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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Thu 13 Nov, 2014 8:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To be fair, Swiss armies crushed seemly superior opponents right and left during their glory days, roughly 1440-1525. When it comes to close combat, morale, experience, and cohesion count for so much. Charles the Bold's various armies look great on paper, but overall they were likely inferior in the Swiss in fighting spirit and cohesion. Certainly some of the Burgundian men-at-arms exemplified knightly prowess, but those - specifically Louis de Châtel-Guyon at Grandson 1476 - didn't necessary spend their energies wisely. Others among the Burgundian heavy cavalry supposedly lacked basic martial skills.

Consider what it took to actually defeat the Swiss. At Marignano you had the best men-at-arms of France - including Pierre Terrail and King Francis himself - a mighty artillery train, veteran Landsknechts, various arquebusiers, and plenty of crossbowers. The French army outnumbered the Swiss, possibly significantly. And the Swiss still managed to fight through an entire day and night and kill thousands of their foes. At Bicocca 1522 the Swiss charged against a well-fortified position defended by many guns as well as Landsknecht. Even in this nightmare scenario they didn't give up easily and only eventually withdrew.

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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2014 7:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
To be fair, Swiss armies crushed seemly superior opponents right and left during their glory days, roughly 1440-1525. When it comes to close combat, morale, experience, and cohesion count for so much. Charles the Bold's various armies look great on paper, but overall they were likely inferior in the Swiss in fighting spirit and cohesion. Certainly some of the Burgundian men-at-arms exemplified knightly prowess, but those - specifically Louis de Châtel-Guyon at Grandson 1476 - didn't necessary spend their energies wisely. Others among the Burgundian heavy cavalry supposedly lacked basic martial skills.

Consider what it took to actually defeat the Swiss. At Marignano you had the best men-at-arms of France - including Pierre Terrail and King Francis himself - a mighty artillery train, veteran Landsknechts, various arquebusiers, and plenty of crossbowers. The French army outnumbered the Swiss, possibly significantly. And the Swiss still managed to fight through an entire day and night and kill thousands of their foes. At Bicocca 1522 the Swiss charged against a well-fortified position defended by many guns as well as Landsknecht. Even in this nightmare scenario they didn't give up easily and only eventually withdrew.


From a paper strength point of view it doesn't make much sense indeed. The savoyard cavalry and infantry, English archers and native troops certainly were no strangers to combat.

At Morat the Burgundian army had a pretty good(read: near perfect) position. Infantry in the center in a good position protected by a ditch and palisade (which is what made Flodden 1513 a massacre for the Scottish), Artillery on one flank on an elevated position and on the other flank his cavalry. I doubt you could be in a better position to counter the swiss than if you were standing on a castle wall. The only thing that crashed this perfect setup was the absence of the Burgundian army...
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2014 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On one hand, having as many troop types as the Burgundian army did could be an advantage if these disparate troop types get the time and opportunity to practice how to work together. At the same time, it also carries a potential for disaster since coordinating multiple troop types is more complicated than it sounds and an enemy with a less diverse army might have an advantage in how quickly they could sort out the formations, dispositions, and movement plans for their forces. Wargamers the world over have conducted numerous refights of the battles in the Swiss-Burgundian War and they generally notice that the many different troop types in the Burgundian army tend to get in each other's way under anything less than perfect coordination. The Swiss have their command-and-control problems too in wargames but it's usually nowhere near the magnitude of the difficulties experienced by Burgundian players.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 7:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
On one hand, having as many troop types as the Burgundian army did could be an advantage if these disparate troop types get the time and opportunity to practice how to work together. At the same time, it also carries a potential for disaster since coordinating multiple troop types is more complicated than it sounds and an enemy with a less diverse army might have an advantage in how quickly they could sort out the formations, dispositions, and movement plans for their forces. Wargamers the world over have conducted numerous refights of the battles in the Swiss-Burgundian War and they generally notice that the many different troop types in the Burgundian army tend to get in each other's way under anything less than perfect coordination. The Swiss have their command-and-control problems too in wargames but it's usually nowhere near the magnitude of the difficulties experienced by Burgundian players.


That's probably true though I still wonder how Morat would have looked if the Swiss didn't arrive to late for their appointment.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Nov, 2014 2:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm still not sure it would have worked out well for the Burgundians. In their previous battles -- even the ones they won -- there wasn't much evidence that they managed to successfully coordinate the various parts of their army. Their victories could generally be chalked up to the success of one or at most two different troop types rather than multiple types working in concert.
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Oct, 2017 6:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
Sean Flynt wrote:
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
I'm not violating forum rules by bumping an ancient thread just because it has such loads of useful information, am I?


Not at all. In fact, I'll add an image that might be of use to others who find this.


I like the image. From what I can tell the archers wear sallets and brigandine, their arms left unarmored and wearing thigh height leather boots for horse riding. They must've been some rich and fine dandy archers Cool

However I can't really tell what the pike men were wearing, could anyone tell me?


Those are actually men-at-arms, with fauchards and normal-sized infantry spears. The plumes and the flag (which is a pennon or pennoncel) denounce that. Their armor seems to be full harness, but using brigandines instead of a full white harness.

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Others among the Burgundian heavy cavalry supposedly lacked basic martial skills.


What do you mean with that? Theorically the men-at-arms must be among the most well-trained troops of an army.
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2017 11:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Burgundian Pikelettes         Reply with quote

Daniel Staberg wrote:
Which arm was held forward changed as pikes grew longer. 17th Century drill has the left arm forward and the right hand gripping the rear of the pike, this is due to need to balance the 16-18 foot pikes then in use. 15th and early 16th Century pikes were shorter (10-14 feet) and used in a diffrent manner. For example all but one of the drawings made by Paul Dolnstein of his landsknecht comrades wieldidng their pikes in battle or in training durign the first years of the 16th Century show them having the right arm forward.


Spitballing, but lets say rather than right (armored arm) forward, the left with a hanging targe/shield was covering the forward arm with the exposed back arm armored and breastplate protecting the rest of the body. when you get to secondary weapons like swords you have your right arm armored and left with a shield. Makes more sense than your rear thrusting arm being bogged down with a shield (usually shown in modern depictions protecting the body or armpit- moot when you have a breastplate as an ordinance item) while your forward arm is better armored but exposed.

Targe/target might be more of a hand pavise with a neck strap; many surviving hand pavises have two lanyard rings or such up top in addition to their T shaped cord grips.

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