On someone's blog recently they mentioned Jack Ludlow's Conquest series. Well I picked up the audio books and have become hooked. Not a good thing at the moment with a scenario supplement to finalize. Anyway, this got me to thinking. The Norman conquests could make for a great game of Dux Britannarium. Each player would be a Baron controlling a base set of forces. This set me off to figure out what the Norman organization really was. It seems that a cavalry convoi was at least 5 men but could be up to 50. It seems multiples of 5 was the magic number. Usually they attempted to train in groups of 10 advancing in two lines of 5. Well, this is what I have gathered from Wikipedia and other online sources so far.
Anyone have any idea what the foot contingent would be like? Lets say our Baron has a conroi of 10 heavy cavalry/milites. How many other troops would they have?
What troops would there be? Well the Miles/milites are the heavy cavalry. Then there are the VAVASSEURs. These are typically teen children of nobles learning the skills of being a milite so they would be essentially more milites. Somewhere the foot soldiers/pedites have to come in. First off would be the heavy infantry or SERGENS. They would be equipped similar to the milites but without the horses. Next would be the ARRIERE-BAN or medium infantry. Helmets, shields and spears would dominate this groups as well as archers. These would probably be closer to a levy class of troops.
So that gives us an idea of what would be available. But how many would a Baron have? Great question. I have no idea. The Baron would be granted land by his overlord or the King/Duke/Count. He in turn can have others who he would give a knight's fee (fief) too. These men would owe him 40 days per year of military service. Well of a 365 day year, 40 days of service when most of that would be eaten up just going from place to place does not seem... very promising. Surely these guys had better than that. Well, yes they did. It seems that the baron would have his own familial retinue. No, this is not just the Baron having a large number of sons or other relatives hanging about in armor (though that was possible). These are a paid force on permanent retainer by the baron. It seems that unlike modern mercenaries, these men were VERY loyal to their baron. So, that gives us an idea. We can use the Briton list from Dux Britannarium. So that is 1 group of elites (milites). Then two groups of Warriors (SERGENS) and three of levy (ARRIERE-BAN). The milites can be mounted or not.
This little unit would represent the familial retinue of our Baron. But the numbers seem to be wrong. Well that can be fixed. The base size of infantry is groups of 6. That should still work. For cavalry, we will increase the Norman cavalry to groups of 5. This way they can attempt to perform as they did historically. The Milites can be either mounted or dismounted troops.
For the Feudal troops, the available forces would be variable. A knight's fee (fief) can be subdivided as well. One source listed that 1/10th of a knight's fee would equate to 8 days service of a single sergen. For the purpose of the campaign, the Baron would have 20 knight's fees that he would hold. His feudal servants would not be available for every battle/skirmish that the baron wants to fight. Since they only owe 40 days of service per year, this works out to one or two battles/skirmishes that they can be called on for the whole year. In addition, they can send cash instead of showing up for service which would enable the baron to hire out replacements.
So, of the 20 knight's fees that the baron has available, the baron would have to wisely choose how to use these. Plus, his feudal servants potentially could defect to another lord. Creating more problems than they were worth. In fact, part of the Baron's actions may be to squash unruly subjects as much as fighting an enemy.
Which brings us to our next point, what is our Baron actually trying to do? Well, lots of things. Lets give a place and a time to this. 1067. Our Baron is one of the ones who accompanied William over from Normandy and was made a baron and given land. He has been there long enough to set up a Motte & Bailey fortification for himself. The fortifications sport a wooden tower and not a true stone keep... yet.
OK, but who does he have to deal with? Well, remaining independent Saxon or Welsh lords. Rebellious vassals. Calls by his liege lord to fight. Any number of things. All the makings of a decent campaign game.
Good enough. But what makes the Saxons or Welsh different from the Normans? Well, the cavalry of the Welsh and Saxons would still be based on 4s rather than 5s. Other than that, I have no idea.
How would I look at pulling this off? Well, Splintered Light, Khurasan, Baudea and Donnington (casualties) would be my miniatures of choice. Mostly Splintered Light, I think. Sgt Major miniatures also has some nice looking Normans but they lack Medium infantry.
Any thoughts or suggestions?
And Now for something different.
Welcome to the newest followers: Kaph & Rosbif. I could not tell by Kaph's profile if he has a blog but Rsobif has an excellent blog - Monsieur le Rosbif & Johnny Frog. Stop on by and check it out. Kaph, if you have a blog, let me know and I will post it up here.