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Battle of Granson
(2 March 1476)

By Kyle Burley

The Battle of Granson offers wargamers an excellent opportunity to re-fight a medieval meeting engagement between two very powerful and elegant armies. It is unique in that DBA Swiss and Burgundian armies are almost perfect in scale to re-fight this battle. I hope those that use this scenario find it challenging and enjoyable. I am writing most of this from memory, please excuse minor errors and omissions. Good Gaming!

Background Situation

The Battle of Granson was the first of three major battles fought during the Burgundian Wars against the Swiss. The roots of the wars lie in the unquenchable desires of Charles the Bold (or Rash), Duke of Burgundy, for glory, riches, empire, and kingship. In the months preceding the battle, the western Swiss confederate states had seen the direction Charles was taking and made overtures to him to form an alliance. Charles ignored their treatises and began preparations for a campaign to seize Savoy and link up with the Duchy of Milan. The Swiss were an obstacle to his designs for empire. He used a Swiss attack on lord Romontıs holdings in Vaud and Savoy as an opportunity to send his army of the finest mercenary troops in Europe to open lines of communication with the Duchy of Milan.

Upon arriving at the Castle at Granson on Lake Neuchatel, Charles found it held by a garrison of approximately 700-800 Swiss. He used his excellent, modern artillery to bombard the castle and force the unconditional surrender of the Swiss garrison. When the Swiss surrendered they were executed to a man. News of this atrocity swept the Swiss ranks as the army was forming, and its captains were still in council. Charles positioned his army in between the mountains and Lake Nuechatel.

The Armies

The Burgundian Ordonnance army is one of the finest amalgamations of mercenary professional troops in the 15th Century. It possessed an excellent balance of combined arms including mounted shock, heavy infantry, light infantry, and missile troops. It was comprised of Italian Condotta for its men-at-arms (Kn.), English Longbowmen, Low Countries Pikemen, and the finest artillery of the day. In fact, one could argue that the Burgundian army was the first to truly use "field" artillery in battle with its light and medium bombards fitted on wheeled carriages. Artillery was not just for sieges anymore. Although rich in its troop types Charles could never obtain the amounts that he wanted to carry out his conquests. I donıt know if numbers would have helped anyway.

The Swiss confederates of were of a predominantly German ethnicity. The organization of the Swiss confederacy is a story in and of itself , which cannot be encapsulated here. Suffice it to say that they were becoming a force to be reckoned with, especially if you were the invader. Their army was organized along what the cantons could bring to the fight in the event of mobilization. From these cantons their representative captains would from a council of war and determine the constituency of the Kiels. Swiss Kiels were the "Battles" or Divisions of their army. In an optimal environment the army would be formed into three Kiels, consisting of the Vohwarts (forward), Gehwalt (main body), and the van. The forward Kiel would consist of handgunners (Ps.), crossbowmen (Ps.), and halberdiers (Bd.). The purpose of this unit was to act as the advance guard of the army, and fix the enemy force for the main body attack. The main body would consist largely of Pikes with Halberdiers in the center of the formation. The job of the main body was to fight and defeat the enemy in detail. When Pikes would run into trouble posed by enemy heavy infantry, the halberdiers would be sent forward to free up the pressure on the Pikes and continue the attack. The Van would act as a tactical reserve for the Swiss.

Deployment

The Burgundians deployed in defensive positions from which their captains expected to defeat the Swiss in detail as they surged forward. They arrayed themselves with their horse on the flanks and tied the artillery into the hills. The infantry was in the center. Their Men at Arms should have been dismounted if Charles wanted to have success, for this scenario the DBA player can use the historical deployment below or decide upon his/her own based upon the terrain and the option to dismount 3 of the 4 Kn. Elements.

The Swiss, on the other hand, had barely gotten into battle formation.

Initial Deployment is shown below:


     Burgundians                                           Swiss				

     ________________________mountains__________________________			

                              Lb.
                                                Pk.Pk.
       (Chateau Guyon)  Kn.Kn.                  Bd.    (main body)
                        Art.                    Pk.Pk.
   (Charles, gen.) Kn.	 Lb.                     Pk.Pk.  Kn.(gen.)
                      Pk.Pk.
     Camp                Lb.                       Ps.Bd.
                         Lb.                       Ps.Bd.
                           Kn.
                             Lh.

     ______________________Lake Neuchatel_______________________	

The Battle

When word of the execution of the Swiss garrison swept the Swiss lines they surged forward with the fury of revenge. As stated above the Swiss captains were still holding their council of war to determine their battle plan, and Iım sure were quite disconcerted when the army began its advance without them.

Charles did not stick with his battle plan, he ordered the advance to meet the Swiss, without deference to his captains. The Swiss troops attacked and pushed straight through the light wood shown below on the map to press home their attack. Phillippe de Commynes indicates in his story of the battle that the Burgundians did not acquit themselves well and broke as the Swiss hedgehog came into view. The rear ranks saw the vanguard moving back to the main battle line because they could not keep up with Charles push to meet the enemy. They mistook the rearward movement for retreat according to Phillipe de Commynes. Some Burgundians fought with a vengeance. The lord Chateauguion led three charges against the corner and flank of the Swiss formation. He personally broke through the line and managed to seize a Swiss banner for a brief moment before being unhorsed and cut down by a halberderdier. The Burgundians fled the field, leaving almost everything including the Burgundian jewels as booty for the Swiss. It is quite ironic that Charles the Rash was showing off in his entire splendor to French and German emissaryıs prior to the battle.

Hopefully your Burgundian troops will acquit themselves on the field of battle more honorably than they did on this day. Donıt do anything RASH with this army. Good planning and troop integration is the key to victory with a Burgundian Ordonnance army.

Game Map (ASCII)


                                                                       						

     ============Burgundian Baseline==================
     . . . . . . C C C . . . . . . . . . . . . H H H H
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H H
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H H
     w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H H
     w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H H
     w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H
     w w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
     w w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . h
     w w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H
     w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H
     w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H
     w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H
     w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . f f f . . . . H H
     w w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . f f f f . . . H H      NORTH->
     w w . . . . . . . . . . . . . f f f f . . . . H H     
     w w w . . . . . . . . . . . . . f . . . . . . H H
     w w w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H H
     w w . B B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H H
     w w . B B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H H
     w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H
     w . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H H
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . C C C . . . . . . . H H
     ==============Swiss Baseline=====================

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

TERRAIN KEY:

. = Good Going (Good Going)
C = Camp
h = Gentle Hill (Good Going)
H = Steep Hill (Impassable)
f = Light Wood (Bad Going)
w = Lake
B = Built Up Area (Grandson Castle)

Note: there were roads that led along the lake to the castle then branched of to the village of Grandson itself but behind the Swiss lines but I have chosen to omit these.

Special Rules

None.

Victory Conditions

Normal DBA.


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Last Update: June 28, 2000

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