Sunday 28 February 2021

Battle of Castillon 1453

The Battle of Castillon ended in a decisive victory for the French and ended the Hundred Years War as its final battle. This took place on 17 July 1453 in the south of France on the banks of the Dordogne River, between the armies of Henry VI of England and Charles VII of France.


Having expelled the English from Normandy in 1450, Charles VII made plans to liberate the southern region of Guyenne. Bordeaux fell to the French in 1451, but an English army, commanded by John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, retook the city a year later much to the relief of the citizens of Bordeaux who had enjoyed prosperity through trade with England. Soon the rest of the province followed and rebelled against the King of France making the reconquest of Guyenne for Charles VII a high priority.

The summer of 1453, two French marshals, André de Lohéac and Phillipe de Culant and their army corps marched through the Dordogne Valley to reach Castillon Castle on 13 July and lay siege to it. Expecting an English relief force, pickets were placed not far from Castillon Castle at the Priory of Saint-Flaurent and to screen the French army from the north, Breton cavalry took up a position 1.5 km from the main body. To serve as its camp, the army fortified a ridge, complete with entrenchments and ramparts not far from the castle and facing the Dordogne River.

Sir John Talbot, aware that the French invaded Guyenne in three columns, would strike while their forces were dispersed. The arrival of the French at Castillon made it a primary target and preparations were made.

The English force of nearly 6,000 were to be reinforced with a contingent of Gascons numbering 4,000, yet with only the advance guard of 2,000, Talbot attacked at down on the 17 July surprising the franc-archers positioned at the Priory of St. Laurent. After a brisk fight, the French fled seeking the protection of the entrenched camp. Informed by local residents that the French were leaving their camp, Talbot seized on the opportunity to catch them withdrawing and attacked at once.  


The French entrenched camp is positioned on a rise 600 yards from the Dordogne River. Protecting three sides of the camp is a palisade of logs and enclosing the rear of the camp is the Lidoire, a tributary of the Dordogne River. To the south of the camp, the open plain is relatively unobstructed but rises gradually to the French position. The camp is three times long as it is wide and faced with felled logs behind which are the French troops and artillery deployed for battle.

Opposing forces.

The English army comprises of 800 to 1,000 mounted, 4,000 to 5,000 infantry and are aided by a contingent of Gascon infantry numbering 3000 - 4,000. Seemingly a large force, Talbot reached Castillon on the morning of the 17th with only the advance guard (+/- 2000) and immediately attacked the French garrisoning the priory. Learning later that the French were retreating, Talbot prepares to engage the enemy with his small force and add reinforcements as they arrived on the field.

To deploy on table:

1 x John Talbot (4Bd), 1 x men-at-arms (4Bd), 1 x archers (4Lb/Mtd-4Lb), 4 x archers (4Lb), 1 x billmen (4Bd). Board edge west of the English deployment zone: 4 x Gascon crossbowmen (4Cb or Ps).

The French army, commanded by Jean Bureau, have 6,000 troops and 300 cannon defending the entrenched position and positioned north are the 1,000 Breton cavalry in reserve under the command of André de Lohéac. Hearing of the English approach, camp followers and pages leading animals vacate the camp for the ensuing battle and Lohéac is alerted to the English approach.

To deploy in camp:

1 x Jean Bureau (4Bd), 1 x gendarmes (4Bd), 4 x France archers (3Bw), 1 x garrison voulgiers (4Bd), 1 x handgunners (Ps), 2 x culverins (Art).

Start anywhere at French board edge, the Lidoire is fordable: 2 x Breton cavalry {1 x Kn + 1 x Cv}.


The French remove 1 element of franc-archers to represent those lost at the priory.

French artillery reduce shooting factor to 2 as pieces are dispersed along the camp.

The Gascon contingent march on the board as of turn one.

Which turn the Breton cavalry arrive can be decided by a die cast or better still, the French player to notes which turn they appear. They are an independent contingent, therefore are not affected by command distance, but movement must use the French pip score.

French Wiki, La Battaille de Castillon

Wagner, John A. (2006). Encyclopedia of the Hundred Years War. Westport,

Xenophon Military History Database, Battle of Castillon (1453) (

Castillon, Harold Gerry, Slingshot 185, p. 35-36.

Over the Top, Nick Harbud, Slingshot 333, 2-12.

Board edge west of the English deployment zone: 4 x Gascon crossbowmen (4Cb or Ps), 

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Assaulting a fortified position – Castillon.

The scenario, Battle of Castillon 1453, was drafted in December, but after the posting of Formigny 1450 last month, I decided to postpone this and present Gavere instead. This actually worked well as the last issue of Slingshot had an eight-page article by Nick Harbud covering Castillon complete with an analysis of troop strength, camp size and suggestions for play using four known rules sets, DBA3 however was not one of them. Hopefully, this will be shortly corrected. A quick summary of the battle of Castillon can be found here    (link).

To use DBA3 for the Battle of Castillon there are a number of issues that need addressing, such as the size of the French camp, the terrain, the composition of both armies, the deployment of the English army, close combat around fortifications, the arrival of the Breton contingent and lastly, the artillery.  

Size of the French camp.

Depending on the source, the size of the camp varies between 700 yards x 300 yards to 500m x 200m; the larger size may be the actual perimeter which follows the hill’s irregular shape. From the photo, even the smaller size of 8BW x 3BW gives adequate room for deployment and this will be used for the tests. 

Attention is given to one camp constructed south of the Lidoire, but if one considers the number of logs required to palisade the camp, these could equally have come from the right bank of the Lidoire, thus creating a secondary site for support troops. Sources do record people and animals seeking refuge across the Lidoire. 

Size of the French forces.

Referencing the historical representation on page 14, the French Ordonnance (IV/82a) represents approximately 4050- 4800 troops, just short of the often quoted 7,000. The difference may well represent other bodies intended for siege work? Two horde (7Hd) would reach a total of 7000. 

Size of the English forces.

The English list (IV/62d) represents 5750 – 6900 troops, however, not all were present at the opening of the battle as the Gascon contingent arrived after the battle had commenced. 

Tentative list for test purposes; 1 x John Talbot (4Bd), 1 x men-at-arms (4Bd), 2 x mtd-4Lb, 3 x longbowmen (4Lb), 1 x billmen (4Bd) and the Gascon infantry of 3 x 4Cb, 1 x Ps begin their march from the board edge. 


There are some options to be considered; 1) the French deploy first as defenders and the English march on to the field, 2) the French deploy first followed by the English deployment, 3) the English deploy, then the French as they see the English approach and can make adjustments. 

Note: There is a French video of the battlefield showing the French position as seen from the English perspective. With a little imagination one could visualise the palisade, but troops behind them would be shielded from observation.


Shooting at or in close combat with defenders of a forts or city, these add a factor of +4 and camps a +2. The interior of a camp is considered good going, however the French position is atop a hill; its crest line should be defined as this will be crucial during the game. Palisades should reduce movement to 1BW when crossing.


The rule suggestions mentioned in the Slingshot article called for a reduction of artillery shooting factors and the inclusion of distance shooting for culverines or handgunners (Ps in DBA3). If one considers the placement of artillery in a camp to be treated the same manner as a fort or city (CF 2), the reduction is accounted for. 

The arrival of the Gascon contingent.

Following the action at the priory of St. Lorent on the morning of 17 July, Talbot rested his troops. Learning of the French retreat, Talbot approaches the French camp from the south. The English deploy 6BW from the French camp leaving the Gascon contingent start at the board edge. 

The arrival of the Breton contingent.

Messengers would be dispatched to reach Montauban and the Breton cavalry at first sight of the English approach. A die cast or card draw to could be used for the arrival of the Breton contingent. 

Thursday 11 February 2021

Just A Test – The Teutonic Order

 I recently finished 10 elements of German infantry as these would be needed to develop a few scenarios from the Thirteen Years War, between the Teutonic Order and Poland. Flags will be painted soon, but as the Polish were complete, I decided to run a few test games with these two. The terrain of Northern Poland, where most of the battles took place, is relatively flat but dominated by woods and marsh.   

Game one.

Both forces adopted a horn formation with lighter cavalry positioned in advance of their heavier counterparts. Infantry of both sides were held in reserve; the Polish being centrally located while the Order formed two groups also centrally positioned. Although Poland was defending, they launched an aggressive assault on the Order’s left flank. The speed and effectiveness of the Polish and Lithuanian columns became critical forcing the reserve infantry to be ordered to restore the situation. The momentum created by the Poles was unrelenting and earned them a decisive victory, 9-2.

Game two.

As defender, the Teutons changed their deployment placing equal number of infantry on both wings with a strong cavalry centre. With the light horse in support, German auxiliary troops secured both the wood on the left and the swamp on the right. Deployment of the Polish forces remained unchanged. Taking the offensive, the Teutons moved their infantry wings and centre in unison confident that any Polish threat to either flank would be kept in check. The expected breakthrough of the Polish centre however met stiff resistance sending Teutonic knights to fall back and regroup. The Polish light horse on the right, having remained idle for an hour, suddenly sprang into action to appear directly behind the Teuton centre. Caught off guard with enemy to rear and in front, a hail storm of bullets and crossbow bolts, the Teutons were hastened off the field serving the Polish another victory, 8-2.

Game three.

Again defending, the Teutonic Order deployed in deeper formations with both flanks protected by woods and marsh. The majority of the German infantry formed the left wing, the cavalry in centre leaving the right wing to be protected by a mix group of foot and mounted crossbow. The Polish deployed in their scorpion deployment with the Lithuanians forming the left horn and Polish the right. The town militia and wagons were held in reserve behind the centre.

A brisk skirmish on the Polish right announced the start of battle which quickly escalated to a general action as both sides committed more troops. Equal casualties were suffered by both that a brief respite was ordered to regroup. The battle now shifted to the centre as the Teutonic cavalry advanced on the Polish centre. Polish cavalry opened their line to allow the town militia and wagons to move through. This move halted the Teutonic advance as new orders were given to German crossbowmen to clear the way before resuming their attack. This delay was quickly snapped up as the Polish left wing resumed their attack catching the Teutons off balance. Adding to the Teutonic misery, fire from the town militia and wagons outmatched those created by Teuton crossbows. A harder fought battle but another Polish victory, 8-5.

Game three developed into a better match as casualties were even for both sides after an hour of battle (four turns, 3-3). The Teutonic assault on the Polish centre lost momentum to the effective defense by the town militia and war wagons. Further practice is required and this will be done later this month. 

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Battle of Seckenheim, June 1462

The battle at Seckenheim was one of a number recorded during the Bavarian War of 1459-63, but this particular one decided the fate of the ‘Mainzer Stiftsfehde (Mainz Feud) which began over the succession to the seat as archbishop of Mainz. The victory earned for Frederick I, Count of the Palatine, not only territorial concessions and ransoms, but secured his position as elector.


In 1459, two candidates were vying for the vacated throne of the archbishop of Mainz and by a small majority, the position was won by Dieter von Isenburg over Adolph II of Nassau. As archbishop, Dieter joined the growing anti-Palatinate alliance disputing Frederick I dubious seizure of the position as Prince Elector of the Palatine. This led both sides seeking battle and on the field at Pfeddersheim, this ended in disaster for the anti-Palatinate alliance and the loss of the archbishop of Mainz for Dieter von Isenburg. That position would now be filled by Adolph II of Nassau, yet in an attempt to turn his fortune around and reclaim his position, Dieter sought the help of Frederick I offering lands as an incentive and lucrative income sources.

Angered by this, Pope Pius II had both Dieter von Isenburg and Frederick I excommunicated in early 1462. Adding to this, the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III, declared war on the elector and the former archbishop. Other nobles, not wishing to let an opportunity slip by formed a coalition in support of the emperor and pope, these were Ulrich V, Count of Württemberg, Louis I, Count of Palatine-Zweibrücken, Charles I, Margrave of Baden-Baden and George of Baden, the Bishop of Metz.

Marshalling their forces to invade the Palatine, the coalition quickly mustered 6 – 8,000 men in June. Invading the lands between the Rhine and the Neckar Rivers, they laid waste to the region as they marched onward to Heidelberg, the Elector’s capital. Learning that Frederick I was out of the country, they would continue their destruction before marching on the capital. The information however, proved a ruse by Frederick serving to catch the coalition forces dispersed.

On the morning of the 30th, Frederick I found the coalition army away from their fortified camp at St. Leon and skirting between marauding bands and their fortified camp, Frederick I reached a position near Neckarhausen. Deploying his cavalry in echelon and positioning his infantry in nearby woods he awaited the arrival of the enemy.

Seeing Palatine troops deployed, the coalition forces quickly formed two lines of crossbow-armed cavalry interspersed with heavy cavalry. After some skirmishing, both cavalry forces charged each other, During the ensuing cavalry battle, Frederick’s infantry emerged from the woods to encircle the coalition troops. Only 300 cavalry were able to break through the encirclement, but well over 400 nobles and their retinue were captured and notably three of the coalition leaders, Charles I, Margrave of Baden-Baden, Ulrich V, Count of Württemberg, and George of Baden, the Bishop of Metz, earning Frederick I generous ransoms and an end to the hostilities.


From the map you will note the area is heavily wooded and oat fields abound between the villages of Grenzhof, Edingen, and Neckar-hausen.  The road, Speyerer Strasse from Ladenburg runs north to south and should be placed close to the board edge. The Neckar River (waterway) need not be placed if using the smaller game board.

Map: Förderverein historisches Seckenheim – Schlachtbei Seckenheim

The opposing forces.

Both forces use the Medieval German list of IV/13c with some changes. Sources give the coalition forces 6 – 8,000, however, most of the infantry are pillaging near their fortified camp at St. Leon with all the cavalry to engage in similar activity further west..

Charles I, Margrave of Baden-Baden is in command and each element of knights should represent one of the four nobles. The recommended deeper formation of knights (6Kn) should be replaced with an element of 3Kn and Cv.

The Palatinate cavalry were still out-numbered by the coalition forces but do have Swiss mercenaries and peasants hidden in the wood. Composition of each force will be posted next with test results.

MainzDiocesan Feud (Wiki)

Battle ofSeckenheim (Wiki)

Schlacht bei Seckenheim (German)