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Author Topic: Force composition in the Wars of the Roses  (Read 56176 times)

Offline Arlequín

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2013, 01:03:07 PM »
as Arlequin elegantly, if somewhat really at length, argues.

Fixed that for you.  ;)

Just to throw into the mix, and apologies as I know I have raised this before, but I am inclined to think that job titles like men-at-arms, mounted archer and archer were more to do with equipment and rates of pay then strict function.

Much like many other eras, carrying a particular label doesn't stop a professional soldier from carrying out a variety of tasks, i.e. one man's mounted archer is another man's light horseman. So a professional foot archer was essentially medium infantry with a warbow, sidearm and, often, a pole arm.

With the Array, it would have been somewhat different...

Absolutely. I think we constrain these guys with labels far more than they would have themselves. There were some specialised troops, 'scouts' for example, were employed in very small numbers in Calais (and on enhanced pay), but you'd imagine they would be leading, or within, a larger group of 'other' mounted men carrying out routine patrols. The rest were paid typical rates, but were either expected, or able, to perform a variety of roles. 

I can't imagine a man at arms, tasked with taking out a patrol of mounted archers, as insisting that he must wear full armour and be on a barded horse. I can see him wearing part of his harness, maybe lightening it with a brigandine, or whatever else suited the role, but he'd make himself 'fit for mission'. He's still a man at arms, whatever you take that as being, still paid the same, but at that particular time not fully suited and booted. Likewise his stout Yeomen, paid as archers, dressed as archers, but are they going to dismount to raid a village? If they have any riding skill, I think not. 

Offline janner

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2013, 01:41:39 PM »
Indeed, and from study of the HYW database, archers could and did become men-at-arms, as well as serving as a mounted archer in one year, but dropping down to an archer sometime latter - or visa versa.

Offline Arlequín

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2013, 02:00:29 PM »
Social degradation and gentrification happened over time, sure, but I was thinking more of 'flexibility'. Our man at arms (for example) might need to do 'x' one day and 'y' another, and was quite comfortable and able to switch between roles as the need arose.

Offline janner

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2013, 04:24:47 PM »
Social degradation and gentrification happened over time, sure, but I was thinking more of 'flexibility'. Our man at arms (for example) might need to do 'x' one day and 'y' another, and was quite comfortable and able to switch between roles as the need arose.

Understood, and I wasn't meaning to suggest one had to become gentry to serve and be paid as a man-at-arms during the HYW (nor perhaps the WotR) or that dropping from mounted to foot archer was a sign of social degradation.

Captains might offer various incentives to attract quality recruits in times of high competition to fulfil their indenture. Moreover, horses were as vulnerable as men, if not more so, to the dangers of campaigning. A mounted archer who cannot replace his mount during a time of high demand, might have to register as a foot archer for the next contract without a change of social status. Similarly a captain who could provide twenty mounts one year might only be able to provide fifteen the next - or they may have decided that the return was insufficient to offset the loss incurred when a mount (of sufficient quality to pass muster) died on campaign. This was business after all  ;)

Offline Captain Blood

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2013, 04:53:38 PM »
Medieval Adventures is definitely the learned corner of LAF  ;)

Offline Arlequín

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2013, 09:15:23 PM »
Medieval Adventures is definitely the learned corner of LAF  ;)

Yeah, I read a book once. ;)

Joking apart, until I got to study it, I never realised the complexity of the topic. I understand why people spend their lives studying the era (or indeed why they have to). There's volumes of stuff I don't know about and that's without stepping outside the military aspects... quite surprising for a period we picture as having comparatively little documentary evidence. Yet some of the quite simple questions, we don't have anything concrete for.

Captains might offer various incentives to attract quality recruits in times of high competition to fulfil their indenture. Moreover, horses were as vulnerable as men, if not more so, to the dangers of campaigning. A mounted archer who cannot replace his mount during a time of high demand, might have to register as a foot archer for the next contract without a change of social status. Similarly a captain who could provide twenty mounts one year might only be able to provide fifteen the next - or they may have decided that the return was insufficient to offset the loss incurred when a mount (of sufficient quality to pass muster) died on campaign. This was business after all  ;)

Yes, there was some social mobility to a point, but there was quite a gulf between income from the highest 'class' of archer to lowest level of the men at arms. As you say 'hard times' might result in signing on at a rate lower than previously. It was easier for the archers as they had a way to go, but a man at arms without a horse, or who had pawned his armour (or had it seized for debt), was out of the game altogether, unless he could loan some armour, or borrow money.
 
They bent over backwards to keep hold of their retainers generally though. John Howard (Duke of Norfolk), set one archer up with a house, a bow that cost more than one he bought for himself (and a boar spear), some gowns for his wife, a jacket each year for the archer, all on top of his pay. He did similar things with others too.

On the other side of the coin though, in Calais, one of the Pastons asked his brother to recruit a couple of archers as servants, to be paid less than the going rate. He got them, but in a year they were on the garrison strength as archers, so that might have been offered to offset the lower rate initially.  
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 09:17:23 PM by Arlequín »

Offline janner

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #21 on: October 13, 2013, 10:21:19 AM »
Indeed, and some of the difference in pay was to offset equine attrition on campaign and their maintenance in times of peace. As you know, an alternate option was to pay a lower wage, but reimburse the value of a lost mount (based on an inspection held at muster) - the name for which escapes me for the moment  :o

I don't think one can impose too hard and fast rules on social class. At times and in some sources, it can appear quite rigid. At other times, especially in time of war or trial, things seem less fixed. There seem to have been a near constant process of 'negotiation' on the borders between 'classes'.

Offline Arlequín

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2013, 10:49:51 AM »
To a point I would agree... the 'new money' of the Gentry appear somewhat more fluid and open in their make up, but the nobles themselves seem somewhat of a closed group. While there seems to be evidence that an archer could cross the line and become a man at arms (and possibly vice-versa), I'm aware of only one man at arms who was ennobled (became an hereditary peer, as opposed to just being 'knighted').

There must have been some 'payment in kind' (or not) at various times, as the rates of pay remained fairly static for around a hundred years, while living costs went up and down. Shares in booty, which did not get mentioned in the Teller's Rolls and documents like that, may have been the method, or as you say, things like 'horse insurance'. Obviously in the WotR though, there was no booty to share and getting the job done before the bulk of your men were entitled to pay, was the overriding concern.

Offline 15thpanzer

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #23 on: October 13, 2013, 05:02:59 PM »
One simple, unanswerable question that led to a great thread of opinions. Personally I mix my ratios up depending upon the units geographical location a la Arlequin's note on wealth and skill. Plus we all know painting heavy had weapon troops is much more fun than painting archers, so for me 1:1 to 2:1 archers.

Offline H.M.Stanley

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #24 on: October 14, 2013, 08:28:01 AM »
Gentlemen, i salute you all.

Fun and informative. I was particularly interested (a tangent i grant you) on the Billmen being the lesser troop-types. Being ill-informed, i had always thought that they would have been the boys to get up-front and personal, along with the MAA. Of course, it makes perfect sense that the archers were the real backbone of the army and that not all MAA during this period were all that.

I started with the wild and whacky notion of using all Front Rank figures and now i'm stuck with it.

However, it pleases me that my army is certainly on the right track. As things stand at present, using 24 man units (less for cavalry) once all archers are painted i shall have:

1 x mounted MAA*
1 x dismounted MAA
3 x Billmen
1 x Scottish Mercenary Spearmen
7 x Archers
1 x Prickers/Light Cavalry
[1 x small xbowmen
 1 x small handgunners
 1 x medium cannon/crew]

So plenty of options for a typical sized evenings game.

* Shall we start a anew for the use of mounted MAA in gaming terms?

Again, i had thought they were the exception rather than the rule but the more i read on the subject the more i think they were involved in most battles of the period, albeit not in deciding the outcomes. Let's leave aside the fact that once an army broke the victors were mounting up and after them with the hammers ...
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 08:36:25 AM by H.M.Stanley »
"Ho, ho, ho! Well, if it isn't fat stinking billy goat Billy Boy in poison! How art thou, thou globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if ya have any yarbles, you eunuch jelly thou!"

Offline janner

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #25 on: October 14, 2013, 12:59:48 PM »
I'd certainly have a unit of mounted MAA available even if you didn't use it in every battle.

Offline shandy

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #26 on: October 14, 2013, 02:41:55 PM »
Thanks everybody for that great thread! There's a lot of information that got me pondering. In game terms, what Arlequin said about Archers, Billmen and MAA being almost equal in melee skills would mean that there are no big differences - like dice bonus etc. - in the stats of the troops (except for a better saving throw for troops on full armor). Would you agree? This would make archers more powerful than I thought; however one could limit their ammo and reduce the effects of archery (causing more disorder than casualties). I plan to use the Sharp Practice rules by TFL, which makes even more sense after what I have read here  ;)
Thanks again for the great discussion!
Cheers,
Shandy

Offline Cubs

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #27 on: October 14, 2013, 02:56:28 PM »
Personally I wouldn't put too high a hth value on an archer, if only for the fact that their motivation, training and weaponry is not going to be at the same level of effectiveness as someone whose role is primarily that of heavy infantry.

If it was me, I'd have them as a 'standard' light or medium infantry level of hth ability (whatever that may be) to reflect this. Certainly I would expect ranged combat to be their speciality and hth a fairly effective secondary option.
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Offline Arlequín

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #28 on: October 14, 2013, 03:12:04 PM »
Well the billmen would still get into it, it's not like they could do anything else. It's just that in terms of prior experience, protection and being a preferred troop type, they were bottom of the scale. Any confusion seems to come with the creation of a 'Retinue Billman' class somewhere along the line (and pretty recently too).
 
'Retinue Billmen' would have been included within the men at arms and were termed 'men at arms' back in the day. Both men at arms and the ordinary standard billmen may even have been mixed together when a force deployed, the better quality minority 'stiffening' the low quality majority. Alternatively they may have just stood to the rear of their local archers... nobody really knows. I'm inclined to think a local contingent would be kept together for the sake of morale, but nobody really knows.  

As for mounted troops, that's also up in the air. I'm a bit pragmatic about it. Before the WotR English armies almost invariably dismounted. After the WotR you have regular use of light horse, demilances and a few 'Gentlemen at Arms'. They didn't wake up one morning and think, "well we're Tudors now, better change things", so at some point between c.1450 and 1500-ish there was a move towards using mounted troops and away from wholly dismounted forces.

Whatever you decide your Man at Arms to Archer to Bill ratio is, remember that your mounted Men at Arms are a finite quantity, so whatever you mount up should still be reflected in the total of them in the army as a whole.

Your army seems reasonable to me, not that I could convincingly argue otherwise, as we've discovered in this thread. ;-)

Personally I wouldn't put too high a hth value on an archer, if only for the fact that their motivation, training and weaponry is not going to be at the same level of effectiveness as someone whose role is primarily that of heavy infantry.

True to a point. Certainly I'd expect a Man at Arms to be generally better on the whole than an Archer, skill-wise. But the 'levy' billman's primary role was perhaps ploughing a field or digging ditches, playing football and getting drunk on Sundays, while watching the mugs play with their bows and not as heavy infantry.

Medieval commanders certainly favoured the Archer over pretty much everything else, even to the point that in 1415 and 1475, if only for their cheapness, they were favoured over all other types. Nobody recruited billmen to serve in France.

Offline H.M.Stanley

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Re: WotR using HC
« Reply #29 on: October 14, 2013, 03:45:49 PM »
In my Percy Retinue list i have used the MAA and Scots Mercenaries as Heavy Infantry, the Retinue Bill as Medium Infantry and the Archers as Light Infantry (although i'm minded to give the (Retinue) Archers the option of being Medium Infantry if you pay the points - perhaps limited to the number of Bill units you have (or not!!))

We tend to play pointed games of HC in an evening and bung on what you have for large games at wkds
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 03:47:28 PM by H.M.Stanley »

 

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