Monday 29 October 2012
Monday 22 October 2012
Tuesday 16 October 2012
Saturday 13 October 2012
This topic first appeared here eight years ago and in that time much new information and books have come into my possession I felt compelled to revise the old text and eventually develop a campaign for the period. Western Europe experienced dynamic change following the Black Death of 1347/48. The death toll estimates range from 30 – 60 percent leaving few cities with a population of more that
3 – 5,000. Within the empire, 90% of the 4,000 settlements within the empire had a
population of 1,000 inhabitants creating a landscape of abandoned villages and hamlets; the survivors having fled
to “safer” havens of urban locations.
of guilds will be covered at length in another post, but during the 15th
century it was not uncommon to find city guilds boasting an armoury equipped
for every alarm. Each town had quantity of equipment and specialist to maintain
and repair it. Fletchers, smiths, stable hands, crossbow makers and cannon
founders supplied their own town’s needs with a small number of cities
developing into an armaments industry, such as Nuremberg.
production of cannon by the early 15th century was not limited to
large cities or town as even small village were able to produce them. Internal needs
prohibited many cannon founders to accept contracts from outside, a rule
strictly enforced by the Hanseatic League (1385).
individual citizen was to be equipped depended on their status leaving only the
wealthy to supply mounted contingents, property owners, armour and weapons and with
the poor supplied with any weapons left in the armoury.
High walls became
the primary form of defence for cities, towns, castles and manor houses even
hamlets would have some form of rudimentary protection. An escalade by the besieger
was the most common form of taking a city, a problem easily solved by raising the
height of the walls. Naturally, as the technology evolved from stone shot to
iron shot from cannon cast in a single piece, the defence of a city or town
became problematic. Such weapons inspired fear to collapse a city’s resistance
as witnessed by Charles VII of France capture of sixty towns in one year.
this, urban centres thickened their walls as an improvement and it also facilitated
the placement of its own artillery and having guns than an enemy could be
sufficient to frustrate a besieger. However simple the solution it did require
an inordinate amount of time and expense leaving many cities content to make
small scale repairs.
into four quarters, the defence of each sector became the reasonability of the guilds
located there. This worked well for a time as guild members knew their neighbours
and were ever vigilant towards strangers, yet extreme vigilance proved
difficult for protracted periods. Day and night time watches needed to be
maintained and prepared for an occasional expedition outside its walls. Guilds
were also responsible to spend time on weapons drill and tournaments were
organized to foster a level of rivalry among the guilds and appeal to the
social interests of the community. These were for the most part shooting
competitions with bow or crossbow and for the urban elite there were mounted
By the first half of the 15th century, economic prosperity meant a growth in population of urban centres producing more apprentices and journeymen. Yet not all guilds grew equally leaving some quarters with less manpower than others. To fill the deficit, bands of mercenaries could be hired to replace the local citizenry for the duty of watch or the expeditions outside the walls. Between 1414 and 1454, Danzig found difficulties to keep its citizen soldiers from deserting their musters and lists.
abreast of the technological advances coupled with the economic and social
changes the ability of cities and towns to defend itself quickly eroded, but
viewing the greater picture their rivals suffered no less.
Application to a campaign system
The older DBA2.2 did include a campaign system for 2 to 6 players. Each player controlled a realm consisting of three cities, one of which one served as its capital. The number of recruits raised for each campaign season depended on the number of cities in your possession. The attacker had an option to challenge an opponent on the field or besiege one of his cities. Victory on the field or cities captured generated prestige points.
A campaign game set in the 15th century should offer possible conflicts between the Bishoprics, the state, cities and the noble families. There are some campaign systems done earlier but these would need to be expanded to allow conflict situations to be generated at different levels. The possibilities surrounding the North German States to include Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Russia will prove an interesting challenge.
Revised 26 October 2020
in 15th-century Germany, Britannica.com
Defence in Later Medieval Germany, D. Eltis, Nottingham Medieval Studies