Medieval French

Medieval French

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Historical Overview Section

By the late fourteenth century and the early fifteenth, French military power had declined in the run up to the early part of the Hundred Years' War. New weapons and tactics seemingly made the knight more of a sitting target than an effective battle force, but the often-praised longbowmen had little to do with the English success. Poor coordination or rough terrain led to bungled French assaults. The slaughter of knights at the Battle of Agincourt best exemplified this carnage. The French were able to field a much larger army of men-at-arms than their English counterparts, who had many longbowmen. Despite this, the French suffered about 6,000 casualties compared to a few hundred for the English because the narrow terrain prevented the tactical envelopments envisioned in recently discovered French plans for the battle.

The French suffered a similar defeat at the Battle of the Golden Spurs against the Low Countries militia in 1302. When knights were allowed to effectively deploy, however, they could be more useful, as at Cassel in 1328 or, even more decisively, at Bouvines in 1214 and Patay in 1429. Given the successes of Henry V of England, his death in 1422 altered the nature of the war profoundly and may have permitted the French to recover virtually all their territory by the end of the conflict.

Popular French conceptions of the final stages of the Hundred Years' War are often dominated by the exploits of Joan of Arc, but in fact the French resurgence was rooted in multiple factors. A major step was taken by King Charles VII, who, with the Compagnies d'ordonnance, cavalry units with 20 companies of 600 men each created the first standing army giving the French a considerable edge in professionalism and discipline. Additionally, developments in artillery made it a crucial part of the French army, and the resounding victories over the English at the battles of Formigny and Castillon, both significantly attributable to artillery were so decisive that the war ended then and there. By 1453 Calais was the only English possession in mainland France.

User-contributed links about this army:

Tourney Results

6 / 10 Medieval French BHGS Challenge 2008 25mm (open)
16 / 62 Medieval French Britcon 2008 15mm (open)
11 / 12 SA10 Medieval French Northern League R2 2008 (open)

Allied Contingents

  • Later Medieval Scots - Continental adds longbowmen and some heavy weapon dismounted knight types to the list, bear in mind the option to take Scots longbows in 4's has been deemed a "misprint", and the minima becomes 6.

Usage Advice

  • The army really doesn't comprise of much aside from knights and crossbowmen, and so inevitably any battle plan needs to rely on the knights to do the business.
  • Its about knights. Take only the minimum foot and use them to guard the camp, and then attack in a wall of knights across the table
  • Having a post 1350 option for Average knights and using them in 6's is almost tempting as they then become much cheaper - and for knights, it is death tests that kill them, not losing cohesion tests. Average status also allows French infantry to provide rear support. However Average Knights are the wrong choice in 99 out of 100 possible situations – and don't take them in 4's - its then an accident waiting to happen.
  • Also post 1350 you get nothing else worth having anyway.
  • BGs of 6 knights are probably too wide to use effectively - use them as 5+1 or 4+2 to allow for losses

* The 4 drilled mercenary knights provide a more reliable and less impetuous angle to the one-dimensional appeal of the army.

  • The crossbowmen really are a target for anyone with any decent foot, and cannot defend themselves. Crossbow units generally are troops which do not win battles. They can cause heavily armoured and armoured knights pause for thought and are pretty good against cavalry but generally unless you expect to face off against lots of knights, or cynically plan to use them as filler, on a flank, or in column to support the scary average Knights from behind.
  • The 8 spearmen are unable to make a difference on their own, and may well be ignored.
  • Woodlands may be a good terrain choice as at least the bad terrain on table wont be tempting for anyone to go into from either side. Alternatively an agricultural choice, using the 2 open spaces to try and create level ground for a devastating charge is the prefered option.
  • Scottish mercenary archers in an allied contingent add some grunt to both shooting, and to the ability of your foot to defend itself from mounted and foot opponents.
  • Don't discard the cavalry out of hand. They are quick and nimble in this period.

15mm Manufacturers supplying figures suitable for Late Medieval Armies

You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site

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Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army

  • 1 Ribauds, pillards, peasant levies MB Poor Undrilled Unprotected - - - - 8
  • 2 Spanish Xbow LF Average Undrilled Unprotected Crossbow - - - 6
  • 3 French Archers MF Poor Undrilled Unprotected Longbow - - - 4
  • 4 French Men-at-Arms Kn Average Undrilled Heavily Armoured - Lancer Swordsmen - 4
  • 5 French Men-at-Arms Kn Average Undrilled Heavily Armoured - Lancer Swordsmen - 4
  • 6 French Xbow MF Average Undrilled Protected Crossbow - - - 6
  • 7 French Xbow MF Average Undrilled Protected Crossbow - - - 6
  • 8 Voulgiers HF Average Drilled Armoured - - Heavy Weapon - 8
  • 9 Mercenary men-at-arms Kn Average Drilled Heavily Armoured - Lancer Swordsmen - 4
  • 10 Scottish Archers MF Average Undrilled Protected Longbow - Swordsmen - 8
  • 11 Scottish Archers MF Average Undrilled Protected Longbow - Swordsmen - 8
  • 12 Scottish men-at-arms HF Average Undrilled Armoured - - Heavy Weapon - 6
  • IC - - - - - - C-in-C 1
  • TC - - - - - - - 2
  • Scottish Allied General TC - - - - - - Ally General 1

800 Ap list

  • 6 Average Protected Undrilled Crossbows
  • 8 Poor Protected Drilled Crossbows
  • 6 Average Armored Drilled Heavy Weapon Voulgiers
  • 8 Average Heavily Armored Undrilled Heavy Weapon Scotts
  • 6 Average Protected Undrilled Swordsmen
  • 4 Poor Unprotected Undrilled French Longbowmen
  • 6 Average Protected Undrilled Scottish Longbow-Swordsmen
  • 6 Average Protected Undrilled Swordsmen
  • 6 Average Protected Undrilled Scottish Longbow-Swordsmen
  • 6 Average Unprotected Undrilled LF Spanish Crossbowmen
  • 4 Average Armoured Undrilled Lancer-Swordsmen Cavalry
  • 4 Superior Heavily Armoured Undrilled Lancer-Swordsmen Knights
  • 4 Superior Heavily Armoured Undrilled Lancer-Swordsmen Knights
  • Generals

Remember to leave a line before you copy the above section as a template for your own list

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