At the recent BOD evening we replayed the battle of Brouwershaven (1426) which was part of the so-called Hoekse en Kabeljauwse twisten. The Hoeken had a contingent of englishmen, mostly archers, as part of their force. These had just landed and enjoyed themselves in the local tavern. The battle was fought in relatively open flat terrain between the sea-dike and the sea. The Hoeken had advanced from Brouwershaven and the Kabeljauwen headed by Philip the good deployed just outside Brouwershaven. In the historic battle the Hoeken lost and – contrary to the popular believe in the invincibility of english longbow-men – the english archers were butchered down to the last man.
In our game both armies deployed neatly facing each other. The english archers were lined up with their left flank resting on the sea, a unit of knights behind them. Then a large command from Holland and on the right, and resting on the sea-dike, the Zeeuwen, i.e. the locals.
Philip deployed with his infantry up front, knights behind and a unit of crossbows on the dike to cover that flank. A command with three units of infantry and one of knights was in reserve to the rear.
The terrain between the armies was flat open ground. We treated the dike as normal going when moving on top along it and as difficult going when moving across for infantry and impassable for cavalry.
Turn 1 was for the Hoeken and none of their commanders made their command roll. The Kabeljauwen then advanced except their centre. In other words, things were moving along quietly and easily. Somewhat later the english archers advanced three moves and were in range and started their arrow barrage. hits were inflicted but the Kabeljauwen line held. Philip then thought hard. The rest of the Hoeken still stood still. He had a major advantage with respect to the number of knights. Infantry was on par, except for the archers. His infantry was still three moves away from the english archers. The rest more than four from the Hoeken opposing them. He decided to advance his knights through the infantry and concentrate most of them opposite Holland. Either his knights versus Holland or the infantry versus the english archers would decide the day.
Philip ordered his own two units of knights to advance with an easy pace through the infantry and deploy just ahead of it. This single one order would decide the game. Two dice in one throw sealed the fate of our evening.
For the game Philip was under instructions to call out: Qui m’aime me suive! He intended to do so at the right moment. He didn’t stand a chance. His knights eagerly rushed forwards and stood way ahead of the infantry within striking distance of the Hoeken. Of course the blunder was accompanied by many exclamations by the Hoeken who smelt the scent of victory. The question was: how to capture the opportunity? The earl of Holland wanted to charge forward with his command. However, he was pointed to the fact that charging knights with infantry isn’t a good idea. So he stayed put, also with his knights and positioned his archers and crossbowmen.
Philip then decided to follow fate. The dice had spoken and so be it. He threw in his two units of knights into the archers and infantry next to it, accepting a unit of knights that now acted as flank support for a unit of medium infantry armed with long spears. He joined the units charging the archers with the intention get a big blow and then do sweeping charge on the Zeeuwse small unit of knights behind the archers.
This worked and the archers were vaporized as were the knights behind them. The other unit of his knights found themselves in an engagement that was more tough. They still won with a relatively small margin. However, the earl of Holland then threw a terrible break test and the infantry was routed.
Philip pulled back is two units of knights when consolidating this success. The Hoeken then wanted to return the honors. Two units of knights charged one of Philip’s units with the infantry in flank support. The dice were with Philip and again his knights win, if only with a difference of one. Holland was thrown back in disorder. Next round Philip was able to charge the infantry with his two units of knights. The dice were again heavily on Philip’s side. The Hoeken had to take a break test with a -9 modifier. And gone were two units of infantry, breaking the Holland command.
Looking over the field of battle that decided the game. Of course there was maneuvering going on. However, Philip’s charge shaped and decided the game. A blunder turning into victory. I guess the historic chronics would now have described Philips as one of the major military geniuses of his time. We know better!