Monday, 25 July 2016

The Battle of the Spurs, sculpting & terrain bumper bonanza !

In the last week or so I've had three events worthy of posting about, rather than doing them individually I thought it best to simply do a bumper summer blog posting.

Last year I commissioned David Marshall of TM Terrain to add to my existing terrain representation of the South West side of the walls of Therouanne. The nucleus of this commission was that this side faces the villages of Bomy and Guinegatte (Enguinegatte), the ground between which saw the Battle of the Spurs on the 16 August 1513, one of the key notable points of Henry's French campaign of that year, you can see a summary of the historical battle in an earlier blog post here.

Following the addition of the real estate the natural progression was some bespoke terrain to hold the walls; a road runs alongside with open terrain to the left and deep trenches skirt the walls, an eyewitness account of a Welsh soldier testified that these trenches were so deep that men were afraid to walk near the edge in case they fell in and their banks were set with impenetrable hedges, David's interpretation of this next chapter in the commission partnership can be seen in these photographs taken in his workshop;

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With a reasonable section of walls and accompanying terrain the Army Royal venture had reached a notable chapter in its 8 year history, a refight of the Battle of The Spurs seemed a fitting way to mark the occasion.

To help realise this notion Michael Perry and Simon Chick offered their assistance; Michael had the space, additional figures and considerably more terrain to fully represent the action whilst Simon stepped in to offer troops from his Burgundian armies to bolster my meagre French forces. The stage was set for a day of gaming and socialising.

Michael had done his homework in researching the action and set up the field of battle in advance, with his permission I have saved myself some writing and shall handover to his account and expert photography of the day's action;

The Battle of the Spurs (or Guinegatte) 1513

The Battle of the Spurs, otherwise known as Guinegatte was the subject of the game this weekend. Simon Chick with his large and impressive Burgundian Army and Stuart Mulligan with his equally stunning Henrician force were up for the game fest. We thought that the Burgundians would suffice for the French army with a few additional figures from Stuart and Michael. David Marshall of TM Terrain also joined us to see the walls of Therouanne, that he'd built for Stuart, in situ on the table. This is a beautiful piece of work as you can see by the photos. Dave Andrews, who's responsible for a large part of the terrain squares, was also here along with Aly Morrison and Rick Priestly, who remembered most of the rules. Michael took the photos unless otherwise stated.

Simon and Stuart have been working on their respective armies for years, converting many of the figures you see with 'Green stuff'. In fact this was the culmination of eight years work for Stuart, always aiming to recreate Henry VIII's siege of Therouanne and the associated Battle of the Spurs. Although, he now needs to produce the whole French army !

In 1513 Henry VIII and Maximilian I besieged the town of Therouanne in Artois. The French were determined to break the siege and a second attempt (the first being successful) of resupplying the town with bacon and gunpowder carried by Stradiots on their saddles was made on 16th August. Accompanying the Albanian cavalry were French cavalry with the intention of distracting the besiegers while the supplies were rushed around the flanks. Infantry were not deemed to be needed and were left 12 miles to the south. However, the French were surprised when cresting the ridge at the village of Bomy to find the English arrayed to meet them. English and allied cavalry and mounted archers went out to greet them. Henry, apparently, wanted to join in but was advised to stay back with the infantry and so kind of missing his one and only battle. The French cavalry waited a little too long and were caught changing formation and falling back. This ended in a rout for the French.

Michael included French infantry in the game set up so as to make a potentially more interesting punch up. Also he added a small French garrison that could attempt to sally out of Therouanne and attack the guns. We used 'Hail Caesar' with the troop stats shown in the previous battle report. For the French, Simon commanded the large infantry ward and the small reserve of cavalry, Aly took the large division cavalry, Alan the small infantry ward and medium sized division of cavalry and Michael the medium ward on infantry. For the English it was more of a committee approach with Rick generally ordering the the two divisions of cavalry and Stuart, David and Dave commanding the three infantry wards, one of which were Landsknechts and two of English troops. English and allied troops were placed first in behind the line indicated on the photo (below) and the French second.

The French won the toss and moved first. Aly went off at full steam, sending his huge amount of cavalry down his left flank to confront the English horse. If only he had some support, Alan's cavalry and infantry as well as Michael's were very tardy although Simon's ward in the centre made a slightly better show.

In response Rick arranged his first cavalry division in neat lines but held fast wait for his second division to enter the field, but didn't.

The Landsknechts,in the centre made a move to their right to try and worry the on coming cavalry the other English ward had some trouble moving and only advanced slowly. The third ward failed to enter the table.

Aly then sent out a small unit of skirmishing mounted crossbow to goad the opposing horse, scoring a 6 and forcing a morale test that made one cavalry unit flinch and fall back. He then proceeded to do the same in the next three turns! His dice rolling was certainly an improvement on the previous game.

Simon was making good progress in the centre but his right flank was only moving like a snail. Alan managed to bring up his horse in support of Aly and then fell back a little as the Landsknechts looked as if they attack.

The English managed to get their reserve cavalry and infantry on to the field, the cavalry supporting their comrades and the infantry moving up through Guinegatte.

Gradually, the two lines closed along the front and fire was exchanged while Aly made his first cavalry charge against a unit of Border horse, wiping them out and going into the next unit of horse.

Charging and counter charging by Rick's horse carried on for the next few turns but with the English horse only winning one of the combats. The Landsknechts did charge in against Alan's horse but unluckily threw bad dice and recoiled.

Meanwhile, the garrison had sallied out and made very slow progress across no man's land to attack one of two guns that were capable on firing on them. They managed to reach the gun despite being heavily mauled but came off worse in the fight and fell back.

The game was up, no wards or divisions were actually broken but both English cavalry formations were so close with the French still having one in reserve and the infantry in the centre would then be out flanked and so it was judged a French victory! So, it was a complete reverse to the original battle, but the French did have infantry this time.

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I was keen to create a unique unit for the game and considered the date to be a fitting opportunity to present my latest sculpting and painting with this unit of Tudor bill under the command of the Marquis of Dorset;

Individual studies

I shall draw to a close at this juncture as I'd like to write some biography on The Marquis of Dorset as well as outline how the unit came together and my plans for the future.

I hope you've enjoyed this extended post.

Bye for now



  1. That is an amazing achievement! 8 years well spent!


  2. That is an outstanding collection of scenery and figures. I'm not sure I've seen better in close on 30 years in the hobby. Well done one and all.

  3. Top notch Stuart (and everyone else involved) :-)



  4. It all came together quite nicely - all the contributions created a great 'what if' game, which looked really impressive and played out well - with the reverse result!
    I think my Burgundians (once in disguise) are undefeated so far...ha ha!!

  5. It is incredibly cool game! 8o

  6. Figures and game aside, eight years is a lot of single-minded dedication, well done for that alone!

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  8. Fantastic stuff, I love the terrain boards, game and new unit. I have been lurking on the lead adventure forum and tracking your progress on the unit - awesome work on the green stuff base coats, I look forward to the post on Dorset.

    I'm also holding you jointly responsible for finally pushing me into doing some early Tudors - those flags Pete has painted are simply too good to not give them a go!

  9. Wow, lovely stuff Stuart, A grand day oot right enough.

  10. Breathtaking! I'm lost for words. It must have been a great day out seeing all that work of love come to fruitition.

  11. Words cannot do this justice. Gob-smacking!

  12. Absolutely stunning from start to finish! I am just gobsmacked.

  13. Fantastic looking game? Doesn't seem the right word to describe this. Lovely looking figures and the photos look like period tapestries and lovely work on the new unit.
    Best Iain

  14. Absolutely superb work. I love the detail with which you've sited the terrain in a precise time and place. Most excellent!

  15. My ten year old is wildly excited by this ;)

  16. I feel in awe looking at this. I have never seen such a display! WHat a great period piece!