Monday 1 August 2022

Belahoe, 1539

Last weekend Stuart visited and we played another couple of games focusing on the Tudors in the first half of the 16th century. We were keen to try Stuart's new rocky and hilly terrain on my gaming boards and we also wanted to use my mid 16th century Tudors for the first time as they had not made it onto the tabletop for a game yet. We settled on two scenarios. First we played a scenario based on the Battle of Belahoe. This took place in Ireland in August 1539 and is chronologically the latest Tudor game we have yet played. For the second scenario we went for an event which we have been meaning to play for a while based on the French ambush of an English supply convoy during the Siege of Thérouanne. It took place just outside Ardres on Monday 27th June 1513 and was widely reported on at the time.

Belahoe, 1539

The Tudor government's crushing of the overmighty house of Kildare and execution of their leader "Silken Thomas", son of the 9th Earl of Kildare, in 1537, left a power vacuum in Ireland. Lord Leonard Grey, initially arriving in Ireland as commander of the army that crushed the Kildare rebellion, became Lord Deputy at the end of 1535. Grey was a younger brother to Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset and had participated in his disastrous 1512 campaign (see as well as both the 1522 and 1523 campaigns in France (see and During the 1523 campaign he was noted for taking a position from two hundred Frenchmen with just twenty English. By the time he commanded in Ireland Grey had a stern reputation as a soldier. During one campaign Lords Delvin and Gormanston failed to follow him across a ford in the face of the enemy and consequently Grey confiscated their horses, weapons and armour. The two Lords were made to walk back from the campaign to the horror of the accompanying gentry of the English Pale.

Though the army he had used to defeat the FitzGeralds was much reduced Grey combined his small garrison with men raised from the Pale and troops supplied by allied local lords to launch a series of raids against rebellious Anglo-Irish and Gaelic lords. In 1536 he marched against the Desmonds and O'Briens, capturing Carrigogunnell castle where Grey boasted of massacring women and children. Cutting paths through the forests of Ireland he was able to deploy wheeled artillery pieces, previously not thought possible, and in 1537 he attacked the O'Connor Falys and the O'Carrolls, destroying the O'Connor castle of Dangan. 1538 saw Grey launch a further attack on the O'Connor and turn his attention to Ulster with a campaign against the MacMahons. 

With "Silken Thomas" and his five uncles all being executed in England the next claimant to the earldom of Kildare was Gerald FitzGerald, the young son of the 9th Earl who was under the protection of his aunt Lady Eleanor, a daughter of the famed 8th Earl, the Great Earl of Kildare, Gearóid Mór. In 1538 Eleanor FitzGerald married Manus O'Donnell, head of the powerful northern Ulster sept of the O'Donnells. This union and the alarm caused by Grey's recent, and bloody, military campaigns allowed Manus to form a stong alliance against the Tudor regime and by 1539 Conn O'Neill, O'Connor of Sligo, the O'Neills of Clandeboye, the Maguires, O'Cahans and O'Rourkes had allied with him.

This alliance came to be known as the "Geraldine League". Reports reached England that it aimed to restore the Kildare lordship and prevent the Henrician reformation in Ireland, this defence of the Papacy possibly being an attempt to invite overseas support. Grey marched into Ulster in May 1539, raiding southern Ulster in an attempt to force the Gaelic lords to hand over Gerald FitzGerald, still a boy only in his early teens. Manus O'Donnell, Conn O'Neill, their Ulster allies and a force of Scots redshanks counter attacked in August with a raid into the Pale, sacking the towns of Ardee and Navan.

As the Gaelic lords returned north, their forces driving herds, or "creaghts", of stolen cattle and laden with booty, Grey gave chase. Under his command was an army of Pale levies and garrison troops, numbering around 800 men. The Lord Deputy caught the O'Donnell and O'Neill at the ford of Belahoe, a natural boundary dividing Meath from Monaghan, and launched a dawn attack on the disorganised raiders. Little detail is known of the clash. Hall states "In  August  the  great  Onele  &  Odonele  entered  into  the  English  pale  in  Ireland,  and  brent almost,  xx.  myle  within  the  same:  wherfore  the  Lorde  Grey  the  Deputie  there,  assembled  a great  power  and  met  with  them  the.  xxx.  day  of  August  and  put  them  to  flight". The Dublin born Richard Stanihurst in a later account stated that "Black James Fleming" Baron of Slane, had led the attack with a gentleman known as Mape riding by his side. During the charge along the river Mape's horse ran amok carrying the unfortunate rider into the midst of the Gaelic troops where he was killed. The Gaelic Irish were routed before they had time to prepare for the attack suffering around 400 casualties but most of their leaders escaped. According to Stanihurst the mayors of Dublin and Drogheda and Thomas Talbot of Malahide were all knighted on the field by Deputy Grey as was Gerald Aylmer.

This defeat severely weakened the league, allowing Grey to turn his attentions to a campaign in Munster in the autumn of 1539 before again attacking Ulster in January 1540. In March the young FitzGerald heir left Ireland to seek safety in France yet some form of league lingered on with rumours it would now ally with the Scots King, James V. Fate took a decidedly unfortunate turn for Leonard Grey whose brutal campaigns in Ireland seem to have caught up with him. His collusion with former rebels in the defeat of the Geraldine League and his own family connections to the FitzGeralds made him the subject of suspicion and intrigue. His sister Elizabeth had been married to the 9th Earl of Kildare following the death of the Earl's first wife in 1517, making Silken Thomas Greys step-nephew. He was accused of allowing the escape of young Gerald FitzGerald to France. His rivals to power in Ireland, the Butler family, conspired to have him declared a traitor. Grey was charged with treason and executed at the Tower of London in 1541. Unfortunately his campaigns in Ireland as Lord Deputy were a harbinger of much worse to come.

A view of the battlefield from above. The O'Donnell and O'Neill camp is in the top left corner. The English will enter from the opposite table edge to where the Gaelic forces are camped. The O'Donnell and O'Neill must escort the plundered cattle to the table edge on the right hand side whilst the English will attempt to stop this.

The camp of Manus O'Donnell and Conn O'Neill at the ford of Belahoe.


As always both games were played with our adapted "Renaissance Rampant" rules.

For this scenario the two armies were both divided into two retinues. The "Geraldine League" army was under Manus O'Donnell and Conn O'Neill and the Tudor government forces were under Lord Leonard Grey and "Black James Fleming" Baron of Slane. The Gaelic force deployed around the ford on the table with their herds, four cattle counters, at the far end of the table. The English started off the table and entered the table along one end via move activations (see the photos above).

The O'Neill and O'Donnell had to get as many of their cattle counters from one end of the table to the other as well as getting their two leaders off the table at the same table end the cattle were headed for. Leonard Grey, in command of the Tudor garrison, and the Baron of Slane, in command of the Palesmen, had to try and stop them.


As the O'Neill and O'Donnell troops were still in camp when they were attacked and were caught off guard by the English attack a special rule was applied to their first activation of the game. Each unit in the O'Neill and O'Donnell army had to pass two activation tests for its first activation. For example if a unit wished to fire it had to roll to do this twice the first ever time it activated. Once a unit had activated, no matter what that activation was, it then acted as normal for the rest of the game. If it failed one of the initial two activation tests it had pass two tests again the next time it tried to activate.

The Cattle

The Gaelic Irish started the game with four cattle counters allotted to four units (mounted or on foot). These units could move a maximum of 6" per turn and would loose the "cattle counter" if they were defeated in combat or battered. They could not attack whilst still holding the counter but could shoot while they had control of the livestock. Terrain affected the cattle counters even if the unit moving them was "fleet of foot". Units from both armies could pick up "lost" cattle by moving into base to base contact with the counter. They were then considered to have picked up the counter and could move with it. 

The Dice Bag

To add to the chaos we brought back a method we have used in two of our previous "Irish Wars" games, and Rather than using the normal Lion Rampant turn system we copied the Bolt Action order dice system. A bag was filled with four sets of coloured dice, each set having the correct number of dice for units in each retinue. Each turn a dice was pulled out of the bag and the retinue it represented (either O'Neill, O'Donnell, Tudor garrison or Palesmen) could then take a turn with one unit. If that unit failed its activation this didn't end the turn but meant that unit alone could not act that turn and another dice was then chosen. As units were destroyed or routed the dice that represented them were removed from the bag. We also added a "joker" dice. If this was drawn the turn was immediately over. Challenges and rolls for battered units were made by both players at the beginning of each turn. With four retinues in play this totally changed the style of the game!

Victory Points

The O'Neill and O'Donnell  got two victory points for each cattle counter that a unit got to the opposite table edge. The counter was then removed if this was achieved and the unit escorting it could remain in play. They got 4 victory points for Manus O'Donnell escaping and 3 victory points for Conn O'Neill.
They also got 3 victory points if Leonard Grey wass killed or routed and 2 victory points if the Baron of Slane was killed or routed.

The English got two victory points for every cattle counter they stopped escaping. They got 4 victory points if Manus O'Donnell was killed or routed and 3 victory points if Conn O'Neill was killed or routed.

The retinues we used were as follows:

The "Geraldine League" 

The O'Donnell

1 Unit of Foot Knights (retinue leader Manus O'Donnell)
2 Units of Galloglass
2 Units of Redshanks
2 Units of Noble Cavalry
2 Units of Kern
1 Unit of Kern with arquebus
1 Unit of Horseboys

The O'Neill

3 Units of Noble Cavalry (One contained the retinue leader Conn O'Neill)
2 Units of Galloglass 
2 Units of Household Kern (with better armour)
2 Units of Kern
1 Unit of Kern with arquebus
1 Unit of Horseboys

The Lord Deputy and the "English"

Leonard Grey and the English army

1 Unit of Foot Knights (retinue leader Lord Deputy Leonard Grey)
2 Units of Shire Billmen
2 Units of Border Horse
2 Units of Kern 
2 Units of Garrison Archers
1 Unit of English Arquebusiers

"Black James Fleming" Baron of Slane and the Palesmen

2 Units of Border Horse (horsemen from the Pale. One contained the retinue leader "Black James Fleming" Baron of Slane) 
2 Units of Shire Billmen            
2 Units of Shire Archers
1 Unit of Irish Cavalry 
1 Unit of Kern 

We diced for command of the armies in this game with Stuart taking control of the O'Neill and O'Donnell whilst I took control of the Tudor government forces. A brief write up follows but as always the photos tell the story as well.

Lord Grey's troops arrive and attempt to head off the army of the "Geraldine League".

The O'Neill troops surge across the river to attack the government forces.

"Black James Fleming", Baron of Slane, engages in combat with Conn O'Neill and is slain. 

Light horse from the Pale levy attempt to head the O'Neill and O'Donnell off  as they break camp.

O'Neill kern battle with horsemen from the English Pale.

O'Neill kern and galloglass charge into the fray.

As dawn broke the Lord Deputy's army emerged from the woods. Units of skirmishing border horse and cavalry raised from the Pale were the first to charge towards the Gaelic host. Despite being caught in camp and ill prepared the O'Neill troops were quick to react and charged back across the ford to engage with Leonard Grey's government forces. Conn O'Neill rode at the head of his mail clad cavalry and was spotted by "Black James Fleming", Baron of Slane, who spurred his horse onwards to attack the Gaelic Lord. The two men engaged in single combat and Fleming was slain by O'Neill meaning the Palesmen had lost their leader.

With the O'Neill doing the bulk of the fighting against Grey's army the O'Donnell moved up in a support role behind them and pushed the cattle herds towards safety. The Lord Deputy's forces were clearly trying to cut off the escape route of the Gaelic forces but were themselves coming under intense pressure from the constant skirmishing of the O'Neill horse and kern. Conn O'Neill was still in the midst of the action and Grey ordered his men to bring down the Ulster chieftain and direct their attacks against him.

Conn O'Neill and his noble cavalry do battle with light horse from the English garrison and Irish horse in English pay.

The noble cavalry of the O'Neill skirmish with Leonard Grey's cavalry forces.

As the battle rages the O'Donnell troops protect the cattle "creaghts" from Lord Grey's attack.

A unit of billmen from the English garrison.

Lord Deputy Leonard Grey, on the left of the picture, urges his men on in an attack on Conn O'Neill, on the right of the picture.

As fighting takes place around the ford more English forces can be seen emerging in the distance.

O'Donnell forces push forward in support of the O'Neill.

A view of the battlefield with the battle in full swing. The English have entered the fight along the table on the right and are trying to stop the forces of the "Geraldine League" escaping by cutting their escape route off at the hill at the top of the picture.

A view from the other end of the battlefield with the Tudor government forces attempting to head off the escape route.

Both armies skirmish around the ford of Belahoe.

Conn O'Neill is at the head of his troops in the fight against Lord Deputy Grey.

The government forces deploy on a small hill near the ford.

During a lull in the fighting a clear line is drawn between the two armies.

Billmen from the English garrison are backed up by archers from the English Pale.

Conn O'Neill and his noble horsemen.

Billmen from the Pale clash with a unit of Galloglass.

The O'Neill forces engage with Grey's garrison troops.

The cattle "creaghts" are protected by kern and horseboys.

Having earlier defeated the Baron of Slane, Conn O'Neill is then brought down in a bitter melee in the water.

Leonard Grey suddenly finds himself exposed on the field...

...and is caught by a unit of galloglass who make short work of his bodyguards before killing the Lord Deputy. 

The ford of Belahoe was a storm of arrows and javelins as the English and Gaelic troops fought in the shallow waters. The occasional crack of gunfire could be heard as both sides had arquebusiers in their ranks and some of the more affluent English captains carried pistols. Galloglass clashed with English billmen in fierce melees. Conn O'Neill lead his men from the front, shielding the cattle herds on the other side of the river. As he attempted to break through the English encirclement he was finally brought down by billmen from Grey's garrison before the billmen themselves were overwhelmed by O'Neill's galloglass and driven back.

Leonard Grey's satisfaction at seeing the O'Neill banner fall was short lived. With his forces whittled down by hails of javelins and arrows Grey and his bodyguards found themselves isolated and exposed on the battlefield. A disciplined charge by a unit of galloglass caught the Tudor commander and he was killed. With both of the English army's leaders dead Manus O'Donnell drove his forces forward in an attack on the beleaguered Tudor army. The surviving archers and billmen attempted to reform and hold the hill by the ford but to no avail. The "Geraldine League" had lost one of its main leaders in the form of Conn O'Neill but Manus O'Donnell had held the Gaelic army together and returned from the raid into Pale with the stolen cattle and the cursed Lord Deputy dead on the field.

As the only surviving retinue leader Manus O'Donnell spurs his men on and orders them to defeat the remaining Tudor forces.

The remnants of Grey's army take up a defensive position on the hill...

...but are surrounded by the Gaelic forces and defeated.

"the horsmen fell a drinkyng in the waie, and the foote men wer all out of ordre", Monday 27th June, 1513

When Henry VIII invaded France in 1513, the formal proceedings of the siege of Thérouanne had begun before the king had even arrived in Calais. George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, in command of the English vanguard, and Charles Somerset, Lord Herbert, who led the rearward, began the siege on 25 June 1513. As the English settled into the siege (see the army required a constant supply of victuals. Many of these supplies were coming across the Channel from England to be off loaded at Calais from where they were then carted off to the troops besieging Thérouanne. Within days of starting the siege Henry's captains were to learn how perilous this could be.

Reports vary quite widely but from those we have it is clear that an attack on an English wagon train happened on Monday 27 June, three days before Henry's arrival in Calais. A supply convoy which Hall numbered at twenty four wagons, Polydore Vergil, an Italian Scholar living in England, numbered at eighty wagons and government correspondence numbered at one hundred wagons had been escorted from Calais to the English fortress of Guines. At Guines the escort duty was taken over by three hundred men led by Sir Edward Belknap along with sixty men from the Guines garrison, twenty four of whom were mounted, under the castle's captain, Sir Nicholas Vaux.

As the wagon train neared the English held town of Ardres the two dozen cavalrymen stopped to refresh themselves and have a drink whilst the infantry were disordered, seemingly paying little attention to any potential threats. They had no idea that a French cavalry force under Charles, Duke of Vendôme, was lying in wait, concealed in the nearby forest. The French charged the wagons, causing the carters to flee. The English archers attempted to defend the convoy, using the wagons as cover, whilst the small English cavalry force counter-attacked the French. Sir Nicholas Vaux attempted to rally the infantry but the situation was hopeless and along with Belknap he fled back to Guines.

As with the number of wagons the sources vary on the English casualty figures. Hall states that eight of the Guines garrison were slain along with thirty archers. Ploydore Vergil gives the death toll at one hundred. The Chronicle of Calais gives a figure of three hundred dead. The event was seen as news worthy for rulers in Italy with Roberto Acciajuolo, Florentine Ambassador in France, writing to the Signory of Florence on 3 July 1513 that on 1 July 1513 he had received news that the French had attacked five hundred English infantry, who were convoying provisions from Calais, and had killed some three hundred men and captured eighty carthorses. The French had lost only three French archers, presumably mounted,  with two captains of men-at-arms wounded, Monsieur de Plessi and Monsieur d'Imbrecourt. The Venetian Ambassador in France wrote back to the Republic stating the King of England had not yet landed but the French had used the English roughly at Thérouanne. They had taken one hundred and fifty provision carts, killing five hundred English infantry who escorted them, while others of the same infantry escaped to a castle in Flanders.

Whatever the exact details of the attack it caused much consternation in the camp before Thérouanne. Sir Rhys ap Thomas immediately set off with a detachment of light cavalry to find the Duke of Vendôme and his raiders but they had returned to their fortresses. For the rest of the siege the convoys to Thérouanne were made much stronger with stricter discipline being enforced. Despite an increase in cost, arrangements were also made for more victuals to be provided from the Low Countries as the supply routes from them were safer.

Halls account of the event is given in full:

"Upon  the  Munduie  beiyng    the.  xxvii.   daie  of lune.   xxiiii.   Cartes  charged   with   victaiil,  wer    by    the  Garrison   of  Caleis  conduited  to Guisnes,  and  there  the  Crew  of  the  castle  and  tonne  of  Guisnes  with  three.  C.  foote  men, under  the  conduite  of  sir  Edward  Belknappe,  all  beyng in  nombre.  iiii.C.lx.  men,  set  furthe to  conduite  thesaied  victailes  to  tharmie  liyng  before  Tirwyn,  and  so  thei  passed   to  Arde. And  while  the  Carters  passed  the  toune,  the  horsmen  fell  a  drinkyng  in  the  waie,  and   the foote  men  wer  all  out  of  ordre.   The  duke   of  Vandosme  capitain  generall  of  Picardie, whiche  laie  in  a.  bushement  in  the  forest  side  of  Guysnes  with.  viii.C.  light  horsemen,  toke  his aduauntage  and  set  on  the  victailers,  the  Carters  perceiuing that,  losed  their  horses  and  fledd to  the  toune,   whiche  was  but  a  myle  of  and  left  their  Cartes.     Sir  Nicholas  Vaux  capitain  of Guysnes  did  al  he  could,  to  bryng  the  foote  men  in  an  ordre:  but  the  Frenchmen  set  on  so quickly  that  thei  could  not  set  theim  in  ordre,  the  horsemen  of  Guysnes  whiche  wer  but onely.  xxiiii.  toke  their  speres  and  ioyned  with  the  Frenchemen  :  the  Archers  of  Englande whiche  passed  not.  Ix.  shot  manfully,  and  a  noble  captain  called  Baltier  De  lien  and  diuerse other,  but  the  Frenchemen  were  so  many  in  nombre  and  in  good  ordre,   that  thei  slew  viii. gentlemen  of  the  Garrison  of  Guisnes,  and,  xxx.  Archers  slain  and  many  hurte,  and  so thei  distrussed  the  victailes,  and  caused  sir  Nicholas  Vaux,  and  sir  Edwarde  Belknappe  to flie  toward  Guisnes.  This  misauenture  fell  bytariyng of  the  horsemen  and  breakyng  of  array, for  if  tharchers  had  taried  together  it  had  happened  otherwise,  for  the  fewe  Archers that  held  together,  slewe  and  hurt  diuerse  Frenchemen:  For  on  the  felde  laie.  Ixxxvii.  great horse  whiche  neuer  wet  thence,  by  the  which  it  appered  that  the  Frenchemenne  went  not quite  awaie  without  losse.  When  tidynges  of  this  misauenture  came  to  the  lordes  at  the siege,  thei  were  not  a  litle  displeased:  and  sir  Rise  ap Thomas  caused  his  Trompet  to  blowe to  the  stirroppe,  and  he  with  his  horsemen  sought  the  Duke  of  Vandosme  all  the  countrey, whiche  hearyng  of  thecommyng  of  sir  Rise,  with  greate  hast  retreted  backe  to  Bangey  Abbey, where  the  Frenche  kynges  greate  army  lai."

The wagon convoy from above. They are on their way to Ardres, which would be on the left hand side of the table, from Guines, which would be on the right of the table. The French will enter from their hiding place in the Guines Forest, the southern edge of the image above. The English cavalry and reinforcements will arrive from the right hand table edge.

The Scenario

The game started with a line of wagons crossing the table to represent the convoy (see above). The English archers were deployed amongst the convoy. The French arrived via move activations from the table edge which represented the forest.

The Wagons

The Wagons could be used as cover by the English. Any English infantry unit in base to base contact with a wagon received +1 armour against missile or skirmish attacks.

The four largest wagons were designated as objectives. The French could attempt to destroy these large wagons if a French unit was in base to base contact with one of them. On its following turn as an activation the French unit could attempt to destroy the Wagon on a 4+ on a D6. As the French aim was to destroy the convoy this activation would take priority of a "wild charge" activation. Once destroyed a wagon could not be used as cover. A wagon could be destroyed whilst an English unit was benefitting from the cover of the wagon and the English unit would not be harmed.

"the horsmen fell a drinkyng in the waie"

Once the first French unit had entered the game on the next English turn the English player diced for whether the rest of the convoy guard arrived. The rest of the guard could arrive the turn after the French entered if a 9-12 was rolled on 2D6, two turns after on a 8-12, three turns after on a 7-12 and so on. The table edge they arrived from was from the end of the wagon convoy (see photo above). The rest of the English force would enter via move activations so they could not skirmish, shoot or attack when they first arrived on the field.

The game ended once all of the four large wagons were destroyed or if the Duke of Vendôme, Monsieur de Plessi and Monsieur d'Imbrecourt were all killed or routed as this was deemed to have caused the French to call off the attack.

A view of the convoy from the front as it snakes its way through the countryside.

A view of the convoy from the rear.

The infantry escorting the convoy are relaxed...

...whilst some of the carters sense trouble.

The Armies

Sir Edward Belknap and the convoy guard

Starting with the wagons:
2 Units of Garrison Archers
2 Units of Shire Archers

The rest of the convoy starting off the table:

2 Units of Demilancers (One unit represents Sir Edward Belknap, retinue leader and one unit represents Sir Nicholas Vaux, the Captain of Guines Garrison)
1 Unit of Foot Knights 
2 Units of Shire Billmen

The English could also assign two organ guns to two infantry units

Charles, Duke of Vendôme, and the ambush force

2 Units of Gendarmes (one is Charles, Duke of Vendôme retinue leader)
2 Units of Men at Arms (Monsieur de Plessi and Monsieur d'Imbrecourt)
1 Unit of Ordonnance Archers with bows 
3 Units of Ordonnance Archers with lances
2 Units of Stradiots 
1 Unit of Mounted Crossbowmen

Again we diced for the command in this game and Stuart took control of Vendôme's French whilst I took control of the wagon train and Belknap's English.

French light cavalry and stradiots charge the rear of the wagon train but some of the infantry from Guines are close by and rush to the aid of the archers. 

Threatening the centre of the supply column French mounted archers and crossbowmen, along with more stradiots, emerge from the woods.

The French heavy cavalry appear from the forest at the head of the convoy.

First stradiots...

...and then lancers charge the archers defending the rear of the wagons. Both attacks are beaten back.

The billmen and dismounted men at arms from the Guines garrison then take the battle to the French light horse.

Both sides take casualties in the fighting at the convoys rear but the French horse have retreated.

As the English wagons slowly rumbled through the countryside of northern France the archers assigned to guard them joked and paid little heed to the movements in the forest to their left. It was the carters who first sensed trouble and spotted that the whole column was being shadowed by French cavalry. Stradiots, lancers, crossbowmen and mounted archers appeared to threaten the centre and rear of the supply convoy whilst the men in the front of the wagon train could see French heavy cavalry riding forward to block their path. Before the French drew any closer some of the Englishmen ran back to fetch the infantry from the Guines garrison along with Sir Edward Belknap, Sir Nicholas Vaux and the small cavalry escort.

The initial attack fell on the rear of the column with stradiots and then French lancers charging in and attempting to ride down the archers guarding the wagons. The archers sent a shower of arrows into the oncoming horsemen who were unable to ride down the bowmen as they sheltered amongst the wagons. As the lancers circled around for another charge men at arms and billmen from the Guines garrison arrived and charged into them. As quickly as they had emerged from the forest the French horse attacking the column's rear fled back into the trees.

Was the attack on the rear simply a feint though? At the head of the column Charles, Duke of Vendôme commands a force of French heavy cavalry. Monsieur de Plessi leads the attack at the head of a unit of men at arms.

De Plessi charges the archers only to find an organ gun was in the column. It blasts the men at arms as they charge and they are unable to ride down the archers. 

Shocked into action after he and his men "fell a drinkyng in the waie" , Sir Nicholas Vaux, the Captain of the Guines garrison, arrives and defeats Monsieur de Plessi and his men at arms.

The front of the convoy is beset by French heavy horse.

Having broken spears with de Plessi, Sir Nicholas Vaux is then attacked by heavier French gendarmes and slain on the road to Ardres.

Monsieur d'Imbrecourt's men at arms run down the archers who successfully withstood the first charge by de Plessi. The wagon they were taking shelter around is destroyed.

The French cavalry threatening the centre of the convoy faired even worse than those attacking the rear. As they neared the wagons they were met with volleys of arrows that sent them back into the forest. It was at the head of the column that the real danger presented itself. Charles, Duke of Vendôme and all his heavy cavalry, including Monsieur de Plessi and Monsieur d'Imbrecourt, decided to press their attack here and launched a charge on the leading wagons.

The English managed to use their organ guns to good affect, blasting shot into the oncoming horsemen which prevented the archers from being initially over run but there were simply too many heavily armed gendarmes for the bowmen to make a stand for long. Unfortunately for the Duke of Vendôme, as Sir Edward Belknap and Sir Nicholas Vaux had been alerted of the ambush so quickly, they were able to ride down the length of the convoy with their demilancers and break staves with the French heavy cavalry preventing them from riding through the entire wagon train.

  Sir Nicholas Vaux and his "gentlemen of the Garrison of Guisnes", crashed into Monsieur de Plessi and his men at arms leaving de Plessi dead on the road. Vaux was then counter charged by a unit of gendarmes and the Guines Captain himself was unhorsed and slain. Seeing the devastation the French were causing to his convoy and its escort Sir Edward Belknap spurred on his men and charged into the fray. He too was unhorsed in the swirling cavalry melee being knocked from his steed in a clash with Vendôme and his gendarmes. For a moment it looked as if the remaining French heavy cavalry would be victorious and sweep away the rest of the convoy's troops but this was not to be. The men at arms, billmen and archers at the rear of the column, who had so successfully seen of the initial attack, had been bought time by the charges of Vaux and Belknap. They formed up and advanced along the wagon train, the volleys of arrows from the archers being enough to send Vendôme, and what was left of his cavalry force, riding back into the forest having destroyed half of the wagons in the convoy.

Enraged by the attack on the wagon train Sir Edward Belknap charges into the battle...

...and takes on Charles, Duke of Vendôme and his gendarmes.

A view from the front of the column with the French heavy cavalry causing chaos as they ride down the archers and destroy the lead wagons.

Things are less chaotic at the other end of the wagon train where the attack has been seen off.

Sir Edward Belknap is defeated by Charles, Duke of Vendôme (note the banner carried by the English is actually that of Sir Rhys ap Thomas)

The English captains have been brought down but victory is snatched from the French as the English archers and billmen at the rear of the wagon convoy form up and send Charles, Duke of Vendôme fleeing back into the forest with what is left of his forces. A scene of carnage is left at the front of the column with half of the convoy's wagons being destroyed.

These were two very different and enjoyable games, both producing different results from the historical events they were based on. In the Belahoe game it was great to finally see my 1540s English on the tabletop and to see how Stuart's terrain worked on my terrain boards. I think I will rename the "Dice Bag" the "Dreaded Dice Bag" as it really changed the dynamic of the game, especially when Stuart's Gaelic forces rolled a double 6 on an activation then a 6. This allowed Stuart's army to bring on two more kern units meaning two more dice went into the bag for him whilst I was loosing units, and so dice from the bag, at an alarming rate! For every one unit I tried to activate it felt like three kern or Irish horse units would spring into action. The fighting swung back and forth in this game to such an extent that it was hard to keep track of what was happening. 

The pace of the second game was, thankfully, very different with the attack on the column happening in quite specific stages. I am unsure if this was by accident or design! It was great to see all of our wagons stretched out in the convoy and as much as I enjoy the larger battle refights I really love these smaller "small war" style clashes which were the more common experience of warfare for soldiers in this era. Of course enough supplies made it through in the convoy for Stuart and myself to venture to some local hostelries, and it was in one of these that the last photo was taken. Trust me we both needed a few drinks after the Belahoe game and the "Dreaded Dice Bag"!

A pic of the "generals" after a few drinks!