Author Topic: Dixmude 1489 AD  (Read 1511 times)

Erpingham

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Dixmude 1489 AD
« on: April 12, 2020, 03:18:44 PM »
Name of the Battle and Date : Dixmude (modern Diksmuide), 13th June 1489

Protagonists (opposing nations and generals)
Flemish rebels : Georges Piccanet (?).  French contingent Denys de Morbecke
Anglo-Imperialist : Giles Daubeney, Lord Lieutenant of Calais; Henry Lovell, Lord Morley

Numbers if known  or a reasonable estimate
Flemish : approx. 4000-5000, inc approx. 600 French crossbowmen, extensive artillery.
Anglo-Imperialist : 1800 archers, 600 German pikemen, 300 horse, 6 guns (not used in the battle), naval support (ditto).  Dixmude had a garrison of 1400, some of whom may have participated.

The quotations with the title of and chapter and verse of original sources.

The Capitaynes folowynge hys device, beseged a litle walled toune, called Dipenuew, to whome came. iiii. M. Flemvnges with vitayle and artillary, sent from Philip Mounseur. They layed siege on the Northsyde of the toune in a marishe grounde then beyng drye, and so depely dyched their campe, and so highly trenched it, on whiche trenche they layed their ordinaunce, that it was in maner impossible to entre into their campe, or to do them any displeasure or dammage. The kynge of Englande was dayly advertised of these doynges, whiche nothing lesse desyred then to have the English pale and territory, environed [surrounded] with French fortresses. For he perceaved well that if the Frenchemen gate Dipenewe, they would afterward assaile Newport and Gravelynge, and cosequently, what \v force and what with corruption of rewardes, their purpose was to have the possession of duke Philip, and all Flaunders, whiche shoulde not be to the profile of hym nor hys subjectes. Wherfore this. v. yere, sodeinly with great expedicion he sent over to the lord Dawbeney to Caleys, the lord Morley with a Crewe of valiaunt archers and souldiours, to the number of a. M. men, with prevy [secret] instruccions what they shoulde do. When they were laded, they published and sayed that they came to defende the English pale, if the Frenchemen or Flemynges would attempt any mastryes there: But their enterprise was all otherwise. For on a Tuesdaye at the shuttyng of the gates at nyghte, the lorde Dawbeney. chefetayne of the army, the lorde Morley, Syr James Tyrrell, Capitayne of Guysnes, Syr Henry Willoughby, Syr Gylbert Talbot, syr Homfrey Talbot, Marshall of Caleys, and divers other knightes and Esquyers, and other of the garrison of Hammes. Guysnes and Caleys, to the numbre of two. M. men or there aboute, issued prevely oute of Caleys, and passed the water of Gravelynge in the mornynge be tymes, and left there for a stale and to kepe the passage syr Henrey Talbot with. vi. skore archers, and came to Newporte, where they founde the soveraygiie of Flanders with. vi. C. Almaynes, and there they commoned and paused that nyght.
On the next day as they came secretly toward Dipinew (se y chauce) at a place of execacion, nere the high waye was a Gauntoys (which was come out of the army for a spye, and apprehended by them of Dipenew) led to hangyng, which emongest the Englishmen knew syr lames Tyrrell, and called to hym for comfort and succoure, promisynge hym that if he woulde save hys lyfe, he woulde guyde theim where they shoulde entre on the Gauntoys, to their honour and advauntage, and he woulde be the first assaylaunt of all the company. When hys promes was regarded, after request made to the Borough masters and capitaynes of the toune, he-was perdoned but not delivered. The next daye in y mornyng, after they had ordred their army, their guyde conveyghed theim out at the Southgate of the toune by a high banke set with willowes,' so that the Gauntoysses coulde not wel espie them, and so secretly came to the ende of the campe of their enemyes and there paused. The lorde Daubeney commanded all men to sende their horses & wagons backe, but the lord Morley sayde he woulde ryde tyll he came to handstrokes (but he was deceaved) so they passed on tyll they came to a lowe bancke and no depe dyche, where their ordinaunce laye, and there the archers shote altogether every man an arrowe, and so full prostrate to the ground, their enemyes discharged their ordinaunce all atones [at once], and overshot them. The archers roase and shot agayn, and bet [beat] them from their ordinauce. The Almaynes lept over the dyche with their morishe pykes, the Englishmen in the forefront waded the dyche, and were holpen up by the Almaynes, and set on their enemies, and slew and toke many prisoners. The other Englishmen hasted by the cawsey to entre in at the Northgate of the campe, where the lord Morley being on horsbacke in a ryche coate was slayne with a gonne. When his death was knowen, euery man kylled hys prisoner and slewe all such as did withstad them to the number of. viij. M. men, in somuch that of. ii. M. that came out of Bruges (as the Flemysh chronicle reporteth) there came not home an hundred. There were slayne in the sayd place two chief capitaynes, George Peccanet, and Anthony Nyewnhome. On the English parte was slayn the lord Morley, and not an hundred moo. The Englishmen toke their ordinaunce and sent it to Newport with al their spoyle and great horses. And by the waye, hearyng certayne Frencheme to be at Ostend, they made thetherward, but the Frenchmen fled, and so they burned parte of the tonne, and came agayne to Newport, where the lord Dawbeney left all the Englishmen that were hurt or wounded, and caryed with hym the dead corpus of the lorde Morley, and buryed it honorably at Caleys. Thys felde was profitable to the Englishmen, for they that went forth in clothe, came home in sylke, and they that went out on foote, came home on great horsses, suche is the chaunce of victory. 

The V Yere of Henry VII, Hall’s Chronicle 1805, p445-6

And in the said yere of kyng Henry the vijth My Lorde Dawbeney, leeftenaunt of Caleys under the kyng our Soveraygne lord, made a Journey unto Dikesmewth in fflaunders with a ffelisship ; and there lay at Seege bifore Dikesmewth V. Ml. and moo of fflemmynges and ffrensshe men in a strong felde, doble diched and pavest and strongly gunned, The whiche by reason was strong Inough to haue kept out XX ml men of warre; at the whiche feeld my said lord Dawbeney, leeftenaunt of Caleys, lept downe of his horse and went a fote, with my lord Morley, and with other good knyghtes, gentilmen and yomen unto the nombre of xviij C. Englisshmen, and iiij or v C. Almayns and fflemynges, the which helde upon the kyng of Romayns part, the whiche were with my said lord leeftenaunt. And there my lord waded thorough the diches unto the arme pittes, and all his ffelisship with hym. In somoche that my lord lakked dyvers of his men of warre, the whiche were drowned in the diches goyng over. And with thoo that he had he sette upon the fHemynges and ffrensshemen, and discomfette them, and kilde aboue xxxviiij C, beside them that were drowned of their partie. And of Englisshmen of our partie were not past C. slayn and drowned. But my lord Morley was slayn with a gonne of their partie. And there my said lorde leeftenaunt toke many Riall [royal?] gonnes and other ordenaunces, and brought at home with hym to Caleis; and came home mayde ayen in the spite of all fflaunders, and in the spite of the lorde Cordes^ and of all his ffelisship, the whiche were nombred to xiiij or XV Ml, men of warre, beside them that were kild on the ffelde.
Appendix II Chronicles of London By Charles Lethbridge Kingsford, 1905, p279
 


Commentary
Following a recent addition to our battles series of a siege, here is another common medieval action – relieving a siege.  Here, we get a glimpse of the English strategic objective and their general secrecy, allowing them to deploy their force before superior French forces in theatre could intervene.  On this occasion, the plan came together and the English and their allies come out of this as military competent and, at the end of the day, personally wealthy and with a new artillery park.  However, a change in the political situation a few months later meant it was all for nothing.
We might note here that Dixmude is not under close siege.  It can get messages out and there is no indication it is short of provisions.  In fact, the rebel siege operation is not strong enough in a field sense to tackle the relief force and defend against sallies from the garrison at the same time, so sensibly stays behind its fortification.
The relief force has not, however, come to make some symbolic chivalric relief.  They are there to break the siege by force.  Armed with secret intelligence, Daubeney determines on a two-pronged attack.  The main force will make a frontal assault, shot in by archery.  Meanwhile a second force of dismounted men-at-arms will sneak behind the fort, cross the water filled ditches and assault the other side.  The English archers lead the attack, using the cunning ploy of ducking when the enemy artillery shoots, then getting up and shooting the gunners as they attempt to reload.  The German pikes then assault head on and, when they’ve gained the rampart, pull the English archers up to help clear the camp.  Flemish resistance has been divided by Daubeney’s assault, which also makes it across the rampart.  The Flemings give up at this point and are cut to pieces as they flee.  The French (Molinet claims they can be identified by their ensigns, so still in their units) attempt to surrender.  Unfortunately, the English have lost a commander and they recall the massacre of English archers at St Aubyn the previous year by the French, so kill them all by way of revenge.  Molinet does suggest the English took 800-900 Flemish prisoners though.

There is some degree of confusion over casualties.  Hall gives 8000 Flemings (out of a force of 4000, so that figure is corrupt), of whom 1900 are from Bruges.  London has 1900 Flemish dead altogether, not counting those who drowned running away.  Molinet counts 2,500 Flemish dead and 600 French prisoners killed, who may be additional to this figure.  2,500 is, of course, 1900 + 600, so we may actually be looking at a Flemish-derived figure of 1900 doing the rounds being used in different ways.  Anglo-Imperial losses were clearly smaller.  Molinet reckoned 5-600.  London has less than a hundred.  These are both fairly routine numbers; the winner has miraculously low casualties.  The loser has to acknowledge his side lost more but makes it clear it was a tough fight.  Molinet’s figure is about 20% of his tally of the allied army, which isn’t impossible given an attack on a fortification but may be a bit high.  We know the English had wounded, as Hall says so.  We also have a remarkable story preserved which tells the story of a common English archer recorded by John Writhe, Garter King at Arms, in A Memoir Of The Court Of Henry Vii (folio 56v)

And also it is not to be forgoten, but to by had in ramenbrance, the goode courage of an Englyshe yoman called John Person, whiche was somtymes a baker of Coventre; whiche John Person, after that a gowne had borne away his foote by the small of the legge (yet that notwithstonding), what setting and what kneling, shotte after many of his arows. And when the Frenshe men fledde and his fellowes ° ware in the chase, he cried to one off his fellowes and saide: "Have thow thise vj arawes that I have lefte and folow thow the chase, for I may not", the whiche John Person died within few dayes aftir, on whose saulle Gode have mercy.

Writhe also records Sir James Tyrell was wounded in the leg by a crossbow quarrel.

So there we have it.  An interesting example of that medieval strategic staple, lifting a siege and also a class of action surprisingly familiar to a late medieval commander – storming a field fortification.


  • Anthony Clipsom

Duncan Head

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Re: Dixmude 1489 AD
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2020, 03:37:04 PM »
Very good, Anthony, thanks.
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Mick Hession

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Re: Dixmude 1489 AD
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2020, 04:31:44 PM »
Excellent. Thanks Anthony.

Cheers
Mick
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Dave Knight

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Re: Dixmude 1489 AD
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2020, 08:52:24 PM »
Great.  Another one added to my must play one day list😎

Dave Knight

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Re: Dixmude 1489 AD
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2020, 07:18:10 AM »
I was not aware of this campaign.  It would suit my Wars of the Roses figures.  Are there any secondary  sources worth getting hold of?  My Google search yielded a few additional details but it would be good to read something more in depth if it exists.

Also a chance to get my Hinchliffe Lansknects on the table😁.

Erpingham

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Re: Dixmude 1489 AD
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2020, 08:38:32 AM »
Are there any secondary  sources worth getting hold of?  My Google search yielded a few additional details but it would be good to read something more in depth if it exists.

Not aware of anything.  It tends to be mentioned in a few lines.  You'll have read this as it comes up on google, which is the largest account I found.  Armed with the originals, you can see where it all comes from :)
Quote
Also a chance to get my Hinchliffe Lansknects on the table😁.

Yes, a rare combination of landsknechts and longbows.  Be interesting test of rules on storming ramparts and on morale - the Flemings are quite determined until the enemy breach the defences, then give way.  Sorting morale classes and whether you need rules triggering morale penalties if either or both attacking forces enter the camp might be a challenge for any refight.
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Erpingham

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Re: Dixmude 1489 AD
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2020, 10:22:05 AM »
As a minor piece of information, Ludwig von Eyb in " The Story and Deeds of the Honorable and Noble Knight Willwolt von Schaumberg" says Wilwolt (who was in the service of Maximillian in the area but not at the battle) observed the burial of 3300 bodies in two grave pits after the battle.  Unfortunately, von Eyb's epic doesn't seem to be available in English because Wilwolt had quite a military career in the late 15th century (though there is a modern German critical edition).  There is a summary of Wilwolt's career in (Mrs) Henry Cust Gentlemen Errant.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2020, 10:28:35 AM by Erpingham »
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