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The Catalan Company of the East (Catalan Companyia Catalana d'Orient), officially the Company of the Army of the Franks in Romania, sometimes called the Grand Company and widely known as the Catalan Company, was a free company of mercenaries founded by Roger de Flor in the early 14th-century. De Flor recruited soldiers left unemployed with the Peace of Caltabellotta in 1302 by the Medieval Crown of Aragon who opposed the Medieval French dynasty of Anjou.
In 1303 de Flor offered the services of his Company to the Late Byzantine emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus and his son the Basileus Michael IX Palaeologus. The Byzantine Empire was under threat by the Later Ottoman Turkish forces who were invading Anatolia.
Roger de Flor's offer was accepted by both Byzantium and by the Aragonese, rulers in Sicily and southern Italy, who were quite eager to rid themselves of unemployed and unruly soldiers. Roger de Flor departed with 39 galleys and transports carrying around 1,500 knights and 4,000 Almogavars, special foot soldiers employed by Christian armies mainly during the Reconquista, especially by the Medieval Crown of Aragon.
Roger de Flor arrived in Constantinople with the help of king Frederick III of the Late Sicilians in 1303, and married the niece of Andronicus, daughter of the Tsar of the Later Bulgarians, and was named grand duke (head of the fleet). Roger de Flor campaigned with his Company in Anatolia and defeating the Later Ottoman Turkish army was given the region without the cities as his fiefdom. The unruliness of the Almogavars and the growing distrust of the Late Byzantine Emperors who saw themselves with a foreign army in the heart of their empire marked the end of Roger de Flor. On the 30th of April 1305, he was slain along with 300 cavalry and 1,000 infantry by the Alans, another group of mercenaries at the service of the emperor. Roger had been in in Adrianopolis (modern Edirne) attending a banquet offered by Emperor Michael. The emperor later attacked Gallipoli attempting to conquer the city from the remnants of the Company under the command of Berenguer de EntenÃ§a who had arrived with 9 Catalan galleys. The attack was unsuccessful, but it largely decimated the Company. Berenguer de EntenÃ§a was captured by the Genoese shortly after, and later liberated. The Company had only 206 horsemen, 1,256 foot soldiers left and no clear leader when emperor Michael, trusting in his numerical superiority attacked, only to be defeated in Apros in July 1305.
The treachery of the emperor unleashed what became known as the Catalan Revenge against the Late Byzantine Empire. Following the rules of chivalry, they challenged the Emperor himself whose only answer was to kill their embassies, and ended up ordering the massacre of all Catalan and Aragonese living in Constantinople. The Company answer was to devastate the regions of Thrace and Macedonia for the next two years.The Company was a powerful asset in the political arena and Frederick III of Sicily tried to gain control over it. He assigned the Infante Ferdinand of Majorca to Gallipoli to become its Captain. However one of the leaders of the Company, Bernat de Rocafort opposed this move, and faced Berenguer de EntenÃ§a, Ferran Ximenis d'ArenÃ³s, and others who had accepted the Infante. The struggle ended with the departure of the Infante Ferran and with Bernat de Rocafort becoming leader of the Company.
The administrator, Ramon Muntaner also left and later wrote a chronicle about exploits of the Company. Bernat de Rocafort offered the Company's services to Charles of Valois to strengthen his claim to the Byzantine Empire and whom the Count of Barcelona had expelled from Sicily before founding the Company in a dynastic war for the Crown of Aragon. In 1309, Thibault de Chepoy, the deputy of Charles of Valois, ended the leadership of Rocafort, arresting him and sending him to Naples where he died of hunger the same year.
In 1310 Roger Deslaur then offered its service to Walter V of Brienne Duke of Athens and within a year it freed the duchy of its enemies, only to be betrayed by Brienne who refused to pay for is services. The Company avenged itself, defeating and killing Brienne in the Battle of Halmyros on the March 15, 1311, taking control of the duchy of Athens. Around this time, the Company also conquered the city of Thebes. No longer under control of the French the new Aragonese lands expanded into Thessaly and became the duchies of Athens and Neopatria. The Catalan rule was to last uninterruptedly until 1388â€“1390 when they were defeated by the Navarrese Company under Pedro de San Superano, Juan de Urtubia, and allied with the Florentines under Nerio I Acciaioli of Corinth. His descendants controlled them until 1456 when they were conquered by the Later Ottoman Turkish Empire. By that time, like many military enterprises, the Great Company had faded out of history.
- The army - of course - depends on its large number of Almughavars, which allow it to be used as a clone of the famous Late Roman Swarm.
- Offensive Spears of Impact foot gives 2 very different flavours, but both may well need an IC to help protect them from shooting in this period, whether unprotected or protected
- In period, Offensive Spear would be the choice as there are too many knights around to risk them as IF/Swd. For an open period O/Sp probably win as well as they are decent against many different types whereas IF/Swd shine only vs other foot.
- The Almughavars are not cheap, so having them in 6's may be the way to go. Taking the Almughavars as unprotected and using an IC to shield them from shooting cohesion tests isone option, otherwise as protected superior drilled troops they may well be OK without him. The downside of the IC is that you may end up winning initiative, and thus moving 2nd..
- The Almughavars are pretty central, so it may be worth keeping some other troops to later in deployment as they will be providing the flexibility in your army anyway
- Against mounted armies take as little terrain as possible and charge, charge, charge. The Catalans are fast and can push shooty cavalry out of the table, and the Almughavars (if spearmen or even as Impact Foot) are decent against enemy shock cavalry.
- Against heavy foot armies deploy as much terrain as possible and attack through the rough. Average protected HF (and a lot of it is average) is vulnerable to massed almughavars.
- Against Longbow armies its harder - avoid the MAA and charge the Longbow - so in this case being unprotected is a big handicap - you rely on your quality alone.
- If you take them as spearmen, consider units of 8. If you are in a 6 then you will either fight as 2x3, meaning that as soon as you lose a base, you drop a POA, or as 3x2 (meaning that 1/3rd of your troops don't fight until you lose a base. As an 8, you go 3-3-2. If you take the Almughavars in 8s look at 4 BGs of them. 6s are a little fragile to shooting. With 8s you can deploy three bases wide and have reserves for the inevitable base losses
- The Arnat knights can be a liability. They are the only unmaneuverabel unit in the army. One strength of the Catalans is the ability for everything to move pretty fast if needed, the knights impeded this.
- Another liability are the crossbows - its better to use your own LH to face off enemy LH anyway, and in-period you pretty much dash across the table and plough into the enemy with the Almughavars so terrain is unlikely to be usable to protect the crossbow from mounted and HF, unless you leave them behind. Many shooty Cav can outshoot you and beat you in combat in the open. And your opponent is looking for things to kill that aren't Almughavars, so they will be targeted.
- A group of greek bow at 18 pts can stand in front of the baggage.
- The army can also be run with very few (12) almughavars, maxing out on the Knights and Turcopole LH & Cv, and maybe even boldly adding in a Later Alan charging cavalry ally as well.
- Either way, you are going to be attacking like a banshee. You probably want to move first with this army, or have a plus 4 intiative to get terrain.
- The knights can end up being the only unmaneuverable thing in the army, which is an argument to stick with the Cv which are pretty good even though undrilled. Remeber that these can give rear support to the MF.
- If all else fails the Almughavars can take on almost anything at about evens in the open
7 / 20 Catalan Company Warfare 2008 15mm (S&S, SoA, EE)
8 / 16 CATALAN COMPANY Scottish Open 2008 (open)
8 / 20 Catalan Company Warfare 2008 15mm (S&S, SoA, EE)
11 / 16 CATALAN COMPANY Scottish Open 2008 (open)
User-contributed links about this army:
- David Kujits Catalan page the DBA army primer
- Blog with Almughavars very nice painting
- Soldadets Blog this time comparing Essex & Eureka figures
- Byzantine, Late . Date restrictions: Before 1305 Book: Eternal Empire Page: 19 - A mix of compulsary Lancer and Bw/Sw Cv/LH units makes this an ally worth being aggressive with. The cheap LF units add bulk too.
- Alan, Later : Date restrictions Before 1305 Book: Swords and Scimitars Page: 23 - Lancers!! Light Horse!! Cool !!
You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site
- Essex Miniatures - small Catalan range
- AlainTouller Figurines - AT, famously, have a range of Catalan Almughavars
- Eureka Now selling a new Almughavar range with over 800 variants (well, 15)
- QRF models Figures from the MK range would be useable, the lighter cavalry particularly.
Catalans were widely travelled and widely recruited mercenaries, so many fairly generic medieval troops could be chosen and added in to give you more variety.
"Oi! Oi! Wake up, O iron! Help us God!...Just seeing us coming the villages are already ablaze. Just seeing us passing the crows are wiping their beaks. War and plunder, there are no greater pleasures. Forward Almogavars! Let them call the gravediggers! The voice of the somatent is calling us to war. Weariness, rains, snow and heat we shall endure. And if sleep overtakes us, we will use the earth as our bed. And if we get hungry, we shall eat raw meat. Wake up, O iron! Forward! Fast as the lightning let us fall over their camp! Forward Almogavars! Let us cut flesh, the wild beasts are hungry!"
Sample army lists for this army
Name of Army / Date
- 2x4 LH avg bow/swd
- 1x4 LH avg javs swd
- 6 LF poor bow
- 6xLF poor bow
- 8xLF jav/lt sp avg
- 2x6 MF S D off sp
- 4x6 MF S D off sp
- 6xMF D S offsp
- 2x6 LF XB
- 1x4 cav Arm L swds U/Dr
- Using asterisks inthe edit mode creates a bulleted list in the actual site
- This is a lot easier to do than easier than setting up tables
- For FoG I suggest listing your army in order or march
- with troop desctiptions on each line, for example
- 4 HF Armoured Average Drilled Impact Foot Swordsmen
- 8 LG Undrilled Unarmoured Poor Bowen
- Dont forget to include your Generals !!!
Include any notes you want here, including comments on how to use - or play against - the army.
Remember to leave a line before you copy the above section as a template for your own list