Tuesday 13 April 2021

Battle of Montlhéry – scenario tests

Contemporary sources describe the terrain as open and covered with fields of wheat, yet the available space allowed only two of the three divisions to be deployed in line with the third deployed behind the main battle. One source has the Burgundian rear division to the right of Saint-Pol, placing the main battle behind in reserve and not in the first line. During the course of the battle, the right flank of both sides successfully routed their opposition which explains why the battlefield is deeper than it is wide. 

The tributary (paltry) emptying into L’ Orge functions as the centreline from which both deployments are placed 3BW distance. The two BUA on the board, Montlhéry and Chapelle-Villiers are rough ground for troops moving through them. The area east of Chapelle-Villiers to the banks of the L’ Orge is described as marsh and this was kept to a small area where the tributary and L’ Orge meet. 

All Burgundian knights are dismounted following their general practice at the time. For this scenario, however, they are allowed to remount (see below). 

The artillery exchange which opened the battle lasted two hours with the Burgundian inflicting more casualties than the French. The French guns were later re-positioned becoming more effective later on in the battle. The French, expecting the arrival of Marshal Rouault with 200 lances, held their position, giving the Burgundians the initiative to attack and prohibit Louis XI from reaching Paris.     

The battle starts at 1400 hours. An artillery barrage of two hours has taken place, but neither side have scored significant casualties to remove an element. Sunset is between 21.00 and 2200 hrs and players using weather rules should account for sun dazzle affecting the Burgundians.

The Royal Army:

Vanguard division: 1 x Seneschal de Brézé (3Kn), 3 x men-at-arms (3Kn), 1 x coutilliers (Cv), 1 x ordonnance archers (Mtd-4Lb), 2 x franc-archers (3Bw) = 8 elements.

Battle division: 1 x Louis XI (3Kn), 5 x men-at-arms (3Kn), 2 x coutilliers (Cv), 1 x ordonnance archers (Mtd-4Lb), 1 x couleuvrines (Art) = 10 elements

Rear division: (Comte du Maine), 2 x men-at-arms (3Kn), 2 x coutilliers (Cv), 2 x franc-archers (3Bw) = 6 elements

The Burgundian Army:

Vanguard division: 1 x Saint-Pol (4Bd), 2 x men-at-arms (4Bd), 3 x Picard archers (4Lb), 1 x English archers (4Lb), 1 x couleuvrines (Art) = 8 elements.

Battle division: 1 x Comte du Charolais (3Kn), 3 x knights (3Kn), 1 x mounted crossbowmen (Cv), 4 x Picard crossbowmen (4Cb), 1 x couleuvrines (Art) = 10 elements.

Rear division (Antoine of Burgundy), 2 x Low Country crossbowmen (4Cb), 4 x Low Country pikemen (4Pk) = 6 elements.


Historically, the Burgundian knights remounted at the start of battle. This was easily done by knights of the main division, but confusion reigned throughout the vanguard. To simulate the confusion and discord among the knights of Saint-Pol’s division, remounting costs two pips and one for knights of the main division. The positioning of the main division further back might explain why remounting was less problematic. 

Determining a winner.

This test uses DBA24, that is one single command of 24 elements. and one side scoring 8 casualties is declared the winner. For this scenario however, both sides reaching an even score of 7 or 8 will mean both sides to break off battle. 

The tests

The first two full scale battles produced two convincing victories for the French; 8-2, 9-5 and in neither engagement, did the rear division of du Maine to stir from its position at Montlhéry. Further adjustments would be needed to make game take a historical course. 

The requirement for the Burgundian knights to remount was the first item to change. Knights of the main division were mounted, leaving the knights of Saint-Pol’s division on foot. The cost, however, was reduced to +1. 

Further reading the description of the battle, the Burgundians forced the French left back which offered the moment for Charles to launch the attack with his knights. To allow for this to develop meant a repositioning of the Burgundian rear and main division. 

Chapelle-Villiers remained a hornet’s nest in both games and would most likely remain so for test number three. Implementing the above changes would mean both sides must be careful as heavy losses by either Saint-Pol or Pierre de Brézé would mean an early demise for their side.   

Test game three proved a much tighter game and ended in a victory for the Burgundian, 8-6. The Burgundian main division launched an early assault on the French left, but their success was cut short by French archers and timely counter charges by French cavalry. Chapelle-Villiers developed differently with Saint-Pol and knights founding their mounts in time to dim French hopes of success on that flank. The battle remained hotly contested up to turn 6 with both sides even at 6-6. The margin of victory was enough for Charles to hold the field. but Louis XI still reached Paris.   

Satisfied that a balance has been found, there remained one final piece of the Montlhéry puzzle to solve – the treachery of Charles IV du Anjou, comte du Maine. His flight took with him the entire rear division and in game terms would account for heavy losses against the French. Yet, his flight was hotly pursued by Charles du Charolais, leaving in game terms, the Burgundians without a leader. 

It was not until the following year that treachery was proven that Charles, comte du Maine fell in disgrace. Linked by blood and friendship to the rebel princes might explain his less than energetic charge to contain Francis II of Brittany at the opening of the campaign, but his flight off the battlefield remains the final item that needs fixing.

More later.

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