Late Teutonic Order

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Andreas Johansson
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Late Teutonic Order

Post by Andreas Johansson » Sun Nov 29, 2020 1:51 pm

I've been reading about the Thirteen Years' War (1454-1466), and reflecting that existing army lists tend to treat the period poorly* - mostly they just extend lists based on the 13th and 14th centuries well beyond the period when Teutonic armies actually looked like that.

So I thought I'd give a whirl at turning my understanding into a T! list. Something like this:


Teutonic Orders
1454 AD to 1466 AD
Invasion Rating: 1
Maneuver Rating: 2
Home Topography: Arable
General's Troop Type: Knights
Army Battle Cards: 0-4 Prepared Defenses (Wagon fortress)

Knights (men-at-arms), 3-6, BL=all
Bad Horse (mounted crossbowmen), 3-8, BL=none
Elite Foot or Heavy Foot (polearm-men), 0-2, BL=all
Archers or Pavisiers (crossbowmen), 0-4, BL=all
Skirmishers (handgunners), 0-1, BL=none
War-Wagons (Wagenburg), 0-4, BL=all
Horde or Bow Levy (levies), 0-6, BL=none, only from 1461

Aggression is low because the war was fought largely in Prussia. While based on the 13YW, I believe it's closer to the mark than the existing list for more-or-less the whole of the post-Tannenberg period. The Peace of Thorn in 1411 could be a reasonable dividing point.

Excepting the peasant and urban levies increasingly relied on in the later part of the war, the army was overwhelmingly mercenary, actual knights of the order (much reduced in numbers after Tannenberg) serving only as commanders. The majority of the mercenaries appear to have been from eastern Germany, but chroniclers often indiscriminately called them "Bohemians", and the Germans had adopted (post-)Hussite fighting styles.

I'm not too happy with the classification of the mounted crossbows as Bad Horse, as they were not poor troops, but T! offers no obvious alternative for cavalry with crossbows. They'd typically be armoured and carry a spear for close combat. Perhaps Elite Cav might be a possible classification despite the lack of bows? What's essentially the same sort of troops are already Bad Horse in the contemporary German list, though.

The foot crossbowmen frequently fought behind pavises - indeed pavises were very popular in this war, small versions even being carried by cavalry - but I'm not sure if they had a front rank with close combat weapons to count as Pavisiers.

Prepared Defenses and War-Wagons both represent the Wagenburg (routinely used by both Czechs and Germans in this period), and I guess ideally there should be a restriction to force you to use the one or the other interpretation. I've found no example of wagon fortifications being moved during battle during the 13YW, which perhaps speaks for the Prepared Defenses interpretation, but given that some of the crews were actual Hussites allowing the War-Wagon one too seems reasonable.

(How, BTW, is one supposed to fit wagon fortifications on PD pieces 1mu wide?)

Levies would be equipped similarly to the mercenary foot with crossbows and polearms. They just weren't much good at using them.

Turkopoles don't appear to have existed as a separate troop-type anymore. Some of the Prussian nobility remained loyal to the Order (or returned to the Order's side when the tide seemed to be going that way), but I've seen nothing to suggest they were tactically distinguishable from the mercenaries. Nor have I seen any indication that cavalry fought in deep Spitze.


* Polish lists tend to be fine, and the Prussian League tends to be ignored.
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David Kuijt
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Re: Late Teutonic Order

Post by David Kuijt » Sun Nov 29, 2020 3:12 pm

Looks good, Andreas. I'll take a more detailed look at it later. Can you cite the reading you've been doing, so I can take a look at the primary sources when I get time? I am sympathetic to your assessment that the Teut army should shift around the Peace of Thorn. As you say, the Teut list is based on its period of expansion and doesn't seem to reflect its period of stability in the 15th century.
Andreas Johansson wrote:
Sun Nov 29, 2020 1:51 pm
I'm not too happy with the classification of the mounted crossbows as Bad Horse, as they were not poor troops, but T! offers no obvious alternative for cavalry with crossbows. They'd typically be armoured and carry a spear for close combat. Perhaps Elite Cav might be a possible classification despite the lack of bows? What's essentially the same sort of troops are already Bad Horse in the contemporary German list, though.
One option might be the "sword armed cavalry" battle card created for the Kurds. That would make them better than Bad Horse but still not with the killing power of Knights. But I'd like to read the primary sources before talking through my hat -- remember, Bad Horse is just a name, not a description. There is no moral judgement. The Bad Horse mounted crossbowmen in the armies of the Germanies are damn useful troops in battle in Triumph -- a very good value for 3 pts. So my gut is telling me that they should just stay as Bad Horse, although that is without doing any reading on the period in the last five years.

I'd be skeptical of rating them Elite Cav because the Mounted Crossbow interaction with Knights is unlikely to be the same as that of the best Golden Horde cavalry in the same period, and they would be unlikely to be able to fight even against the best Golden Horde armored cavalry likewise -- their missile weapons would be totally inadequate in the exchange of fire at range, and they would be unlikely to be able to fight even-up in melee either. That's speculation without having done the reading, though, and so subject to modification from primary sources.
Andreas Johansson wrote:
Sun Nov 29, 2020 1:51 pm
(How, BTW, is one supposed to fit wagon fortifications on PD pieces 1mu wide?)
Dammifino. I've wrestled with the same problem. Modeling is a tortuous art, driven by different constraints than the game system that uses the figures. You could put down pieces of tape that are 1mu wide by whatever depth, and cover them with a much nicer-looking wagon fort frontispiece model until the point where the enemy get close, perhaps? The other solution is to play with 15mm figs on 80mm bases, where the problem goes away because of scale -- but then you have the problem of getting all your gaming buddies to base up the same way. Plus the issue of rebasing and tripling all your armies, which would be an impossible burden for me, at least.
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Re: Late Teutonic Order

Post by Andreas Johansson » Mon Nov 30, 2020 9:17 am

Right now I'm reading Alexander Querengässer's Der Deutsche Orden im Dreizehnjährigen Krieg 1454-1466. For the Bohemians there's a good deal of info in Uwe Tresp's Söldner aus Böhmen. In English, there's a chapter on the 13YW in William Urban's The Last Years of the Teutonic Knights, though he's sparse on the sort of detail that'd allow you to classify troops for a wargame.

How the Order's mounted crossbowmen would have fared against Tatar heavy cavalry is an academic question, of course, but there might be something about how similarly equipped Polish czeladz did. Those are incidentally classed as Jav Cav, which seems a little unexpected.

But I was more thinking of how they'd do against Polish Knights and Pavisiers. It doesn't seem right they should be completely outclassed by the main opposition. Sword-armed Cav might work.
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Re: Late Teutonic Order

Post by David Kuijt » Tue Dec 01, 2020 2:27 pm

Andreas Johansson wrote:
Mon Nov 30, 2020 9:17 am
Right now I'm reading Alexander Querengässer's Der Deutsche Orden im Dreizehnjährigen Krieg 1454-1466. For the Bohemians there's a good deal of info in Uwe Tresp's Söldner aus Böhmen. In English, there's a chapter on the 13YW in William Urban's The Last Years of the Teutonic Knights, though he's sparse on the sort of detail that'd allow you to classify troops for a wargame.
I can eventually muddle through the German, although technical terms are problematic. Maybe that'll be something for me to do when I'm in 14-day quarantine in mid-December after travelling to Canada.
Andreas Johansson wrote:
Mon Nov 30, 2020 9:17 am
How the Order's mounted crossbowmen would have fared against Tatar heavy cavalry is an academic question, of course, but there might be something about how similarly equipped Polish czeladz did. Those are incidentally classed as Jav Cav, which seems a little unexpected.
In some cases JavCav are a natural upgrade for Bad Horse.

Although maybe it would be better to phrase it another way -- Bad Horse are the natural depository for a bunch of mounted troops that would otherwise be classed as JavCav (and in other cases, Horsebow or other things).

With regard to the Polish czeladz, they don't seem to be good as Horsebow or Elite Cavalry or Knights or Cataphracts, and against their historical enemies' mounted troops Bad Horse would seem a severe underrating -- so what would be a better classification?

With that in mind, perhaps the later mounted crossbows of the Teuts should be rated as JavCav... (just thinking aloud, here, no commitment is expressed or implied)
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Re: Late Teutonic Order

Post by Andreas Johansson » Wed Dec 02, 2020 3:30 pm

I think it would make a lot of sense to class the Order's mounted crossbowmen and czeladz the same, irrespective of which specific type is decided on.
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Re: Late Teutonic Order

Post by David Kuijt » Wed Dec 02, 2020 5:05 pm

Andreas Johansson wrote:
Wed Dec 02, 2020 3:30 pm
I think it would make a lot of sense to class the Order's mounted crossbowmen and czeladz the same, irrespective of which specific type is decided on.
I've been doing a fast survey of the relevant armies (Polish, German, Teuts) and it seems like the underlying problem is that there is no good bucket for crossbow-using light cavalry. That, plus I haven't got much in the way of English-language descriptions of how they would function in battle against enemy mounted troops that I do understand. How they functioned against foot is less problematic --they clearly wouldn't have the charge impact of Knights.

Horsebow seems to be significantly overestimating their abilities -- I find it difficult to give credence that they would be able to fight even-up against actual Horsebow, and given the difficult of reloading I would think that they would have difficulty with the Parting Shot model of fighting enemy Knights, and I don't think they should have a full factor advantage fighting troops rated as JavCav in the area (Lithuanian horsemen, for example).

JavCav are a reasonable fit in some ways, and can be justified well enough in armies like the Polish where some of those troops were equipped with spears. But it seems like a poor representation when you compare other troops that are rated as JavCav (Jinetes, Stradioti) to mounted crossbow.

Bad Horse work well enough when we're looking at interactions with primarily foot -- as with the mounted crossbow of the Swiss and Germans within their own environment. And in that environment the Knights that form the cavalry basis of all the armies should be able to sweep the mounted crossbow from the field. But it seems like undervaluing their abilities in armies like the Polish, where there are a lot of them and they don't seem to be poopy.

Knights are right out.

I wonder if a Battle Card would be the way to go. We use Battle Cards to represent a number of other special troops.

What I really need is some descriptions of battle interactions between these dudes and other cavalry who I know the ratings for (Horsebow, Knights, Elite Cavalry). In English, sadly.
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Re: Late Teutonic Order

Post by David Kuijt » Wed Dec 02, 2020 7:56 pm

The battle card for "Sword-fighting Cavalry" is as follows:

[blah blah blah ... stands with this battle card fight as follows ... blah]:
  • They have combat factors of +3 vs. foot, +3 vs. mounted, and defend at +2 against ranged combat
  • Move 6mu.
  • In all other respects, including all combat results (given and received), fight as Bad Horse
  • 4 pt stands
That battle card is currently being used for the Kurds, for Swabian cavalry in the late Dark Ages, and one or two other things. In essence this would make them a slightly weaker form of Elite Cavalry -- they wouldn't have the run-away ability vs. Knights, and they wouldn't have the Evade ability if doubled by some foot. But the combat factors would be mostly good, and the interactions with other types reasonable (no Evade, no Flee, no Shatter).

This would, incidentally, be the smallest possible change -- it would just require that Meshwesh be slightly updated to reflect the addition of this battle card to the Polish and Teutonic armies. And it would have no impact upon any decision to create a "Late Teutonic Order" army list representing the post-"Peace of Thorn" Teuts.
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Re: Late Teutonic Order

Post by Andreas Johansson » Thu Dec 03, 2020 3:53 pm

David Kuijt wrote:
Wed Dec 02, 2020 5:05 pm
What I really need is some descriptions of battle interactions between these dudes and other cavalry who I know the ratings for (Horsebow, Knights, Elite Cavalry). In English, sadly.
Such seem to be in short supply in any language, unfortunately.

Frankly, I've not actually even seen clear evidence that lancers and mounted crossbows were separated into different tactical units. It seems like the obvious thing to do, but administrative units were mixed and contemporary chroniclers seem to have seen cavalrymen as a basically homogeneous category - troop strengths are quoted as so and so many horsemen, so and so many foot, so and so many wagons, not so and so many lancers, so and so many mounted crossbows, etc. Tresp speculates that the lance was less a practical weapon than a mark of noble status or pretension. On the third hand he cites a contemporary as describing a troop of Bohemian horsemen in Bavaria as all armed with both crossbow and spear, in which case the latter can't have been too much use as a status marker, and the pictorial evidence he adduces for the appearance and tactics of Bohemian mercenaries certainly shows lances being used in anger.

For some strange reason, lances and spears are almost invisible in the muster lists and records of compensation for lost gear Tresp looks at - few men are noted as being armed with them, and nobody demands compensation for lost ones. The latter may be a consequence of the former - if you can't collect compensation for it there's no reason to record that you have it - but why the former should be the case is distinctly unclear; mercenaries could claim compensation for a whole lot else if lost in action. I don't think we can conclude they weren't actually used - cf the descriptions and depictions mentioned above. In pictorial evidence they actually seem to outnumber crossbows among cavalrymen. One picture, FWIW, shows lancers and crossbowmen mixed in a melee.
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