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"Stoke Field." Topic

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10 Nov 2019 3:53 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Paskal Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2019 12:34 p.m. PST

Hello all,

How did the brave Irish fighting at Stoke Field get dressed and equipped?

As represented by the 28mm OldGlory figures from the War of the Roses range?

Thanks for your help.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2019 3:58 p.m. PST

All we've got is a contemporary reference to them being unarmored, so probably most or all kerns. But it is only one reference and one sentence. It wouldn't be the most startling misprint or fumblemouth in the world if he'd meant to say the (proto-Landsknecht?) Germans were unarmored, in which case the Irish could be galloglasses. If I ever get a time machine working, Wars of the Roses battles are high on the list: the fact/speculation ratio is distinctly out of whack.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2019 2:49 a.m. PST

It's funny the lansquenets date from 1487, but the Pretender Yorkists' army pikemen are never named lansquenets?

Besides, they are not even certain of their origins, some write that they are Flemish, some German and some Swiss or German and Swiss ???

The only thing we believe is that they were a non-armored infantry.

For the Irish, I dare not imagine that the Yorkist Pretenders thought they were defeating the royal army with a non-armored infantry?

And why Irish soldiers would not have been equipped like the English of the time?

The lack of body armor on the Irish troops in particular was real?

Warspite119 Nov 2019 5:18 p.m. PST


Ireland was a military backwater at this time. Stirrups were not used by the cavalry until the very end of the 16th century and handguns did not arrive until the 1490s, at Dublin Castle, when 11 handguns were described as "a great rarity out of Germany".

Ireland was split between the traditional Irish tribes and chieftains/kings in about 80% of Ireland and Anglo-Irish settlers around Dublin, an area known as The Pale. These English probably resembled the Shire levy in England but that is a pure guess. Dress and weapons may have crossed The Pale in both directions.

Traditional Irish still relied on cattle raiding as that was the only real portable wealth and the Kerns excelled in that type of tribal Celtic-style warfare. When Henry VIII attacked France in the 1530s he took Kerns with him to provide fresh meat and there are drawings showing Kerns returning to his camp with stolen cattle.
The Kerns were good ambush warriors and always gave the English trouble in woods, bogs and rocky ground. They are not good at open battle.

The Gallowglass wore armour in the 16th century that any 11th century Viking would recognise. Long mail or padded jackets and long axes. It was noted by writers at the time that if Gallowglasses appeared then there was going to be a battle, they were the 'heavies'. The shock troops.

English Tudor historians were anti-Irish and appear to have sneered at the Irish at Stoke, describing them as naked and beggerly. This is clearly a reference to the Kerns but might also apply to a bare-legged Gallowglass however well he was armoured.

In Ireland units were formed of 80 + 80 Kerns and Gallowglass and these were noted as such. However other figures suggest that Kerns may have outnumbered in some areas by 3 or 4 to 1 Gallowglass. Gallowglass units also may have had servants and boys throwing javelins from the back ranks as they attacked with their long axes. In my rules I allow one round of javelin shooting from Gallowglasses as an option.

In a 50/50 unit the Kerns may have skirmished in front but then fell back to provide overhead fire as the Gallowglass went in with their axes, as I just described.

For Stoke assume at least half the Irish are Kerns and maybe half or less are Gallowglass. Just because Gallowglass were not mentioned does not mean they were not there. Note also that Albrecht Durer made sketches of Irish Gallowglass and Kerns in Germany in the early 16th century. He sketched two or three of each and they are clearly different.


If you double-click on the image in the above link then it opens up big!

If Gallowglass can reach Germany they can certainly reach East Stoke 40 years before.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2019 12:40 a.m. PST

Yes, the Irish looked like Irish, ok no problem, but were there not in Stoke English yorkist lords living and coming from Ireland whose troops were identical to those of the English and Welsh in England?

Warspite120 Nov 2019 2:37 p.m. PST

If you read what I said:

"These English probably resembled the Shire levy in England but that is a pure guess. Dress and weapons may have crossed The Pale in both directions."


Paskal Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 12:42 a.m. PST

Yes,we are in agreement.


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