I have had a long term interest in the Wars of the Roses. My book shelves are dotted with numerous volumes, most excitingly entitled ‘The Wars of the Roses’, and, many years ago, I painted up an army, mostly made up of Wargames Foundry miniatures. That army was subsequently sold to a guy who worked for Games Workshop in Nottingham. Put this historical passion and my current addiction to plastic miniatures together and shelling out my hard earned cash on Perry Miniatures’ wonderfully created Wars of the Roses multi-part miniatures was an inevitable formality!
So far, I’ve acquired three boxes of ‘bills and bows’ infantry, a box of European mercenaries and a box of mounted knights, which I picked up from Dave at Caliver Books at the inaugural Cannon Wargames show at Retford. I haven’t really decided what to do with the knights yet, but they will probably be used to make an army command and a small mounted reserve for my Lancastrian army.
Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset.
My earlier attempt at creating a Wars of the Roses army was based around Lancastrian nobles who fought at Towton, but for this plastic reincarnation I’ve decided to use the fascinating events of 1470-71 as the basis of my army. I have recently re-read The Battles of Barnet andTewkesbury by P.W.Hammond and that was the stimulus behind creating another Wars of the Roses army. I’m not going to go into details about the events of that period, but it involves the volte face of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (The Kingmaker), where he displayed his true motives behind his actions, by deserting Edward IV and joining the Lancastrian cause, because Edward had not heaped rewards upon him as he had expected!
Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter.
Rather than base my army on the forces at a particular battle of the period, I decided to create an army of nobles who simply supported the Lancastrian cause. I think that this makes for a fascinating combination of long term, hard-line committed Lancastrians and erstwhile Yorkist supporters, with all the potential mayhem that this involves. Indeed, at the Battle of Tewkesbury, legend has it (and it is probably fact) that the Duke of Somerset, following the defeat of his command, stormed across the battlefield and smashed the brains out of Lord Wenlock for his inactivity in not supporting his attack! Lord Wenlock was fighting (or not!) on the Lancastrian side, even though throughout the rest of the conflict, he had been a Yorkist, because he owed his allegiance to Warwick.
John Courtenay, Earl of Devon
The three main battle commanders in my army will be Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset and John Courtenay, Earl of Devon, both of whom fought at Tewkesbury and Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, who was severely injured at the Battle of Barnet. Just to make things a little more interesting, I will eventually add a reserve battle commanded by the seventeen year old Edward of Westminster, son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou and, for those of us who follow the Lancastrian cause, the rightful heir to the throne of England. Lord Wenlock, of course, will be there commanding a contingent to add that little touch of uncertainty that makes wargaming the fascinating hobby that it is!
I decided to paint up the command stands for these three nobles before getting on with their retinues. Psychologically, I thought this might encourage me to keep painting, as I could switch from painting figures for one unit to another from time to time, thus preventing the inevitable boredom setting in! I have always had great difficulty with remaining focussed on painting an army over a longer period of time and any stratagem to keep me on task is to be utilized! Probably the other most important thing for me to do would be to disable my internet connection so that I don’t see any other figure ranges from other periods and other manufacturers!
The rules I am going to use for my Wars of the Roses battles come free to download from the Perfect Captain. They are part of a larger scale campaign game, but stand alone as a set of table top battle rules and are called ‘A Coat of Steel’. The rules are written specifically for battles in the Wars of the Roses period and have all sorts of unusual features which are designed to bring out the unique flavour of warfare in 15th Century England
I’ve not played the rules yet, but some of the features which look really good to me on reading them are the way commanders are restricted in their choice of orders using a ‘Wards Card’ and order ‘chits’. Archery is conducted in two different ways, depending on whether it is long range or shorter, pre-close combat range. When two units engage in close combat, the commander has to choose a ‘stance’ for his troops, which is compared with the opposing commander’s ‘stance’ to impact upon the outcome of the combat. This gives a completely different approach to close combat than most generic medieval rules which rely on combat modifiers and a dice roll. Individual nobles are given all sorts of factors which can impact upon a game, although, thus far, the cards you can get are all for commanders from the earlier period. Clearly, I will have to make my own cards for those nobles who participated in the events of 1469-71!
If you would like a copy of 'A Coat of Steel', CLICK HERE