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Medieval German

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 3 months ago

Medieval German (IV/13)




Proposal: List IV/13 Medieval German - some minor changes


Author: Duncan Head


Synopsis: This is famously one of the most complex and difficult

lists in all four books. Many would agree that it needs completely re-

writing and re-structuring. At this stage I only list some minor

points that need to be fixed in any re-written German list(s).


The following points are covered here:


1 What allied generals must command

2 Konradin's Spanish allies

3 Fortified camps

4 Dismounting knights


1 What allied generals must command

One problem with the list is that most generals available are allies;

the combination of the range of troops available to different allies

plus the normal rule that internal ally-generals must command at

least a quarter of the minimum of each compulsory type results in

several troop-types having to be divided between commands in a way

that often produces errors in compiling lists, can produce clumsy

armies, and is hard to justify historically. Unless and until the

list is rewritten to reduce this problem, a suggested solution would

be to add to the notes the following:


"Allied generals are not obliged to command normally compulsory

troops of an origin different to the general's own."


2 Konradin's Spanish allies

The Spanish general available to Konradin's army in Italy in 1268

(Henry of Castile) is unindented. This was probably a mistake, as it

implies he was "of the same or a closely related nationality" – but

neither are Castilians closely related to Germans, nor was Henry

personally closely related to Konradin. Further, the rules oblige an

unindented Spanish general to command at least a quarter of other

compulsory types – in this case German feudal knights, Italian

knights, and mercenary knights if any are used. In fact Henry's

division at Tagliacozzo contained his own Spaniards and some Italian

men-at-arms, but no Germans (Oman v.I p.509; Runciman pp.127-8).


Command of the Italians should also be clarified. At Tagliacozzo

there were three "battles":


- The van under Henry of Castile with the Spanish and some Italians

- The second under Galvano Lancia and the Count of Parma with

Italians and a few Germans

- The reserve under the C-in-c Konradin himself with the bulk of the



Treating the Italians (who were local Ghibelline (pro-Hohenstaufen)

nobles, not mercenaries) as "feudal" troops will allow the correct

results, at least if this organisation is followed, with both the

Spanish general and any "feudal ally-general" (Lancia) having to

command some Italians.


A suggested solution is:


1 Indent the Spanish general and Spanish troops;

2 Add to the notes "The Spanish general in Konradin's army must

command all Spanish troops, may command Italians, but may not command

other troops. Treat the Italian Kn as feudal for command purposes."



Sir Charles Oman, "A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages"

(Methuen 1924, reprint Greenhill 1991)

Sir Steven Runciman, "The Sicilian Vespers" (Penguin, 1958)


3 Fortified camps and other wagon laagers


The list makes no explicit provision for fortified camps. However

these were clearly used throughout the period:


1. The Emperor Henry V is described as retiring at night into

a "wagenburg" (the translator's rendering) after being worsted by

the Cologne militia in a skirmish in 1114 – see the "Greater Annals

of Cologne" at



2. The future Emperor Charles IV, describing campaigns with his

father John of Luxemburg, King of Bohemia, in Italy in 1332, twice

mentions fortifying their camp – see

http://www.deremilitari.org/RESOURCES/SOURCES/charles.htm . He does

not say how the camps were fortified – perhaps with ditches and

earthwork ramparts as by Italian armies, but perhaps with wagons.


3. An account of the Margrave of Brandenburg's army in 1462

describes a wagenburg of 1,000 wagons, which are certainly being

used as camp fortifications at night – with gates, tents, and sentry-

parties – whatever their function may have been in battle

(Christopher Gravett, German Medieval Armies 1300–1500 (Osprey 1985)



4. About 1480, the "Mittelalterliche Hausbuch" shows an Imperial

camp fortified by two rings of wagons, the outer of wheeled pavise-

style gun-wagons and the inner ring of ordinary supply wagons -



What the published list does allow is city militia wagon-laagers,

after 1320, described as a wagon-laager but costed (at 2AP) not as

camp fortifications but as fieldworks. I have so far found no

supporting evidence for wagons being used as a field fortification,

other than for a camp, until after Hussite influence sets in. Since

this line survives from version 1 of the list, compiled for an

earlier version of the rules where the distinction between camp and

other fortifications was not made, it may be that it was originally

meant for camps but was overlooked in the revision. Indeed that 12

elements' frontage is allowed, more or less the standard figure for

camp fortifications in the published lists, does reinforce the idea

that the laager was originally meant for a camp. While 12 elements

may not be enough to fortify a camp in all circumstances, it does

appear to be chosen as the amount necessary to protect the maximum

eight baggage elements, arranged two deep on the baseline, with

space for defenders on three sides.


I therefore suggest replacing –


Only after 1320 AD:

City wagon laager – TF @ 2AP 0-12


with -


Wagon laager to fortify camp – TF @ 1AP 0-12


- with no date or usage restrictions. The examples cited above are

all for Imperial or "feudal" armies; but I see no reason to assume

that wagon-camps could not be used by other German forces.


The use of wagons as field-fortifications is another question. As I

said I have come across no evidence before the Hussite period, but

afterwards wagon-forts were clearly used for more than just camps.

At Pfeddersheim in 1460 both sides deployed their infantry and

artillery behind wagon-laagers – the allied forces of the Count of

Leiningen, the Archbishop of Mainz and others deployed the infantry

of an 8,000-man army, plus at least 43 artillery pieces, in a circle

of allegedly 1,000 wagons. (This seems too many: Hussite and

Austrian practice required 20 men to a wagon, so assuming this army

had at least 1,000 horse, perhaps more, only 350 wagons at most

would be expected for 7,000 or fewer foot.) The opposing forces of

Friedrich of the Palatinate also deployed infantry and artillery

behind a wagenburg; the modern account I found this in speaks

inevitably of the wagenburg being a Hussite tactic. However the

Palatine infantry left it to fight, storming the allied wagenburg

once the Palatine cavalry had broken their opponents - which DBM/MM

WWg cannot do. So should we class these wagons as TF or as WWg? TF

certainly seems better for this example, and it may well be that the

Germans were rarely able to reproduce the more flexible offensive

use of the wagons sometimes seen from the Hussites. I would suggest:


Only after 1426 AD:

Wagon laager as field-fortification – TF @ 2AP 0-24

Non-camp TF cannot be used with WWg (O)


- to prevent the use of the same wagons in two roles. The double

ring of wagons of "Mittelalterliche Hausbuch", however, suggests

that using both camp TF wagons and field TF wagons could be allowed.


At the moment six "feudal or clerical" WWg (O) are allowed after

1426. This may not be enough; it certainly wouldn't be enough for

the 1,000, or even 350, allied wagons of Pfeddersheim, at the rules'

suggested scale of 25 war-wagons to an element, if those were to be

treated as WWg. However WWg numbers may be best left for another



(For Pfeddersheim, John Laurence Adams, Friedrich the Victorious, (Freezywater 1993).

1425-1476, Count Palatine on the Rhine

Christopher Gravett, German Medieval Armies 1300–1500 (Osprey 1985).)


4 Dismounting knights

The current list allows knights after 1235 to dismount either as Bd

(S), as is normal for Kn at this period, or as Sp (S). This latter

option appears to be based only on the battle of Sempach in 1386. The

traditional story of this battle is that the Austrian Habsburg

knights dismounted with long lances that outreached the Swiss

halberds, and their line was only breached when a Swiss hero, Arnold

von Winkelried, grabbed hold of an armful of these lances and plunged

them into his own breast, creating a breach in the line that his

comrades could exploit.


However it has been demonstrated that this story does not appear in

the contemporary accounts of the battle, but is a later elaboration.

The hero first appears, anonymously, in a late 15th-century edition

of a chronicle – by which time, of course, long pikes were common

infantry weapons - and he is not named as Winkelried until the 16th

century. His name and fame appear to be inspired by a genuine Arnold

von Winkelried who similarly tore a breach in the line of Habsburg

landsknecht pikes at Bicocca in 1522. The key point for our purposes

is that the story of the Austrian knights' long lances only appears

in connection with that of the kamikaze hero, once the hero story is

dismissed there seems to be no reason to believe that of the lances,

since no source remains for it.


(the song including this legend can be found at


- this is taken from "A book of Golden Deeds" available through

Guttenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/6489 - it is attributed

to someone who fought at the battle, but there is obviously considerable

doubt as to the truth of that)


Therefore, there is no good reason to allow German knights any

dismounting options other than the normal Bd (S). Simply delete "Sp

(S) or" in line 22 of the notes.


(An anonymous contributor writes:

This conclusion does not follow the evidence provided - the possibility of

longer lances can be retained without the Winkelried myth - eg see the 

reference below which does exactly that.


The original author responds that this approach ignores the inconvenient 

fact that the long lances only appear when associated with the mythical 

Winkelried, and suggesting that they had an earlier independent existence

is pure speculation.)




Sir Charles Oman, A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages

(Methuen 1924, reprint Greenhill 1991) - v.2 p.249 for Winkelried

as "mythical", though still apparently accepting the long lances.





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