Sunday 27 September 2020

Fine Tuning the Medieval German Army List

The last Medieval German list of 1494-1518 simulates the Imperial armies that fought against France in the Low Countries and the Venetians in Norther Italy. Unfortunately, the same list cannot be effectively be used for the internal conflicts between the city states, ducal forces or those fielded by the Church.

The DBM army list for the Medieval German Army does allow for this with armies representing the feudal provinces, city states, or those led by clerical commanders. This took time to recalculate the number of elements for each troop type and note the technical changes in tactics and their weapons use. 

Below are three proposed lists that will be used for an upcoming campaign set in Northern Germany, the time frame is not set buy should end by the first quarter of the 16th century. 

The Medieval German 1494-1518

1 x General & Guard (3Kn), 1 x Burgundian Gendarmes (3Kn) or Landsknechts (4Pk or 3Bd), 2 x Knights (6Kn), 1 x Crossbow cavalry (Cv), 4 x Landsknechts (4Pk), 2 x Handgunners (Ps), 1 x bombards (Art).  

Knights (3Kn or 6Kn)

The double based element simulates the deep formation used by German heavy cavalry, at its head were the armoured nobles with rear ranks filled by lesser armoured men-at-arms. Eltis mentions the nobility organising themselves in associations and holding exclusive tournaments which maintained their martial skills but underscored their separation from other classes including the urban elite. After 1450, German heavy cavalry could form separate formations having the less armoured troops in cavalry (Cv) units. This will be listed as an option for those troops. 

Crossbow cavalry (Cv)

In Slingshot 209 “The Medieval German Issue”, Viljana writes mounted crossbow performed a number of tasks which were better suited for light cavalry (LH), DBA3 lists them as cavalry (Cv). The difference may come from the German manual (Seldneck) describing them as capable of ‘falling on an enemy’s flank’. DBR have crossbow armed LH(S) for French, Italian and German Minor States of the same time period. The best solution is to them as either Cv or LH. 

Crossbow (4Cb) and archers (Ps)

Tournaments were held to test one’s skill with the crossbow or bow and this is well documented in “A Towns Defence in Medieval Germany”. Such weapons were an individual’s property and were required to be presented at the general mustering. Units so armed could still be found among the armies raised by cities and the church.

Mercenary pikemen (4Pk) and Feudal retainers (7Hd)

By 1450, the pike had replaced the spear throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Feudal retainers are similarly armed but lack weapon skills and drill to be classed as 4Pk, so are horde. Eltis relates the expense of hiring mercenaries and campaign rules should reflect their rapacious behaviour. The quantity of mercenary pikemen varies among the three proposed lists with a few electing to use the Heerban or city militia as a viable alternative.    

War waggons (WWg)

The German northern plain would be ideal terrain for their use, but the increase use of artillery would certainly lessen their use on the battlefield. The DBM list give feudal and clerical armies the use of war waggons and will remain so for this revised list. 

City militia (4Cb)

Deploying city militia for operations far from their home would risk a high rate of desertion and should be a factor to be considered when developing a campaign rule set. Feudal commanders would be less affected as handguns replaced the crossbow, but others were slow to make the change clerical and city led armies).

Field Guns on wheeled carriages (Art)

Many cities and town did strengthen their fortifications with the addition of artillery pieces especially those fortunate enough to have their own foundries. With such resources it would be tempting to raise the quantity of models to two.

Conflicts Within The Empire 

Using the DBM German list as a starting point, this can serve to create three possible lists ending with the reign of Maximilian. These are feudal (minor German states), city (independent city states) and clerical (Bremen, Utrecht). This would greatly aid the development of historical scenarios or a campaign set in empire during the period of the Italian Wars.

Feudal Army 1440 - 1518

1 x General (3Kn), 2 x feudal knights (6Kn or 3Kn or Cv), 1 x feudal mounted crossbowmen (Cv), 1 x feudal retainers pikemen (7Hd), 1 x feudal archers (Ps), 1 x mercenary handgunners (Ps), 4 x mercenary pikemen (4Pk), 1 x feudal bombards (Art)

City State Army 1440 - 1518

1 x General (6Kn or 3Kn), 2 x clerical knights (6Kn or Cv), 1 x mercenary mounted crossbowmen (Cv), 2 x city militia crossbowmen with pavises (4Cb), 2 x mercenary pikemen (4Pk), 2 x Heerban pikemen (7Hd), 1 x mercenary handgunners (Ps), 1 x city bombards (Art)

Clerical Army 1440 - 1518

1 x General (6kn or 3Kn), 2 x clerical knights (6Kn or Cv), 1 x mercenary mounted crossbowmen (Cv), 2 x city militia crossbowmen with pavises (4Cb), 1 x city militia halberdiers (4Bd), 2 x city militia pikemen (4Pk), 1 x Heerban pikemen (7Hd), 1 x city militia handgunners (Ps), 1 x city bombards (Art)

Mercenary Army 1440 - 1518

1 x general (6Kn or 4Pk), 2 x mercenary knights (6Kn or 3Kn or Cv), 1 x mercenary mounted crossbowmen (Cv), 5 x mercenary pikemen (4Pk), 2 x mercenary handgunners (Ps), 1 x light gun (Art)


Slingshot 179, The Cavalry Wedge, Jim Webster

Slingshot 197, Late Medieval Sweden, Kent Hägglund

Slingshot 204, Russia 1425 – 1505, Michael Fredholm von Essen

Slingshot 209, The Medieval German Issue, Susanna Viljana

Slingshot 237, Medieval Polish Armies, Matt Haywood

Slingshot 239, The Hapsburg-Burgundian Army of the Netherlands, Duncan Head

Towns and Defence in Later Medieval Germany, David Eltis

Thursday 24 September 2020

Medieval German 1490 – 1515

Army list IV/13d Medieval German is also known as the Maximilian Imperial in the DBR rule book. Maximilian Imperial is a better description as it covers the campaigns of the army in France, the Low Countries and Italy. The original plan was to build to commands, each representing a minor German State such as Brandenburg, Holstein or Pomerania, however researching deeper into this subject I discovered the 13d did not suit the armies raised by the northern German States, so more figures will need painting.

In the meantime, pictured below are two commands of Imperial Germans complete with knights in their deep formations and plenty of landsknechts ready to fight the French in the Low Countries or the Venetians in northern Italy.


The commanders have the standard black double headed eagle on a yellow flag. The field of each gonfalon is split indicating Imperial service and their particular domain. The links below offer some inspiration. 

Each element of Landsknecht pikemen have one flag identifying the unit with a second their employer, the Imperial House. This follows the standard practice so Landsknecht flags posed little problem to paint. 

Useful links

Das mittelalterliche Hausbuch aus der Sammlung der Fursten von Wolfegg

Spiezer Chronik, 1484/95

Manesse codex 1310 – 1340

Thursday 3 September 2020

French Ordonnance and Italian Condotta

French Ordonnance

During the Italian wars, Swiss mercenaries formed the bulk of the infantry for which two elements of Swiss supported by Gascon skirmishers are present. In addition, French pikemen’ (7Hd) are listed representing the ‘old bands’, these were present at the Battle of Ravenna (1512). Currently, horde are on 30mm deep bases, but as this did not look right alongside the Swiss I increased their depth and added more pikemen.

Blue is the theme colour for the French uniforms, a nice contrast to the red seen on many flags. The Swiss are of Bern as can be seen with their banner and a second element carry the red/yellow of Bern with the cross of St. Denis to signify French employment. A red flag and white cross in differing shapes and sizes can be seen in many period illustrations and here they are carried by the French pikemen of Picardy, the mounted archers and an element of French knights. Anticipating the expansion of the French Ordonnance, I have flags for the Swiss of Uri and the ‘old band’ of Navarre done.

Italian Condotta

After 1405, the Republic of Venice had increased its domain by annexing the cities of Vicenza, Belluno, Feltre, Verona, Padua & Este to name a few. To bring more contrast to the ranks, the infantry represent four; Venezia, Verona, Bologna and Brescia. Spearmen and crossbow are separately based as my research found Florence as the sole candidate to field a double based unit of 8Cb at this time.

Flags were taken from the city coat of arms and uniforms reflect a similar colour combination. Lacking concrete information of the noble houses of Brescia and Verona the ‘elmetti’ carry flags of the same colour combination but in a different pattern. I did not use the ‘Lion of St. Mark’ as the banner for the general, but an alternative emblem, the cross. My plan is to expand the Condotta to 24 elements which would rectify this and include infantry from other cities.

Flags; Venezia (red ground/white cross), Verona (blue ground/yellow cross), Bologna (white ground/ red cross) and Brescia (white/blue).