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"18th Century Spanish Man-of-war flags " Topic

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Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2018 3:28 p.m. PST

Greetings, I had a question about French Mercenaries during the War of the Roses.

#1) Did they have a uniform attire similar to English livery colors or did they just wear what they showed up in.

2) What are your opinions about troop/weapon types fielded by French troops in English service?

I would assume they would be just like other Continental armies (Burgundian & Holy Roman Empire) and would field a mix of handguns, pike, and crossbow. Maybe even Long Bow.

Thats an assumption with no facts though. Thanks for your opinion on the above.

*Edit, obviously my topic title got jacked. If it wasn't obvious, I'm looking for opinions on French Mercenaries in the Wotr. Thanks.

Glengarry516 May 2018 5:07 p.m. PST

I noticed that Medieval paintings from the late hundred years war period had the French in uniforms of a deep wine red colour, with white crosses. This is tenuous I know, all the images seem to be by the same artist and Ive no corroborating evidence but it was good enough for me to paint them in that livery! My French Mercenary retinue (Lion Rampant) is made up of foot knights (although I`m not sure they had them), pike men, longbow men, crossbowmen plus handgunners for flavour. I`d be curious to find out if any French Mercenaries fought mounted.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2018 8:03 p.m. PST

G5, I did indeed find some pictures of Medieval French with a white cross over various colored backgrounds. Red, or Wine as you say, was the most commonly used color.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2018 11:43 p.m. PST

Question is though, are they wearing that livery simply because they are French or because it is the livery of who they are serving?

Those illustrations, I believe, show soldiers serving the French Crown?

Green Tiger17 May 2018 2:09 a.m. PST

One theory I read has it that the French at Bosworth were pikes and handgunners. They would have worn livery of either the company they belonged to or the lord that had hired them. The white cross was worn by French troops serving in French armies to distinguish them from the enemy – not very useful for mercenaries…

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP17 May 2018 8:31 a.m. PST

My thoughts exactly Green. I like to think Bosworth was equal parts pike, hsndgun, crossbow, similar to the Burgundians at the time.

Mortimers Cross could be the same but I'm only using French handguns and artillery for that battle.

Druzhina17 May 2018 10:59 p.m. PST
Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2018 10:43 a.m. PST

Thank you Sir!

sixlasers19 May 2018 8:34 a.m. PST

The evidence provided in "Bosworth" by Chris Skidmore indicates pretty conclusively that the french mercenaries were armed as their english counterparts, i.e. mainly archers.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2018 4:08 p.m. PST

Thanks Lasers!

Warspite1 Inactive Member28 May 2018 3:56 p.m. PST

The French troops at Bosworth were supplied by the French king and were probably HIS troops or his former troops. Therefore French national colours are highly probable. This is the white cross of St.Denis. Yes, it does occur on red but it is also shown on blue and possibly green in historical sources.




Remember that it is the cross itself which was important, not the backing colour. For example the Scottish diagonal white cross (of St.Andrew) is today seen only on blue as the Scottish flag but was seen in medieval times on other colours including blue and red.

Remember also that the French white cross cannot be placed on yellow (the strict colour rules of heraldry proscribe it) but it could be placed on virtually any other colour. If the white cross of St.Denis is shown on BLACK then the troops are almost certainly Bretons. Bretons are also recorded at Bosworth.


As to weapons, pole arms, crossbow, handgun AND longbow are possible as the French had already established the Francs Archiers.


The Bretons might have still had javelins or a mixture of javelins and crossbows.

There is some reasonable speculation that pike may have been included as the had French established a Swiss-run school to teach pike tactics after Swiss success in the Burgundian wars 1476/77. Note that the last link above also mentions pike among the Franc Archiers from 1466.

In my own army lists I allow mixed handgun/crossbow in a firepower unit and mixed bills/bows in a shock unit. A few pike could be allowed but I do not suggest a full pike block as such, more a front rank of pike with bills behind or a pike centre with longbow wings. I allow Burgundian longbow to fire over one rank of kneeling Burgundian pikemen but I do not think that the French were that advanced.

In my rules I rate the Bosworth French as Mercenary (poorer than Retinue) but I also allow a possible upgrade of the billmen from 1/2 armour to full armour to suggest professional soldiers or gentry supplied by the French king.


Warspite1 Inactive Member30 May 2018 5:40 a.m. PST

Serious correction:

"If the white cross of St.Denis is shown on BLACK then the troops are almost certainly Bretons. Bretons are also recorded at Bosworth."

The above should, of course, read "shown AS black", and not shown on black. The Bretons used the black cross, typically on white but other backgrounds are possible. The illustration link is still good and shows how far I was in error. :(

Apologies for my error, I was not paying attention.


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