The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross at The Other Partizan 2022

‘Edward of York, he’s our man, if he can’t do it, no one can!’ Eddie gets the top Hero rating in Midgard, Level 4 Legendary Hero (shown by the 4 roses). Perry Minis by Chris.

Tom in our group has long had a fascination with the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross and we’ve all dabbled in Wars of the Roses over the years (collecting the armies twice in my case!), but when Chris (Winston Ap Rees for you social media fans) joined our merry band, this was the catalyst for our latest Partizan game.

Mortimer’s Cross is an interesting battle for a number of reasons; like Stoke Field, it featured a contingent of Irish, the Tudors fought there, and it also saw the emergence of the military legend that would become Edward IV and his famous symbol ‘the Sunne in Splendour’ (later immortalised as the title of Sharon Penman’s excellent novelisation of the Wars of the Roses).

Battle Oak and the unfortunate herald killed beneath it – a folk tale unearthed by Tom WD and recreated in miniature by Chris.

One of the most famous tales of the battle is that, as the sun was rising through the cold morning mist on February 2nd 1461 (or 3rd – the exact day of the battle is disputed), it created the atmospheric phenomenon known as a parhelion – the appearance of a triple sun. Although the Yorkists were frightened by this, Edward (Earl of March and Duke of York, soon to be King) is said to have interpreted the vision as a sign of God’s favour. We were able to replicate this in our game by giving Edward the ‘Omens’ trait that allowed him a (randomised) chance of raising (or lowering) morale before the game. Fortuitously, Fraser (playing Edward) rolled a 5, giving the Yorkists extra tokens in their goblet of reputation, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The mill on the Lugg – fine work by Chris.

We considered the very enjoyable Never Mind The Billhooks for rules, but my own Midgard won out because it was specifically designed for fighting large battles. We stripped out the more heroic elements by banning single combats and cutting back on some of the more mystical traits, leaving the basic game engine that, I’m pleased to report, worked very well indeed.

By combining our various collections, we were able to put around 900 28 figures on the table. Units were composed of around 36-48 infantry or 16 cavalry, depending on the various basing systems in use. Midgard usually works with a standard unit frontage of 12 cm, but for this game we doubled that to 24 cm, giving us the appearance of a big battle but without too many units to keep track of. The army lists were sorted out by Chris, juggling our collections into a possible order of battle for the two forces. We followed tradition by appointing Jasper Tudor, Owen Tudor and Edward as the main commanders, but fitted in various other models from our collections as likely sub-commanders and leaders.

This is the wonderful map by Derek Stone from the Lance and Longbow society’s Battle of Towton booklet by Pat McGill. We followed this traditional deployment for the battle (apart from the flank attack shown on the high ground)

After a number of discussions about the different options (the alignment of the armies has two popular variants), we plumped for the traditional one with the north-south alignment shown above. During the show, I had fascinating conversations with a member of the Battlefields Society who favoured the other alignment (east-west) but who also confirmed the finding of three stone cannon balls on the suggested battle site. Whether these are related to the battle requires further investigation, but as we’d already deployed a few cannon, that was enough for us!

The ever genial Dr Nick pays us a visit. Yorkists are on the left (north) just in front of the village of Mortimer’s Cross; Lancastrians are on the right (south) with the River Lugg at the back of the table.

Minutes later, Barry Slemmings (author of Bills, Bows and Bloodshed and the Wikipedia page on the battle) arrived to congratulate us on choosing the correct alignment! We had a lively natter and he also lent me his splendid sallet for a quick comedy photo. Barry was followed up by a self-proclaimed descendant of Richard III, reminding me what a broad and fascinating church gaming is!

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Anyway, after this flurry of debate, we got stuck in to the battle proper. I’m not going to give a full blow-by-blow account, but will rather dwell on some highlights as I work through the pics. Martin posted a rather nice video of the game (plus some general highlights of the show) so do have a look at that if you get time!

Lancastrians close in on the Yorkists (top)
Sir Roger Vaughan and Sir William Hastings (mounted) prepare to defend Mortimer’s Cross.
Sir Richard Croft of Croft’s Castle gets ready to smite the Lancastrians (Perry Minis by Tom WD, tent from Magister Militum painted by me for an El Cid game in the distant past)
A York! A York! Sir William Hastings commands the right.
Baron (A)Bergavenny commands the Yorkist left.
Lord Grey of Wilton supports Baron Bergavenny in the Yorkist ranks.
Sir Roger Vaughan, Yorkist sub commander
Defend the beer, men! Tom WD’s excellent hedges line the road in the background, providing a feeling of winter.
Lord Grey of Ruthyn
Our special tribute to the Earl of Wiltshire (who had a reputation for leaving the battlefield, er, prematurely). His standard bearer is reminding him of his duty!
Irish surge forwards – Perry, Crusader and Gripping Beast minis painted by Chris and myself. If you like the Irish, there’s a load more pics here.
Ride to glory! Owen Tudor and a fine cavalry unit painted by Martin.
Sir William Vaux commands the mercenaries for Lancaster.
The Lancastrian gonnes open up
Battle is joined! Owen Tudor rides ahead of his command on the Lancastrian right while the Yorkists stand firm.
John Fitzgibbon of County Kilkenny leads the Irish home into a fearsome charge against the Yorkist billmen.
With the routing of one Irish unit, Hastings is ready to turn his attention to the Earl of Wiltshire’s retinue.
Owen Tudor’s cavalry charge causes casualties, but the archers drop back behind the men at arms who drive back the horsemen.
Jasper Tudor brings up the Lancastrian centre
Baron Bergavenny’s men defeat Owen Tudor’s knights.
Owen Tudor is knocked off his horse and captured!
Peasants gather on the safe side of the Lugg. I made the river about 30 years ago, but it had a new coat of varnish and spruced-up banks for the show.
The luckless mercenaries get shot up by the Yorkist gonnes. (I know that the figures are Burgundians, but they’re too nice not to use) – lovely painting by Chris again.
The climactic combat under the Battle Oak! Edward is wounded by Jasper Tudor’s men, but the Lancastrian reputation is crushed by the defeat of Owen Tudor by the river and the force is defeated.

It was, as ever, a fun but exhausting day out. Fortunately, with a great team of chums on board, we shared the load and enjoyed the game. The spectacle of two substantial medieval armies meant that the game had plenty of visual punch despite the understated winter terrain, and it was nice to one of several WOTR games. It’s always a pleasure meeting up with old friends and making new ones, something that Partizan always does well. After helping to pack up 900 figures, I’m now considering a small skirmish for Partizan 2023! Or not.

13 thoughts on “The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross at The Other Partizan 2022

  1. Superb looking game. Sounds like you had a lot of fun too!
    Seeing all these games over the last two plus years is making me very “hungry”. I’m going to do my level best to make sure I’m at Partizan next year. Hopefully with a game!

    Liked by 1 person

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