Whilst there I made a slight detour from my route to have a look at Therouanne & Enguinegatte, the site of the opening phases of Henry VIII's 1513 campaign at the head of a professional army 35'000 strong , arguably the finest in Europe at that time.
Enguinegatte or Guinegate as it is also known was the site of a skirmish referred to as the 'Battle of the Spurs' owing to the haste employed by the French gendarmes to leave the field. The site is a small village in an area of gently rolling pasture a few kilometers south west of the town of Therouanne which was beseiged by Henry's army.
One immediately apparent aspect is that due to a slight dip in the landscape you cannot see Therouanne from Enguinegatte and vice versa, so one can appreciate how the French were unaware of the English army in full array only a few moments away from them.
Therouanne is a much smaller and less greater town now than it was in 1513.
The siege was succesful and the town capitulated , after which Henry's pioneers and artillery, assisted by Maximilian's troops, razed the city to the ground leaving only the cathedral and the houses of the clergy adjoining it. The reasons are unclear for this, but the two main theories are either that Henry did not have the troops or resources to garrison and supply the town, or that he and Maximilian could not decide who should have the city so they destroyed it. For Maximilian's part this was a satisfactory outcome as the staunchly French city was a thorn in the middle of his Burgundian territory.
Being of strategic importance Therouanne was rebuilt and its fortifications repaired within two years of its sack only to be beseiged and razed to the ground yet again by an army under Charles V in 1537, again for the same reasons only this time he did a more thorough job.
When I arrived I was a little confused that I could not find any walls, towers or cathedral until the above was explained to me in broken French / English by the curator of the museum in Therouanne which is well worth a visit; it is only housed in four small rooms but is free and holds a modest collection of finds from the area.
Of particular interest were arquebus balls of various calibre, stone cannon balls from the siege, bodkin arrow heads, lance tips and funnily enough, a few spurs which could have pinpointed the engagement. However, there was also a battle here in 1479 which had heavy cavalry and archers on both sides so the finds could easily have been from that engagement.
There was one artefact which I believe pinpointed the 1513 campaign, this was a harness / bridle buckle with an embossed tudor rose, I must admit, it was definately a eureka moment looking at it in the display cabinet, one which immediately brought to mind looking at the tiny silver boar at the Bosworth museum.
So there you are , Henry got his puissance but not quite an engagement comparable to Flodden. There is certainly scope to wargame a few 'what if' scenarios as two sizeable armies were very close to one another. For further reading, and a couple of useable scenarios I reccomend Charles Cruickshank's 'Army Royal' or the later illustrated version 'Henry VIII & the invasion of France.' Both explain the campaign in astonishing detail and list a number of lesser known skirmishes which took place.
Coming soon, probably some more Tudors!