Author Topic: Burgundians of Charles the Bold  (Read 695 times)

Dave Knight

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Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« on: March 29, 2021, 12:20:11 PM »
I knew he had an eclecitic mix but it seems he combined Pikes and Longbow in the same unit - according to the Osprey anyway.

Any ideas on how they operated? 

Mark G

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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2021, 12:23:01 PM »
badly in history ... real well under most rules that-over power longbows.

Think I recall hearing that they were English mercenaries.

the thing to keep in mind is the era.  its right at the tail end of the 100YW and at the dawn of the Kiel era, so its entirely unsurprising that he was trying out all of the best bits from 'then and now' as it were.

hence also all the gunpowder weapons.

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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2021, 01:16:07 PM »
Here is the original instruction

In like manner the archers with their horses, to get them
used to dismounting and drawing their bows. They must learn
how to attach their horses together by their bridles and make
them walk forward directly behind them, attaching the horses of
three archers by their bridles to the saddlebow of the page to
whose man—at—arms they belong; also to march briskly for-
wards and to shoot without breaking rank.
The pikemen must be made to advance in close formation in
front of the said archers, kneel at a sign from them, holding
their pikes lowered to the level of a horse's back so that the
archers can shoot over the said pikemen as if over a wall... The
archers must also learn to place themselves back to back in dou-
ble defence, or in a square or a circle, always with the pikemen
outside them to withstand the charge of the enemy horse, and
their horses with the pages enclosed in their midst.


Ordnance of St Maximin de Trèves, October 1473

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Dave Knight

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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2021, 01:42:13 PM »
Thanks - that is a formation that I have never seen on a wargames table 8)

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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2021, 02:07:20 PM »
Thanks - that is a formation that I have never seen on a wargames table 8)

And possibly not on a battlefield either - its not explicitly recorded anywhere, I think.

As Mark says, context is all.  It looks odd to us because we are used to the "pikes and sleeves of shot" model but this was actually evolving alongside and its superiority hadn't been demonstrated. 

If you think about it, the Burgundians had used English tactics of giving archers stakes but it is cumbersome if your plan is to manouever and use your archers in a less static way.  So using pikes (which they have available) as mobile stakes makes sense to try.
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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2021, 09:35:45 PM »
loved painting my army of Charles the Bold back way back when. Its those pesky red x's that used to make me cross-eyed. Never won a battle with them but Charles himself wasnt that successful either
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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2021, 06:43:58 PM »
IMnsHO that is the best reason for doing a Burgundian army,

Painting those Blackburn Rovers tops with the Red Cross.

Any other reason smacks of attempting a Seleucid style bit of everything army for the Middle Ages.

Well, that and insisting your opponent has a city deployed so you can play with the Burgundians at the Gates
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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2021, 08:07:43 PM »
Here is the original instruction

In like manner the archers with their horses, to get them
used to dismounting and drawing their bows. They must learn
how to attach their horses together by their bridles and make
them walk forward directly behind them, attaching the horses of
three archers by their bridles to the saddlebow of the page to
whose man—at—arms they belong; also to march briskly for-
wards and to shoot without breaking rank.
The pikemen must be made to advance in close formation in
front of the said archers, kneel at a sign from them, holding
their pikes lowered to the level of a horse's back so that the
archers can shoot over the said pikemen as if over a wall... The
archers must also learn to place themselves back to back in dou-
ble defence, or in a square or a circle, always with the pikemen
outside them to withstand the charge of the enemy horse, and
their horses with the pages enclosed in their midst.


Ordnance of St Maximin de Trèves, October 1473

Not my period, but that does seem - to my mind at least - to beg the question of depth of the pike formation.  Two to four ranks, seems plausible.  More, less so.  It is not that I am suggesting a competent archer could not physically shoot over eight or sixteen ranks of suitably crouched chaps, but it does seem counter intuitive.  Also, unless one dismisses this all as a drill manual fantasy, it would seem to require a lot more pikes than archers.
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David Stevens

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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2021, 09:32:30 AM »

Not my period, but that does seem - to my mind at least - to beg the question of depth of the pike formation.  Two to four ranks, seems plausible.  More, less so.  It is not that I am suggesting a competent archer could not physically shoot over eight or sixteen ranks of suitably crouched chaps, but it does seem counter intuitive.  Also, unless one dismisses this all as a drill manual fantasy, it would seem to require a lot more pikes than archers.

I suspect you are not imagining this formation correctly.  The number of pikemen isn't given in the 1473 ordonnance - in fact it doesn't talk about the infantry of the companies at all in numerical terms.  In the 1471 Ordonnance, there was one pikeman per lance.  In the 1472 ordonnance, the overall proportion was 2 pikemen to 3 mounted archers and one foot archer.  So its likely that the archers outnumbered the pikemen two or three to one.

The ranks of pikemen are therefore likely to be very thin - one or two ranks - with several ranks of archers behind.  Overall, these are going to be linear formations, not deep blocks.
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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2021, 11:37:10 AM »
It is thus within a group of very respectable pedigree;
Persian Sparabara.
Aririan against the Alans
Vegetius
The Strategikon and  several Byzantine manuals
Even, sort of, the Anglo Normans at the
Richard the Lionheart at Jaffa.. l suggest that it works against cavalry and static infantry, but is not well suited  to a massed , aggressive infantry that runs at it.
Incidentally doesn’t Verbruggen have a plan of a combined pike/ archer formation for Charles which shows them interspersed together in a line.
Charles was a military innovator and clearly trying to solve the conundrum of deploying missiles and shock troops in the same unit.  He was just 100 years ahead of his time.
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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2021, 12:42:18 PM »
Does it mention how long the pikes are?

After a certain length to only work when standing up.

And I think we have previously established that longbows, while capable of high angle arching shots, are pretty much rendered useless as a penetration weapon by them once the level of armour is raised, so by this period they are a short range flat trajectory weapon.

It all sounds like the sort of innovative wheeze that never got put to the test to me.  So far ahead of its time it couldn’t work with the kit they had.

Besides, if you gamed with a combination pike and longbow formation, it’s going to be pretty damn deadly using existing pike rules and longbow rules.  And you’d need a single unit special rule to do it any other way - for which your only evidence to base the rule on is ... not much more than the medieval version of the Daphne parade

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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2021, 01:10:29 PM »
Does it mention how long the pikes are?

"In comparison, the prescribed pike length for the Burgundian troops in 1473 was 14 and 16 feet,"
- http://deventerburgerscap.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-14th-century-pike-and-its.html

Not sure where in the ordonnances that comes from, though.

Quote
Besides, if you gamed with a combination pike and longbow formation, it’s going to be pretty damn deadly using existing pike rules and longbow rules.  And you’d need a single unit special rule to do it any other way - for which your only evidence to base the rule on is ... not much more than the medieval version of the Daphne parade
A harsh comparison, since it is in the ordonnance - the army's formal, established, written regulations. No reason to believe that the formation was not trained and practiced as the ordonnance requires. No-one seems to doubt what the same ordonnance says about the organisation and training of the men-at-arms, for instance.

(Full text of the ordonnance here.)

There is comparison evidence in the prints of Master WA which show a mixed body of "pikes" and archers; but they are probably earlier - pre-ordonnance - and show bows in front of "pikes", and the pikes are shorter; it's more like the English "bow with a bill at his back". But it does at least establish a Burgundian tradition of mixing bows with close-quarter weapons.

I don't see why existing pike and bow rules should have any trouble representing it, unless the existing rules hugely overrate the effectiveness of a single rank of pikemen.
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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2021, 01:18:28 PM »
Quote
Does it mention how long the pikes are?

No.  Some of the ordonnances go into detail on armour but less on weapons.  I think Verbruggen did some work on pike supplies to urban militias in the 1470s and showed they were getting longer - from about 14 feet up to 18 feet.  Interestingly they were buying batches of 14, 16 and 18 ft at about the same time, so exact length may not have been that important.

On Roy's point, the emphasis in this formation is clearly in its anti-cavalry potential. 

Thinking about the origins of the technique, this ordonnance is the one where Italian influence comes to the fore.  Is this experiment influenced by Italian lanze longhe tactics?

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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2021, 03:01:48 PM »
That is such a cool picture.  Don’t fancy the job of the chap with the handgunners behind him.
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Re: Burgundians of Charles the Bold
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2021, 03:37:19 PM »
That is such a cool picture.  Don’t fancy the job of the chap with the handgunners behind him.
Roy

Its from a work by Basinio de Basini from 1457

http://warfare.gq/15/Bodley-Hesperides.htm

It is full of these lovely little sketches showing skirmishes, camp scenes and naval activities.
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