied out of one of the town gates, overrunning the English trenches. In the left foreground one of the English prisoners can be seen.|
|The defenders of Venlo are heartened to see the large raiding force moving with impunity through the English trenches.|
|Sir Mathew Brown and Richard Whethill hastily gather the troops to defend the trenches as the Guelders sally approaches.|
|The Guelderland Landsknecht choose to bypass the English attempt to stop them by simply wading through Venlo's moat.|
|With one of the prisoners in tow the Duke of Guelders Landsknecht push on through the moat and past the gun battery.|
As Sir Mathew Brown's men raced to defend the trenches against the oncoming attack the Landsknecht forces in Venlo's employ decided to avoid them and waded through the moat, hoping the close proximity to the town's walls would deter the English from trying to stop them. The Guelders Militia forces were not so fortunate and made the ill fated decision to attempt to steamroll the thinly held English trenches. The Guelderlanders knew the main English force would soon be upon them so a unit of Landsknecht Arquebusiers and some crossbowmen formed a rearguard, each group holding a sconce while the main forces made their way back to the gate.
The Landsknecht force in the moat, although slowed down considerably, passed by the English trenches with relative ease. For the militia and garrison troops moving through the trenches it was a very different tale. The English ran to their positions and thinned the ranks of the Guelders Sally with their arrows. The Guelders force did make it to the English and in a series of vicious hand to hand fights they defeated the archers and Sir Mathew Brown with his accompanying Men-at-Arms. One of the English prisoners was freed in the confusion and made it back to the ranks of his company. Another Englishmen was briefly captured by the attacking townsmen but he too was then freed as they were pushed back into a trench.
|The Guelders militia forces have been stopped by the defending English. Their Captain and his men are sent fleeing back down the trenches in a hail of arrows.|
|The Guelders Mounted Crossbowmen attempt to clear a way through the trenches but again the arrow storm is too deadly.|
|The Rebel Landsknecht march on, wading through the moat. One Pike Block is detailed with moving to aid the Guelders Militia.|
|Temporarily outnumbered by the Guelderland Sally Sir Matthew Brown and his archers put up a valiant defence...|
|...they rescue one of the English prisoners and fight off the Guelderlanders as they attempt to storm the earthworks.|
|The Guelders Militia Pike capture another fleeing Englishman in the fierce fighting over the trenches but he is soon freed as Sir Edwards Poynings and the other English captains, their dinner interupted, have made it to the fray.|
The Guelders Militia, despite the hard fight, thought they had made it through the English lines but they were mistaken. Behind them Clene Anderlyn and his cavalry road into the trenches. They chased off one group of Guelders Mounted Crossbowmen and then rode down the fleeing Guelders crossbowmen who had been forming a rearguard for their compatriots. The Landsknecht Arquebusiers in the sconce fired at Sir Edward Poynings, now recovered from his fight at Brymuoyst, but Poynings and his bodyguard stormed the earthwork and defeated them.
The Landsknecht in the moat thought they were in the clear, even sending one block of Pikemen back to aid the militia, all be it too late. Sir Mathew Brown's English weren't defeated yet though and wheeled an Organ Gun into the path of the oncoming Landsknecht. It fired upon the skirmishing arquebusiers who moved in front of the Landsknecht Pike but they evaded its hail of shot before firing back on it's crew and sending them running. Richard Whethill and his billmen took on the lead party of Landsknecht Pike as they advanced out of the moat but the Landsknecht were too strong and Whethill and his men fled. The Duke of Guelders Landsknecht, many of whom would of course see service in the armies of France in Italy, made it safely back to the open gate with their prisoner. They only lost the arquebusiers they detached as a rearguard acting as a "verlorene haufen".
The Guelders militia fared far worse. The fight at the trenches had held them up, allowing the German Cavalry to ride into them and send them running in panic. Only some of the Mounted Crossbowmen managed to ride through the network of trenches and earthworks to make it safely back to the town. The people of Venlo were disheartened that they had lost many of their own people in the encounter and took little comfort from the fact that the Garrison's professional force, the Landsknecht, had returned to the town having taken few casualties.
|Clene Anderlyn, the German Captain, rides ahead of the English to cut down the raiding Guelderlanders.|
|The Landsknecht Pikemen who had bypassed the trenches are caught by Richard Whethill and his billmen. In a brief clash of arms the English are defeated and the Landsknecht make it safely back to the gates and the walls of Venlo with one English prisoner.|
|In the trenches however Clene Anderlyn and the arriving English reinforcements have smashed the Guelders Militia. While most of the Landsknecht have escaped a large number of the town's defenders have been cut down.|
The Assault on the Tower
"More effective proved the 1,500 soldiers under Sir Edward Poynings, who served at the siege of Venlo against the forces of the Duke of Guelders. Margaret of Savoy, the leader of the alliance, confided to her father, the Emperor, 'The English acquit themselves very well and make more war on the enemies than any other'. As operations dragged into late October 1511, she reported to Maximilian that the commanders planned a three-day battering of Venlo's walls, followed by an 'assault, in which the English offer to take first place'. Even at this early date the English showed aptitude for gunnery. The defenders had mounted one of the town's towers and rained projectiles upon the English camp. The English retaliated by erecting a mound, positioning their artillery, and managing partially to demolish the offending structure. Margaret regarded her English troops' performance as 'better than the rest of the army"
|Venlo, 1511. The troublesome gun position on the walls, that is bombarding the English camp, can be seen in the left foreground. In the background, to the left of the small church, is the gate that the English will sneak in by.|
. English Warfare, 1511-1642 Mark Charles Fissell.
This next scenario was a twist on the above event described in Fissell's work. It's a "what if" in which rather than the English having succeeded in knocking down the tower with their earthwork and guns they had failed. Hall states in the above passage for the "Assaulte on the Trenches"
scenario that some of the Landsknecht in Margaret's force "had kinsmen and frendes, within the toune"
. Later Hall goes on to state "The Englishe capitaines perceiuyng that thei laye there in vain cosideryng the strength of the toune, and also how their armie was not in nombre to enuiron the toune, for ever thei had one Gate open, wrote to the kyng, which willed them with all spede to returne, and so thei did.
" So it is clear the defenders were confident of their security and had kept a gate open all through the siege, not being fully encircled by the besiegers.
For this scenario the Landsknecht in the Hapsburg army had persuaded some of their "kinsmen and frendes"
in the garrison to leave one of these smaller gates or sally ports open to them and the English for an early morning raid. The English knew they couldn't get enough men in through the gate to take the town but they were entering close enough to the gun mounted on the wall to attempt to quickly get in the town, disable the gun that was raining projectiles onto their camp and try and get back as day broke.
The table was set up to represent the streets and gardens of Venlo. At one end of the table were the walls with a gun mounted on them. The English deployed at the other end as if they had entered from a gate left open for them. They had to get back to the gate to exit. The Guelders Militia Retinue deployed in a town square in the centre of the table.
The English had to get to the gun by placing a unit at the base of the wall it was on. Instead of an activation they could then attempt to destroy it. This was done on a 5-6 on a D6 the first time. Then a 4,5,6 then a 3,4,5,6 and so on. If the English attempted to destroy the gun position 5 times they would automatically succeed the 5th time. Only one unit could attempt to destroy the gun per retinue turn.
As soon as the attempt to destroy the gun was started the Guelders relief force could enter via a move activation from the left side of the town in the above photo. The English had to leave with as many units as possible via the exit gate once the gun was knocked out avoiding the Guelders units arriving from within the rest of the town.
The English started with one large retinue while the Guelderlanders were divided into two smaller retinues.
The English Raiding Party
1 Unit of Foot Knights (Sir Edward Poynings)
1 Unit of Foot Knights (Sir Mathew Brown)
3 Units of Garrison Archers
1 Unit of Landsknecht Arquebusiers
1 Unit of Landsknecht Halberdiers
The Guelders Miltia (in the square)
1 Unit of Shire Bill (Militia Captain)
2 Units of Aventuriers (Guelders Crossbowmen)
1 Unit of Picard Pike - (Venlo's Militia Pike)
1 Organ Gun
The Guelders Relief Force
1 Unit of Foot Knights (Landsknecht Captain)
1 Unit of Landsknecht Pike
1 Unit of Landsknecht Arquebusiers
1 Unit of Mounted Crossbowmen
1 Unit of Demilancers (Horsemen from Venlo's Garrison)
|The Guelderland Militia keeping guard.|
|The English and Imperial Landsknecht as they enter the town in stealth.|
|The rest of the town is soon alerted to the raid as the Imperial Landsknecht send a hail of shot into the Guelders Militia Pikemen.|
|The English and "Almaines" move quickly though Venlo's streets.|
|The Pikemen in the square bravely try and stop the surprise attack but they are overwhelmed.|
This was a confused engagement with the English getting deep into the streets of Venlo before the Guelderlanders sprung on them. In the small square Venlo's Pikemen didn't have the nerve to initiate an attack on the Imperial Landsknecht which meant they were subjected to a savage volley of shot and then defeated in combat by Sir Mathew Brown and his Men-at-Arms. If the hail of shot from the arquebusiers didn't alert the rest of the town to the fact they were under attack then the organ gun which ambushed some of the English Archers certainly did! Some of the archers were killed but the rest took their revenge on the gun crew, shooting them down at close quarters.
The Imperial Landsknecht Arquebusiers narrowly avoided an ambush by some of the town's garrison, the garrison troops themselves then being dispersed by the unstoppable Sir Mathew Brown. Brown and the Arquebusiers made it to the walls where the gun position was. While the English stood guard the Germans went up on to the walls and knocked out the gun that had been causing the camp so much trouble. Unfortunately for Sir Brown, they took a long time to do this and he was defeated as more of Venlo's garrison were alerted to the enemy within their walls. Guelders Landsknecht Arquebusiers and Mounted Crossbowmen joined the fight.
|A series of ambushes and streetfights take place in the early morning light. A Guelders artillery piece is fired into the English Archers but, taking cover behind buildings, few of them are hurt and they shoot back at the crew, quickly silencing them.|
|The Landsknecht troops that helped the English into the town lure out the milita...|
|...only for Sir Mathew Brown and his bodyguard to then catch them and defeat them in a brief melee.|
|Sir Matthew Brown then reaches the wall where the troublesome gun is. Alerted to the English raid, Guelders Landsknecht and Mounted crossbowmen enter the fight and Brown and his bodyguard are defeated.|
|But Brown has bought time for the allied Landsknecht to get onto the town walls and destroy the gun position.|
Having seen one of their Captains downed, a unit of English Archers sent the Mounted Crossbowmen and Landsknecht Arquebusiers fleeing but then had to run themselves as a group of the town's cavalry clattered into the streets and ran them down.The Arquebusiers that had mounted the walls and destroyed the gun ran in a headlong panic through the street to the gate as the horsemen rode after them. All the English and German troops in the town now headed for the gate they had snuck in by, only to find themselves in an ambush. The town's militia crossbowmen emerged on one side and a block of Landsknecht Pike on the other.
The English Archers and Maximilian's Landsknecht were cut down by the town's own Landsknecht, Cavalry and Crossbowmen as the sun rose and day broke. Seeing Venlo's Landsknecht Captain attacking his archers Poynings entered the fray but the Landsknecht Commander escaped unharmed, thinking he had trapped the English in the town. This would have certainly been the case had not some of the besieging Landsknecht heard the fighting from the trenches and rushed to the aid of their trapped comrades and Englishmen. They burst through the gate and defeated the Guelders Landsknecht Pikemen that were blocking it, allowing Poynings and what was left of his raiding party to escape (when it looked like the English were not going to make it Stuart rolled a double 6 to activate a unit which meant after he had rolled on the doubles chart reinforcements were sent, saving the raiding party from disaster!).
|The mission accomplished, as the English and their German allies attempt to leave they are caught by a body of the town's horsemen. From the walls two priests look on in horror!|
|The English and Germans file down the street that leads back to the open gate.|
|The Archers who form the rearguard are ridden down by the horsemen from the Venlo garrison!|
|At the other end of the town, as the English make for the gate they are caught in an ambush. Guelders Landsknecht emerge from the orchard on the right while behind the church the militia crossbowmen emerge. |
|It looks as it the English are surrounded on all sides with the Venlo horsemen racing through the bloodied streets in an attempt to ride them all down.|
|More English are cut down as Venlo's Landsknecht captain enters the fight.|
|In the chaotic street fighting he briefly engages Sir Edward Poynings in a duel but the result is inconclusive and neither are harmed.|
|Outside the walls the besieging Landsknecht have been alerted to the fact the mission is going wrong. They storm through the opened gate and disperse the town's Guelders Landsknecht who are blocking the English escape route. In the nick of time Poynings and his remaining assault party get back out to the siege lines. |
These were really fun games that we had both put some preparation into and I think that made them all the more enjoyable. Stuart had completed his Poynings Command base as well as the fleeing English Archers whilst I had prepared the scenarios and worked on a set of Guelders Flags. It was great to use Stuart's spectacular new buildings for the first time in some of the scenarios. Of course we made our obligatory "Generals" trip to the pub for a few (too many) drinks. As always these games seem to just generate more ideas for future scenarios. I have already been delving back into Hall's Chronicle with an eye to doing the Marquis of Dorset's failed Guyenne Campaign of 1512 when the English were effectively hoodwinked by Ferdinand of Aragon and been going through my books on Tudor Ireland with the possibility of seeing Poynings take the field again but this time against some of the 1490s Irish Septs.
|Off course the obligatory raid on the pub had to take place as well!|