Tuesday 13 October 2015

The Last Apostle AAR

This weekend myself and Simon Chick were invited to put on a scenario at the British Lead Adventure gaming meeting, a social / gaming meeting of contributors to the Lead Adventure Forum.

If you're not aware of the forum have a look, I have used it for years now as a source of honest critique and as a forum to discuss wargaming, painting and history. They're a most welcoming bunch, very much an online gaming community. For a lone painter like myself this serves to give me the encouragement and discussion that I would otherwise get from a gaming club, it's a god send.

If you don't know Simon you may be familiar with his blogs on the Burgundian Wars & Hundred Years War, whether or not these are your period you will find inspiration in buckets.

We were tasked in putting on a relatively small game that could be played at least twice over a day. I had a particular small action in mind, one which has captivated my imagination since I began collecting my Tudor army, the events of 27-28 July 1513;

The (King's) middle ward once outside the English territory of the Pale were subject to repeated harassment on its way to join those already besieging Therouanne. On this day a force comprising troops from Bolougne and Montreuil under the command of Bayard and de Piennes engaged the English, apparently with a view to capture or kill Henry himself. 

The ward stood its ground and whilst Henry took safe haven among the ranks of his mercenary Landsknechts the ward engaged the attackers with artillery, with none of their own to reply the French left the field (not before a lone knight challenged Henry to single combat - he refused!). When the ward moved on again some of the guns began to fall behind, one of the heaviest pieces, cast with the image of St. John the Evangelist, came to grief and slipped from its limber into a stream. This was a brand new gun (more on this later) and had hitherto not fired a shot, she weighed 3 tons and it was clearly going to take some effort to recover her. 

George Buckemer, a master carpenter from Calais reckoned he could get the gun out, the ward pressed on and he and a hundred workmen and a skeleton guard set to work but a powerful French force had been waiting from a safe distance and fell upon the scene with lance, crossbow and arquebus. The party were mostly slaughtered or taken prisoner but the gun remained mired, the carpenter was later blamed for his over confidence as one 'who would work all of his own head without counsel'.

Henry was somewhat annoyed at the loss of his beloved Apostle, sending Henry Bourchier, the Earl of Essex and a noble commander of cavalry, Sir Reese(sic) ap Thomas back to see if they could rescue the stricken piece. Lord Berners, master gunner was able to secure the gun to a limber but before they could make off a large French force appeared attacking the rear of the party as it moved off. The English responded with great spirit and forced the French to retreat leaving St John to nobly return to Henry's arsenal.

In trying to find more about this I stumbled upon the exact scenario, practically gift wrapped, so to give credit where it is due thank you Jay of solo wargaming I hope you're pleased with our efforts.

On to the Game, the scenario is summarised in the solo wargaming link above, we used Lion Rampant rules with a couple of adaptions; 
  • Infantry units were represented by 2 of my 60x60mm bases, 12 figures in the case of Longbowmen and 6 in the case of French skirmishers.
  • Cavalry units were represented as 1 60x60mm base of 2 figures - we doubled this in the second game.
  • It was then a case of adapting renaissance troop types into the Lion Rampant roster sheets which was fairly easy.
Over to Richard aka Captain Blood for the report with a few additions from me in brackets - I was too busy attempting to umpire and play !

At our British Lead Adventure meeting last weekend, I played in a splendid game staged by two of our resident top medieval modellers and painters, Stuart and Painterman. 
It was a real treat to get to play with a small portion of their exquisitely modelled and painted figure collections.

A quick photo battle report follows.

Points to note:

1. All the figures are from Stuart and Simon's collections and the terrain is also Simon's.
2. The shine on some of the figures is purely down to the light in the room.

The rules used were Lion Rampant, which worked pretty well. There was a quite surprising amount of evading, falling back, running away, and rallying. Casualties were fairly brutal.

The scenario was as follows, based on a real historical event:

Henry VIII's invasion of France in 1513. 

Not far from Calais, one of his twelve large guns of great magnitude each named after an Apostle 'this particular beast being called 'St John The Evangelist' has become stuck crossing the shallows of a river...

Henry Lord Bourchier, the Earl of Essex, along with Sir Rhys ap Thomas have been despatched post-haste with a rescue mission (and a stout wagon) to retrieve the missing artillery piece before it falls into French hands. But the French are also en route with an eye on the prize...

It was largely a fast-moving cavalry action. The forces were well balanced - the English with units of demi-lances, scurrers or border horse, and of course two companies of longbowmen. 
The French with a whole variety of horsemen from heavily armoured gendarmes, through mounted ordonnance archers to mercenary Stradiot cavalry. Backed up by a company of arquebusiers.

[The game began with] the super-gun in question, stuck in the shallows on a bend in the river.

The English Relief force arrives;

At the same time the French make their presence known;

An advance party of mounted archers espie the English rescue wagon, trundling toward its objective;

The English Longbowmen take the field and prepare to see off the French in time-honoured fashion... Not terribly successfully to begin with, but they got better...

Whilst Essex heads straight to the river with the border horse, the demilancers led by Sir Rees ap Thomas, sweep nobly across the meadow to take the advancing French gendarmes head on...

But with the Stradiots almost upon the river, Essex himself plunges forward to confront the gendarmes and drive them back...

As the longbows begin to have a deleterious effect on the French, causing various withdrawals..

...a charge by the border horse forces the stradiots to evade, just as Essex breaks the gendarmes... Leaving the rather strange spectacle of one stand of gendarmes racing off the field as another surges forward into the fray!

Another view of this excitement. At this point, Essex, somewhat wounded, is behind the clump of trees, right. [here you can also see our use of Border Horse to screen the river bank, these chaps from the Percy estates really proved their form in several charge and evade actions]

As the English horse establish more of a secure defensive screen, the rescue wagon reaches the river...

But wait... The routing gendarmes have rallied, turned, and come roaring back in to have another go, leaving the gallant border horse no alternative but to throw themselves in harm's way..

The wagon spends three turns recovering St John The Evangelist, whilst the tide of battle washes around it... 

The Earl of Essex however, is mortally wounded (as can be seen by all those arrow casualty markers) and expires shortly afterwards, as the French arquebusiers finally catch up with their cavalry and start popping away...

In this engagement (we managed two during the day) St. John made it off the table however though with the loss of Essex, one of the objectives, the game was a draw.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, Simon's cart, mired crew limbering in the water and fully limbered gun really made for a visual spectacle, as did his gendarmes charging about the place. This really gave me the impetus to paint up these missing elements from my collections as well as to properly represent at least one of the most interesting 'guns of great magnitude,' the twelve apostles to which Henry had a great attachment as this scenario proves.

None of them are known to have survived though it has generally been accepted that each of the 12 pieces were of the same size, the main source in their regard is the payment for their founding in bronze in Flanders, a whopping £1344, 10s per gun as well as a bespoke carriage at £12 per gun.

Martin du Bellay when describing how St. John fell into the water stated that it was a 'double grand culverin 'of which the army had 12 of the same calibre. Furthermore lists of the wards state the Apostles as being the heaviest pieces after the siege bombards, these go on to state that the Apostles required 30 Flanders mares to pull the ammunition and ancillary equipment. Each Apostle was assigned a chief gunner, paid at 16d per day as well as 8 carters and other crew.

To give you an idea of their size here is a demi-cannon from the Mary Rose which I believe is slightly bigger than a double grand culverin but not too far off.

So, who knows we may see this scenario again with the French fully represented with their respective commanders but a good day had by all. Thanks again for your contributions chaps, I had a blast - see what I did there.......

Bye for now



  1. Great post and great-looking game. There should be more of this sort of thing in the blogosphere. :-)

  2. Fantastic background, wonderfully painted miniatures, beautiful terrain and Lion Rampant rules too! Awesome stuff! Plus it's a serious encouragement to me to carry on with my Wars of the Roses forces for the same rule set. Thank you so much for posting!

  3. Fantastic background, wonderfully painted miniatures, beautiful terrain and Lion Rampant rules too! Awesome stuff! Plus it's a serious encouragement to me to carry on with my Wars of the Roses forces for the same rule set. Thank you so much for posting!

  4. Looks as brilliantly glorious here as it does on LAF :>)

    Seriously though, it looks like a beautiful game and I'm dead jealous that I wasn't there to enjoy the spectacle :>)


  5. Great looking figures for a great looking game!

  6. Stuart
    Great looking game and figures. I am inspired!
    Cheers, PD

  7. A great looking game Stuart and a great scenario too.

  8. Thanks for the most beautiful reporting! 8)

  9. Nice report Stuart - I hadn't appreciated all of the historical context, which is very illuminating read.
    Are the troops getting itchy feet and hooves, expectant of more gaming?

    1. Well that's twice in two years, they must be very tired

  10. Wow. Great background, great game scenario, great miniatures. Love the artillery piece. /Mattias

  11. Stunning looking game Stuart !

    Nice with the historical background and to see Lion Rampant used with multibased minis.

    Best regards Michael

  12. Great to see a scenario from the actual campaign being played out. I love the mired gun with the crew trying to get it out the water!

  13. Brilliant post , loved the half sunk gun, all the figs look great, lion rampant gives a nice game and a bit of history I didn't know about, all good thanks Iain