Monday, 17 June 2013


As usual a very busy weekend for the Gentlemen Pensioners' AGM, the Phalanx show at St Helens on the Saturday and then an ECW game, First Newbury, on the Sunday.  The  Lance and Longbow Society was putting on a demonstration game on the rather obscure Banastre Rebellion, which took place in Lancashire in 1315.  Some of the leading rebels came from southern Lancashire, so it had some local relevance.  The only battle of the campaign took place near Preston, the actual location is not known, but we decided on setting it at Deepdale, near Fulwood barracks and the football ground.  Contemporary accounts suggest that the rebels numbered between 6-800, with the Sheriff's men having 5-600.  There is no detail on the numbers of mounted and foot within those totals, nor on the quality of the troops involved.  We decided to give the Sheriff more knights and mounted sergeants and class approximately one third of the rebel infantry  as raw peasant foot.

The battle begins with the vanguard of the Sheriff's force force, led by Walter de Vavasour, advancing against some archers on the rebels left.  What Vavasour did not know was that a large body of infantry lay behind the crest of the position and although they easily overran the archers, (who failed to flee quickly enough), they were then faced with solid blocks of spearmen.  The supposedly elite rebel infantry had fled on seeing the destruction of the archers, however, Lee's spearmen and those of William Bradshaw, Lord of Haigh, stood their ground.  Lee, together with his bodyguard had counter-charged Vavasour's mounted sergeants, but vastly outnumbered had been driven back.

However, help was at hand, as Banastre, together with his mounted knights, moved around the flank of Vavasour's force.  They were poised to strike when Vavasour's men, seeing they were making no headway, decided to fall back, (ie they lost the melee).

It was at this point that Edmund de Nevill, the Sheriff, arrived with a further unit of knights plus archers, crossbowmen and spearmen.  Banastre, gathered his mounted men together and, although outnumbered, charged Nevill's men, seeking a decisive result.  The melee was short, but viscious, and in the end, it was the sheriff's men who gave way, fleeing from the field.  Banastre had no time to celebrate as his men now came under heavy fire from the crossbowmen and archers.  Sensing that this might be his day, Banastre now charged the enemy missile troops.  To his surprise, the sheriff's men stood their ground and fought.  Not only that, they pushed back the rebels.

Strickland had now arrived with the remainder of the Sheriff's men and moved forward with his mounted sergeants to threaten Banastre's flank.  Vavasour had by now recovered and his men threatened Banstre's other flank.

Charnock's peasant archers fired at Strickland's men as they attacked Banastre and did empty quite a few saddles, but the attack still went in.  Banastre and his standard were the focus for the most severe fighting.  Bradshaw was cut down at Banastre's side and then Banastre himself was killed.  Strickland lost his life, but the rebels were beginning to lose heart.  With very few archers and no mounted troops their spearmen were vulnerable and seeing the sheriff's men advancing the backward shuffle became a retreat and then a rout with little delay.

The day belonged to the sheriff, but the rebels had given a good account of themselves.

An earlier post on this battle  had commented on some of the drawbacks to the WAB rules for this type of action.  For this re-run we had reduced the saving throw for the knights by making the shield a 50/50 save rather than automatic.  Therefore knights would save on a 3 with 2s being re-rolled with 4 or more saving.  Creating sub-units within the three main 'battles' also reduced the chances of an entire wing of the army disappearing over the horizon. 
Many thanks to Steve, Ian, Roy and Will for making the game a success on Saturday.  Indeed, a report and more photos of the game and the Phalanx show can be found on Will's blog.

Here are coats of arms for the major characters

Adam de Banastre

 William Bradshaw

Henry de Lee

Robert de Charnock

Edmund de Nevill

Walter de Vavasour

Walter de Strickland

The Phalanx show had the usual good mix of games and traders, with the bring and buy seeming to do a brisk trade.  One game that caught my attention was put on by Liverpool Wargames Society showing the 1859 campaign in Italy in 6mm


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