This weekend Stuart visited and we played out the battle of Wenzenbach, 1504, a game which had become inevitable once I had finished the Bohemian Infantry, http://camisado1500s.blogspot.com/2021/04/bohemian-infantry.html
. This was a victory that Maximilian I was particularly proud of, featuring in his legacy projects; the Triumphal Arch, the Weisskunig and the Triumphal Procession. In all of these the battle is depicted with the German troops in the latest fashions. For example in Weisskunig we can see landsknecht in the fashions of 1516 as oppose to 1504 when the clash actually took place. With the resources we had available Stuart and myself were keen to try and make this game match the 1504 images, see the first two below, as closely as possible.
In an effort to achieve this we used the Assault Group early landsknecht miniatures for Frundsberg's contingent and we tried to pick gendarmes and men at arms for the cavalry that fit in well with an Imperial army at the start of the 16th century. Some of Stuarts heavily converted lesser armed French men at arms and demilancers being good examples of suitable miniatures. Similarly his Picard pike carrying pavises fitted well with my Bohemians. We also matched the Nuremburg and Augsburg flags of the 1504 images along with the Imperial Eagle and of course the Habsburg saltire. This careful selection from our collections combined with the suitable flags meant we could refight this very unique battle of the early 16th century.
|Die Behemsch Schlacht, Hans Burgkmair, 1504.|
|Schlacht von Wenzenbach, Codex Germanicus c.1504-1505. Note the early landsknecht fashions in the block of pikemen on the left.|
|The Battle of Wenzenbach, The Triumphal Arch of Maximilian c.1512-15. The landsknecht are now depicted in the fashions of the 1510s.|
|The Battle of Wenzenbach, Hans Burgkmair, Weisskunig c.1516.|
|Die Behemisch Slacht, Albrecht Altdorfer, The Triumphal Procession of Maximilian, begun c.1512.|
As with some of the Hungarian battles I have covered English sources for this battle appear to be scarce so for this account I have had to rely on google translate for much of the information relating to what happened. This report to the City of Cologne three days after the battle was particularly useful: http://www.regesta-imperii.de/id/1504-09-15_1_0_14_4_0_3422_19141
The death of George the Rich, Duke of Bavaria-Landshut in December 1503 led to war in the Holy Roman Empire. A 14th century agreement between the Wittelsbach duchies of Bavaria-Munich and Bavaria-Landshut had stipulated that if one branch of the Wittelsbachs died out in the male line then the other branch of the family would inherit, whilst Imperial law decreed the Emperor should inherit if the line failed. In breach of both of these George the Rich, not having any sons, had named Elisabeth his daughter as his heir. She was married to Ruprecht, Count Palatine of the Rhine, son of the powerful Elector Palatine.
Maximilian I of Habsburg was called in as a mediator and decided in favour of Albert Duke of Bavaria in the Munich line, he was after all married to Maximilian's sister, Kunigunde of Austria. He did offer Ruprecht a third of his father-in-laws inheritance by way of compromise. This was refused by Ruprecht, which lead to two years of war. Maximilian supported Albert's claim, offering military assistance along with the Swabian League, Duke Ulrich von Wurttemberg and the Imperial City of Nuremburg. Ruprecht was supported by his father, Philip of the Palatinate, and Vladislaus II, King of Hungary and Bohemia.
The battle of Wenzenbach, also known as the Battle of Schönberg or the Bohemian Battle, took place when the castle of Schönberg and the nearby village of Wenzenbach were threatened by an army of Boheminan mercenaries that had been provided by Vladislaus II. Following the Hussite wars of the early 15th century the Bohemians had become successful mercenaries. As they raided close to Regensburg they were caught on 12 September 1504 by Maximlian I and his forces. Georg Wisbeck was the leading Captain in the army of Ruprecht and Elisabeth but when he saw the 4,000 Bohemian mercenaries in his army attempt to escape with their wagonburg he left with the 300 cavalry under his command. Outmaneuvered by Maximilian and his 1,600 horsemen the Bohemians formed the wagonburg on a hill.
Maximilian had wanted to wait for his 3,000 infantry and heavier guns but they were lagging behind the cavalry after a long march. Worried that the raiding Bohemians would escape he launched his cavalry in mounted assaults against their pavises and war wagons. Maximilian was personally involved in the assault, at one point his horse fell and he was at risk of being trampled in the chaos. Erich von Braunschweig managed to rescue the Emperor Elect and get him to safety.
It was only with the arrival of the infantry, particularly Georg von Frundsberg, later to become even more famous at the battles of la Bicocca and Pavia, and his landsknecht that the Bohemian defences could finally be successfully stormed. Using light artillery and arquebusiers the Imperialists were able to soften up the wagonburg to the extent that it could be breached by the landsknecht. Possibly as many as 1,600 Bohemian mercenaries were slain with hundreds also being captured. The war ended the following July with George the Rich's two grandsons receiving a small part of their inheritance as both Ruprecht and Elisabeth had died of dysentry during the campaign that resulted in Wenzenbach. Most of the duchy fell to the Munich line of the Wittelsbachs with Maximilian and the Imperial city of Nuremburg also receiving some of the territorial spoils for their parts in the campaign.
|A view of the field from behind the Bohemian lines.|
|Abandoned by Georg Wisbeck and his 300 horse, the Bohemian mercenaries prepare to defend the hill.|
|The Bohemian mercenaries in front of the wagonburg.|
|Ruprecht and Elisabeth's mercenary army.|
|The pavisiers line the hilltop.|
|A close up of the Bohemian mercenaries.|
|The pavise wall.|
|A view of the mercenaries on the hill.|
|The Bohemian mercenary army of Elisabeth and Ruprecht, Count Palatine of the Rhine.|
|A view from the Bohemian wagons.|
In the scenario we played the Bohemians were deployed at one end of the table along the hill. Rather than fight it out as a straight up battle with an attacker against a defender we decided it would be more fun if we each took control of half of the Imperial army and then competed against each other to see who could break into the wagonburg first. After a dice roll it was decided that Stuart would take control of Georg von Frundsberg's mostly infantry retinue whilst I took command of Maximilian I and the majority of the Imperialist cavalry.
The aim of the game was simple. The winning player would be the first player to break into the Bohemian wagonburg, by destroying a wagon and then using a move activation to enter their camp. As always we used our heavily modified Renaissance Rampant rules for the game with even more adaptations to account for the Bohemians and the war wagons. In some ways this was a much a play test as it was a game based on a historical battle.
The Bohemian Units
We revisited some of the rules used in "this is like no house of praier
, for this game with the Bohemian army being a mix of static and mobile units. The 6 Pavise Units, 3 backed by crossbowmen and 3 backed by arquebusiers, formed the Bohemian front line of static units on the top of the hill. Behind them were the mobile units, comprised of the Bohemian Captain, crossbowmen and halberdiers, and then behind them the war wagons were another block of static units in front of the camp.
During the Bohemian turn the static units always activated first. All of the static units could attempt to activate every turn and would always fire at the nearest target. The only movement they could make was to attempt to return to their original position if they retreated. If the crew in one of the war wagons retreated by being broken then that wagon was considered destroyed as the crew had fled.
For the mobile Bohemian units we both started with 5 playing cards. Each turn we played a card and whoever played the highest card took control of the mobile units for that Bohemian turn. Both of us would then take another card. These units behaved like a normal retinue and a failed activation would end their turn. During the actual game this rule changed as my friend Dave, who I used to wargame with for years as a teenager, turned up to see the game. Stuart and I decided to let him take control of the Bohemian mobile units as a third player. This drastically changed the game as rather than either Stuart or I deliberately using the mobile units to block the other Imperial player whilst at the same time letting our own troops nearer to the wagons Dave consolidated the Bohemian defence and made it very difficult for Stuart and myself to get our units anywhere near the wagons!
|Maximilian I's army.|
|The Imperial cavalry of Maximilian I.|
|Georg von Frundsberg and his early 16th century landsknecht.|
|Early 16th century landsknecht.|
|Pikemen under the banners of the city of Nuremburg. The Nuremburg banner can be seen in the first two contemporary images shown above.|
|Pikemen under the banner of Augsburg, as with Nuremburg, this banner can clearly be seen in the contemporary images produced very soon after the battle.|
The armies we used, shown in detail in the photos above, were as follows:
Static Units (see the Scenario above)
3 Units of Pavise Arquebus Infantry
3 Units of Pavise Crossbow Infantry
2 Artillery War Wagons
3 Infantry War Wagons
Mobile Units(see the Scenario above)
1 Unit of Foot Knights (the Bohemian Captain)
3 Units of Halberdiers
2 Units of Crossbowmen
Maximilian I, King of the Romans, and the Cavalry
2 Units of Imperial Knights (1 unit contains Emperor Maximilian I)
5 Units of Imperial Men at Arms
2 Units of Mounted Crossbowmen
Georg von Frundsberg and the Infantry
1 Unit of Landsknecht Halberdiers (Georg von Frundsberg)
2 Units of Landsknecht Pike
1 Unit of Landsknecht Arquebusiers
2 Units of Pike (The Nuremburg and Augsburg City Contingents)
2 Units of Imperial Men at Arms
During the battle both of the Imperial retinues rolled up reinforcements as a result of a double 6 during activation roles.
A brief write up of the game is below with the accompanying photos. The light towards the end of the day was poor and did limit the pictures, as did the fact that Dave had taken control of the Bohemians and was slaughtering us both!
|Maximilian's forces begin the attack.|
|The Imperial forces are strung out as they reach the Bohemian forces.|
|The Imperial cavalry can be seen in the distance as they charge towards the mercenaries.|
|The Imperialists are taking casualties from the Bohemian crossbows and arquebus fire.|
|The forces are about to clash.|
|A view of the armies from above.|
Wonderful looking game and great AAR.ReplyDelete
Thank you Peter, it was great to do something different.Delete
Great looking units/flags/table dressing; a very interesting AAR which also was good uniform and standard info. Quite a busy field. War wagons are tough!ReplyDelete
Cheers pancerni, Stuart and I had a lot of fun attempting to make the battle look like the earliest images of Wenzenbach. Yes the war wagons were really tough in the rules!Delete
Simply superb, well done.ReplyDelete
I am really glad you enjoyed it Robbie, it such an unusual battle!Delete
This is a visual feast & a cracking read - many thanks for posting.ReplyDelete
Cheers Jeremy, it was a lot of fun to research and play out this one.Delete
Outstanding article! Good background history, clear AAR, clever scenario, and fabulous figures and terrain. A feast for the eyes.ReplyDelete
Thank you, it was great to get Maximilian I on the tabletop.Delete
Spectacular and superb!!ReplyDelete
Cheers Phil, I am glad you enjoyed it.Delete
Thanksgiving Day here in the USA and one of the things for which I am thankful is reading this wonderful piece. Such a fantastic source of motivation and inspiration. Something I will be revisiting. Great job!ReplyDelete
Thank you Jonathan I really appreciate that. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving DayDelete
An excellent write up of a great day’s game. I’ve longed to play with those early landsknechts and this was very much worth the wait. ( how many years?). Such a visual feast made all the better by our effort to do it right and use the correct figures. It really does make for that effect where the games almost look like contemporary woodcuts. A truly fantastic effort OliReplyDelete
Mate it was a joint effort and a lot of fun! I finished those early landsknecht in 2017 so it has only been 4 years for us to get a game with them, although I can already think of at least 3 other scenarios where we could use them. That new camera of yours is superb, we definitely need to use it for other games!Delete
Splendid game,it looks terrific! The pavisses and early landsknechts look great,as does the scenery and war wagons!ReplyDelete
Thank you Iain, it was great to put the results of all the different projects together to do the wargame.Delete