The 1141 Battle of Lincoln was one of the larger battles of the so-called "Anarchy" period of civil war as the throne of England was contested by King Stephen and the Empress Matilda. As the Polemarch has noted on his blog, this is somewhat of a neglected wargaming period. There was however a very interesting series of articles in Wargames Illustrated which covered the period, written by Stephen Simpson, who is the same person behind the "Simple Rules for the '45" Jacobite rebellion rules that I have been using recently for that conflict. He did some very interesting rules for this period of Anglo-Norman conflict too, but they need a little work by me to adapt them to my basing system (which is more designed for DBA/Polemos/Impetus type games) so I didn't use them for this refight, but I did adapt the scenario for the Battle of Lincoln, which was published back in Wargames Illustrated 29.
The Royal Army: 1 x General (King Stephen) (Sp), 6 x Infantry (Sp), 1 x General (3Kn), 5 x Knights (3Kn)
The Rebel Army: 1 x General (Robert of Gloucester) (Sp), 6 x Infantry (Sp), 2 x Welsh Infantry (3Ax), 1 x General (3Kn), 5 x Knights (3Kn)
All 'General' bases act as generals, but only King Stephen's base counts as a double-loss. The Royal Army move first, and its two groups of Knights have to charge straight forward if the Royal Army has enough PIPs to do so (i.e. 2); if the Royal Army only has 1 PIP to begin with, toss a coin for which group charges. The Rebel Army's knights are just out of charge range at set-up, but the Welsh contingent are within range of the Royal Knights closest to Lincoln.
The Royal Army's break-point is 4 bases, the Rebel Army's is 5.
No troops from either side can enter into Lincoln or the castle during the battle (or optionally, the castle has a Rebel garrison and the remainder of the city a Royal garrison).
|The Rebel Army (bottom) is deployed on the low ground just north of the Foss Dyke, facing the Royal Army on the high ground (top), with the city of Lincoln to the East (right)|
|A view of Lincoln (a very stylized representation!)|
| The Royal Army on the high ground. King Stephen is with the infantry (centre); William of Ypres leads the force on the Royal left (right), whilst the right is a motley collection of hard-fighting but undisciplined earls.|
|Another view, from the ford on the Foss Dyke - a tenuous escape route for the Rebels if one should be needed!|
|William of Ypres' force charges the Welsh foot|
|Whilst Stephen's earls charge 'The Disinherited'|
|The Royal knights make relatively short work of the Welsh, but are then confronted by Ranulf and his knights.|
|A wider view|
|Robert of Gloucester hurries his men forward in the centre to support the rebel knights on the wings: the cavalry fight on the Royal Left (right) has become quite a swirling fight.|
|Easier to see in this view, as the dynamics of the cavalry fight on the Rebel right (right) has led to some gaps in the centre.|
|A similar phenomenon occurs on the Royal Right (left), but 'The Disinherited' have gained the upper hand on 'The Earls', who appear in some disarray.|
|Although less decisive, William of Ypres' knights seem to have the advantage over Ranulf.|
|Stephen has been slow to get his main battle into the fight, but Robert of Gloucester's troops have imposed themselves in the centre.|
|The fight on the Royal right ebbs and flows...|
|As it does on the other flank...|
|Robert of Gloucester's infantry lend valuable support to the knights|
|And the Royal Earls are looking outnumbered and outfought.|
|However Ranulf's knights are not prospering against William of Ypres' horsemen - luckily for the Rebel Army, its foot is in support.|
|The main infantry action in the centre begins, with Stephen fighting at the front of his men (centre)|
|And all of a sudden the line is fragmenting and the Royal Army is being pushed back or destroyed|
|A wider view: individual details are complex, but the broad picture is that the Royal Army is being pushed back and starting to break apart. There seems relatively little that Stephen can now do apart from cross his fingers...|
|A slightly wider shot|
|A shot showing the situation on the Royal Left, with increasing infantry support to Ranulf (centre-bottom) turning the tide...|
|The Rebel Left, although the intense fighting continues, definitely has the upper hand on the Royal Right.|
|And as 'The Earls' flee or are killed, 'The Disinherited' push forward to outflank the Royal Army.|
|A wider shot - the King is still fighting with great valour (centre), as is William and his knights (right), but the battle has inexorably swung towards the Rebels.|
|Accumulated losses have demoralized the Royal Army, which breaks at this point.|
Game Notes: Good fun and close enough to the historical outcome to make one feel that the scenario and the rules coped okay. The 'breakpoint' army morale system actually worked out quite well for this battle: although the rule that the Royal Army 'must' charge is imposed to enforce historical behaviour on the part of the King's knights, since this is likely to lead to the destruction of the Welsh infantry in short order, this actually is a reasonable move for the Royal Army, since it makes the odds even (13 bases: 13 bases) but with the Rebel Army closer to its break point than the Royal Army. The battle seemed to last a little longer than the original but this was fair enough, reflecting the fact that the Royal general (i.e. King Stephen) didn't get captured in the fighting.
I should probably have made the general's foot base on each side 'Blades' rather than 'Spearmen' but I forgot: I don't however think that it made any real difference. I didn't use any skirmishing archers on each side (since the scenario doesn't really include them) but one base of Spearmen could easily be so replaced. I did have a strange crisis of confidence that I had got the rules regarding eliminating recoiling units wrong, and I may have done it wrong once or twice in the game, but I'm not sure it made a difference: in any case, I couldn't tell you which side it disadvantaged.
In retrospect, this game serves as a memo-to-self to get an order into Leven or Total Battle Miniatures for a more Norman-looking castle and a few more Medieval buildings!