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"Yorkists at Stoke Field 1487" Topic

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rivers316225 Mar 2017 1:31 p.m. PST

I'm to assemble the Yorkist army for Stoke Field but would appreciate some pointers if anyone can help!

I believe the Yorkists had about 8000 men, 2000 of whom were mercenaries supplied by Margaret of York. I'll be using the Perry plastic mercenaries for these so they are sorted.

However that leaves 6000 men – how many of these would be Irish troops that the Fitzgeralds raised and how many would be armed in the 'English' style with bow and bill?

From what I've read of the battle, the Irish suffered badly under Tudor arrows so I assume they would be lightly armed kerns for the most part? However would it be reasonable to assume that there would still be a few more heavily armed 'gallowglass' troops with the lords and officers?

If so, I'm thinking of using the Claymore Castings range of Irish and Highlanders. I assume they will still be ok despite being for around a century earlier?

Finally, would the Yorkist lords like Lincoln and Lovell have been able to raise bill and bowmen in the manner of other battles in the War of the Roses, being exiles? I assume that some of the local gentry like Lord Scrope and Thomas Broughton would have been able to raise local troops?

MajorB25 Mar 2017 2:01 p.m. PST

The 2000 mercenaries were German Landsknechte armed with pikes and led by Martin Schwarz. The chronicles describe the Irish as "beggarly, naked and almost unarmed". We do not know how many of them there were, but the sources talk about "so much Irishmen as would take their part". Given that rebel casualties numbered up to half their total number it is reasonable to assume that most (all?) of these were the Irish.

The rest of the troops (~2000) are probably bill and bowmen from the private retinues of Lincoln and Lovell.

I am not sure that either Lord Scrope or Thomas Broughton were present.

uglyfatbloke25 Mar 2017 3:18 p.m. PST

Narrative evidence is very questionable for this sort of thing and most especially English narratives referring to Irish or Scottish people. That kind of knocks out historians who have depended on narrative evidence over record material. Sadly, most medievalists who are not military specialists tend to do just that and they are just the very people that wargame historians mostly rely on, so general histories (and a lot of Ospreys and other books written by fans or enthusiasts for specific individuals or battles) are probably not going to give you much help on this.
Hired troops are most likely to have been decently equipped or they were n't worth hiring. These guys go to war for a living…the key word being 'living'. The hordes of unarmed,unarmoured peasants that are dear to the hearts of chroniclers, Victorian antiquarians, rule-writers and figure designers don't actually figure much – if at all – in record material, nor in the very rare examples of narratives written by soldiers. Your Irish troops should be decently equipped, but that's not saying a great deal – padded jack, helmet of some kind, armoured gloves and you're pretty much there. I'd say the Claymore pikemen that are really designed for the late 1300s are n't too far out as a starting point. Get a bunch of them but have more figures with somewhat heavier late 15th C kit and the odd figure in full late 15thC harness and you won't go far wrong.
Put in a couple of the Claymore 'highland' types for the sake of a bit of variety maybe, but avoid the romantic items like the guy with the cross growing out of his helmet and figures with bare legs.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2017 3:45 p.m. PST

Brutal truth is, we know even less about Stoke than we do about the more run of the mill battles. There isn't a lot of source material, and almost everything is "single-sourced." If someone heard something wrong or was biased, we've got no corrective.
This, in a way, is an opportunity. So long as you have Irish, Germans and English gentry returning from exile, you can't really be wrong. Build to what you have, can easily get and which will give you a good game. I lean toward proto-Landsknecht Germans, Irish a mix of kerns and gallowglas a bit heavy on the gallowglas--they were mercanries, after all--eked out with local English and topped with exiles, but a lot of combinations are possible--and none of them are wrong.

uglyfatbloke26 Mar 2017 12:15 a.m. PST

Yup; broadly inline with what Robert says – also, they're your figures and nobody is in a position to tell you your're wrong given the shortage of material. OTH, it'd be sensible to make it look like a late medieval army and unarmoured peasants really are not a feature of medieval armies.

MajorB26 Mar 2017 3:55 a.m. PST

Narrative evidence is very questionable for this sort of thing and most especially English narratives referring to Irish or Scottish people.

What other types of evidence are there for this battle?

chrisminiaturefigs Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 4:51 a.m. PST

No Landsknechts at Stoke battle!!!
Even debatable if they were Germans.

Warspite126 Mar 2017 5:41 a.m. PST

Stoke is one battle which I am pondering for the future. Graham and I recently did Mortimer's Cross and we plan to soon do Barnet soon.

However I have written an army list for my own rules (Bills, Bows and Bloodshed 2.0) and I had Stoke very much in mind when it came to writing the 'later' part of that army list.

Firstly the pike. Probably German or Flemish-speaking but certainly not national 'Swiss'. It is far more likely that they were 'prototype Landsknechts', the dads and uncles of the very guys who led the later Swiss to dislike them because the two sides competed for mercenary work.

Secondly the Irish. While a lot, maybe even 50%, were kerns or similar, I believe the rest were Gallowglas. A careful reading of Irish sources states clearly that when the Irish intended to fight, Gallowglas were always present. If it was just kerns on the move then they were cattle raiding.
Stoke was NOT a cattle raid. Just because the Gallowglas are not mentioned in very sparse sources, it does not mean they were not there. And as Gallowglas fought bare-legged and often bare-foot even they could be described as 'naked' by hostile Tudor authors.
Some have said: "Would the Gallowglas have travelled?". If you look at the Osprey book on Irish forces in this period there is a superb illustration of early 16th century Irish sketched by Albrecht Durer in Germany. Clearly visible are Gallowglas and Kerns. If they can get to Germany then Gallowglas can get to Stoke. It's a lot nearer.

Thirdly Anglo-Irish. Troops raised in The Pale (the English settlement around Dublin) would probably favour English-type weapons. However morale-wise I would rate them only as Levy as they are not defending hearth and home. Useful in numbers but that's all.

Fourthly English contingents may either have been raised on-route by intimidation or offering money (there is always a young man who will 'list for a soldier if the pay and prospects are right) or else by retinues coming in to support their lord. It is possible that Lincoln and others did have liveried retinues present but do not expect them to be large. Maybe 300-500 men for each lord maximum?

So what you end up with is a mish-mash of troop types and tactics, probably small units and probably speaking three, four or five languages between them. One starts to wonder how they thought this Yorkist Pretender invasion would ever work.

Barry Lance and Longbow Society

chrisminiaturefigs Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 8:47 a.m. PST

The term naked and beggarly Irish has probably cast a false image of what the Irish looked like, as if naked and painted ancient Celts fasion, but the term may not mean they were literally naked but could be a reference to a lack of plate armour, quilted and padded jacks ,other than that you would imagine they were well armed with rather nasty pointy weopons!

uglyfatbloke26 Mar 2017 11:15 a.m. PST

It may also be a reflection of anti-Irish prejudice on he part of chroniclers. I'm far from convinced that the term 'kern' has any validity when applied to Irish troops in England. bear in mind that English chroniclers are inclined to have (unsurprisingly) an English nationalist outlook, are generally (not always) wring about matters they have n't seen and are reflecting not only what they have heard from others, but the picture they want to convey to their readers.
Major B…no idea, but narrative evidence should always, always, always be treated with great care, especially if it's at odds in even the slightest degree with record evidence.

MajorB26 Mar 2017 11:30 a.m. PST

No Landsknechts at Stoke battle!!!

Can we be sure? The term was first recorded in the context of mercenaries in the 1470s and 80s.

MajorB26 Mar 2017 11:31 a.m. PST

but narrative evidence should always, always, always be treated with great care, especially if it's at odds in even the slightest degree with record evidence.

Totally agree, but there is a severe lack of record evidence for Stoke!

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 1:51 p.m. PST

The early history of the Landsknechts is a bit under-sourced, but we do know that Maximilian hired German soldiers and let them train in the Swiss fashion – probably by Swiss veterans on mercenary pay (in many regards, Swiss were at that time still part of the Empire, so the difference was more regional then by nation). His units were most likely NOT Flemish, as he tried to form units that were available (and hopefully loyal) without hassling with the Flemish policy. Guinegate gave him an impression what he needed, but he realized that the Flemish citizens would be loyal to their cities rather then to him or his children.

In 1487 we do see the first two major exploits of Landsknechts outside of Burgund, at Calliano and in England. Margarte of York was his mother-in-law, so support for her while keeping his troops in foreign pay would sound like a good plan – even when there is no written records on that decision.

So, in short: Afaik that contingent was proto-Landsknechts, and mainly Germans under Schwartz. Most likely with Swiss among them, but the difference would neither be apparent to outsiders nor especially important to the mercenaries at that time – the bitter enmity between both groops would only develop in the decade to come, mainly with and after the Swabian war of 1499.

Warspite126 Mar 2017 3:33 p.m. PST

@ whiterose + @uglyfatbloke

Entirely agree with both of you.

chrisminiaturefigs Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2017 2:57 a.m. PST

Puster, When i said no Landsknechts at Stoke battle, what i meant was not Landsknechts like we think of Landsknechts, with slashed and colourful clothing!!!
Having studied original drawings of German troops of 1470 and 1480s, they appear to me to be very similar to Swiss, minus the white turban of course, also it seemed the Germans had a preference for the sallet style helmet, of course it could be the artists preference, but with not much else to go on you have to give original artists some respect and credibility that they drew there country men with some degree of accuracy.
Also yes the Germans were certainly by this time looking to copy the Swiss in tactics and formations, so if you want to wargame or create this German force i would think it safe to model it similar to a Swiss one!!!!!
The few accounts of Schwartz,s mercenary force seem to suggest a rather well trained and tough bunch who gave as good as they got on the day.

rivers316227 Mar 2017 3:15 a.m. PST

Thank you all for the fantastic responses. Warspite1, you've given me a lot of food for thought.

I did always wonder why the Irish would bring poorer, lightly armed kerns rather than Gallowglass types when they were expecting to fight a pitched battle abroad. I suppose that even the older types of padded armour and chainmail would suffer more under sustained bow fire which would explain the higher casualties referred to and bias on the part of the chroniclers would explain the reference to 'naked' troops.

Am I correct in thinking the Claymore range would be suitable? From what I've read and from the Osprey Gallowglass book, it seems that they still wore 'old fashioned' mail coats and helmets after others adopted plate and more modern armours.

Are there any records of other types of mercenaries in addition to the pikemen? I believe I've read that handgunners were present but would there also be crossbowmen?

Finally, can anyone point me in the direction of where I might find the livery colours for some of the Yorkist lords involved? I realise that it might be a bit of a stretch but livery would help distinguish troops on the tabletop?
I'm particularly interested in Lincoln, Lovell, Broughton, the Fitzgeralds and the Anglo-Irish from the Pale of Dublin. Also Scrope of Masham (I know he was not present but it could mean I could also game the skirmishes at Brahmam Moor and Bootham Bar).

Thanks again!

uglyfatbloke27 Mar 2017 5:02 a.m. PST

The Claymore range is old-fashioned for what you're doing Rivers, but if that's what you've got it's what you've got.
As I said before, most secondary work will be inspired by (not so say copied from) older secondary work; that's not a good starting point. I don't know the Osprey you refer to, but the safe bet would be to equip your Irish troops just like you would English or Scottish ones.
Certainly in relation to Scottish troops (and I'd be surprised if this did not apply to Irish troops too) the view that they used old-fashioned or poorer armour is firmly bedded in Victorian antiquarianism and Scottish romance. I expect Irish romance is not dissimilar.
The Durer drawing seems most likely to have been based on a description by a 3rd party, rather than being a personal observation, so I would n't get too carried away with it.

chrisminiaturefigs Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2017 5:14 a.m. PST

rivers3162, i would wager the German mercenaries were a combination of pikes,halberds infantry, who i would also wager fought in a fairly condensed block. As a European force i would also guess they were indeed armed with Crossbows and handguns.
Try freezywater publications standards,badges and livery colours of the wars of roses, best source available!

I think you are perhaps on the right track wanting to use claymore castings for the Irish, those Ribaulds certainly conjure up the image of the beggarly Irish spoken of in the chronicle,if it was me i would go with a force of Ribaulds with a sprinkling of Gallowglass amongst them.

Hope this of use to you.

Warspite127 Mar 2017 9:13 a.m. PST

Food for thought? Thank you! I am a half-reasonable cook! :) :)

I wargame in 15mm and use a mix of Roundway, Peter Pig, Donnington New Era and a few Essex for nicely mixed units.

While Roundway do a Gallowglas type (RKIR2) I actually mixed some superb Roundway Polish into my main Gallowglas unit. Roundway RKPL 2 is 'armoured infantry with halberd' while RKPL3 is 'armoured infantry with long-shafted axe'. These last two are identical to the Gallowglas sketched by Albrecht Durer in Germany long mail coats over what appears to be padded fabric. I also tossed in a couple of RKSC3 'Highlander with two-handed sword' which make a good alternative. Three different main figures and a couple of the swordsmen made a nice 36 figure native irish unit.

On the question of Anglo-Irish, it should be noted that the York family were popular in Dublin. The original Richard Duke of York who started the Wars of the Roses, by claiming the throne, was a former Lieutenant of Ireland. The Yorks thus used both Ireland and Calais as bolt holes when things were difficult in England. Given old Richard's historic popularity it is not beyond the possibility that the Irish contingents at both Mortimer's Cross and Stoke included some Anglo-Irish. Indeed this residue of York loyalty may be why the Perkin Warbeck rebellion was started from Ireland, starting from a perceived Yorkist power base.

When we did Mortimer's Cross recently my Ormond/Wiltshire 'Irish' wing was one unit of Levy (as Anglo-Irish) personally led by Ormond, one unit of native Gallowglas and one unit of native Kerns.


rivers316229 Mar 2017 4:49 a.m. PST

Thanks again chaps, all very useful information as usual. I've placed an order with Claymore for some Gallowglass and kern types – I'm thinking for going for a ratio of around 40/40/20 for the Irish bow & bill/kerns/Gallowglass which should look distinctively different enough on the tabletop compared to normal WotR armies.

I thought I did have the Freezywater book somewhere but can't find it for the life of me. Can anyone who does have it confirm if it does include livery colours for the Yorkists present at Stoke? I have a feeling Lincoln's would be blue and yellow but I'm really not sure.

chrisminiaturefigs Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2017 8:04 a.m. PST

I think your right, the de la pole family seemed to use blue and yellow livery.Not sure if he had a livery badge different to his father the Duke of Suffolk!
Francis Viscount Lovell's standard(number 20) is in the freezy water book.His was blue and yellow field also!

Go on line and search 'Suffolk free company'. They are a re enactment group of the war of roses period, might help you out .

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Mar 2017 11:38 a.m. PST

In that I fully agree with you. Depictions of the 1490ies show some pretty distinct outfit for Imperial troops that look anything but close to the later Landsknechts-outfit. For easy assembly I would probably model them with plastic Perry WoTR and Siwss heads, perhaps minor modifications.

uglyfatbloke30 Mar 2017 1:42 p.m. PST

If you avoid unarmoured types you're going to be on the safe side and you'll be able to use them for lots of other campaigns.

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