The Breath of Satan is upon us all!
The Church of St. Peter had seen better times. A rival pretender sat in France and to the South, Naples was making ominous noises about recognising its claim to Monte Cassino. And then the good Lord saw fit to send a sign, the English Condottieri Hawkwood had left Florentine employ and was last seen heading North to Milan. Without the foreign devils in their pay, Florence would regret its lofty Republican sympathies. The much fought over Duchy of Siena would once again be in the loving embrace of Mother Church.
The Papal banner moved quickly on the road to Siena. The locals could not bring themselves to raise much enthusiasm for their Heaven-sent liberators but they would learn to love again. The Florentines had indeed lost Hawkwood but they could not let their Southern bulwark go. The two armies met just to the East of AnghiarI.
Chris did not alter his classical formation just because all the terrain features were on the flanks. We were playing the Big Battle variant of D.B.A. and the papal knights numbered over ten elements on his left wing alone. They were so tightly packed that Chris had to force them into a deep column. On the other flank, the mercenary horse faced the wood and some brush. In his centre was the Roman militia spear and sword and buckler units. Despite strictures to the contrary, the Pope had also brought along two batteries of monstrous bombards.
Richard’s Florentine army had slightly fewer mounted knights but the Republic had amassed large numbers of militia pikes and crossbows. Richard’s reserve was at the rear, close to his baggage, and consisted of those English longbowmen that hadn’t made the trek North with Hawkwood.
Chris was obviously confident that God would ensure victory. Richard’s pike advanced to the bottom of the ridge and waited for the condottieri charge.
However, the usually rash Chris smelt a rat and changed his approach. His crossbow skirmishers attempted to flank the phalanx but the wily Florentine was too experienced to be duped. Chris launched his assault…
The mounted horsemen could make little headway and the command was demoralised, and then routed, in just a few moves. That did not mean however that the battle was won for the Florentines. Richard’s militia were sorely discomforted by the batteries in the centre and refused to close.
On the right of the Papal line, the mercenary horse launched a furious counter attack. Richard’s knights were court at a disadvantage in front of the uneven ground. Papal skirmishers operating from the woods unhorsed many Florentine Knights.
Seeing the Florentine horse routing encouraged the Roman infantry to advance on the Florentine militia in the centre of the field.
Despite furious attacks by the Florentines on the ridge, the Papal forces could not be slowed.
Richard’s veteran longbowmen tried to stop the advance but the tide had turned. Siena would pay tithes to the Pope in 1351.
Will the Pope continue North into the nest of Florentine vipers or will he seek a divine peace? Find out next week as the war draws in ever more vicious gamblers. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the very latest on ambitious plans for a L’art de la Guerre competition here in Cardiff!!!!