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"Battle of Saint Aubin du Cormier, July 28, 1488." Topic

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Paskal Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2019 11:56 p.m. PST

Someone among you possesses an order of battle and a progress for the battle of Saint Aubin du Cormier more precise than this one below ?

All additional documentation is welcome…

On July 28, 1488, the army of the duke of Brittany presents himself, in front of that of the king of France, organized thus:

the Breton ost, including François de Rohan (son of John
II), who died there;
The Breton compagnies d'ordonnance;
The Breton francs-archers;
2500 infantrymen and crossbowmen Gascon and Bearnese;
landed in Quimper, accompanied by 1000 Aragonese;
700 to 800 German lansquenets (A novelty dating from 1487!),
reliefs of the small army of Maximilian of Austria;
300 English archers, survivors of the Dinan ambush;
a number of Castilians;
the gentlemen accompanying the French princes;

a total of 11 to 12,000 men.

To this heterogeneous composition, is added a disparate command, which include the Marshal of Rieux, opponent of the Duke of Brittany in 1487, the Duke of Orleans, future Louis XII, and other great feudal.

The Breton artillery includes about 700 pieces of all qualities at the end of the fifteenth century, including pieces of strongholds and outdated pieces; on the battlefield, it is lower than its french counterpart.

Few noble Bretons joined this army, and some even took up arms in the royal army (As usual, these bastards wanting to keep their pensions paid by the children of Louis XI).

This army faces the royal army of 10,000 men including 12 Swiss infantry enseignes (4,000 men), 25 French compagnies d'ordonnance, 200 archers of the french royal guard, plus the arrière-ban of Normandy and 700 to 800 crossbowmen.

It is commanded by Louis II de la Trémoille.

Among the knights of the king's army, there are also Breton nobles including Viscount Jean II de Rohan ,a bastard wanting to keep his pension paid by the children of Louis XI.

Royal artillery was the most powerful in Europe at the time.

Rieux has put on 1,000 Bretons francs-archers hiccup adorned with a red cross of the English archers.

The left wing and vanguard of the ducal army is commanded by Marshal des Rieux; the center is led by Alain d'Albret, with the artillery behind (on the right flank during the battle) and the cavalry.

The royal troops arrive on the battlefield in small dispersed groups, with in the vanguard Adrien de l'Hospital, the main body led by La Tremoille, and the rear guard by Marshal Baudricourt.

On the "conspiratorial side", the Duke of Orleans, Lord Scales, and the Prince of Orange fight on foot with their men to cheer them up.

The battle begins with an exchange of artillery, which starts the forces on both sides.

The Breton army waits until 14:00 pm for the Royal Army to set up, but before it has finished holding its council of war, the attack is launched with a charge on the right flank of troops royal.

This charge succeeded in driving the royal ranks strongly, to the cry of Saint Samson (saint of the day).

The Trémoille leads the offensive in the middle of the battle, and creates a rift in the Breton front.

As in most medieval battles, the decisive moment is less than a quarter of an hour away.

The rear guard remains behind.

The fault is immediately exploited by the royal artillery and a charge of the Italian cavalry led by Jacomo Galeotta.

De Rieux and Albret flee, one to Dinan, the other to Rennes.

It is then the massacre, no request for mercy for ransom being accepted, neither on the field of battle nor during the pursuit which follows.

During the battle that lasted four hours, 7 to 8,000 fighters remain on the moor of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier against 1,500 in the royal camp.

As Leon Le Meur writes, "The Battle of Saint-Aubin sounded the death knell of Breton independence."

Don Sebastian16 Jan 2019 11:24 a.m. PST

Paskal, what is the source of all this information about the armies?

French Wargame Holidays16 Jan 2019 6:23 p.m. PST

I have walked the field a number of times and conduct a tour of the battlefield then return to wargame the battle at our Maison.

a simple list from my Research

Breton Army
2400 Breton companies of prescription; mounted MAA (600) and 1500 Archers, 300 Infantry
1700 levy foot militia
440 English Archers (Lord Scales)

Main body
2500 Gascon and Bearn Mercenary Crossbow and foot
1000 Castillion and Aragonese infantry (Alain de Albrecht)
840 German Landsknecht pike (Bavarian and Saxon)
1000 Breton companies of prescription Archers and foot
3 Culverne

Rear guard (Lord Chateaubriant)
2000 mounted and light cavalry

11840 men

Royal army of 11000 men

12 Swiss infantry bands (3000 pike and Halberd)
25 companies of prescription 4000 MAA (1200 mounted) & archers
200 archers of the royal guard
3000 back-ban of Normandy Archers, Pike and halberd (based on the swiss model)
700 Gascon crossbowmen
4 Large couleuvrines (culvernes) (100 artillery crew)
1 demi-culverin

reargaurd Duc de Alencon
(not in the battle and may of been still in Fougeres)
1000 Swiss
3000 back-ban of Normandy Archers, Pike and halberd (based on the swiss model)
2200 Anjou-Maine companies of prescription

Memoirs of Calmette et Durville
letters of Charles VIII of France
Histoire des faicts, gestes et conquestes des roys de France Paul Emile
The Valois: Kings of France 1328-1589 By Robert Knecht
plus a few more reference documents from Châteaubriant, Laval, Rennes and Fougeres

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2019 11:43 p.m. PST

@ Don Sebastian

Bibliographie :

Collectif, L'État breton Éditions, t. 2, Morlaix, Skol Vreizh, coll. « Histoire de la Bretagne et des pays celtiques », 1966.

Philippe Contamine et Jacques Garnier (dir.), « Bataille de Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier », dans Dictionnaire Perrin des guerres et batailles de l'histoire de France, Paris, Perrin, 2004.

Jérôme Cucarull, « Identité et commémoration. La constitution d'un lieu de mémoire Breton : la bataille de Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier (XVIe – XXe siècles) », Annales de Bretagne et des pays de l'Ouest, vol. tome 106, no 4,‎ 1999, p. 99-127 (lire en ligne [archive]).

Georges Minois, Anne de Bretagne, Paris, Fayard, 1999, 571 p. (ISBN 9782213603346 et 2213603340).

Philippe Tourault, Anne de Bretagne, Paris, Perrin, 1990.

Collectif d'universitaires des universités de Brest, Nantes, Rennes, Toute l'histoire de Bretagne, dans l'Île de Bretagne et sur le continent, Morlaix, Skol-Vreizh, 1996, 800 p.

Jean Kerhervé, L'État breton aux XIVe et XVe siècles, vol. 2, Maloine, 1987 (ISBN 2-22401703-0 et 2-224-01704-9).

Arthur fr La Borderie, Histoire de la Bretagne, 6 volumes in-quarto, Rennes, Plihon Éditeur, Imprimerie Vatar, 1905-1914.

Jean-Pierre Legay et Hervé Martin, Fastes et malheurs de la Bretagne ducale 1213-1532, Rennes, Éditions Ouest-France Université, 1982, 435 p.

Antoine Dupuy, Histoire de l'union de la Bretagne à la France, vol. 2, Paris, Librairie Hachette, 1880, 447 p et 501 p.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2019 12:43 a.m. PST

@ Herce Salon de Guerre

This would give us:

Breton Army: 11880 men without the gunners and three pieces of artillery.

Breton vanguard:

2400 men from Breton Ordonnance Companies; 600 Men-At-Arms and 1500 Mounted Archers (with longbows,Archers fighter on foot but moving on horseback), 300 Infantrymen (with crossbows?)

1700 Bretons Militiamen (Breton Francs-Archers with longbows?)

440 English Mounted Archers ( Ordered by Lord Scales.Archers fighter on foot but moving on horseback, they were 300 in Dinan and after the ambush, they are 440?)

Total 4540 men?

Battle :

2500 Gascon and Bearn Foot Crossbowmen and Mercenaries (Which weapons for those who do not have crossbows? How many of each type of these infantrymen?)

1000 Castillion and Aragonese Infantrymen (Alain de Albrecht) (What weapons for them that do not have crossbows?)

840 German Landsknecht Pikemen (Bavarian and Saxon) (No handguns or crossbows, no halberds and espadons?)

1000 Archers (Archersfighter on foot but moving on horseback) and Infantrymen from the Breton Ordonnance Companies(How many archers? How many Infantrymen with crossbows?)

3 Culverines (Big artillery, how many servants?)

Total 5340 men without gunners?

Rear-guard (Lord Chateaubriant):

2000 Mounted and Light Cavalry (Feudal Troops ? How much of each type?)

Total 2000 men?

French Royal army: of 11000 men and five artillery pieces.

Vanguard and Battle:

3000 Swiss Pikemen and Halberdiers in 12 infantry bands (No Handgunner or Crossbowen?)

25 French Ordonnance Companies (1200 Men-At-Arms and 2800 Mounted Archers with longbows,Archers fighter on foot but moving on horseback)

200 Archers of the Royal Guard (French guards? Archers fighter on foot but moving on horseback ?)

3000 Archers of the Arrière-Ban of Normandy(only with Pikemen and Halberdiers on the Swiss model?)

700 Gascon Crossbowmen

4 Large Culverins with 100 artillery crew.
1 Half-Culverin (artillery crew?)

Total 2000 men?

rearguard Duc de Alencon (not in the battle and may be still in Fougeres):

1000 Swiss (Pikemen and Halberdiers with handgun or crossbows or is it the Handgunners and Crossbowmen of the 12 Swiss bands mentioned above?)

3000 Archers of the Normandy Arrière-Ban (only with Pikemen and Halberdiers on the swiss model?)

2200 Cavalrymen from the Anjou-Maine Companies d'Ordonnance (660 Men-At-Arms and 1540 Mounted Archers with longbows?Archers fighter on foot but moving on horseback ?)

Griefbringer17 Jan 2019 2:26 a.m. PST

I have to admit that I am not familiar with this battle, but based on the descriptions of the sides involved it looks like it would make for a very colourful battle on the tabletop with all the different contingents.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2019 10:09 a.m. PST

Yes I think it's the same armor as during the end of the war of the two roses, except that the poor little duchy Breton fights for his existence against the French giant so powerful that he will then endure eleven wars of italy and eight wars of religion in 104 years without flinching, also as Leon Le Meur writes, "The Battle of Saint-Aubin sounded the death knell of Breton independence."

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2019 7:40 a.m. PST

Nobody knows these wars ..? The English archers have covered themselves with glory !

dapeters14 Nov 2019 1:52 p.m. PST

Sounds interesting but I think some details are lost in translations. back-ban of Normandy Archers, Pike and halberd (based on the Swiss model.) Mounted archers are simply archers who get to ride from place to place, but fight on foot. The importance is that they have been successful enough to buy a horse which means they probably have better armor as well.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2019 4:19 a.m. PST

It's a hell of a great battle and the English archers have covered themselves with glory as recently as they have a monument in Brittany!


Paskal Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2019 10:35 a.m. PST

The troops of this battle are equipped like those of the WOTR!

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2019 11:48 a.m. PST

That's a good read! Thanks Pascal & French Wargame Holidays.

I was picturing a game with Hail Caesar rules as I was reading it.

Are there any maps with troop dispositions in any of the French sources?

A good source of Breton flags would be needed as well.


Paskal Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2019 3:43 a.m. PST

There must be maps or descriptions indicating the disposition of the troops and how were the flags of Brittany in one of the French sources, but since the time I do not remember in which, more attention because the orders of battles are different according to the authors.

In the past I had seen a book on the medieval Breton flags, I will see it again someday in a Celtic library and at the same time if there are other books on the battle of St. Aubin du Cormier.

For the figurines those for the WOTR are perfect.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2019 6:28 a.m. PST

@ Uesugi Kenshin :

When will I have time, I will try to find other documentation.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2019 5:16 p.m. PST

Thank you Sir! It's a very interesting match up.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2019 3:23 a.m. PST

I am soon in contact with an association of Saint Aubin du Cormier and I will keep you informed.

GamesPoet Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2019 5:23 p.m. PST

Appreciate you're providing this info, thank you!

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP01 Dec 2019 1:08 a.m. PST

I wait for the help of connoisseurs, if they send it to me it will advance the schmilblick…

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2020 2:58 a.m. PST

In any case, for the order of battle of Saint Aubin du Cormier, we are better informed than for any battle of the WOTR.

Sandinista02 Nov 2020 7:59 p.m. PST

Possibly use this as a source of heraldry for the battle link

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP03 Nov 2020 12:45 a.m. PST

Ah yes maybe Sandinista, in any case, it's nice to watch …

Now the question is what was the appearance of the Swiss, Landsknecht, Castillion, Aragonese, Gascon and Bearn infantrymen in 1488 ?

Just to know which figurines to use …

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Nov 2020 11:34 a.m. PST

I assume that the German landsknechts of 1488 look very similar to the Swiss and typical German infantry, just with pikes – the era of the flamboyant clothings is yet to come. You would be well served with a mixture of Burgundian war Swiss and TAG early Landsknechts.

An interesting "what if" is that if Matthias Corvinus had not died in 1490 Maximilian would have campaigned with his army in the Bretagne, claiming his bride and her territories.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP06 Dec 2020 3:50 a.m. PST

The birth of the German landsknechts is of 1486 an they look very similar of the typical German infantry, just with pikes, yes but to the Swiss before the era of the flamboyant clothings ..?

Now the question is what was the appearance of the Castillion, Aragonese, Gascon and Bearn infantrymen in 1488 ?

Just to know which figurines to use …

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2022 10:33 p.m. PST

Any updates on this battle?

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2024 2:40 a.m. PST

@Uesugi Kenshin

No, nothing new, yet I had contacted the people in charge of the association of Saint Aubin du Cormier and they didn't know any more than I did.

Now here is a summary of this battle.


This Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier took place on 28 July 1488, between the forces of King Charles VIII of France, and those of Francis II, Duke of Brittany, and his allies.

The defeat of the latter signalled the end to the "guerre folle" ('Mad war'), a feudal conflict in which French aristocrats revolted against royal power during the regency of Anne de Beaujeu.

It also effectively precipitated the end of the independence of Brittany from France.


Brittany, Burgundy, and England had been repeatedly allied to resist the expansion of the French state.

In the aftermath of the death of Charles the Bold of Burgundy in 1477, the Burgundian threat to French power was all-but eliminated.

Brittany became the main base for the feudal aristocrats in the League of the Public Weal, an alliance founded by Charles the Bold to resist the centralisation of power in the king.

By 1488 the regime of Duke Francis had been severely weakened by conflict between his prime-minister Pierre Landais and a group of aristocrats led by the Prince of Orange John IV of Chalon-Arlay.

Landais was keen to strengthen ties with England.

His opponents secured French support for an armed incursion to overthrow and execute Landais in 1485, after which Jean de Rieux became de facto chief minister.

Francis was keen to secure the independence of Brittany and to construct a network of alliances to achieve that objective, offering the prospect of marriage to his daughter and heir Anne of Brittany to several possible allies.

Rebel lords from the League, notably Louis d'Orleans, had sought sanctuary in Brittany.

The French saw this as a violation of royal rights, and demanded the return of the lords, asserting that they had the right to take them by force if Francis refused.


Under the leadership of Louis II de la Trémoille, the French royal army had struck against Vannes and Fougères, controlling access to Brittany.

The French attempted to take control of the major strategic strongholds.

The Bretons had sought support from various rebel lords and opponents of expanding French power.

Alain d'Albret, a rebel lord, believing he would marry Anne, had reinforced the Breton army with 5,000 troops supplied by the king of Spain.

Maximilian I of Austria also sent 1,500 men.

Henry VII of England was also approached for support, but refused to send troops and instead attempted to negotiate a deal with the French to stop the invasion.

However the English knight Edward Woodville, Lord Scales, defied Henry and brought over a small force of 700 archers he had gathered from his base in the Isle of Wight.

The Bretons decided to give the impression that Henry had changed his mind and felt a large force of longbowmen, dressing 1,300 of their own francs-archers with the English red cross of St. George in place of their black crosses on their white livery and adding them to the troops of Lord Scales to create an advance guard of 2,000 men.

Despite this concentration of forces the Breton alliance was still significantly outnumbered.

It was further weakened because Maximilian I was diverted by a rebellion in Flanders, which was being supported by Marshal de Esquerdes.

The Breton forces thus comprised a mix of local troops with Gascons, Germans, English longbowmen, and non-Breton aristocrats who were challenging royal power.

The French army included Swiss and Italian mercenaries, and also some pro-royal Breton noblemen.

It had the most powerful artillery of the era.


The Breton commander de Rieux positioned his forces on a ridge around a mile to the south of Mézières-sur-Couesnon.

French forces arrived at the field in disparate groups, with no idea that the Bretons were so close.

The Bretons initially had the advantage that the French were fragmented and not arrayed in battle order.

Lord Scales and de Rieux were in favour of a rapid attack on the French before they could manoeuvre into effective battle order, but d'Albret insisted on redeploying his troops.

As a result, de la Trémoille had time to place his army in a defensive formation.

The Breton vanguard under Lord Scales then led the attack in an arrow-head formation.

According to Jean Molinet, "the English archers showed great courage, for each of the opposing parties fought for victory."

Scales himself was apparently killed at some point in this stage of the battle.

Nevertheless, the French were forced to pull back, giving the archers a chance to attack the French lines, causing panic, which was stemmed by the French commanders.

Meanwhile, the Breton centre under d'Albret was moving forward, having been suffering significant casualties from the powerful French artillery in its static position.

The redeployment caused a gap to open in the Breton lines.

Jacques Galliota, an Italian captain in the French army, immediately asked permission from Trémoille to exploit the opportunity.

Trémoille agreed, and Galliota led a cavalry attack on the weakened position.

Galliota himself was killed, but the Italians opened a gap through which the cavalry passed.

D'Albret and de Rieux failed to deploy their own cavalry in time to stem the gap, and Trémoille quickly sent in more French troops.

At the same time there was a massive explosion in one of the magazines behind the Breton lines, probably caused by stray shot.

Panic ran through the Breton army, leading to a rout of their forces.


The defeat of Francis II forced him to accept a treaty which deprived him of power by requiring him to expel foreign princes and troops from Brittany.

It also restricted his ability to marry his children to suitors of his choosing and required that he cede territory in Saint-Malo, Fougères, Dinan, and Saint-Aubin to the king as a guarantee that in the absence of a male successor the king would determine the succession.

Francis died a few months later leaving only a daughter, Anne of Brittany, so the treaty was used to force her, as his successor, to marry King Charles VIII, and then Louis XII.

The battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier also destroyed the power-base of the warring princes.

Edward Woodville was killed, along with his entire force.

Louis of Orleans (the future Louis XII), and Jean IV, Prince of Orange were captured.

Alain d'Albret and the Maréchal de Rieux succeeded in escaping, and played an important part in continuing the conflict.

Despite the French victory, the guerre folle dragged on for three more years until December 1491, when Charles married Anne.


Since the emergence of modern Breton nationalism in the 19th century, the battle has been portrayed as the moment when Brittany lost its independence, despite the three years of struggle which followed it and the continued nominal independence of the Duchy into the 16th century.

It is thus regarded by nationalists as a tragic episode in the history of Brittany.

In the words of Leon Meur, "the battle of Saint-Aubin rang the death-knell of Breton independence".

The Breton nationalist Célestin Lainé, who sided with Nazi Germany in World War II, stated that his SS-affiliated Bezen Perrot militia was the first Breton force to have fought against France since the battle.

At his death he requested that his ashes be scattered on the spot.

The Breton National Party placed a cross at the site of the battle in 1932.

To mark the 500th anniversary of the battle a large monument was erected in 1988, comprising a raised platform with plaques commemorating the forces involved, surmounted by a shield bearing the Breton Ducal coat of arms and a Cross pattée.

The Breton nationalist organization Koun Breizh commemorates the battle at the site on the last Sunday of every July, and the far-right nationalist group Adsav also commemorates it in September.

A plan in 2000 to bury domestic waste on the site of the battle caused such protests from the Breton movement that the project was abandoned.

A "cairn of liberty" was built at the site of the proposed dump.

Breton nationalist groups subsequently acquired part of the land with the intention of creating a sculpture park and visitor centre.

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