Saturday 10 September 2022

Enemies of the Carolingian

Noting the strengths and weaknesses of enemies for a particular army is a useful exercise when competing in tournaments, however, the information gathered here is meant to enhance scenarios between two historical opponents. This set takes a look at the tactical strengths and weaknesses of opponents of the Carolingian in the collection. The list long with a few armies having sub-lists.

Reviewing the Carolingian list, you will note a few alternative troop types reflecting regional differences, such as the province of Aquitaine or the division of the realm following the death of Charlemagne.

III/28 Carolingian 639 – 888 AD, Terrain Type: Arable, Aggression 3

1 x General (3Kn), 2 x caballari (3Kn), 2 x Swabian or Bavarian caballari (3Kn//4Bd) or [1 x Gascon javelinmen (Ps) + 1 x Gascon light horse (LH)], 1 x caballari (3Kn) or 1 x Thuringian cavalry (Cv), 4 x select levies (all Bd or Sp until 814, thereafter all Sp), 1 x archers (3Bw or Ps), 1 x archers (Ps) or lesser levies (7Hd).


The Enemies of the Carolingian

 II/73 Old Saxon, 250– 804 AD, Terrain type: Arable, Aggression 2

Saxon warband caught are easy prey for Frankish knights if caught in the open, therefore a defending Saxon will select a hamlet, boggy ground, scrub, and possibly an enclosure to increase the longevity of warbands when confronted by Frankish knights. Troops moving through rough ground would do so in column, increasing their vulnerability. A river would add another level of complexity to the mix of terrain.  

II/83b Later Visigothic Army 622 – 720 AD, Terrain type: Arable, Aggression 1

A well-balanced mix of knights and spear supported by skirmishers and auxilia. Difficult to dislodge from a defensive position, best to lure toward an open plain. Attacking, avoid matching troop types as battle can degenerate into a long slogging match.

III/1b Western Slav Army 741 – 1003 AD, Terrain type: Arable, Aggression 1

The majority of foot are spear-armed and with few cavalry and archers in support, expect a defensive position with a number of choke points. Carolingian blade is best used against a Slav shieldwall and supported by skirmishers, these can attack exposed enemy flanks or rear. Enemy archers may prove a nuisance, use skirmishers to neutralise their threat.

III/1c Southern Slav Armies 476 – 896 AD, Terrain type: Forest, Aggression 1

Similar in composition as their western neighbors, spearmen are a lighter type supported by open order archers. Suggest driving enemy into or beyond woods will isolate them from their commander. Slav infantry can out distance own infantry, therefore, reserves should be placed to deter enemy flanking threats.

III/13a Avar Army 632 – 826 AD, Terrain type: Steppe, Aggression 1

The Avar have similarities with the Breton; but lack useful terrain. Pinning the Avar against gullies or rivers should be high on your list otherwise follow the tactics suggested against the Bretons.

III/18 Breton Army 580 – 1072 AD, Terrain type: Arable, Aggression 1

Breton armies are highly mobile and can face off against Frankish knights and infantry. Denying the Breton maneuvering room, form Frankish spear in line forcing the enemy to engage or give ground. Frankish cavalry can protect the flanks of the infantry and conversely if fighting on open ground reverse the order with cavalry and flanks protected by heavy infantry. Keep the date 814 in mind.

III/21a Italian Lombard 584 – 774 AD, Terrain type: Arable, Aggression 1

The majority of the early Italian Lombard are heavy cavalry supported by archers; the latter will create problems for your cavalry. An effective tactic of the Lombard is to close quickly against your cavalry while archers and skirmisher attempt to envelope your line. Much will depend who deploys first, but neutralising the archers should become a priority.   

III/21b Italian Lombard 775 – 1076 AD, Terrain type: Arable, Aggression 1

Coming under the umbrella of Frankish control, half of the heavy cavalry are replaced by spearmen creating a composition troop type mirroring the Carolingian. History records a frequent use of the allies listed which may tip the balance in a game.  

III/26b Croatian Army 627 – 1089 AD, Terrain type: Littoral, Aggression 1

Solid auxilia wielding javelin and axe account for bulk of the army following by a good number of mounted troops. The threat of a littoral landing is also present, however, using the auxilia may not be the best choice. Expect difficult hills defended by auxilia, but this should be welcomed as you can focus your attack on their cavalry and camp.

III/28 Carolingian 639 – 888 AD Terrain type: Arable, Aggression 3

Following the death of Charlemagne, the kingdom did lapse into a period of civil strife among its successors. From a historical perspective, armies should reflect some regional differences avoiding a mirror image of the other. For example, Aquitaine would have Gascons in its ranks, while Swabians and Bavarians would be present among the eastern Frankish kingdom. Allies would also play a role during the civil upheaval.   

III/29 Thematic Byzantine 650 – 963 AD Terrain type: Hilly, Aggression 1

This is the only army not present in the collection.

III/33 Early Muslim North Africa & Sicily 696 – 1160 AD Terrain type: Aggression

Lacking sufficient shock troops, they do make up with a highly mobile army on land as well as by sea (littoral landing). Make use of the sea to pin the Muslims against or have them take flight in that direction. Your knights may become vulnerable when pursuing, so care should be taken to have adequate support nearby.

III/34a Andalusian 710 – 765 AD Terrain Type: Arable, Aggression 3

This sub-list is similar to the Early Muslim, but its home terrain will offer a fine selection of terrain suitable for light troops, expect much use of rough ground. Use your cavalry to engage their cavalry, the advantage of number should bring enemy infantry out from their defensive positions.  

III/34b Andalusian 766 – 1172 AD: Terrain Type: Arable, Aggression 1

Quite similar to the previous sub-list with a few minor additions. There are a number of useful allies that can cause problems, such as the Feudal Spanish.

III/35a Feudal Spanish Army 718 – 950 AD, Terrain type: Hilly, Aggression: 1

Cavalry account for 1/3rd of the army with skirmishers forming a majority supported by spearmen. May pose a difficult fight if the maximum number of hills are placed as these will channel your approach. Spanish skirmishers reign supreme in such terrain; therefore, care should be taken to protect flanks and rear areas.

III/40a Viking Army 790 – 849 AD Terrain type: Littoral, Aggression 4

Lacking cavalry, fast blade will be disadvantage by an attack from your knights, therefore a defending Viking will make good use of difficult hills, marsh and a river to break up an enemy assault. Deploying an extended line seems less likely, but do expect a reserve forming a second line placed behind or split positioned at either flank.

III/40b Viking Army 850 – 1250 AD Terrain type: Littoral, Aggression 4

Solid blade of the ‘b’ sub-list presented different opportunities as these are less mobile and will avoid selecting difficult ground; a river and BUA would be better terrain choices. Solid Vikings foot will repel cavalry on even scores, but destroy knights. Using Frankish spear to pin, cavalry and skirmishers can attack exposed Viking flank or rear.

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