Pavia 1525 and 2016
By smacdowall, Feb 28 2016 10:53PM
After 4 months of laying siege to Pavia, His Most Christian Majesty, François I King of France, is woken at a rather ungodly hour with the unwelcome news of a sortie by Imperialist soldiery to the north of the park where the French are encamped.
This happens in February 1525 and again in February 2016 with myself taking the role of King François in a game staged and umpired by Gary Kitching.
With barely enough time to shoo away my concubines or have a decent breakfast, I order my aides to stand the Royal Army to arms while I confer with the Englishman Richard de la Pole of Suffolk. I give him command of the landsknecht Black Band and French foot with orders to block the approach to Pavia and to beware of a possible sortie from the city.
I have to hope that the Seigneur de la Flourance, with our light cavalry stradiots and Swiss foot, would do his best to delay the enemy advance. He is too far away for us to discuss tactics and there is no time to formulate a plan.
Putting all thoughts of personal safety aside I would personally lead the gens d’armes against the foe and scatter them. This could be the perfect opportunity to cement my position as the foremost knight in Christendom. Our glorious cavaliers are hemmed in by woods and a stream. Therefore, I would have to move off in column then cut in front of our artillery and foot if I wanted to be in a position to engage the enemy cavalry in open ground.
My aides protest. They point out that we have the best artillery in Europe and it would be a mistake to mask the guns. There is also a danger that we might get trapped between our foot and the advancing enemy landsknechts.
Such considerations are of no consequence compared with the glory to be had from combat against an honourable opponent. So I lead my Gendarmes across the front of the guns and foot, bidding them to give way until we can get into position.
Fortunately Flourance’s brave stradiots move rapidly against the enemy, delaying their advance. Unfortunately their light cavalry are just as brave and a fierce fight ensues with the lines swaying back and forth and even through each other. Our lead troopers are decimated when they draw up in canister range of the Imperial guns and are then hit by Charles de Lannoy’s heavy cavalry.
Things are starting to look bad for us but although our advance guard has been decimated they are base men and foreignors. By now I had the noble gendarmes into position and the real battle could begin.
We are invincible! Line after line of de Lannoy’s horsemen fall to our lances, even some of the turncoat a landsknecht pike block is destroyed when we hit them while they are still moving.
We penetrate deep into the enemy lines and then for a moment it seems as if all is lost. Surrounded on all sides I am wounded but we somehow we manage to cut our way back through to our own lines.
I understand other things happened elsewhere on the field. For example, the scheming Marquis de Vasto led a large body of Spanish and Italian arquebusiers through the woods to sack our camp and then attack our artillery.
Richard de la Pole led the Black Band against Georg von Frundsberg’s landsknechts. A fierce grudge match ensued with no quarter given and none expected. Step by step the Imperialists were forced back until the few survivors broke and fled.
The garrison of Pavia sallied out but it was too late to save the situation for the Imperialists. They may have looted our camp but their cavalry had been cut to pieces and their foot were wavering.
The day was ours!
There is something to be said for a proper attitude.
Looks like a splendid day.
Indeed there is!
Yes it was a splendid day with 7 players plus umpire and, as you can see, loads of lovely figures from Gary Kitching's collection.
Decimation is very unlikely to trouble French gensd'armes. 10% losses won't stop elite troops led by their king.
Indeed it did not. They kept going through thick and thin to emerge victorious!