“Champagne! In victory one deserves it, in defeat one needs it” - Napoleon
Timurilank's 'Storm Within The Empire'
First to decamp were the Lombards and Berengar I placed his archers on or near the hills while his knights were interspersed among the ranks of the militia spear and to the left, Berengar placed his loyal German faction.
In anticipation, Rudolph II deployed nearly all his knights on the right and infantry on the left as these were better equipped to deal with the archers located on the hills. On his right, he placed the knights of Spoleto and Ivrea opposite Berengar’s Germans.
A cautious Berengar moved slowly forward to give time for his archers to form up on the forward slope to the right. The Bavarians however, advanced as one group, but eager for battle, the knights of Spoleto and Ivrea pulled ahead of the main battle line.
The Lombard were able to move 80 paces before the archers rained arrows on the Bavarian infantry. To Rudolph’s right, the allies demonstrated good sense by restraining their knights and allow their skirmishers to approach the enemy through the grain fields.
As if by command, both sides halted their advance to await the outcome of the combat near the Santerno. Here, the Italian knights of Spoleto and Ivrea charged the militia spear successfully destroying half of their number while the Burgundian skirmishers repulsed the Lombard knights from the grain fields (1 – 0).
Seeing Berengar move to contain the situation on his left flank, Rudolph resumed his march forward as the persistent barrage of arrows was having little effect.
Rudolph’s infantry and knights collided with the Lombards to push most of their line back, but one body of Lombard knights were able to break through sending some Bavarian knights recoiling. Rudolph II and guard moved quickly to aid these troops. Disaster struck as the knights of Spoleto succumbed to a Lombard counterattack bringing the score even (1 – 1). .
Rudolph’s quick decision to aid his centre did restore the situation, however, elsewhere on the battlefield the number of casualties rose as the conflict took an intensive turn (2 – 2).
The entire destruction of the Italian contingent from Spoleto and Ivrea left Rudolph’s right flank hanging in the air. Rudolph’s infantry were holding well against the bothersome archers and Lombard militia giving him time to his knights nearby and destroy a unit of Lombard knights (3 – 3).
Seizing an opportune moment, Lombard knights moved through a gap between Rudolph’s infantry line. To counter this, Thuringian cavalry were sent by Rudolph to beat them back. This ended disastrously for the cavalry as the Lombard the knights crushed them. Elsewhere the Bavarian knights were rolling up the Lombard line bringing the score even (4 – 4).
The battle reached a critical moment as both sides desperately sought to inflict a decisive blow. The Lombard knights wheeled around to strike the Bavarian infantry rear while Lombard militia battled in front. As fate would have it, the Bavarian infantry repulsed both Lombard militia and knights in a heroic combat. It was now the turn of the Lombards to feel the dance of death as Rudolph II broke their centre to claim victory (5 – 4).
Design notes. In this scenario, each side was given an ‘allied contingent’ to represent German supporters of Berengar I and Italian troops from Spoleto and Ivrea for Rudolph II. To avoid confusion, both sides kept their original elements and designated three elements to form an allied contingent rather that swapping elements from each other’s command. As the battle developed, the movement restriction for allied contingents did not handicap either side; cohesion was quickly lost after the first few turns.
The battle ended historically and was a nail-biter to the very end. Berengar did survive the battle and in this replay, his element and other knights pursued their opponents into the fields (rough ground) finally destroying them. This had the unfortunate result of costing too much time to exit the rough ground. They were in time however, to view their centre fleeing the battlefield.
Our boards are 80cm x 80 cm for all our games and if using a smaller board I would suggest omitting the Santerno River and placing the two difficult hills resting on the opposite board edge. This would allow both armies to deploy in ample room.
During the early part of the tenth century, Berengar I was not only the Holy Roman Emperor but also the King of Italy. As King of Italy, he faced a growing disaffection among his subjects causing many of the noble houses to support one of two factions. This divisive situation brought him at odds with the Italian supported kingdom of Spoleto and Ivrea, caused primarily through his poor handling of the Magyar incursions; preferring to bribe them than seeking a direct confrontation with the invaders. The incursions escalated forcing the church to seek another for the crown of Italy. The most likely candidate was Rudolph II of Burgundy, a choice that was also supported by the grandson of Berengar I, Berengar of Ivrea. During this critical period, the Magyar chose to again invade northern Italy leaving an indecisive Berengar I to watch the invaders pillage the countryside.
The situation had reached a boiling point leaving Rudolph II to gather an army and confront Berengar I. On the 29thof July the armies made contact near Firenzuola 75km south of Bologna.
The Battlefield.Firenzuola is situated in a valley between the Apennines Mountains connecting Florence with Bologna and coursing its way through the valley is the Santerno River, which may have served as protection for both armies. We can only speculate on the location of the battle site as no details or terrain features are mentioned in the accounts. Tuscany is renowned for its wine, so we can imagine the hillsides partially covered with vineyards.
Surveying terrain maps of the area we have an idea the terrain should be hilly with a minimal presence of farming area. The game board should contain a minimum of two difficult hills, a small BUA (hamlet) and river. The river should be placed as close to a board edge offering a protected flank for both armies and two difficult hills should be placed in the two quadrants opposite to the river. The placement of the hamlet is done by die roll and this should rest on the board edge leaving sufficient room for both armies to deploy. Players may wish to consider replacing the small BUA for two small sized fields (plough) and considering that the battle was fought on the 29th of July, these should be considered rough ground.
The Armies.The army of Rudolph II is taken from the East Frankish list (III/53) and has an allied contingent representing Adalbert I of Ivrea (Italian Lombard III/21b).
The Army of Berengar I are taken from the Italian Lombard list (III/21b). It is debatable if Magyars were present at this battle as Berengar I did employ them in the campaign directly preceding Firenzuola. In their place, Berengar may have East Frankish allies (III/53) representing a German faction.
The Setup.The Army of Berengar I are defending and therefore deploy first with the eastern side as their board edge, the River Santerno on their left and the difficult hills to their right.
The Army of Rudolph II and allies are positioned second with the Santerno River appearing on their right and the hills to their left.
In the early morning hours of the 30th, the Qaramitan formed three divisions, placing all their infantry in the central division and placed an even number of mounted troops to left and right divisions. The battle site for the most part was open with rough ground and dunes protecting the flanks.
Facing the Qaramitan, Muhammad ibn Sulayman positioned the bulk of his cavalry opposite the Qaramitan right and deployed his infantry to the centre and right flank.
The Qaramitan battle line approach at the pace of the infantry in the centre division to which the Abbasid moved their central division forward supported by a line of archers to their right. Sulayman held the cavalry of the left flank back as a precautionary step.
The Zanj struck the Qaramitan line sending their archers back on their heels leaving the Abbasid spearmen trotting close behind. To the right, the Abbasid archers wheeled their line showering the approaching Qaramitan mounted troops with arrows.
Within a short time fighting erupted all along the line to include the centre and Abbasid right wing; only the Qaramitan left and their opposing cavalry remained uncommitted.
Dailami mercenaries on the far right seized an opportunity to strike the exposed flank of the Qaramitan mounted, this was quickly supported by Jund troops. Despite this, the situation on the Abbasid right became desperate as all the archers were cut down prompting Muhammad ibn Sulayman to join the conflict on the far right. The loss of the archer corps was quickly offset by the Qaramitan losing their own archer corps to the Zanj (2 – 2).
Both sides fell back to assess the situation as dust clouds obscured visibility. Both sides still retained an uncommitted division.
The sound of horns and drums signalled each side to resume the conflict and the uncommitted troops now moved into battle. This included the Bedouin light horse who seized on an opportunity to attack the Qaramitan leader and Sulayman returned to the fight leaving the Zanj to still plunder the bodies of the fallen Qaramitan archers (poor pip score).
The Bedouin light horse were dispersed giving the Qaramitan leader a brief respite (3 – 3). However, the Zanj stopped their plundering long enough to discover a richer prize lay within their grasp. Both units of Zanj surrounded the Qaramitan leader to cut him down sending the Qaramitan in panic and flee to the desert (4+g – 3).
Design notes.This scenario was tested a few times with both sides reaching victory including a decisive 6 – 3 win for the Qaramitan which was particularly interesting. We selected this battle as a final report as it did reach a historical result to include the elimination of Qaramitan leadership.
Both armies comprised a mix of infantry and cavalry which resulted in games requiring less time to reach a decision as compared to the infantry engagements between Vikings and Anglo-Saxons.
Closer to home, the Abbasid would face greater challenges from rivals who were determine to usurp the position of Caliph and revolts such as the Zanj of 869 – 883 further disrupted the political scene. Sensing a further weakening of Abbasid authority the Qaramitan launched their revolt of 897. Beginning in Southern Iraq their rebellion quickly spread to the western edge of the Syrian Desert and from there they launched devastating raids against Abbasid and Tulunid provinces in the Middle East and Egypt. Damascus was also besieged for a time but its defenders successfully beat back repeated attempts to seize the city.
In July of 903, measures were taken to suppress Qaramitan activity in northern Syria and the Caliph assembled an army to confront the rebels. Led by Muhammad ibn-Sulayman, the army engaged the Qaramitan in a series of skirmishes eventually forcing them to a major battle.Dispersing a Qaramitan covering force a full scale battle ensued on the 30thof November resulting in a defeat for the Qaramitan and a loss of key leaders. Despite the defeat the flames of rebellion were not stamped out but would rekindle from their original starting point in southern Iraq.
The BattlefieldOur primary source comes from al-Tabari who describes the battle as having been fought 24 miles from Hama. Viewing terrain maps of the region, there are numerable possibilities for a battle site, but there are two important details that help narrow our search; the recent destruction of Salamiyya and the proximity of the desert referenced in the flight of the Qaramitan from the battlefield. A route connecting Hamah (Hama) to Salamiyya must pass through a wide valley (5 km wide) which narrows as one continues further south. This does offer an ideal position for the Qaramitan to deploy and is close to the desert and Salamiyya. From a DBA game perspective, the terrain qualifies as ‘dry’ and from terrain maps we note a number of details; difficult hills, possible wadis, rocky ground and further south we find desert. Our battlefield therefore should have as a minimum; two rocky terrain features, one dune and one difficult hill.
The ArmiesThe forces involved are described in detail by Al-Tabari; the Qaramitan had 4,900 horse and 3,000 foot. To reconcile the Qaramitan (III/54b) army list with these numbers, some camel-mounted troops should dismount at the start of the game to reach the numbers of foot and mounted. This gives the Qaramitan the following; 2 x Cv (including general), 1 x LCm, 4 x Cm, 2 x Sp, 2 x 3Bw, 1 x Ps or 7 mounted and 5 foot elements which closely approximates the ratio needed for this scenario.
The Abbasidforces of Muhammad ibn Sulayman are taken from the III/37b sub-list which offer a fine mix of mounted and foot troops. Foot troops have Dailami auxiliaries which are particularly useful in rough ground as are the Zanj swordsmen.
The SetupThe Qaramitandeploy in three groups (al-Tabari), a left wing, centre and right wing with all the infantry positioned in the centre and mounted are evenly divided between the two wings. The Qaramitan defend and therefore move first.
As the Abbasiddecamp they approach the Qaramitan in three groups. Muhammad ibn Sulayman places two units of cavalry in ambush positions on both flanks. This most likely means a position behind the main battleline but out of sight from the enemy which was common practice (Kennedy).
Recommended Reading.The Cambridge History of Egypt, Volume 1The History of Al-Tabari, volume 38, Return of the Caliphate to Baghdad. (page 135)The Armies of the Caliphs, Hugh Kennedy.
On the morning of the 24th of September, King Berengar and his nobles were expecting another full day of negotiations and more delay with the Magyar leaders. The camp was bustling with the preparation of breakfast when scouts sounded the alarm; the Magyars were approaching in force and seemed intent on battle.
A panic swept through the ranks as many nobles could not agree on a course of action, yet despite the delay King Berengar was able to form a line of cavalry that would hopefully be able to cover the slower moving infantry columns.
With the Italian camp caught by surprise, the Magyar had ample time to form their battle line. On the right, a column of horse archers moved quickly around the village to approach the Italian army on their left flank. The remaining three groups of Magyar moved forward in echelon with their warlord leading the first group striking the Italian knights positioned nearest the village.
Assisted by a body of archers, these knights successfully repelled the Magyar effort near the village. To the rear of the Italian knights, columns of Italian militia were forming to cover their army’s flanks and provide support for the king positioned in centre.
The Magyar heavy cavalry renewed their attack to destroy the bothersome archers and sent the Italian knights back on their heels. The situation was saved by the timely arrival of militia. Events took a disastrous turn as Magyar horse archers assaulted the Lombard centre; here the king was severely wounded by an arrow and carried off the field. A sense of despair swept through the Lombard ranks (2+g – 0).
The Magyar quickly followed up their success by surrounding the knights in the centre bringing one of their numbers down. Further casualties fell on the right delivering a crushing defeat for the Lombard (4+g – 0).
Design notes. Writing a scenario to include an element of surprise is a difficult task and Brenta was no different. Despite the defeat for the Lombard in this test, they won decisively the first five games generating much consternation. How did the Magyar manage a victory?
I then remembered a while ago writing a series of stratagems for the Punic campaigns which did duplicate the surprise on an enemy camp. This was done by adjusting the deployment area of each moving the attacker closer to the enemy camp. The two battle lines were positioned 6BW from each other resulting in the defender positioning his troops closer to camp. This replicated well the moment when the Italians were attacked during breakfast (Andrea Frediani).
The Battlefield.The exact location of the battle site which took place on 24 September is not precisely known. Our only reference of the battle is given by Luidprand of Cremona as having taken place along the River Brenta north of Padua. Tracing the course of the Brenta River from its headwater at Trentino it passes 170 km of arable plain to empty into the Adriatic Sea. Along its route are many possible locations for a battle site. The battle of Brenta was predominately a cavalry action and therefore the selection of a battle site would most likely to have taken place with a minimum of bad and rough going terrain.
For our purposes, the battlefield should certainly have two plough, a wood and possibly a small hamlet. After many test games, we opted to have the river present but placed this near the Magyar board edge. Its presence would not hamper the deployment of troops, but would serve as danger to fleeing troops. By the date of 24 September crops will have been harvested, however rainfall could still turn plough into rough ground on a die cast of ‘1’.
The Armies.The MagyarThe Magyar host should follow army list Book III/30b giving them eleven mounted units with an option to replace a light horse with foot skirmishers (Ps) for the twelfth element.
The Italian LombardAccording to one modern author (Frediani) Berengar commands a heterogeneous army. We interpreted this as an Italian Lombard force with two allied contingents, both of which are taken from the same Italian Lombard list. These are represented as 1 x knight and 1 x foot element and the total number of knights must not exceed the original list for the Italian Lombard. The allied contingents may not make a group move with the Royal troops which simulate the dissention among the nobles which occurred on the day of battle (Luidprand).
Setup.The Italian LombardTo suggest the element of surprise by the Magyar, the deployment area for the Italian Lombard is slightly reduced. The Italian Lombard cavalry deploy 4BW from the centre line and the Lombard infantry are placed within 1BW of the camp with two of the seven foot elements deploying inside the camp. This represents the rapid deployment of cavalry to cover the slower moving columns of Lombard infantry.
The MagyarThe Magyar forces now deploy 6BW from the Lombard cavalry, essentially placing them 1BW closer to the centre line.
Recommended reading:La Storia del Mundo in 1001 battaglie, Andrea Frediani.
Carefully removing palisade sections and branches, the Danes had gone no further than 160 paces before Saxon horns sounded the alarm. Springing into action, the Danes quickened their pace and moving in three columns toward the Severn River to the west. In each of the camps men were tumbling out of their bedding and gather their weapons to form their battle line.
From his position, Aethelred could see the route taken by the Danes and sent his javelinmen to harass the Danish column on the left and delay them and allow the fyrd to deal with them. To the north the Welsh could be heard screaming their ‘war cry’ as the sprinted off the slopes to attack another Danish column. In the centre of the Danish horde, Hastein could be seen bearing down the waiting Saxon wall to the west.
It seemed a few heartbeats had passed since leaving the camp, but Danes now found them battling against a determined Saxon resistance and to their right, Danes were hotly engaged with the Welsh
The battle now became total confusion as both sides were pushing each other back and forth. In the end, the berserkers sacrificed themselves to help Hastein gain ground and breach the shield wall (note the presence of black robed monks singing their joy over the bodies of dead pagans, 1 - 0).
Aethelred and Aethelhelm quickly brought their troops into the general engagement.
In their battle fury the Danes caught an isolated unit of fyrd and destroyed them, but this small victory could not slow the Saxon killing lust, 2 – 1.
Redoubling their effort, the Saxons routed the Danes but not without further cost. The chroniclers record a great victory over the heathen with ‘little losses to the Mercians, 3 – 2.
Design notes. This scenario was fun to do and both sides were able to record victory. On one accession, the Danes beat the snot out of the Saxons (4 – 2) so the scenario was deemed balanced despite the Danes starting the game with nine elements versus twelve for the Anglo-Saxon.
The Saxon player should note that some troops surrounding the Danish camp will be beyond command distance and to move those costs an extra pip. The Welsh have a greater move distance so these need not move every turn.
The Danes may choose any of the board edges for their escape, however, the north side may prove difficult as this is blocked by wood and a difficult hill. Movement within the camp is over good going and there are no movement penalties for exiting it. Deploying in columns to exit the camp decreases the need for pips; however you will want to avoid being caught by the enemy while in such formation
A.D. 894. When they were all collected together, they overtook the rear of the enemy at Buttington on the banks of the Severn, and there beset them without on each side in a fortress. When they had sat there many weeks on both sides of the water, and the king meanwhile was in Devonshire westward with the naval force, then were the enemy weighed down with famine. They had devoured the greater part of their horses; and the rest had perished with hunger. Then went they out to the men that sat on the eastern side of the river, and fought with them; but the Christians had the victory. From the Anglo Saxon Chronicle
The BattlefieldThis scenario is a departure from the usual set piece battles, but should nonetheless prove an interesting challenge for the Danish player. The most likely site of the battle is somewhere between Buttington and Welshpool in the county of Powys. Welshpool (Y Trallwng) literally means the ‘marshy or sinking ground’ making Buttington a better choice as a battle site it is set on rising ground and nearby forests provide building materials for the camp. On a side note, Buttington lies astride Offa’s Dyke; built a century earlier this places the earthwork near to the battlefield.
Regarding terrain features, the Danes are described as defending a ‘fortress’, however DBA 3.0 limits the garrison of a ‘fort’ to one element.. For this scenario we should consider the ‘fortress’ to be an enlarged camp. Its defence does add to combat and its interior is considered good going for movement.
Therefore, the battlefield should be considered ‘hilly’ and would have one difficult hill, two woods with an enlarged camp (3BW x 4BW) to be placed in the centre of the board.
The ArmiesThe Danes are taken from Book III/40b list which offers eleven blade and a twelfth element being psiloi, bow or berserker. However, considering the state of the Danes after several weeks of siege, their number would be reduced. For this scenario, the Danes total nine elements which mean defeat is reached with the loss of three elements.
The army of Merciaare taken from Book III/24b; however, this sub-list does not have the Welsh as allies. For this scenario the Welsh allies (III/19a) are present as [1 x general (3Bd), 1 x warrior (3Wb), 1 x skirmisher (Ps)] and these replace any three Mercian fyrd elements.
DeploymentThe Danes must break the siege and withdraw their force off any board edge. As the defender they move first, but for this scenario the Danes deploy their troops after the Anglo-Saxons. This offers a slight advantage in selecting a board edge to exit. All movement distance is as per foot type as horses are no longer available. The Danes are defeated with the loss of three elements.
The army of Mercia must surround the ‘fort’ at a distance of 6BW from its walls and for this scenario, the allied army deploys first, followed by the Danes. The Mercian player is free to deploy his troops around the perimeter but the Welsh must be grouped together (allied contingent). The Mercian player should be aware that some troops will be placed beyond command distance.
Recommended ReadingAnglo Saxon Chronicle, Guttenberg Project (online). Buttington, possible site of battle near Welshpool.Offa’s Dyke Path