Battle Report - Medieval German vs Burgundian Ordonnance

The Battle of Bearn
15 May vs Peter Page

Karl rubbed his chin and squinted at the rolling banks of mist. "This'll make things exciting", he said to his subordinates. Burgomeister Otto spoke rather uncertainly, "But doesnt this play into our hands, limiting the shooting from his archers and artillery, Sire?" Karl smilingly agreed, "Yes, but I can tell you it's damn exciting launching a charge before you know if you're charging pikemen or skirmishers."  The Burgomeister looked more subdued.

The Archbishop of Trier looked happier. Wiping the bearnais sauce from his chin, he quoth "Surely the Lord God will guide your forces to find their true opponents amongst the rebellious Burgundians, Sire. Let us kneel and pray to God for guidance" intoned the Archbishop. Karl looked at the muddy ground, strewn with horseshit, and merely nudged the dozing Herzog of Saxony at his elbow.

Herzog Albrecht sprung awake, shouting "Deus Volt! Deus Volt!" and drawing his sword. "Uhh, it's the whippersnap - " he mumbled, sheathing his sword. "Are we ready to attack yet?" The Emperor grimaced, and asked, "Does anyone have any idea about the battlefield?"

The Burgomeister said "Sire, I believe there is a large wood away to our left, and a smaller one beside which the enemy has camped, and that is all", while the Herzog looked fiercely at the Emperor, growling "Battlefield? Battlefield? What rubbish is this? Just mount up and ride'em all down, like your father did! They're only craven rebels anyway - most of'em will just be a riffraff of footsloggers at best!"

Karl sighed, and decided not to argue. "Burgomeister, how is the temper of your men?" "Very good, Sire  - keen as mustard!". The Archbishop winced, and murmured that Dijon was a little further down the road really, but Karl refused to get distracted. "Excellent - put your spearmen with their left flank to the wood, and sweep the wood with handgunners - advance in time with the Herzog here."

Turning to Albrecht, he shouted - slowly and clearly - "Lord, take the centre as your valour has earned it - drive forward slowly and don't outrace the Burgomenn beside you. Archbishop, place your spearmen to his right, and your knights to the right and rear of them. I take command of the extreme right - like Alexander at Arbela". The Archbishop smiled, while Albrecht muttered loudly enough for the horses to hear, "Arbela, Arbela, bloody Arbela - more poxy book learning I suppose. Ride 'em all down, I say".

Karl peered again into the mist, wishing desparately that he could stand far above it & see where the enemy was heading, like some god peering over the table: then he cantered off to join his bodyguard from the Order of the Teuton Hospital.


The Battle of Bearn

The battle started slowly, with all the Germans cantering forward slowly, keeping their forces carefully aligned. After half an hour, the mist lifted away, to show the first sign of the Burgundian battle line. It looked promising to Karl - the City militia were facing the Ordonnance knights, the mercenary spearmen facing bowmen and pike, his Hungarians were screening more pike and knights, and the Saxons looked to be facing the weak link in the Burgundian line - a mishmash of Low Countries crossbowmen, pike and artillery, and a smallish squadron of Feudal knights.

The whole line rolled forward in unimaginative fashion, lockstep and keeping ranks, with some of the Saxon knights dismounting, preparatory to charging the pike - and some stray longbowmen who were supporting one flank of the pike block.

The first attack was from the wood, the German handgunners storming into a line of longbowmen. Despite being badly outnumbered, the handgunners pinned this block of archers down for the rest of the game, vailiantly plying their hackbus butts, with little effect either way.

Next, the City Militia ground forward, being met by the Ordonnance knights - now dismounted - and settled into a long and indecisive melee, pushing and shoving eachother to and fro. The soi-disant Duke Karl the Bold led a counterattack at one end of this line, but was repelled, then the Burgomeister brought his wedge of burghers forward to face the Ducal bodyguard.

Karl then had just time enough to watch the Saxons lead off their charge against the Low Countries contingent, before he tucked his helm in behind his shield and led the Teutons in a charge against the Burgundian knights at the edge of the battlefield. Aided by a swarm of Hungarians who outflanked these knights and threatened their rear, he made rapid headway, breaking half of them swiftly. He drew rein and  took a moment to reassess the field.

The Burgundians had apparently made no agressive moves, waiting passively for the German attack. The mercenary foot were guarding his own flank well, and making inroads amongst the archers that were dotted amongst the Burgundian line. The City Militia were making painfully slow progress against the Ordonnance knights, but had managed to get some of their spearmen up to support the handgunners, and were making some progress there.

Herzog Albrecht, however, had utterly smashed the Burgundian centre. As Karl watched, a final bloc of pike were overrun by the Saxon knights a foot. Those Saxons still mounted had swung like a door, to threaten the flank of the Burgundian right, and as Karl watched, he could see Duke Karl and his bodyguard trying to fend them off desparately. A moment later, and the roar of Saxon cheers swept up the line, carrying the news of Duke Karls' fall.

With that desparate news sweeping the Burgundian line, the rest of the rebels dropped their arms, and besought the mythical Imperial mercy.



Lessons Learnt:

For the Germans:
1.    Dismounted KnS are an immovable object to infantry, but cant make much headway against an equal frontage
        of Spearmen, even inferior spearmen.

For the BUrgundians:
1.   Passively waiting for an enemy attack is bound to end in disaster. It also wastes the elements that cost
    Burgundians dearly - manouevreability and flexibility.
2.    Mounted BwS are hardly ever worth it, unless you have a decent screen in front of them.
3.    Mixed formations - Bw/Bd/Pk/Art - are terribly vulnerable, as the enemy only have to QK one of these types, to be
    able to turn the line.