Tuesday 16 April 2024

William and the Duchy of Normandy

Battle of Mortemer 1054

During the early reign of William, Duke of Normandy, King Henry I of France, once an ally, turned on William in an attempt to curtail the rapid expansion of his domain and in a two-prong attack, King Henry confronted William while the king’s brother, Odo, swept through east Normandy, putting villages and crops to the torch. Odo plundered the town of Mortemer (County of Eu) and spent the night there. The following morning, Robert, Count of Eu, surprised the French by assaulting the town at dawn, defeating them and capturing Odo and other nobles. 

The refight.

To replay the battle of Mortemer with DBA3, a few rules were added to have play follow as close to historical events. 


The town of Mortemer is four times the standard size of a BUA and is positioned in the centre of the board. Robert de Eu deploys his troops in four groups and positions these 6BW from the town perimeter. French deployment in the town is random; a die is cast for each element and is placed in one of the six zones. French elements are not in contact with one another.


The attack began in the pre-dawn hours and ended, according to one source, at 3 pm (15.00 hrs.). If the battle took place during the harvest season, daylight hours would be 0600 to 1800 hrs. Using the Time Scale on page 2, the battle ending at 15.00 would equate to 36 turns. To speed the game and add tension, we used the ‘variable time’ house rule suggested by Stevie. Using a standard card deck (number cards only), one card is drawn at the completion of a full turn. The game ends when the score reaches 36. 

Sequence of play. 

Dawn 0500 – 0600 hrs. (four turns)

One hour before daylight, Robert de Eu’s troops may move a maximum of 1BW per turn (no road bonus). Their direction is aided by the fires set to buildings by the town’s folk. Where the fires are set is determined by a die cast each turn. French troops in that zone are roused from their sleep and may begin normal movement on the following turn as per rule set (read movement in town). No cards are drawn during the pre-dawn phase. Sunrise takes place on turn five permitting normal movement and a card drawn for elapsed time. 

Note, At the start of the game, all French mounted are dismounted and fight as spearmen. Remounting each element cost +1 pip and must take into account enemy TZ, and command distance.   

Battle 0600 – 1500 hrs.

At the end of turn four, the French are fully alerted to the surprise attack making all elements eligible to move as per rule book. At the end of the French turn, a card is drawn to determine the amount of time which has passed.

Note: the interior of the town is considered rough ground affecting movement and command distance. Movement along tracks is considered open ground but offers no road bonus.


Norman (defender)

1 x Robert, Count of Eu (3Kn), 3 x milites (3Kn), 3 x milites (4Bd), 2 x Bretons (Cv), 2 x archers (3Bw) or spearmen (Sp), 1 x archers (Ps).  

French (attacker)

1 x Odo of France (3Kn), 3 x milites (3Kn), 3 x milites (4Bd), 2 x milites (3Kn), 2 x spearmen (Sp), 1 x archers (3Bw). All mounted are dismounted at start of game.  

Victory conditions.

Norman eliminates more elements than lost and may claim a minor victory.

Normans eliminate twice many elements as lost, counting as a major victory.

French must escape the confines of Mortemer before mid-day (36 turns); all knights saved is considered a victory. 

Animated presentation.

Battle ofMortemer can be followed from the 12.30 mark of the video presentation by History Marche.

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