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Calais 1345AD by Stephen Tucker

It is July 1345 and the English have invaded France to take back their French dominions!

This game was run as part of the 2013 Open Day. It centred around an English raiding party (known as a 'chevauchee') trying to recapture a family heirloom that had been lost on a previous raid.

The English deployment

The heirloom was a holy relic acquired many years ago whilst on crusade in Outremer. It was now known to be in possession of the church of St Michel Sur Mer, just to the south of Calais. The forces at the disposal of the English lord and his second in command were a band of eight knights (dismounted) as well as the Company of the Weald (ten archers and eight billmen) and The East Riding Levy (twenty archers and eight billmen). The plan was to launch a surprise raid against the church, break in, push the holy brothers around a bit and reclaim the lost family treasure.

In response, the French had heard of the landing at Calais and the local count, Guy de Hautebois, was marching north to stop the English advance. Little was he to know that English brigands had sallied south, to take advantage of the confusion, and to ransack the church! With Sir Guy were eight of his household knights, plus Le Companie de Grace Dieux (twelve spearmen and eight men-at-arms) and Le Companie de Sainte Denis (twelve spearmen and eight Flemish mercenary crossbowmen). Plus the monks and brothers from the church...

The English cross the bridge unopposed

The game started with the English on the table advancing against the church. The English started to the North of a river with a stone bridge crossing it to the church. The English player was told that the river could only be crossed at the bridge but this wasn't true, as the French player knew.

The English began with some of their archers along the river's edge, covering in case any opposition came up. But the area was free of French resistance at this stage so the English had little delay in getting across. All that did hold them up was trying to get as many men as possible over the bridge as quickly as possible. In true English style, a queue formed.

English archers make their way across the bridge to join the fight

The East Riding Levy were the first ones over, led by the English lord, Sir Henry de Bohun. The archers formed the vanguard. As they came over the bridge the French moved on to the table. The French knights came around to the East of the church to line up parallel with the road heading to the bridge. The Flemish crossbowmen came around the West and took up position amongst the church's farm buildings to engage any more English who tried to cross the bridge.

The English had little choice but to wait for the French charge. The archers lined up and loosed arrows at the knights, desperate to cause casualties before the charge came in. Meanwhile the East Riding billmen tried to cross the wall and sneak around, using the farm buildings as cover, to attack the crossbowmen.

The French knights prepare to charge the English archers

The English longbowmen's fire on the French knights was telling and many of the knights were downed before the charge impacted. When the knights came in the English archers were smashed. But just in time the English foot knights had managed to cross the bridge and give strength to the battle line. A melee ensued, with ultimate victory going to the English.

The French advance to halt the English

Meanwhile, the billmen had managed to engage the crossbowmen and sent them routing with only a few casualties. With the bridgehead secured the rest of the English forces made their way over the bridge.

This left defence of the church to the French spearmen. A task they were now overwhelmed with. The blood was up in the English. The French men-at-arms took position in front of the church, defiantly refusing to allow the English to enter. The English response was as expected - the archers took up position and, if the French would not come to them, then the English arrows would come to the French!

French spearmen advance through the church grounds and farm

It was all over.

The flower of French chivalry lay in bloody heaps in the church grounds. The English broke into the church, threatening the clergymen at sword point, and went to task looting and ransacking the sacred precincts.

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