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Tianhong Yu





Joined: 12 Jul 2016

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PostPosted: Wed 07 Mar, 2018 5:17 pm    Post subject: Question about enfants perdus in the battle of Dreux         Reply with quote

Hi everybody!
Does anyone know if Swiss infantry were attacked by enfants perdu while they were attacked by Huguenot cavalry?
Daniel Staberg said they were in some other posts.
James B.Wood made no mention of enfants perdus in his book The King's Army .I googled a little bit and so far haven't found any enfants perdus in Huguenot army in this battle though it seems there were some in Royal army.


If I'm not mistaken this book https://books.google.ca/books?id=SC0EAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA337&lpg=PA337&dq=enfants+perdus+++dreux+++orleanais&source=bl&ots=o3XJ5ftpPO&sig=syjqksAVqGVmr1GyaRZEhp7NXNo&hl=zh-CN&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjh296nxtvZAhVGzoMKHclJDCUQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=enfants%20perdus%20%20%20dreux%20%20%20orleanais&f=false mentions enfants perdus attacking Swiss but I'm not sure if this book is a reliable source.

Does anyone know where I can find Daniel by the way?
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Daniel Staberg




Location: Gothenburg/Sweden
Joined: 30 Apr 2005
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Mar, 2018 5:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well you can find me here and use the forums pm system to get in contact with me directly. Happy
"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Daniel Staberg




Location: Gothenburg/Sweden
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Mar, 2018 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The presence and position of the Huguenot Enfants are recorded in the drawings of the battle printed by Tortorel & Perrissin in their famous graphic history of the Wars of Religion, "Les Quarante Tableaux". For example you can see them in the 2nd of the series of plates that illustrated Dreux https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7a/Ordonnancebataillededreux.jpg they are marked with the letter "K". You can see them firing into the Swiss in the 3rd plate where they are marked with a "G" (this is the German version of the image https://i.pinimg.com/originals/98/35/d1/9835d1db2357946cfc2d3c6476eb621d.jpg)

The best source for the Enfants are however not Les Quarante Tableaux but the account of François de La Noue who describes them inflicting considerable loss on the Swiss.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Henry O.





Joined: 18 Jun 2016

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Thu 08 Mar, 2018 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I recall La Noue brought up since the incident with the Swiss at Dreux specifically because it was very unusual. The Swiss formation was broken and they took heavy casualties during the initial charge by the prince of Condies men at arms, but they were then able to reform without giving up any ground and couldn't be broken again for the rest of the battle despite suffering heavy casualties due to fire from protestant reiters and foot arquebusiers, coming to push-of-pike with a battalion of landsknechts, and then another attack by both reiters and the french men at arms together.

Also I'm sort of drawing a blank here, was "enfants perdus" just another term for foot arquebusiers or does it refer to something specific?

Also, what exactly was the deal with French infantry during this period? La Noue goes on and on about how frenchmen aren't willing to wear corselets or carry pikes and instead come to the field with only harquebuses with statements like: "I remember in the third troubles the Lorde of Acier brought 18000. good and braue Harquebuts Protestants: but if they had met in the fielde with seuen or eight hundred Speares, I would weete whether they would not haue bene all ouerthrowne?"

Was this really the case? And if so does that mean that illustrations like these which depict french infantry battalions filled with pikemen are taking artistic liberties?
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Mar, 2018 11:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That the Swiss could not be broken again is just one of several things that Oman made up in his description of Dreux because the actual facts did not fit his biased view of the ability and performance of the troops involved in the battle. After a long resistance the Swiss broke under the constants onslaught and fled the field, what set them apart is that the majority of them did not do so as fleeing individuals but rather in smaller "haufen" formed by the remnants of one or a couple of companies that withdrew in sufficient order to resist pursuing cavalry. They understood the later words of Kipling very well "Remember it's ruin to run from a fight" and had seen the French infantry supporting them devastated by pursuing cavalry when they broke.

The best modern account of Dreux in English is that in James V Wood's "The Kings Army", while it is short it reveals just how much Oman either did not know about the battle or changed to suit his needs. The book can't be recomended enough as it is one of the best studies of a 16th Century army (in this case the Royal French Army 1563-1570) published in English.

"Enfants perdus" are detached arquebusiers acting as skirmishers, Germans called them Verlorene Haufe, the English Forlorn Hope. The name comes from the fact that they acted without supporting pikemen and were often fighting in an exposed position on the battlefield, a dangerous combination at the best of times.

The regular regiments of the French Royal Army had pikemen, including corseletes/armoured pikemen, one example is Brissac's 20-company regiment in 1568 which had 19% armoured pikemen and 28% unarmoured pikemen. But the % of pikemen was often fairly low compared to the ideal at the time and Wood's book mentioned above goes into this in some detail using surviving documents. The Hugenots were a diffrent story and always had a hard time raising pikemen in sufficent numbers from native sources.

And arquebusiers caught without pikemen in the open were indeed very vulnerable to cavalry attack, particularly when facing lancers because of the speed & violence of the lance charge. Huguenot Gendarmes massacred Italian infantry who had very few pikemen & halberdiers in one battle and outside the French wars you had the fate suffered by Swedish infantry in the Livonian War with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth when facing hussars in the open.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Henry O.





Joined: 18 Jun 2016

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Fri 09 Mar, 2018 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, thanks. What I meant was that the english translation of La Noue's Discourses seems to give the Swiss a lot of credit during the battle, claiming that the final attack caused them to retire "with some small disorder".

"They were afterward also beset with two Cornets of Reistres, whom they withstoode, and lastly with one of Reistres & Frenchmen together, who made them to retire, albeit with small disorder, towarde their men that had bene behoulders of their valour. And notwithstanding their Colonel and almost al their Captaines were left dead in the place, yet did they by such resistance purchace great glorie."

Though again La Noue claims this sort of incident was very unusual. Pistols and arquebuses were almost always seen as a stationary pike square's kryptonite during this period and La Noue does mention that the gunfire slew many of the swiss.

From William Garrard:

"The General ought also to learne by good espial how his enemy is appointed: for against the French, who abound with shot, and haue few pikes, the Launce & Light-horsmans staffe of the North is singuler good, especially in the plaine: but against the Switzers and Launce Knights, the Launce auaileth litle, but ye Argoleteares and Pistoleteares shall much more anoy them."

---

Regarding the french infantry, I noticed that Fourquevaux mentioned this in his 1548 Instructions for the Wars:

"The Harquebusse hath bin invented within these fewe yeares, and is verie good, so that it be used by those that have skill, but at this present every man will be a Harquebusier: I knowe not whether it be to take the more wages, or to be the lighter laden, or to fight the further off, wherein there must be an order taken, to appoint fewer Harquebusiers, and those that are good, then many that are worth nothing"

Which seems to suggest that the French infantry were starting to prefer arquebuses pretty early on.

According to La Noue, the reason the Spanish infantry was so effective is that the Spanish gentry were far more willing to serve as armored pikemen, while the French gentry either refused to use a pike or refused to serve as infantry in the first place. His solution was that the king should start encouraging French captains and gentlemen to serve as armored pikemen as well, in order to make it more popular and serve as an example for other soldiers. And "also to imitate the Spaniard who alloweth the Corcelet greater pay than the simple harquebuze."

Was there ever a conscious effort to implement La Noue's advice?
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Tue 03 Apr, 2018 1:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know about any conscious effort, but in the late 17th and early 18th centuries a small number of French generals were criticised for taking up the pike and fighting in the line rather than maintaining overall control of their armies.
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