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By smacdowall, Aug 23 2021 04:16PM

Five of us joined the Covid postponed Society of Ancients Battle Day on 15 August to fight out Bosworth on a 10’ x 5’ table using my Tree of Battles rules and 28mm collection of (mostly Perry) figures.


The new setting at Newbury was a great improvement over the previous Bletchley venue and there were a fabulous array of games on offer all re-fighting Bosworth with various rules in all scales from 6mm to 54mm.


Our game began with both Northumberland and Chandée initially off table. Northumberland and the Stanleys were designated as ‘potentially treacherous’ which meant that they might not cooperate if ordered to do anything other than hold their position.


King Richard had a superiority in both archers and guns. When both first lines advanced into bowshot the Yorkists had the better of the archery duel, inflicting severe casualties on the Tudors and decimating Sir John Savage’s contingent on the Tudor right.


It was beginning to look shaky for Henry Tudor as the battle lines began to close. After several failed attempts he managed to get the Stanleys to join in the fight. The timely arrival of William Stanley on the Tudor left shored up the line and Stanley’s archers delivered a devastating arrow storm against Sir Robert Brackenbury’s advancing billmen.


Meanwhile Thomas Stanley advanced on the far right of the Tudor line towards Richard’s camp.


The arrival of Chandée’s French and Scots threatened to turn the Yorkist right. Richard sent out a screen of Burgundian handgunners to slow their advance and he managed to persuade Northumberland to join the fight and move on the French.


When Oxford and Norfolk’s lines clashed in the centre, Norfolk’s men had the best of the engagement but the Tudor line held.


William Stanley’s intervention began to turn things around for the Tudors. Seeing off Brackenbury, Stanley’s men began to close in on Norfolk’s flank.


Then Chandée’s French and Scots closed with Northumberland’s northerners and made short work of them. It looked like a Tudor victory was imminent.


Seeing that the battle was at a critical point, King Richard led his Knights of the Body in a charge against Henry Tudor and his smaller bodyguard. Against the odds Henry’s countercharge succeeded in knocking back Richard’s knights.


Richard’s dismounted retainers moved in on Henry’s flank. A ferocious combat ensured in which Henry Tudor was wounded and captured. A swift battlefield execution snuffed out the Tudor dynasty before it had a chance to take hold. Richard III remains king of England!


As ever, the Society of Ancients Battle Day was a fantastic event. Next year Adrianople.



By smacdowall, Jun 17 2021 07:59PM

My first face-to-face game in ages was back to the Wars of the Roses in preparation for the Society of Ancients Bosworth Battle Day to be held 15 August in Newbury (God and pestilence willing!). It was also an opportunity to re-familiarise some of the players with the Tree of Battles rules which we will be using for the Bosworth re-fight.


Rather than doing Bosworth itself I decided on a fictional scenario which imagined King Richard III moving on the Earl of Oxford before he could link up with Henry Tudor.


Oxford, accompanied by Thomas and William Stanley, is outnumbered but all he has to do is hold his position.


He has more artillery than the King and is also reinforced by a unit of French pikemen and halberdiers.


The King, assisted by John Howard Duke of Norfolk and Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland, has to attack and defeat the enemy.


The game opened with a furious archery duel between Sir William Stanley’s men on Oxford's right and those of the Duke of Norfolk and his son, the Earl of Surrey on the Yorkist left.


William Stanley’s men got the better of the archery duel causing Surrey’s levy to fall into disarray. Seeing an opportunity, Stanley led his retinue in a mounted charge which routed Surrey’s levy. Unfortunately Stanley could not rein in his men and they continued their pursuit. King Richard (who was also mounted) led his retinue to intercept Stanley, killing him and destroying his men at arms.


Thomas Stanley and Henry Percy were both deemed to be ‘potentially treacherous’. This required a loyalty test to be taken if either were ordered to do anything other than hold their positions. Oxford was quite happy to keep Thomas Stanley holding a hill but the King wanted Percy to advance. It took the King’s personal intervention to make this happen. King Richard also sent a herald forward to entice Thomas Stanley to change his allegiance but Oxford’s personal intervention kept Stanley loyal.



With Richard busily engaged sorting things out elsewhere, the Yorkist centre was slow to advance. With the King back controlling them they moved in on Oxford’s men and engaged them in an archery duel which the Yorkists got the better of.


Meanwhile the Yorkist left was wavering under archery supported by artillery and skirmishers. Oxford sent his French mercenaries forward in an attempt to break Norfolk’s wing that was holding the Yorkist left.


The ever active King Richard III personally intervened to shore up Norfolk and to prevent a breakthrough.


In the centre, the Constable of the Tower of London closed in on Oxford’s retainers who were reeling under the arrows of the King’s men. Oxford held the line and the Constable’s isolated men fell into disarray.


With the pub beckoning we decided to call it a day. The Yorkists had failed to defeat Oxford’s army but they had killed William Stanley so the result was a draw with the tactical advantage to Oxford.


The Tree of Battles rules worked well, giving us a fast paced game which gave us the feel of a Wars of the Roses engagement. We will be using them, and the same miniatures, at the SoA Bosworth Battle Day 15 August. There is plenty of room for others to join us then. If you would like to secure a place let me know at [email protected] Or just turn up on the day.


Tree of Battles is available from this website both as a PDF or in hard copy here.







By smacdowall, Dec 19 2019 07:19PM

With Malplaquet behind me I have been turning my attention to Bosworth (1485) — one of England’s most decisive battles. Bosworth will be the subject of the Society of Ancient’s Battle Day on 4 April 2020 so I have 3 months left to paint up the rest of the contingents I still need to field.


The most recent contingents off my paining table are the following:


King Richard III with his Knights of the Body leading the charge that would cost his life.


Henry Tudor on foot. I still need to do a mounted version.



Rys Ap Thomas’ Welsh for Henry Tudor’s army


Henry Tudor’s French and Scottish pikemen.



Henry Percy’s Northumberland men for King Richard's third line.



Lord Thomas Stanley’s contingent, for Henry's army, although they may have hedged their bets.




By smacdowall, Nov 6 2019 09:03PM

Last weekend I had the pleasure of once again attending the Society of Ancients annual conference. It was, as ever, a most enjoyable weekend with good company, good games and some excellent talks.


There was a bit of a Wars of the Roses theme this year which suited me perfectly. Mike Ingram gave a fascinating account of Bosworth based on the new battlefield archeology and a detailed look at primary sources which overturn most of what we previously thought we knew about the battle. I highly recommend his book recently published by Helion.


I reprised my toy soldier game, very loosely based on Bosworth. The simple rules can be found in the rules section (medieval) on my website: This Weak Piping Time of Peace.


This time it was Henry Tudor who met his end in hand to hand combat with King Richard. So now the score is one-all.


Following an excellent talk on the little known Battle of Edgcote I took on the role of Robin of Redesdale.


Despite high moral purpose, bravery and determination, we were driven from the field thanks to the untimely intervention of the Earl of Devon.


We did have the satisfaction of killing off the young Henry Tudor who was observing the battle. So Henry died twice over the course of the weekend.


The Gangs of Rome game looked most interesting although I did not manage to take part.


Author and Classicist Harry Sidebottom entertained us with tales of the Third Century Roman crisis before a most congenial dinner.


And I did my part with a talk on the Vandals.


There were many other games which I did not participate in ranging from chariot warfare through to classiacl Rome, the Dark Ages and the high Middle Ages. In my view this is an event well worth attending.


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