Wednesday 14 July 2021

"this is like no house of praier"

The Tudor scenarios continue with Stuart and myself playing out another set of games, this time focusing on Surrey's 1522 campaign in northern France and a skirmish which took place in Ireland in January 1521. As with our last games some before and after videos can be found on Stuart's "Army Royal" Facebook Group, if you wish to hear our inane ramblings and ideas behind the scenarios!

"this is like no house of praier"

Following the raid on Morlaix in July of 1522 Surrey was given command of Calais. He arrived in the town on 9 August accompanied by 3,000 extra troops and his brother Edmund as his second in command (Edmund Howard was the younger brother who got overwhelmed holding the English right wing at Flodden, see for our refight of this part of the battle). Surrey was joined by troops provided by Charles V, at first 300 Spanish according to Hall who describes the start of the campaign as follows:

"When the lorde Admyrall had brought all his menne out of the shippes and that all the souldiors were come out of Englande and the ordinaunce set on land, then came into Caleys haven xiiii shyppes out of Spayne from the Emperor whiche set on land CCC Spanyardes whiche wer sent to serve the lorde Admyrall and under him they were put. When all thynges were ready, the lorde Admyral set in order his battels and for the forwarde he appointed sir Rober Ratcliffe, lorde Fitzwater for Capitayne, and with him divers knightes and gentlemen which capitaine kept his men in very good order.
After that battail folowed the oridinaunce, artilerie and other trusses with vitail and all necessaries, & for the capitaine of the horsemen was appointed sir Edward Gyldford, by whom the currers and vewers of the countrey were appointed. The myddle warde ledde the lorde Admyrall himselfe, and his compaignie the lorde Edmond Haward his brother with many worshipfull knightes, squiers, and tall yomen: The last battail was ledde by two valiaunt knightes of the Garter sir Wyllyam Sandes and sir Richarde Wyngfelde, and with theim was sir Richard Iernyngham with many other. In good order of battail they passed over Newman bridge the XXX day of August to a place called Calkewell & there lodged betwene y Wyndmyl & the Marrishe."

It is during this campaign that we first encounter some 400 of the auxilliary troops that accompanied the English armies of the 1520s. In 1523 a similar force were known as the "krekkers". They would be a feature of the French campaigns in the early 1520s and were heavily involved in the raiding and skirmishing that took place around the Calais Pale during the war with France in these years. Gervase Philips argues in "Irish "Ceatharnaigh" in English Service, 1544-1550, and the development of 'Gaelic Warfare" that the employment of kern in the wars in the 1540s may well have been a substitue for these auxiliaries who were so useful in raids and skirmishes. It seems these adventurers could also be a scapegoat for some of the more outrageous abuses of the army, which had to be pretty bad by 16th century standards, as they fell outside the normal organisation of the English force.
Hall has a great description of how they approached and persuaded the, initially reluctant, Earl of Surrey to allow them to accompany the English army:

"The same day came to the lorde Admyrall a certain nombre of wilde persones, as menne out of service and apprentises that ranne fro their Masters and other ydle persones, and him desired that they might be retained in the kinges wages, to who he answered, that the kyng had appointed the nobre of suche as should have wages, which was fully complete and advised theim to returne into England and not to loyter there. Then sayd a tall yoman, my lorde here be many good felowes that with your favor whould ieopard to get or lose, for their mynde is to be revenged on the Frenchemen enemies to the kyng and his realme. Good felowe sayd the lorde Admyrall, their mindes be good, but if for loack of conduite they should be caste awaye, it were a losse to the kyng and a great corage to the Frenchemen. Then all the compaignie cried, let us go in the name of God and sainct George: Then after counsail take he gave them a Penon of sainct George and bad them adventure (of whiche they were called adventurers) and farther bad theim that if they got any botie they should ever bryng it to tharmy and they should be payde to the uttermost, and then he gave them money and comaunded the weapons & so the sayd xxxi day the sayd adventurers iiiiC in nombre and mo, sette forwarde before the host"

So with  300 Spanish and 400 "adventurers" this composite force was finally joined on 2 September 1522 by 500 Burgundian Horsemen, ironically on the same spot that the Field of the Cloth of Gold had taken place only two years before. We return to Hall:

"Tewsday the second day of September the armye passed towarde Arde: and in the golden Valay where the kyng of England and the Frenche Kyng met two years before, there met with tharmy of England two capitaines of the Burgonions, the one called the erle of Egremond the Seneschal of Henaude, and the lorde of Bauers Admyrall of Flanders with v.C horsemen, like men of warre. The lord Admyrall in gentle maner received these two capitaines and their compaignie & so they ioyned theimselfes to the Englishe armye"

This turned out to be a fairly inauspicious campaign involving the raiding of smaller villages and fortresses, a siege of Hesdin being the only real event of note. One of the targets of the campaign was a fortified church in the town of "Boyardes"(?) which was attacked on 9 September 1522 and described by Hall:

"The ix day of Septembre the whole armye came before the toune of Boyardes in whiche was a Church more liker a castle then a Church, for it was depe ditched with drawe birdges and with Bulwarkes fortefied and lopes very warlike, The Admyrall beholdyng it sayd, this is like no house of praier. Then he cammauded his people to entre the dyches and plucke down the drawe bridges and set fyer in y Churche, and with gunpowder overthrew it, and brent the toune and all the villages adiacent to the same, the people cried and fledde, well was he that might save himselfe."

"Boyardes" in the background with Sir Richard Wingfield's retinue in the foreground and the Earl of Surrey's retinue behind that. 

"this is like no house of praier", the English attempt a parley with the defenders of the fortified church.

The Scenario

We tried something different for this game with the two of us each controlling an English retinue and competing with each other to achieve objectives against a French defence that was part static and part controlled by ourselves, depending on who "won" control of the French for that turn.

Our two English retinues had 5 objectives:

The two bulwarks
The church
The two drawbridges

To take a bulwark a unit needed to move into it either by destroying the gun in the bulwark in combat or entering after the gun crew had retreated. 

To blow up the church each player secretly assigned 3 infantry units in their retinue to carry powder barrels. If the unit carrying a powder barrel was routed or was destroyed the barrels would be revealed and another English unit could pick them up by moving into contact with them. A counter was used to represent the barrels once they were revealed.

To attempt to blow up the church an English (or allied) unit carrying the powder barrels had to be in base to base contact with any part of the building. Instead of an activation they could try and blow up the church. To do this they chose three numbers from 1-6 and rolled a D6. At the same time the other player placed a D6 under his palm showing a number he had chosen on the dice. If the player rolled one of their 3 numbers the church was considered blown up. If the other player's hidden number was rolled then the unit attempting the action was also blown up and removed from play regardless of whether the church had been destroyed!

To destroy a drawbridge a player had to have at least one base from a unit in contact with the drawbridge at the start of their activation phase. As an ordered activation, they could use that unit to try to pull down the drawbridge (instead of Moving, Attacking, or Shooting). If there were 7 or more models in the unit the bridge was pulled down on a roll of 8+ on 2D6; if there were 6 or fewer models in the unit the bridge was pulled own on a roll of 9+ on 2D6.

The French

As we each commanded an English retinue the French were mixture of static units, randomly controlled units and units that could emerge by surprise out of certain locations.

Static Units

Each of the two bulwarks had a culverin in it and the ditch had two units of aventuriers defending it behind wooden stakes. The only movement these units could make was to return to their position if they had retreated out of it. All of the static units could try and activate every turn. They would activate before the randomly controlled units. They behaved as follows:
The aventuriers would always try and shoot at the nearest enemy unit.
The culverins would shoot at the nearest enemy unit at long range on a 4-6 on a D6 each turn. They would always fire at an enemy unit within half range. They could fire at a 90 degree angle from the bulwarks.

Randomly controlled units

On the French table edge the following units were deployed:

1 Unit of Foot Knights (Retinue Leader Antoine de Créquy - he was killed at the siege of Hesdin a year later)
2 Units of French Men at Arms
2 Units of French Pikemen 
1 Unit of Gendarmes 
2 Units of Aventuriers 

We both started with 5 playing cards. Each turn we played a card and whoever played the highest got to control the randomly controlled units for that French turn. We both then took another card. These units behaved like a normal retinue and a failed activation would end their turn.
If Antoine de Créquy was killed they would all have to take a courage test but they did not have to test once 50% of the retinue was destroyed.

Surprise Units

There were 4 buildings that could potentially hold an ambush when our units passed them. We had to roll 2D6, consulting below, for any of  our units that passed within 8" of these buildings. This happened until a unit sprang from the building. Our units with counter charge or evade could use these skills against the emerging surprise units. The buildings that held these "surprise units" were the ruined building near Richard Wingfield's retinue, two of the buildings in the town and the fortified church.

The 2D6 result as an English or allied unit passed the four buildings could mean:

2-3 A unit of French foot knights launched from the building and instantly attacked the unit in combat.
3-5 A unit of French halberdiers launched from the building and instantly attacked the unit in combat.
6-7 A unit of arquebusiers emerged and shot at the unit at close range.
8-11 Nothing happenened
12 One of the passing unit saw silverware in the building and seized it. This gave 1 victory point for the person whose unit was passing the building.

Once a surprise unit had emerged from a building we no longer needed to roll when a subsequent unit passed it. The surprise unit would act with the randomly controlled units once it had launched its ambush.

Victory Points

Our retinues were awarded victory points as follows:

1 Point for any gained from the "surprise unit" buildings if a 12 was rolled when passing.
3 Points for each Bulwark taken.
2 Points for each draw bridge pulled down and destroyed.
5 points for blowing up the fortified church.
3 points in the other retinues leader was killed.

The Armies

For this game as we were both playing as the English against each other we took identical retinues. Stuart's had Sir Richard Wingfield as the retinue leader whilst I took the Admiral, Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey as my retinue captain.

The two retinues were:

1 Unit of Foot Knight's ( (Sir Richard Wingfield and Sir Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey for each of the two retinues)
1 Unit of Demilancers 
1 Unit of Burgundian Men at Arms 
1 Unit of Spanish Arquebusiers 
2 Units of Shire Archers 
2 Units of Shire Bill
2 Units of "Adventurers" 

For the "adventurers" we used the rules for Bidowers from Lion Rampant but gave them 12 instead of 6 "damage" points. We are still experimenting with this unit on the table top.

As always the best way to follow the action is the photo captions but a brief description (of a chaotic game!) follows.

Sir Richard Wingfield's retinue prepare to launch an assault.

A group of French defenders form up in front of a manor house on the outskirts of the town.

The attack begins with Surrey's troops storming the "depe ditched" church.

The English take casualties as they storm the fortifications but some of the French crossbowmen are driven back by arrows and shot.

The attack started with the troops under Surrey's command heading straight for the church and storming the ditch. His troops took a few casualties from the crossbow bolts of the French defenders. As some of the archers and Spanish arquebusiers reached the ditch the Spanish unleashed a hail of shot in the direction of the crossbowmen defending the fortified church. With the crossbowmen driven back it was not long before one of the bulwarks was stormed by Surrey's archers.

Sir Richard Wingfields troops were slower off the mark but they soon joined the assault. The "adventurers" attached to his command took the lead and were soon sending volleys of arrows into the French defenders. They also entered the ditch and began to attack the remaining gun position in front of the church. Much of Wingfield's retinue was slowed by a unit of aventuriers who took pot shots from the gardens of the manor house outside the town. As Wingfield ordered the rest of his troops to support the adventurers a unit of French halberdiers emerged from a derelict building. The halberdiers pushed back some of Wingfield's archers and it took volleys from more of his bowmen and his arquebusiers in combination with a charge by his demilancers to see them off.

The church, "more liker a castle then a Church" is under attack.

The troops in front of the manor house can be seen in the foreground with the attack on the church in the centre and "Boyardes" in the background.

English archers with Spanish Arquebusier auxiliaries, sent by Charles V, enter the ditch.

Some of the local troops form up in the town to organise a defence.

The attack intensifies with the English "adventurers" playing a prominent role.

Surrey and Wingfield's men storm the ditch with Spanish Arquebusiers on the left and English "adventurers", later to be known as "krekkers", on the right.

One of the French gun crews is driven back by the attack.

French halberdiers ambush some of the archers in Wingfield's retinue.

In the town a locally raised unit of pikemen under the Seigneur de Bournonville challenge the demilancers and adventurers.

At the other end of the field the French halberdiers continue to cause problems for the English assault.

A view of the attack on the church.

Adventurers with a banner of St George rain arrows on a unit of Picard pikemen.

In the town itself Surrey's horse, a combination of demilancers and the Burgundian men at arms, held their ground as de Crequy's infantry slowly advanced. The adventurers that were nominally under Surrey's command slowed the French infantry as many of them were well practiced archers. Having seen off the aventuriers and halberdiers on the other side of the field Wingfield's men were then threatened by French men at arms who were looking for easy targets to charge and ride down. Again English archery took it's toll and they were driven off by a rain of arrows.

Surrey's men had surged even further forward and the Spanish arquebusiers that had arrived in the ships from Charles V reached the church walls. They attempted to plant some powder barrels at the foot of the walls in an effort to bring them crashing down but a lit match from one of the arquebuses touched the powder of one of the barrels accidentally causing them all to blow before they were in the correct place. With an enormous explosion the arquebusiers were destroyed, leaving the walls standing strong!
This was not the case for long as Wingfield's adventurers were close behind them, they stormed the second gun position, although the crew managed to wheel the gun back to safety, and then reached the walls which were still wreathed in smoke. They planted their barrels of gunpowder and within minutes, after another huge explosion, a hole was blown in the wall of the fortified church.

French men at arms are seen off by the English archers.

There is a stand off in the town as the defenders are heavily outnumbered by adventurers, demilancers and Burgundian men at arms.

The Spanish auxiliary arquebusiers reach the church - they attempt to blow it up with powder kegs but one of the barrels explodes too soon and the unit is scattered!

Things are looking bad for the defenders of the church as two further units of adventurers return from looting a local village and join in the attack with Sir Richard Wingfield's retinue.

A unit of adventurers has reached the church...

...they plant a couple of powder kegs against the walls and are successful in blowing a hole in the defences.

Whilst this had been going on around the church Sir Richard Wingfield's retinue had been reinforced by another two units of adventurers. They had been pillaging a village nearby and returned to the main army when they had heard the fighting start. Surrey's retinue had slowed their advance after the misfortune that had befallen the Spanish arquebusiers. A unit of archers was about to destroy one of the drawbridges to the church but de Crequy emerged from the streets of Boyardes and pushed them back in a brief melee. De Crequy could not defend the bridge for long as the relentless adventurers joined the fight and sent so many arrows in his direction that he had to withdraw with his bodyguards. This left the drawbridge in the hands of the English and a unit of billmen broke it down and left it smashed in the ditch.

The drawbridge on the other side of the church was a scene of even greater carnage. First the remaining French gun fired a hail of grapeshot into some of Wingfield's billmen whilst a unit of French gendarmes thundered over the bridge and drove back his archers. Once again it was a fearless band of adventurers who sent the gendarmes back with their warbows and then dismantled the drawbridge. In the town some fighting had taken place with Seigneur de Bournonville and his Picard pikemen engaging with the demilancers and then the Burgundian men at arms. The charges were inconclusive and the French defenders withdrew. Whilst Surrey's men had taken one of the bulwarks and one of the drawbridges the glory had most definitely gone to Wingfield's men who had achieved the same whilst also storming the fortified church.

Antoine de Créquy and his bodyguards force some of the archers back from one of the churches drawbridges.

On the other side of the church one of the French gun crews is still bravely defending. They fire a deadly load of hailshot into an attacking unit of billmen. 

The other drawbridge is defended by a small unit of gendarmes who charge down the archers. The adventurers in the ditch make it to the drawbridge and pull it down.

De Bournonville and his pikemen put up a brave fight in the town.

As de Créquy is pushed back off the drawbridge by yet more of the English adventurers, a unit of billmen pull it down. The church has been taken.

The Last stand of Edward Plunkett, 4th Baron of Dunsany

Surrey's campaigns in Ireland had initially gone well in the Summer of 1520, The Anglo Irish Lord, Sir Piers Butler, joined Surrey bringing in Mulroney O'Carroll to offer his submission. O'Carroll had caused much grief to the Pale, probably at the hand of the Earl of Kildare. While being held in England Kildare was suspected of writing to the Gaelic lords and urging them to make war on Surrey in the hope that they would cause such chaos that Henry would have to send Kildare back as the only man who could effectively govern Ireland. With the help of Butler and a truce with Hugh O'Donnell, ruler of Tyrconnel, who wanted Surrey's aid against his rivals the O'Neill, Surrey marched north and pushed back the McMahons of Oriel, a sept allied to the O'Neill. This led to a withdrawal of hostilities by the O'Neill. 

The peace did not last for long. As winter set in Surrey's army suffered badly from sickness and morale plummeted. Things got so extreme that 18 English soldiers were caught plotting to steal a small boat with which they would then attack a larger ship and become pirates! Surrey was kept alert by rumours that the Gaelic lords who had offered submission were already planning to attack as soon as the chance arose. By January the O'Connor and the O'Carroll had begun to attack the English Pale. The O'Connor fought a skirmish with Edward Plunkett, 4th Baron of Dunsany, on 23 January 1521. Plunkett was experienced in the warfare of Ireland and fought at Knockdoe in 1504. There is some irony to the fact that back then he had fought under the banner of Gerald FitzGerald, the 8th or Great Earl of Kildare, when in 1521 he was fighting in a war that Surrey suspected had been devised by the Great Earl's son, the 9th Earl of Kildare. In the skirmish Plunkett's horse broke a leg leaving the Anglo-Irish Lord to be slain by the O'Connor.

Edward Plunkett, 4th Baron of Dunsany and his troops return from a cattle raid into the O'Connor territory.  

Little do they know that the O'Connor lie in wait of them as they reach the English Pale. Some wait in the woods... 

The Scenario

Other than how Edward Plunkett met his demise I could find out little else about this skirmish. As the last game Stuart and I played that was set in Ireland was based on Surrey attacking the O'More,, I thought this game would be a good opportunity to have the Irish attacking the English or Anglo-Irish. Plunkett's forces deployed at one end of the table with the ditch at the other end representing the start of the English Pale. Plunkett and his men were returning from a cattle raid. Plunkett and his retinue had to traverse the length of the table and escape by crossing the ditch into the Pale to exit by the other table edge. The O'Connor had to attempt to stop them.

The English had 3 cattle "counters" that they could give to three of their units and would get victory points for each cattle counter that reached the ditch. With a counter a unit could move a maximum of 6" per turn and would lose the "cattle counter" if they were defeated in combat or battered. They could not attack but could shoot whilst they had the cattle. Both the Irish and English units could move the cattle.

Edward Plunkett's units had to get across the ditch and exit by the other side of the table.

The O'Connor deployed on two sides of the table ready to ambush the Anglo-Irish.

Victory Points were awarded as follows:

Edward Plunkett, 4th Baron of Dunsany
2 Points for every unit that made it across the table and exited.
5 Points if Edward Punkett exited
3 Points for every cattle "counter" that made it to the ditch.
3 Points if Brian O'Connor was slain.

The O'Connor

1 Point for every English unit that did not make it across the table and exited.
2 Points for every cattle "counter" that did not make it across the table and exited.
3 Points if Edward Plunkett was slain.

...while others are just in front of the ditch that demarks the Pale.

Seeing the O'Connor lying in wait Plunkett's men prepare for a fight.

The Armies

For this game Stuart took control of the O'Connor and I took command of the Anglo-Irish.

Brian O'Connor Faly, Lord of Uí Failghe

3 Units of Irish Noble Cavalry (one is Brian O'Connor)
3 Units of Galloglass
1 Unit of Kern with shot
1 Unit of Household Kern
2 Units of Kern 
1 Unit of Horseboys 

Edward Plunkett, 4th Baron of Dunsany

2 Units of Demilancers (one is Edward Plunkett, 4th Baron of Dunsany) 
1 Unit of Border Horse 
3 Units of Kern 
2 Units of Shire Archers 
2 Units of Shire Bill 

Kern in Anglo-Irish employ go forward to skirmish with the O'Connor.

Brian O'Connor Faly, Lord of Uí Failghe, rides out to confront Edward Plunkett.

This fight started badly for the O'Connor. As Plunkett's men saw the Gaelic warband lying in wait for them they took up a defensive formation, ordering their kern to the front to skirmish with O'Connor's infantry. Units of galloglass charged into Plunkett's men causing casualties but being quickly brought down by both the English and Irish archers in Plunkett's employ. Brian O'Connor Faly himself rode forward with his nobles. As his cavalry splashed through the shallow waters of the stream he called out Edward Plunkett but could not get near enough to draw him into a challenge. The archers in the Anglo-Irish force shot volley after volley at Brian O'Connor Faly and the Lord of Uí Failghe rode from the battlefield, many of his kern and galloglass withdrawing with him.

It looked as though that was the end of the attack and Plunkett's troops continued to drive the cattle down the hill towards the English Pale. They were horrified to see most of the Gaelic troops turn back from their flight and begin another attack with renewed vigour. Brian O'Connor may have fled back to safety but the main retreat had been a feint!

Galloglass charge into Plunkett's men.

Brian O'Connor Faly and his nobles are pushed back by a hail of javelins and arrows and for a moment his kern and galloglass falter, with some of the kern turning and fleeing into the woods.

But this seems to just be a feint, the O'Connor return with renewed vigour.

Another unit of galloglass launches at the billmen from the Pale.

Still in control of the cattle the English archers attempt to keep the enemy kern at bay whilst O'Connor horsemen ride forward to hurl darts at the Palesmen.

Edward Plunkett and his demilancers can see the fight developing in front of them.

O'Connor troops charge from the woods.

In the shallow stream galloglass supported by horseboys clash with billmen.

The remainder of the O'Connor cavalry stepped up their skirmish attacks across the stream, whilst a murderous mixture of arquebus shot, darts and javelins were aimed at the Anglo-Irish as they tried to advance. The O'Connor themselves were hard to target either taking cover in the woods or using the shallow stream to protect them as they darted in and out of the trees. More galloglass launched themselves at Plunkett's men and succeeded in defeating his billmen. 

By now the kern in Plunkett's service had turned and fled whilst his toughest infantry had been defeated in combat with the galloglass. With his demilancers he attempted to ride through the O'Connor trap and reach the safety of the Pale. Plunkett was brought down by an Irish dart in a skirmish with O'Connor cavalry and his last unit of demilancers could not push through the units of kern blocking their path to the Pale ditch. The Anglo-Irish force disentegrated with no hope of reaching their destination. The ambush had been a success and not only had the O'Connor retrieved their cattle they had also slain the 4th Baron of Dunsany.

Plunkett and his small force form a defensive position.

Plunkett's escape is blocked by units of O'Connor Kern.

Edward Plunkett is brought down in the hail of arrows and javelins launched by the O'Connor kern and horse.

As the English archers flee back into O'Connor territory a unit of demilancers make a last stand as they are overwhelmed by the O'Connor forces.

 These games were both very different and I really enjoyed them. The attack on the fortified church was a real visual feast with so many beautiful buildings and fortifications as well as lots of different units on the field. The idea of fighting on the same side but in competition with each other worked really well and I am keen to try this out again. Perhaps a game along the table where two players compete in an assault on a town where first they must win the ditch and earthworks, then a breach in the walls, then possibly more earthworks and then a fight into the streets. Something like that would be a lot of work to prepare but a lot of fun to game through. The Anglo-Irish game was quicker but had a very different feel.  We changed the "I go - you go" method of the game, instead drawing cards to see which unit activated when. This created a real element of chance and tension and helped to reflect a hit and run type of skirmish . There will certainly be more fights beyond the Pale to come.

Thursday 1 July 2021

Szávaszentdemeter, August 1523

My friend Tom visited recently to continue our series of wargames. Having fought out a clash at the Castle of St George last time,,  we were keen to try another game with the Ottomans. We decide to pit them against the newly painted and converted Hungarians choosing the last significant victory of the Jagiellonian Kingdom of Hungary as the basis for our game. 

Szávaszentdemeter, August 1523

The fall of Belgrade to the Ottomans in 1521 put ever increasing pressure on the Jagiellonian Kingdom of Hungary. Suleiman's siege of Rhodes in 1522 gave the Hungarians brief respite as enormous Ottoman military resource had been put into besieging the Hospitallers on their island fortress. The respite was to be short lived as the summer of 1523 saw Ferhad Pasha, the Sultan's brother in law, set out into the Syrmia, a region between the Sava and Danube rivers that had become something of a no mans land during the border clashes with the Ottomans and Hungarians. Under his command he had around 12,000-15,000 men with which he probably aimed to capture or destroy the fortresses of the area and reach the Danube cutting an important supply line for Hungarian border fortresses. Rednek (Vrdnik) castle in particular looks to have been a target and there seems to be evidence that some Ottoman forces did reach and begin to besiege the fortress.

Pal Tomori, Archbishop of Kalocsa was assigned the task of coordinating the defence of the region. He was well liked by his troops and was later to be one of the lead commanders at Mohacs in 1526 where he was killed. Due to illness he did not take part in the fighting around Szávaszentdemeter instead appointing Istvan Bardi, who looks to have been a captain of the court Hussars, to the role. The Hungarian force was considerably smaller than that of the Ottomans, possibly no more than 4,000 troops, comprised predominantly of veteran hussars, experienced in border warfare, and infantry forces raised from the local garrisons. Other Hungarian captains who are thought to have participated are Jakab Banffy, Bosics Radics, lieutenant of the Bishop of Pecs, Ferenc Dregi and Ferenc Bodo.

Around the 4th or 5th of August the Ottomans crossed the Sava on boats or possibly a pontoon bridge, sources differ, and left a guard with the fleet whilst the main force divided into three. They had light guns with them, intending to attack smaller Hungarian fortresses in the region. Bali Bey, a man of Bosnian origin and in charge of some of the local Ottoman fortresses, led the vanguard. He had warned Ferhad of how dangerous the Hungarian forces in this region could be. What actually took place in the battle is difficult to piece together but it seems that as the Ottoman forces advanced the Hungarians struck at the troops guarding the fleet (and possibly bridge) on the Sava, anchored near Szávaszentdemeter. When the three Ottoman forces learned of this they began to withdraw. Initially the Ottomans clashed with small garrison forces and bands of armed peasants, who were defending their vineyards. This opposition was quickly swept aside.

Bardi awaited the three Ottoman forces somewhere near the banks of the Sava and between the 6th and 7th of August they were defeated one by one. The first two were taken by surprise, perhaps because of the clashes with the local peasantry whilst the third Ottoman force was informed of Bardi's small army and managed to launch an attack on the Hungarians whilst they were still disorganised by the previous encounters. This was the fiercest of the clashes where both the Hungarians and Ottomans suffered heavy casualties. Whatever the exact detail and order of events sources seem to agree that Ferhad Pasha's 12,000 to 15,000 strong army suffered very heavy losses with possibly only 2,000 making it back to their side of the border. Bali Bey suffered a couple of wounds and escaped with some of his men. Ferhad Pasha also survived but was subsequently executed at the Sultan's orders on his return to Istanbul. His crushing defeat suffered in the Syrmia in large part contributing to the decision to have him executed.

Whilst the Hungarians under Pal Tomori's overall command and Istvan Bardi's military leadership were able to celebrate a major victory they lost around 700 men, a significant portion of the small Hungarian border army.  The losses fell amongst their most experience border troops who had spent years fighting the Turks. As events in 1526 would show, loosing this many veterans was something the Jagiellonian Kingdom of Hungary could not afford to do.

The Scenario

As usual the game was played using heavily modified "Renaissance Rampant" rules. To represent the various clashes that took place between 6th and 7th August 1523 the scenario attempted to recreate the Hungarians catching and attacking the second Ottoman division of the three, assuming that the first had already been defeated. During this clash the third Ottoman division, under the border veteran Bali Bey, would be get wind of the trap and attack the Hungarians whilst they were still disorganised at an unknown point of the game and from an unknown table edge.

A retinue under Ferhad Pasha would initially face the whole Hungarian force. If Ferhad Pasha could get a unit behind the Hungarian force and off the Hungarian table edge the second Ottoman retinue, under Bali Bey, could then start dicing to arrive on the next Ottoman turn. On a 2D6 roll of 9 or more they would arrive on that turn. The next turn they would arrive on an 8 or more and so on. The could arrive from three of the possible table edges, not the river edge, and this would be not be diced for until the moment they arrived. This guaranteed a real element of surprise for both players. The units from the second Ottoman retinue would enter the table via normal move activations. If Ferhad Pasha's retinue could not reach the other side of the table to call in the second retinue then when (if!) it got to half its unit strength then the Ottoman player could start dicing for the second retinue's arrival as per the rules above.

The Hungarians were divided into retinues under Istvan Bardi and another under Ferenc Bodo who was likely the commader of the fortress of Barka who would have brought local garrisons to the encounter.

The edge of the river Sava was impassable terrain and the vineyard tile counted as difficult terrain for combat and movement and offered cover to those within it.

The aim of both armies was the destruction of the other force.

A view of the armies with Ferhad Pasha's Ottoman force on the left and the Hungarian forces of Istvan Bardi in the background.

Istvan Bardi's border force of hussars and troops from local garrisons awaits the Ottomans at the banks of the River Sava.

The Hungarian army.

Ferhad Pasha's force, burdened with livestock it has rounded up during the attack is caught as it returns to the banks of the Sava.

The Armies

I couldn't find exact information on the composition of the forces involved, not unusual for these 16th century clashes. In some ways this was a good thing as it allowed quite a lot of freedom when making up the lists for the game. For the Hungarians we know the force was predominantly light border cavalry, including many hussars, backed up by infantry raised from the local border fortresses. There would be no gendarmes and landsknecht in this game. For the Ottomans this was not a typical border raiding force of akinji light horse but one that was intending to besiege and take smaller frontier fortresses. This gave an excuse to add some janissaries and armoured assault infantry to the armies, along with poorer quality azabs. Although we know that the Ottomans did have light guns for the sieges I chose not to include them in the game as this was very much a running battle and the sources I could find on the battle argued they would not have used them in this type of confused clash.

The Hungarians

Istvan Bardi's contingent

2 Units of Hussars (One is Istvan Bardi retinue commander)
2 Units of Balkan cavalry
1 Unit of Lancers
4 Units of Pavise infantry
1 Unit of Levy pike

Ferenc Bodo's contingent

1 Unit of Lancers (Ferenc Bodo retinue commander)
2 Units of Hussars 
2 Units of Horse archers
1 Unit of Foot Knights
2 Units of Halberdiers
1 Unit of Mercenary shot
1 Unit of Hungarian archers

The Ottomans

Ferhad Pasha's contingent

2 Units of Sipahis (One is Ferhad Pasha retinue commander)
3 Units of Akinji
2 Units of Zirlhi Nefer
2 Units of Janissary archers
2 Units of Azab infantry
1 Unit of Azab archers 

Bali Bey's contingent 
This retinue would join later in the game

2 Units of Delis (One is Bali Bey retinue commander)
4 Units of Akinji
1 Unit of Azab infantry
1 Unit of Azab arquebusiers
1 Unit of Azab archers
2 Units of Janissary infantry 

Tom chose to play as the Ottomans so I took on the role of the Hungarians. As always the photos are a good way to follow the action but a brief description of the game is also below.

The fighting begins with the Hungarians attempting to encircle and trap the Ottoman force. Some of the Hungarian light cavalry have already been forced back after a skirmish with the akinji.

Hungarian horse archers and hussars attempt to flank the Ottomans and flush them out of the vineyards.

Janissary archers defend themselves taking shelter in the vineyard.

As is often the case with these clashes the fighting began with skirmishes between the light cavalry of both sides. The Hungarian troops closest to the banks of the river, under Istvan Bardi looked as though they were going to outflank the much smaller Ottoman force and the akinji rode out to skirmish with them, pushing some of the Balkan horsemen back. At the other end of the field the light horse under Ferenc Bodo's command also attempted to outflank the Ottomans but they were held up by a force of Janissaries who lay down a withering rain of arrows from the cover of the vineyard.

The Hungarian right wing that had looked as if it would quickly overwhelm Ferhad Pasha's force seemed to settle into a more defensive position, the infantry more comfortable sheltering behind pavises or in a pike block than in pressing any attack. This meant that Ferenc Bodo's garrison infantry pushed forward in the centre, unsupported by the other Hungarian troops. Ferhad Pasha was cheered by the arrival of more Janissaries, reinforcements who had been out raiding and made it back to the main force. Seeing his chance to possibly turn the tables on the Hungarians and defeat the two forces one by one he ordered his men forward and a fierce melee developed in the centre of the field.

The infantry under Ferenc Bodo's command make a push for the Ottoman centre.

The Ottoman forces defending the vineyard, a force of janissaries has caught up with the main body of Ferhad Pasha's contingent and joins the fighting.

The noose tightens on Ferhad Pasha and his troops as the Hungarians push forward.

Heavily armoured Ottoman infantry make a push at the Hungarian centre and drive off the arquebusiers. Their role in the campaign was intended to be the storming of border fortresses but they prove just as effective in the open field. 

Akinji horsemen are pushed back as the two forces draw closer.

The Zirlhi Nefer armoured Ottoman infantry are charged by Ferenc Bodo and his bodyguard of armoured lancers.

The other unit of armoured Ottomans faces off against the halberdiers from local Hungarian garrisons.

Ferhad Pasha put his heavily armoured Zirlhi Nefer to good use on the battlefield. These men whose role should have been the storming of the border castles and towns were successful in driving back the Hungarian skirmishing shot and then pushing into the units of garrison troops that Ferenc Bodo had brought to the Hungarian army. Bodo himself charged some of them with his lancers but they held their ground and took a heavy toll on the Hungarian infantry facing them. 

The Turks holding the vineyard, having seen off the attack by the light horse, now faced a more serious assault by the arquebusiers and their accompanting pavise infantry. One unit of the Janissary archers was defeated by a hail of shot and as some of the azabs attempted to storm out of cover to attack the pavisiers they too were brought down. Fighting was taking place all along the Ottoman line.

A force of Ottoman infantry attempts to break from the Hungarian noose but is defeated by volleys of shot from behind the pavise wall.

Ferhad Pasha and his men are within strking distance of the Hungarians.

The Hungarians push ever closer but the Ottomans maintain a solid defence.

Halberdiers and Zirlhi Nefer clash in the field. The Zirlhi Nefer defeat both groups of halberdiers causing them to flee.

As the fighting intensifies akinji from Bali Bey's force arrive on the battlefield, they have joined the battle behind the Hungarian lines.

As the fighting grew heavy in the centre of the field a cry of alarm went up in the Hungarian ranks. The first of Bali Bey's akinji horsemen were arriving behind the Hungarian lines! In the confusion Ferenc Bodo and his armoured lancers charged straight for Ferhad Pasha. Bodo was slain and his lancers pushed back. The part of the Hungarian army under his command was being attacked on both sides and his units were fleeing. With their captain down a unit of Bodo's hussars then charged Ferhad and his horsemen. The confused and swirling cavalry melee that ensued meant that both the hussar unit and Ferhad's sipahis were broken and destroyed. Both the Hungarian and Ottoman sides had now lost one of their captains.

The pavise infantry who had been pressing home the attack on the vineyard were in real trouble. Bali Bey and his elite delis bodyguards slammed into them from behind breaking a unit of them. Bali Bey was himself unhorsed, being shot by an arquebusier, but this was too late to save the pavisiers as units of Janissaries charged onto the field behind the delis and defeated the surrounded Hungarians in a brief clash.

Ferenc Bodo is slain in a melee with Ferhad Pasha's personal bodyguards.

The Pasha's men then go on to defeat a charge from a force of hussars, both units of horsemen are disorganised and broken in the engagement.

Just as Ferhad Pasha disappears in the chaos Bali Bey enters the field charging straight into one of the Hungarian infantry blocks. 

The Hungarian infantry who were attacking the vineyards are now themselves isolated and surrounded with Ferhad Pasha's surviving troops to their front and Bali Bey's men arriving behind them.

Bali Bey's deli cavalry put the Hungarian infantry to flight but the Ottoman commander is himself brought down in the fighting, shot by one of the arquebusiers.

Janissaries defeat the remaining isolated infantry.

With Bali Bey being shot and unhorsed the Ottomans now had no command. Ferenc Bodo's force was completely routed or destroyed but Istvan Bardi's troops who had remained inactive on the banks of the Sava for most of the battle could now redress their ranks and begin an advance on Bey's counterattacking force.The newly arrived akinji horsemen began to give way as they were threatened by Bardi's hussars, lancers and Balkan auxiliary cavalry.

With some of Ferhad's Janissaries still holding the vineyard the Ottoman forces attempted to reorganise and face the still unengaged Hungarians who were advancing from their position by the river. Some of the Hungarian cavalry were defeated by the akinji but the Hungarian numbers were too strong. The Janissaries were broken by volleys of shot as were the azab infantry who launched an assault on the oncoming Hungarians. Bali Bey's counterattacking force was broken with only the Hungarians under Istvan Bardi's command remaining in some kind of order. As with the real Szávaszentdemeter, Istvan Bardi had won the day but with very heavy losses.

Ferenc Bodo is slain and most of his force disoganised or defeated. Istvan Bardi's men are, on the other hand, still fresh having not engaged in the initial fighting. They reorganise and start to move towards Bali Bey's force.

The Ottoman Akinji from the counterattack begin to give ground as lancers and hussars ride forward in support of the Hungarian infantry.

Bali Bey's surviving men attempt to form a line of defence against Istvan Bardi's force. Bardi takes a central position amidst his contingent with his hussar bodyguards.

Some of the Ottoman infantry from the counterattacking Turkish force attempt to break through but, as with their comrades in the vineyard, they are brought down by a hail of shot from the Hungarian infantry. The second Ottoman force is surrounded and defeated.

 This was a really exciting game with so much going on all the time. Light horse were skirmishing back and forth and the Hungarian and Ottoman units in the centre of the field had a real slogging match. There was always the tension of not knowing when and where the second Ottoman force would arrive. Once Tom's first Ottoman contingent had lost 50% of it's units he had to roll 9+ on 2D6 to see if Bali Bey and his troops arrived immediately. He rolled a 10 on his first roll and then when we diced for which table edge they arrived on the result was behind the Hungarians! I really thought it was all over at that moment of the game. The random nature of the scenario made it a challenge for both of us which made it a lot of fun. I really enjoyed this early 16th century Hungarian clash and am looking forward to more scenarios involving the Hungarians. The battles of  Tarcal 1527 and Szina 1528 with Ferdinand of Habsburg and his Landsknecht versus John Zápolya and his Hungarians and Balkan allies may be what we try next.