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Pavia 499 years on

Today, just three days after the 499th anniversary of the Battle of Pavia (24 Feb 1525), the French and Imperialists meet again. This time to fight it out on the tabletop.


The Imperialists, led by Charles de Lannoy advance rapidly through Visconti Park to relieve the siege of Pavia.


French King Francis I assembles his men under the walls of the city to meet them. His intent is to move forward to establish a good blocking position and force the enemy to come to him.


Alfonso d’Avalos, commanding a large contingent of arquebusiers and crossbowmen on the Imperial left, advances through some light woods where he is able to bring considerable firepower to bear of the French as they form up. The Duc d’Alençon is wounded as he intervenes to rally his men who have taken heavy casualties from the enemy fire.


King Francis sends a lance of heavy cavalry to chase off the Imperial arquebusiers. The French not only drive back most of the enemy but in doing so they capture d'Avalos, leaving the Imperial left without leadership.


On the other wing a fierce firefight takes place amongst the buildings and enclosures. Although outnumbered, the French arquebusiers manage to make their shot count more effectively than that of their opponents.


As the Imperial foot advance into close range they suffer badly from French artillery fire. Don Antonio de Leyva’s Spanish on the right of the Imperial line are particularly badly mauled. A timely charge by Robert de la Marck’s Swiss then scatters them. Richard de la Pole then advances his mercenary pikemen in French service to defeat the remaining Spanish, capturing de Leyva In the process. In the centre Georg von Frundsberg’s landsknechts are also driven back by d’Alençon’s French.


With the Imperial foot in disarray it is up to Charles de Lannoy to restore the situation. He leads his cavalry forward through his guns to charge d’Alençon’s pikemen who have taken heavy casualties from gun and arquebus fire. The French receive the charge and just about manage to hold their position despite suffering heavy casualties from Lannoy’s charge.


Another unit of Lannoy’s mounted men at arms drives off the light cavalry on the French right then works its way around the French flank. Unfortunately for them King Francis has taken personal command of his gendarmes which have been held back in reserve. Francis leads the flower of French chivalry in a devastating counter-charge that scatters the Imperial cavalry.


The French hold the field with both Antonio de Leyva and Alfonso d’Avalos their prisoners. The Imperialists have no option but to withdraw their remaining troops and leave Pavia to its fate. It was a hard fought battle but in the end the French artillery won the day, wearing down the Imperialist foot so that when it came to close combat they were at a severe disadvantage.

The game was played using Tree of Battles rules with amendments to take into consideration the troops of 1525 and the large based units fielded by Martin Waller who hosted the game with his beautifully painted Renaissance figures.


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Love that period in history, our group plays it. Good to see the French change history and win!

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Ernie Fosker
Ernie Fosker
27. Feb.

Sounds exciting stuff, thank you Simon and well done Martin. 👏

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