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), 

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