DBA Resource Page

Battle Scenarios | Wargaming the Irish

The Battle of Dublin (1171AD)

By Rob Brennan

This is one of a series of battles describing the beginnings of Norman involvement in Ireland. The Normans came to Ireland not in an invasion, but more like the freebooters in Sicily. In fact they were even more legitimate, in that they came in the service of an exiled Irish king, Diarmait McMurchada from Ui Chennselaig in south-east Ireland (just down the coast from Dublin). This battle took place after the Normans (with Diarmait) had established themselves along the east coast of Ireland.

Background to the Battle

In late 1170 AD, Diarmait Mac Murchada's Leinster-Norman force had taken Dublin with little resistance. Most of the Norse inhabitants had escaped to their relatives on the Isle of Man and the northern Isles. In the summer of 1171 Diarmait had died of natural causes, Henry II was making moves to curb the creation of an independent Norman state in Ireland, Leinster was in revolt and high-king Ruaidri Ua Conchobair was gathering his forces. Strongbow's position seemed impossible. Then, while he was away from Dublin, a large fleet of Norse ships arrived at the mouth of the Liffey. The former Norse king of Dublin, Askulv son of Ragnall, had rallied his allies from the Isles and Man and come to extract revenge. Their speedy attack was lead by "John the Furious", a Norwegian berserker in the old style. Miles de Cogan (Strongbow's govenor of Dublin) sortied out to try and stop the attack and a small force under his brother, Richard de Cogan tried to get behind the Norse by leaving from another gate.

The Armies

Norse Force -- 10x Blade, 1x Warband (this must be the leader), 1x Psiloi

Anglo-Norman Force -- Initially on table (Miles): 2x Knights (one of these must be the general), 6x Bow, 1x Spear, 1x Psiloi. Flank march (Richard): 2x Knights

Deployment

The Norse Force are the attackers. As per the normal rules they may choose to deploy their camp (beached Viking ships) anywhere along the edge of the waterway.

The Anglo-Normans deploy their intial force normally. The Anglo-Norman flank march force automatically arrives on turn 6. It always arrives on the Anglo-Norman player's right-hand side. Troops arriving must pay PIPs to arrive but always count as being inside the command radius for the first turn. If some troops can't make it on board on turn 6 they may be moved on any turn thereafter. Flank-marching troops moving on-board may arrive anywhere along the board-edge.

Game Map

          ==============Anglo-Norman Baseline==============  
          . . . . . . . . . .DDDDDDDDDD . . . . . . . . . . 
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
          . . . . . . . . .WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW  
          . . . WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
          WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW  
          =================Norse Baseline==================  

SCALE: The space between each dot/letter is one inch.

TERRAIN KEY: . = Good Going (Good Going) D = Eastern Gates of Dublin (Anglo-Norman Camp) W = Waterway (River Liffey Estuary)

Victory Conditions

Normal DBA.

The Aftermath

The main Norman force under Miles fared badly and was beaten back, but the flanking force under Richard proved decisive and when under attack from both directions the Norsemen broke. John the Furious fought on strongly but was eventually overpowered. Askulv was taken alive while trying to escape to the ships. He was taken into Dublin where he declared that he would return again with a larger force - he was then immediately executed. Once more an out-numbered Norman force had held the field, but the high-king was gathering a huge army to beseige Dublin.

Background Resources

The Norman Invasion of Ireland, Richard Roche, 1995, Anvil -- Although this book is very suspect from an academic point of view, it is a useful guide for wargamers as it includes a good general description of the campaigns of the Normans in Ireland and many actual figures for numbers involved in battles etc along with maps and illustrations. Take the analysis and background with a pinch of salt though (for example, when Derbforgaill was abducted by Diarmait in 1152, both were in their forties, hardly the material for a passionate love-affair!). Please also note that it is a reprint of a much older book (1970?).

A New History of Ireland Volume II, Art Cosgrove (Ed), 1993, Oxford University Press -- A great book that includes a narrative history of Ireland 1169-1534 and supporting material. Each chapter is prepared by an expert in the area covered. The style isn't overly academic and it contains an excellent analysis of the period. Unfortunately it is very expensive and probably best got through inter-library loans or access to a university library.

Expugnatio Hibernicia (The Conquest of Ireland) by Geraldus Cambrensis, AB Scott & FX Martin (Eds), 1978, Royal Irish Academy -- This is the main primary source for our period. A penguin edition is also available, but this edition has both latin and english text and copious footnotes. The footnotes contain additional historical background and references to current (at the time of printing) analysis and criticism of the text and other sources for the same period. FX Martin is the acknowledged expert for this period of Irish history and any works by him are worth buying, if you see them.

Irish Battles, A Military History of Ireland, Hayes-McCoy, 1997 Barnes & Noble Books -- This useful book includes accounts of fourteen Irish Battles (including this one), 1014-1798. It was originally written in 1969.

Tim Donovan also lists many other useful resources for this period of Irish history in his Irish DBA scenarios on this site.


| Top of Page | Battle Scenarios | Wargaming the Irish | Home |


Last Update: March 17, 2001

My thanks to Rob Brennan for this scenario. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.