Saturday, 14 November 2009

Marignano (the first day) 1515 Scenario.

Louis XII of France lost Milan after the Battle of Novara in the summer of 1513. Here, Maximilian Sforza, self styled Duke of Milan, and his army of mercenary Swiss gave the French a good licking by a surprise attack on the French camp. Almost at once Louis XII began plotting for its recapture. But, whatever his plans were, he did not to see them come to fruition - he died at the end of 1514.

Dynastic struggles being what they are, it was not long before the sword was taken up again by his successor, Francis I. In June 1515 Francis left Paris at the head of an army mustering 30,000 combatants. Crossing the Alps via the Col d'Argetier pass the French emerged into Italy outflanking the Swiss who had been sent to oppose him. The Swiss withdrew to Milan and the French followed up until they came to Marignano (10 miles from Milan), where they encamped, then entered into negotiations with the Swiss to sell Milan to Francis. Up to half of the Swiss took the money and departed back to their Cantons.

Francis was convinced that Milan would now fall, without resistance, for a little more time and money. So it would have done but for the extraordinary efforts of Cardinal Matthias Schinner. Engineering a skirmish with French pickets he manipulated the news, delivered a rousing speech from the steps of the cathedral in Milan, and convinced the Swiss who remained that, rather than negotiating, the French were attacking. Late in the afternoon, leading an army of 15,000 Swiss and a few hundred Milanese horse Schinner launched an attack on the French camp, arriving there sometime around 5pm.

The ground around Marignano is undulating arable farmland cut up by drainage ditches and canals, and dotted with small villages. The French had chosen the site of their camp well; it was naturally fortified (see deployment map) behind and between some of the drainage ditches.


Although the combined strengths of the army are known the exact breakdown and dispositions are a bit vague. These are my best guess numbers.

The Cavalry Screen: Commanded by Robert III, de la Marck, so called Floranges.
200 Gendarmes (omitted), 1,500 light cavalry, mainly composed of mounted crossbowmen with some Stradiots.

The Vanguard: Commanded by Charles de Montpensier Duke of Bourbon.
1000 Gendarmes, 3000 French crossbowmen, 4000 French pike, many heavy and light guns.

The Mainward: Commanded by Francis I King of France.
1000 Gendarmes, 6000 Landsknechts (Black Bands of Gueldres), some guns.

The Rearward: Commanded by Charles de Valois Duke of Alencon, called D'Alencon.
500 Gendarmes, 3000 Landsknechts, 3000 French crossbowmen.


This army was predominantly composed of 15,000 or so Swiss. These seem to have formed up in their usual three wards deployed en echelon with an advance guard. They were accompanied by a few hundred Italian men-at-arms and some light guns. The latter both took position on the right.

This battle is quite straightforward. I will not over complicate things with the special scenario rules I will use as you may not use the same rule set as me. There are a few things to note.
To win the Swiss must take and French camp and hold it until nightfall. As the battle started late in the day there should be a suitable turn limit put on the game.
The French Mainward should not come into battle too quickly. On the day it only arrived after the main body of the Swiss had reached and passed the ditch in front of the encampment; consequently it should not 'activate' until the Swiss reach the ditch - with a military possibility of 'what if' course.
The French Rearward should not enter the battle unless the camp is taken. In reality it did not engage at all.

The ditches should represent major obstacles that are passable with difficulty, but all other ground should be classed as open. The hill on which the village of Ziuido stands should represent a terrain advantage but not hamper movement.
I used C. Oman's The Art of War in the Sixteenth Century. Marignano 1515 by Moraitis, Pacou & Erskine (Lance and Longbow Soc.). Renaissance Battles 1494 - 1700 Vol.1 by Peter Sides.
Figures are by Old Glory, Foundry, Essex and Front Rank. All painted by myself.
Terrain. TSS terrain boards. Remaining applique terrain scratch built by me (mainly).


BaronVonJ said...


Frankfurter said...

As always, I applaud both your zeal and your skill!

BigRedBat said...

Lovely stuff! Very impressive armies indeed.

painterman said...

marvellous stuff, a great collection - this is such a fab period to game and paint. Understand that Atrizan's new range will be renaissance, which should add some more nice minis to choose from.

Hendrid said...

Very nice photo's and an interesting take on the battle. Useful inspiration for our clubs campaign finale.

Bluewillow said...

supurb work, i must say!