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)