Tuesday, August 27, 2019

18th August, Newark, Nottinghamshire

Another Big Weekend: Part Two

Saturday at Bosworth was followed by a 2-car trip to Newark Showground for the second Partizan of the year.   The 28mm Edgcote game is sufficiently big that it and the stands won't go into one car unless it's a 4x4 or van.

(Northampton Battlefields Society at the other Partizan 2019)

But I think, generally, the contributions we make to the Partizans' History Zones is worth it and it is good to see the Society of Ancients there alongside the Lance & Longbow and Pike and Shot ... and to see Naseby making a modest appearance alongside the Battlefields Trust and Newark's Civil War Centre.

Partizan's history zone is a winning concept and is always one of the busier thoroughfares.  It would be completed by a few more 'tie-in' games and some reenactment or living history (but the show is full already so I guess this is just a vain wish list) ...

(The History Zone at The Other Partizan 2019)

It was a great show.  And it was busy.  Thriving.

Our main purpose, of course, was to promote Edgcote and the 550th anniversary of this key event in the histories of England, Northamptonshire, Yorkshire and Wales.

By the way - and in case you look it up on the internet - the battle was fought on the 24th July 1469 (not 2 days later, as many books and pages which do not use primary sources will tell you*) ...

Edgcote pictures

(the battle of Edgcote at Partizan 2019)

(Humphrey Stafford's contingent at Edgcote - will he stay or will he go?)

(Edgcote 1469: rebel reinforcements under Gates and Parr)

(On his way to the action?  The earl of Warwick somewhere in central England)

(On his way to the action?  King Edward somewhere in central England)

(In the thick of it: Henry Tudor stuck as a guest of the earl of Pembroke)

(Edgcote 1469: there would be no negotiaing and no quarter given) 

Although we were mostly using the wargame display as an interpretative tool in the morning, in the afternoon we had a full(ish) play-through of the battle.  

Confident that his superiority in archers would dictate the course of the engagement, Robin of Redesdale stood firm on the East Hill, just sending sufficient archers forward to the watercourse as a welcoming party.

(Edgcote at the other Partizan: Robin of Redesdale is able to bring up his reinforcements) 

Gates and Parr were quickly on the scene and pushed up to cover the flank.

The earl of Pembroke, meanwhile, mounted up his personal division to clear the archers and brave an uphill challenge to Robin's Yorkshiremen.  

The attack became fragmented, and although Stafford joined the battle, he was not in line during the opening phases (so the rest of the Royalists took the brunt of the arrowstorm - and although many of you will know I think that that term is generally misleading and overused, in this instance it was indeed more a storm than a shower).

(Edgcote at the other Partizan: the earl of Pembroke makes an uncoordinated attack) 

Taken one-by-one by a solid, mutually supporting line, each of Pembroke's divisions were repulsed.

(Edgcote at the other Partizan: Pembroke's line fragments and retires) 

Humphrey Stafford (lord of Southwick and newly created earl of Devon) was last to arrive and gamely tried to rescue the situation.  He died in the fighting ... cut down and given no quarter.

(Edgcote at the other Partizan: Humphrey Stafford falls in the combat and is given no quarter)

This was the first deployment of my new skull-markers, which I purchased at Britcon for indicating downed commanders.  Actually (and unexpectedly) I think they need basing up to properly look the part. But, in case you think they look a bit GW, in fact they mesh perfectly with the 'dance of death' motif which is entirely contemporary with the battle and which resonates through the Welsh poetic accounts.

(Edgcote 1469: the dance of death, the dance of the earls ... the dance of the men of Doncaster)

This battle was fought out by William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, supported by Humphrey Stafford, earl of Devon, and by Robin of Redesdale, supported by sir Geoffrey Gates (of the Calais Garrison) and sir William Parr from the earl of Warwick's army.  No other forces arrived or intervened.  So a good quick battle, gamely played and fairly historical (although in 1469, Robin needed the intervention of a further force under John Clapham to swing the balance) ...

As may be evident, the battle was fought with 28mm figures using an adpapted version of Hail Caesar and the circular battlefield (inspired by the medieval wheel of fortune) has an approximate 6ft diameter.  We reckon about 2,000 men a side fought on Danesmoor in 1469.  It was a disaster for Pembroke and Devon, and the medieval nobility of South Wales was nigh on wiped out in the rout after the battle.  A dance of death indeed.

The rest of the show ...

I had a little bit of time at lunch to get some sense of the rest of the show.  

Great stuff all round although most of my break was spent chatting with Simon Miller over the 'To the Strongest' interpretation of Boudicca's last battle (sometimes called 'the battle of Watling Street'.) - I'm always interested as it features centrally in my Lost Battles of Northamptonshire talk (so 'lost' we don't even know if it was fought in Northamptonshire) and is one I attempted many year ago at History in Action (at Kirby Hall) using Armati.

(a familiar set up for the end of Boudicca's rebellion)

(The other Partizan 2019: the Britons mass for the attack)

Simon went with the Mancetter interpretation although his campaign graphic supporting the game amply demonstrated how easily it could be part of Northamptonshire's lost history.

 (Boudicca's rebellion: smoke tracks the advance of the Iceni)

Shopping wise, it has to be said, Partizan has always had very little to distract me ... it tends to be all one scale, all one style and very 'on trend'.  That's fine as, as the stand and the game and the History Zone pretty much fill the day on their own.

Next up for us is Hereward, the ever friendly local show in Peterborough.  We'll have Edgcote again, if you were thinking of dropping by ... copies of the new book, and the author on hand to sign copies.

* they almost all have the same date as they have almost all copied each other rather than checked the facts thoroughly

Monday, August 26, 2019

17th August, Bosworth, Leicestershire

Another Big Weekend: Part One

The weather forecast wasn't too bad for the first day of Bosworth's annual Medieval Festival and battle anniversary weekend.  When I arrived ahead of public admission, the site was still being fed by tractor with fresh straw but the sun was shining.

(with the Battlefields Trust at Bosworth 2019)

I was with the Battlefields Trust again, and David had asked me to bring the DBA Bosworth game as an interpretation aid and general eye-catcher. Saturday only, of course, due to how crowded 'heritage' August has now become, but it gives the stand a nice mix.

The battle was fought 22nd August 1485 and the main attraction of the festival weekend is a grand battle in the show arena each afternoon restaging a narrative of the engagement.  It is very big by the general standard for medieval pageants, and this year the artillery was particularly loud and set off car alarms in the adjacent car park.

(battle reenactment at Bosworth 2019)

(Bosworth 2019: the jester attracted a big crowd and by midday the ground was dry enough to sit on) 

(Bosworth 2019: 10 minute battles with Swoppets) 

Some pictures of the Bosworth game 

I am pleased to have inspired the Development Officer to build up a small collection of Swoppets to do his 10 minute battles with ... it is an example of the toy soldier thing going mainstream and directly follows up on the battle dioramas and demos I have done ay various shows over recent years.

I will take the DBA game along to the Conference this year as Richard has chosen Bosworth for the BattleDay in 2020 (which will be the 535th anniversary year) but it has not been out for a while and I was pleased with the look and utility of the big figures.

(Bosworth 1485: Richard's artillery)

(Bosworth 1485: Norfolk's solid line)

(Bosworth 1485: Oxford's slender line taking casualties and rallying to the standards)

The figures are 54mm/1:32 and a mix of modern plastics, old toys and metal figures by Irregular Miniatures.  The guns are actually adaptations from Irregular's 40mm range.  The flags and banners are a large size run specially printed for me by Fluttering Flags.


The weather held out for us pretty well on Saturday, the icecream vans did good business and the tent didn't blow away.

I was surprised, given the status of King Richard, these days, at the 'given' shield in the kids armour boxes in the shop ...

... instantly recognisable to historians, of course, as Rhys Ap Thomas, the man who, legend had it, smashed the king's head in with a poleaxe.  My afternoon finished however with a random shot of the king bathed in a mystical light which only my camera picked up.

(Bosworth 2019: the Sunne in Splendour shining  on the son of York)

And that was not actually the Sun-day ... on Sunday I would be in Newark.

Friday, August 23, 2019

10th August, Manchester

Round 9 of the 2019 Society of Ancients UK DBA League

Turn out was a little bit down at Britcon this year.  I'm not sure why the National Convention's DBA round has not 'caught on' to the same extent as the other League tournaments - although, undoubtedly, it is disappointing only to be playing 5 games when 6 or even 7 seem eminently possible (the other events at Britcon have an evening sesion so the rest of the venue plays on well beyong our early finish).

This year, for a theme, tournament organiser Simon chose The world of Rome without the Romans (who would have ruled the ancient world 2000 years ago if the Romans had no longer been around in the 1st century BC and earlt 1st century AD?) ... a sort of runner-up empire play off.

Now I have long been fascinated by the Black Sea Greeks and their Bosporan, Scythian and Sarmatian enemies, neighbours and allies: such a fascinating mix of cultures.  Such a lot of gold.

So much so, indeed, that, some years ago, I had bought the figures for a Scythian/Black Sea Armati army but had then never got round to painting it.  Quite a few of the first issue Falcon Figures (now rekindled by Lurkio).  So, in an effort to get a moribund project moving again, and for it's nice mix of classical and steppe warrior types, I chose Bosporan.

It turned out to be a popular choice and the top army pick - I guess for that mix of low aggression and littoral terrain (yes, all that nonsense) and available knights ... although my mix was far from optimal thinking, or so it seemed.

It's a very colourful army and I pretty much got it done although, not for the first time, it went to war with the bases still very plain.  I'll tart them up a bit more, then do a special feature.

These were my games.

(DBA version 3: the Bosporans go to Britcon)

There are four of them as I made a satnav error and got stuck a few blocks away from the venue while Frank played (and won) the first game.  I managed another 2 wins and didn't do any littoral landings despite defending all through.

So a parr performance for the army and respectably mid-table for me.  I liked the way the army played although it never really got the whole 'rub of the green' thing going.

Colin did very well with another of the Bosporans and there was a great finish by local buddies (and occasional DBAers), Chris and Patrick, with their otherwise unfancied Meroitic Kushites.  The other popular choice was Commagene.

The whole event was pretty big as usual, and there's plenty of trade around the main hall.  There's really only the Manchester-based demo team from the Lance & Longbow Society there to make it a 'show' - which seems a bit of a missed opportunity ... then again, all the space is taken up with tournament tables and these always seem to sell out so the odd formula does seem to work.

(Britcon 2019: round and about)

(Tim Porter presented prizes on behalf of our hosts, the BHGS)

A splendid day, although, as I was dining with players from other games, I had a long wait before going out for the end of the evening.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

2nd to 4th August Shrivenham

 Edgcote goes to the Technology School

At the beginning of August I was fortunate enough to be invited to put on the Edgcote game as part of a weekend event at the UK Defence Academy, Shrivenham.

(Heavy Metal at the Defence Academy)

Most of the time was spend trying out Army simulations, looking at tanks and weapons and playing in games based on contemporary challenges ... weapons procurement, stress in the Middle East, rescue missions.

But we also got to do classic piracy in the Med, an Old West gunfight and 2 games of the Wars of the Roses battle.

(all kinds of wargame in all sorts of periods)


(Edgcote 1469 at the UK Defence Academy)

The two games of Edgcote could ot have been more different.  In the first, both sides' reserves were slow to command (indeed we felt, rather historically, that Humphrey Stafford had clearly chosen not to get involved at all) but Herbert himself still got stuck in - trying a subtle flanking move with his mounted option (and nearly getting the edge before bouncing off) ...

In the second game, Hail Caesar's  command mechanism brought the reserves of both sides up more rapidly, while Herbert mounted a plucky assault on Robin of Redesdale's centre - driving in the archers, punching across the river and causing the rebel centre to withdraw.

(William Herbert mounts upand charges the best men in Wales into the rebel centre)

Meanwhile there was a supporting engagement on the flank between Stafford, Gates and Parr, who tried to gain advantage from manoeuvre.

Stafford took the worst of the attrition on the flank while, in the centre, Lord Herbert felt so badly worn down that he declined to exploit his defeat of Redesdale ... rather pulling back to regain some stamina before charging again.

This probably cost the royalists the game as in the lull in fighting, John Clapham arrived with the Vanguard of Warwick's main army (although, as historically, they actually turned out to be the Northampton rabble shoutin 'a Warwick!' and displaying the earl's colours - as well as their own wild rat flag) ...

It was a relatively weak force but was in the right place at the right time.  Shooting support from Conyers and Willoughby gave them a sufficient edge to break the otherwise much tougher Morgan clan ... while Robin himself was able to recover his position in the line and gave some telling volleys into Lord Herbert's knights.

This ended up probably the most comprehensive victory we have seen: Herbert and Stafford's forces were all engaged, and finished broken or shaken right across the field.  

Richard Herbert fell in the charge, asked for quarter and was mercilessly killed by the Welsh.  Stafford also fell but was escorted, wounded, back to the camp (where he was subsequently captured and killed - thereby cheating the lynch mob in Bridgwater!) ... William Herbert, earl of Pembroke was killed on the battlefield and Henry Tudor escaped.