Tuesday 14 September 2021

Poynings in Ireland

This weekend Stuart and myself continued our exploration of Tudor warfare with more games set in Ireland. We ventured into the very end of the 15th century and played a couple of games focusing on Edward Poynings' first campaign during his time as prince Henry's deputy. For some before and after videos (we forgot to do the second "after" video) have a look at Stuart's "Army Royal" Facebook Group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1179255685825076/.

Poynings in Ireland

In the last decades of the 15th century the situation in Ireland had become an ever growing threat to the new Tudor monarch Henry VII. May of 1487 had seen Lambert Simnel crowned in Dublin with a subsequent Yorkist invasion that was brought to a halt at the battle of Stoke. A second pretender, Perkin Warbeck, had landed in Ireland in 1491 in an attempt to gain further support. Although his landing was unsuccessful Warbeck was still at large and the disorder following his arrival took months to quell, as the Earl of Desmond led a rebellion against the English administration. This forced Henry VII to act and he appointed the young prince Henry as his viceroy. Edward Poynings, who was later to lead the English troops at Venlo in 1511, http://camisado1500s.blogspot.com/2019/04/the-siege-of-venlo-1511.html, was appointed the prince's deputy.

Poynings, already an experienced soldier having fought at Bosworth and having led 1,500 English troops to aid Maximilian I against the rebellious Lord Ravenstein in 1491, landed in Ireland on 13 October 1494 with around 650 troops (sources vary on the number of troops he brought with him). The Irish septs of Ulster posed a particular threat and Poynings pursued a policy of driving a wedge between the O'Neill and their allies the O'Hanlon and the Magennis. This would also prevent the Earl of Kildare, whose authority was being replaced by Poynings and who was still viewed with suspicion having supported Simnel only a few years previously, from forming even closer links with the O'Neill and thus expanding his FitzGerald power base. Poynings demanded the Ulster border lords Malachi O'Hanlon and Hugh Magennis give up their sons as hostages in order to secure their good behaviour. When they predictably refused he led his newly landed English force along with the Earl of Kildare and James Ormond with an army of Anglo-Irish into Ulster. Malachi O'Hanlon (or Ua'h-Anluain) of Orior being the closest to the English pale was the first to be attacked in October and November of 1494.

Suffering defeats at the hands of Poynings and his army Malachi, Lord of Orior, was persuaded by the Earl of Kildare to hand his son over to the English and be held as a hostage at Dublin castle. It was this communication between Kildare and Malachi O'Hanlon, that led Poynings, encouraged by Kildare's rival James Ormond, to think Kildare was encouraging the revolt of the Ulster chieftains and was planning his assassination. Distrustful of his ally Poynings called off the expedition into Ulster and returned to Dublin where in the subsequent parliament Kildare was attainted and the following year sent to England.

Hall describes the events as such:
"Wherfore Sir Edward pownynges accordynge to his commission, entending to punishe suche as have bene aiders and avauncers of Perkyns foolishe enterprice, with his whole army, marched forward against these wilde Irishmen, because the all other beynge culpable of that offence fled and resorted to theim for succoure and defence, to thentent that they bothe together might be hable to resist & defye their enemies. But when he sawe that his purpose succeded not as he wisshed it, bothe because the Irysh lordes sent him no succour accordynge to their promises, and also considerynge that his nombre was not sufficiente to set on the wilde people being dispersed emongest woodes, mounteyns and marishes, was of necessitee, compelled to recule and returne, frettyng and vexed in his stomacke, because he suspected Geralde erle of Kildare beyng then the kynges deputie, was the cause & occasion why he had no succoures nor ayde sent to him, and so he was enformed of suche as bare to the erle no good will."

Our games formed part of the campaign into Ulster with the O'Hanlon facing Poynings' army. Before each game we threw dice to determine who would captain which side and this random determination meant that for both games Stuart took Poynings' army and I controlled the forces of the O'Hanlon. As always the games were played using our heavily modified (and constantly changing!) adaptation of Lion Rampant, Renaissance Rampant.

As his small army moves into Ulster some of Poynings' veteran troops seem nervous, suspecting an ambush.

Sir Edward Poynings' Anglo-Irish army advances into the Lordship of Orior.

"with his whole army, marched forward against these wilde Irishmen"

For the first scenario the small English army were advancing into the Lordship of Orior where they were ambushed by the O'Hanlon. The English had 3 wagons which acted as per the "The Convoy" scenario on page 50 of Lion Rampant. The English had to move from one table edge to the other and successfully get the wagons across the table.

The victory conditions were simple - the English had to get the wagons across the table and the O'Hanlon had to stop them.

No English forces started on the table - they could enter via a successful move activation during the English players turn. 

The Irish would deploy along the two table edges that the English had to travel between to reach the other side of the table. The Irish player used battered markers to represent his forces, writing down in secret which marker represented which unit. Two "Dummy" counters were also allowed to keep the English player guessing. A unit was revealed either by an enemy unit attacking or shooting it once it was within 8” of the marker or by an enemy unit simply moving within 3” of it. The Irish retinue leader could not apply his morale bonus until revealed and all counters "move" activated on a 6+ and moved 6” until they were revealed, ignoring terrain. If Irish units wanted to “reveal” themselves earlier, for example if the Retinue Leader wanted to give his leadership benefit, they could do so by declaring this when they activated. Once “revealed” a unit could not disappear again.

The Earl of Kildare

As he was of suspect loyalty if the Earl of Kildare's unit failed to activate the Irish player could then choose an English unit that could not activate the following turn. This was to represent Kildare giving orders that aided the O'Hanlons.

The Armies

Sir Edward Poynings' army

1 Unit of Foot Knights (Sir Edward Poynings) 
1 Unit of Foot Knight (The Earl of Kildare)
1 Unit of Border Horse 
2 Units of Shire Archers 
1 Unit of Shire Bill
1 Unit of Demi-Lancers 
2 Units of Kern 

Malachi O'Hanlon, Lord of Orior's army

3 Units Noble Cavalry (One unit Malachi O'Hanlon and his nobles)
3 Units of Galloglass 
2 Units of Kern
1 Unit of Horseboys
1 Unit of Household Kern
1 Unit of Kern with Arquebuses

The Anglo-Irish army with Sir Edward Poynings on the left and the Earl of Kildare on the right. The army is a mix of English, Anglo-Irish and Gaelic troops.

As Poynings' army advances, expecting an ambush, the border horse act as scouts.

The fighting starts when a band of O'Hanlon horse skirmishes with the border horse.

Poynings' men were wary from the start as they picked their way across the streams, bogs and rivers into the Lordship of Orior. A force of demi-lancers was thrown forward on one flank with a troop of border horse protecting the other. With cries of "Ardchully-aboo!", in reference to the high forest where the sept would traditionally meet, the O'Hanlon emerged from the woods in an attempt to halt Poynings' progress. Some of the O'Hanlon cavalry were seen off in a brief skirmish with the border horse, who were equally at home in the rough terrain as the Gaelic horsemen. On the other flank the demi-lancers were not so fortunate and were brought down in a fierce melee with O'Hanlon kern in the shallow waters of the river.

On his right flank where the border horse had been victorious, Sir Edward Poynings led his army forward and pushed deeper into enemy territory. Where the demi-lancers had been stopped the O'Hanlon kern defended the river and halted any further progress. Poynings' distrust in Kildare was only reinforced by the fact that where his army were following Kildare's orders little progress was being made.

As Poynings and Kildare advance they are attacked on the flanks by O'Hanlon cavalry and kern.

The English demi-lancers are brought down by the kern in the rough terrain.

Stalled on the left flank, Poynings and his supply wagons push forward on the other.

Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, hangs back. His loyalty is already suspect.

As the convoy advances they take casualties from the skirmishing attacks of the O'Hanlon.

Ardchully-aboo! At the river the O'Hanlon defensive line is revealed but pushed back by Poynings' kern and English archers.

Kern in Poynings' pay push back the O'Hanlon forces.

A large skirmish has developed around the river with bows, javelins and hand guns being used. The O'Hanlon forces have advanced after an initial feint when Poynings' troops first attacked.

The success on Poynings' right flank looked to continue when his men encountered a defensive line of kern and horseboys holding the river. His English archers and mercenary kern launched a hail of arrows and darts into the river and sent the O'Hanlon warriors reeling back. This retreat proved to be nothing but a feint and as the Anglo-Irish advanced they found that the Gaelic infantry returned to the fight with renewed vigour. The O'Hanlon were more than a match for the English when fighting in the hills and forests of Ulster.

In the centre Malachi O'Hanlon himself emerged from the woodland and, surrounded by his mounted nobles, began to skirmish with Poynings' men. The rough terrain made it difficult for the English troops to catch the Irish horsemen but in a moment of over confidence Malachi O'Hanlon attempted to bring down Sir Edward Poynings. In his full armour Poynings was more than a match for the Gaelic lord and Malachi was defeated. For a moment it looked like the O'Hanlon momentum had stalled and all the Irish deputy had to do was march northwards into Ulster.

To Poynings' dismay the O'Hanlon did not crumble once their leader was defeated. Instead their galloglass waded through the shallow waters of the river to attack the front of the English wagon train. This spelt the end of the English assault. A combination of galloglass supported by skirmishing kern and cavalry broke the units escorting the wagons and the Irish deputy was forced to call a temporary halt to his advance, the river marking the boundary of how far his army had got. The troops around the Earl of Kildare had performed especially badly and Poynings had a score to settle with him before continuing any further.

As the engagement develops one of Malachi O'Hanlon's nobles helps plots the ambush from a vantage point.

Poynings' army has been unable to push across the river.

Malachi O'Hanlon, Lord of Orior, and his noble cavalry emerge from the woods to strike at Poynings' army.

A view from above showing Poynings' force has been brought to a halt at the river.

Sir Edward Poynings and Malachi O'Hanlon clash in the centre of the battle and Malachi, Lord of Orior is brought down but his army does not melt back into the "woodes, mounteyns and marishes".

Poynings' kern and English archers look to have cleared the kern from the river but more are lying in wait.

Sir Edward Poynings and his bodyguards lead by example and hold the centre of the field.

An ambush is about to be sprung.

The O'Hanlon surprise Poynings with more kern, this time supported by galloglass. The men escorting the wagons flee and Poynings' advance is brought to a halt. The troops provided by Kildare did not perform well and Poynings is suspicious.

"the wilde people being dispersed emongest woodes, mounteyns and marishes"

For the second game the English were now the attackers with the O'Hanlon attempting to get their cattle to safety as Poynings' forces bore down on them.

The O'Hanlon had three cattle "counters" that they could give to three of their units. They needed to reach the other side of the table with these. A unit with the cattle counter could then move a maximum of 6" per turn and would loose the cattle counter if they were defeated in combat, battered or routed. They could not attack in hand to hand or skirmish but could shoot whilst they had a cattle counter. Both the Irish and English units could move the cattle.

The game was played down the length of the table with the Irish deploying up to 20" from one table edge. Their aim was to get the cattle to the other table edge. The English had to bring the cattle back off the table edge they were arriving from.

The English did not deploy on the table at the start. From turn two they could enter the table behind the Irish army using move activations.

By this stage of the campaign the Earl of Kildare had made himself scarce so there were no rules for him in this scenario!

The Armies

Sir Edward Poynings' army

1 Unit of Foot Knights (Sir Edward Poynings)
2 Units of Demi-Lancers
1 Unit of Border Horse
2 Units of Shire Archers
1 Unit of Shire Bill
2 Units of Kern

Malachi O'Hanlon, Lord of Orior's army

3 Units Noble Cavalry (One unit is Malachi O'Hanlon and his nobles)
3 Units of Galloglass
3 Units of Kern 
1 Unit of Horseboys 
1 Unit of Kern with Arquebuses

No longer the ones springing the ambush the O'Hanlon are now on the defensive, retreating to the hills with their cattle "creaghts".

A view of the O'Hanlon force.

Unusually the galloglass have been entrusted with the cattle and they press on whilst the rest of the O'Hanlon force forms a rearguard.

This was one of those fights where the failure or success of the two sides hung on events that took place very early on. The O'Hanlon had entrusted the cattle "creaghts" to the galloglass who, rather than forming a rearguard as was often the case with these Hebridean mercenaries, pushed on to the hills. The kern and noble cavalry were left behind to buy them time and fight a delaying action. 

As the galloglass and herdsmen drove the cattle on the trumpets, pipes and drums of the English could be heard as Poynings' men bore down on the retreating O'Hanlon. The border horse and demi-lancers were first into the fight. The border horse were caught in the woods and ambushed but the demi-lancers caught unit after unit of O'Hanlon kern in relatively open moorland, riding them down before they could get to safety.

Poynings is in hot pursuit with his border horse and demi-lancers attempting to ride down the retreating O'Hanlon.

Poynings' troops are on the heels of the O'Hanlon.

Kern are ridden down as the demi-lancers catch them...

...but this is buying time for the galloglass to get the cattle closer to safety in the hills.

More kern are ridden down by the demi-lancers.

The kern attempt to reach the safety of the woods and rocks as Poynings' army chases them.

Poynings arrives with English archers and mercenary kern.

As Poynings arrived to join the fray he saw that yet again the O'Hanlon had formed a defensive position around a shallow river from which to launch skirmish attacks on his men. He was heartened by the fact that a unit of his demi-lancers had broken through the O'Hanlon defences and, supported by some of his mercenary kern, were gaining ground on the slower moving galloglass. For a moment it looked as though the O'Hanlon herdsmen would not get the cattle to the safety of the hills but the troops at the river had bought them enough time. The O'Hanlon had been bloodied by Poynings' campaign in Ulster but they remained undefeated.

The river is held by kern, horseboys and noble cavalry which slows Poynings' pursuit.

Some of the demi-lancers break through the rearguard and attempt to catch the cattle as they are herded to safety...

...but the demi-lancers are not quick enough and as Poynings' army pushes forward the O'Hanlon herds or "creaghts" disappear into the hills.

 These were two really interesting games and the first chance I have had to captain the Gaelic Irish in the "woodes, mounteyns and marishes". They are an interesting force as while their lack of armour means they take casualties and rout very quickly their speed and the ability of most of the units to skirmish means they can also be very effective in certain situations. The first game was really close. I thought it was all over once the retinue leader Malachi O'Hanlon was defeated but a determined focus on the units escorting the wagons with all of my skirmishing troops brought a halt to the English advance. I do think that if the two units of foot knights in Poynings' army had been given the duty of escorting two of the wagons then things would have gone very differently.

In the second game once the galloglass were away that was pretty much it, with only bad dice rolls meaning that the English would catch them, although these kind of unexpected things regularly happen in our games! It was great to see the Irish on Stuart's terrain boards which I think capture the feeling of Gaelic Ireland a lot better than my terrain. We are keen to base more of our games in this little explored chapter of Tudor warfare. Following the arrest of Kildare, his brother James raised the FitzGerald banner over Carlow Castle in the spring of 1495 forcing Poynings to lay siege to it. The hard pressed deputy then had to march south in the summer as Perkin Warbeck made yet another appearance with a small fleet acting in conjunction with the Earl of Desmond who besieged Waterford from the landward side. Both of these events would make great scenarios for a part two of "Poynings in Ireland".

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Gaelic Irish Cavalry

Some newly painted miniatures for the blog today, though you may have spotted some of these horsemen in the two recent 16th century Irish games I played with Stuart. This is my second attempt at Gaelic Irish cavalry, for some contemporary images and background see my first post here: http://camisado1500s.blogspot.com/2018/02/irish-chieftan-and-noble-cavalry.html. The Gaelic septs and the Anglo-Irish both fielded Irish horsemen and being keen to play more games set in 16th century Ireland I wanted to paint up more. The problem is that no one makes great figures for these so I have had to get creative and, with the use of head swaps and green stuff, create suitable figures.

The cavalry are a mix of the Old Glory Wars of the Roses Irish cavalry and figures from Crusader Miniatures: https://www.crusaderminiatures.com/prod.php?prod=678. The Crusader Miniatures figures don't have stirrups and with their mail shirts and cloaks are a good base to start converting the 16th century figures from. Some I have left with the original heads and used green stuff to model on the unusual nasal pieces of the Irish helmets. For others I have used a variety of helmets from landsknecht, Spanish and galloglass figures which really help to give a 16th century feel. I have also used a couple of Perry Miniatures barbute helmets which have been made more "pointy" with green stuff to get the right look of the Irish style helmets. On most of the cloaks fringes have been added with green stuff to represent the Irish brats or mantles that they were so famed for. The shields are a mixture of targes from Time Line Miniatures and the Assault Group.

I have recently finished Katherine Simms incredibly detailed study on the Gaelic Irish of Ulster, "Gaelic Ulster in the Middle Ages: History, culture and society". This book has some interesting details on the culture of the Gaelic warriors. During the rare pitched battles the Gaelic septs fought between one another the horsemen might dismount and fight amongst the rest of the army but they predominantly fought in front of the main force or as a rearguard as the army retreated. They would escort cattle, women and children from the threat of enemy raids as well as protecting their own infantry as they returned from successful cattle raiding. As such this gave them a prominent role in Irish warfare as they were often the most exposed to the enemy and meant they were lauded in heroic terms by Gaelic poets. Interestingly by the 15th century many of the Irish nobles could read Irish sagas and romantic tales for themselves as well as translations of chivalric literature. 

Based on this I wanted to paint up these miniatures as suitably colourful and flamboyant warriors, emulating the Irish heroes of the poems and sagas. Some have helmet plumes whilst others have painted helms and targes. As with my original unit they are armed with a mixture of long spears or lances, wielded overarm, along with swords and javelins or darts. The resulting two dozen figures are shown below, riding under the banner of the O'More. The final couple of photos showing them arrayed with the original unit made of converted Redoubt Enterprises figures. 

28mm Irish horse for the 16th Century.

A view of the Irish horse from the side showing the targes.

Gaelic Irish horse.

The figure with the red fringed brat has a Foundry landsknecht head swap.

The second unit of Gaelic horse.

A view from the side.

28mm 16th Century Irish cavalry.

A view of the horsemen from behind.

All three units of Irish horse.

Another view of all the horse together.