Sunday, 9 May 2021

The 5th Century in Britannia: Part 5.

As before, this blog is my “ best guess “ as a wargamer, of events in this era, and an attempt to bring some reality to a rather hazy history.

 473AD: By this time Ambrosius [ Emrys Wledig ] is 63 years old. His Wards Arthur and Medreut are 6 and 8 years old respectively. Arthurs sister Anna is also 6. In eastern Britannia there are still communities trying to scrape a living from the soil. However they were in constant fear of the "Seaxon" raiders from the sea.

Note; All warriors of Germanic or Scandanavian origin could have been known to the Britons as Seaxons because of the fighting knife, the "Seax" that they all carried. The Seax had a blade 12"  [ 30cm ] long which broadened at the point and had a single cutting edge.The grip was 4" [ 10cm ] long.

There is the possibility that in time the word “Seaxon” became”Saxon”. Therefore all Germanic invaders were Saxon and could be why the Angles and Jutes fade into the historical background.


These weapons were relatively easy to produce with better quality items reserved for upper class warriors and leaders.

474 to 476 AD; Despite his best efforts, Ambrosius cannot stop Britannia fragmenting into smaller Kingdoms. Merlin is still in the background. As a Briton-born individual, who can also speak Latin he is always with Ambrosius in Council meetings.

The Round-Table Council of Britannia is now held at Caerleon.There are many leaders present. However through marriage and feud five main Kings have become the most powerful and regard themselves as equals. These are;

Erbin of Alclud.

Einon of Gwynedd.

Cadell of Powys.

Cador of Dumnonia.

Nynniaw of Gwent



The Allies of Ambrosius, Hoel and Riothamus have returned to their respective territories taking their troops with them. Amorica is under constant attack from Eurics Visigoths. Riothamus has problems not only with the Visigoths but also Geiserics Vandals.

Ambrosius has a hard time convincing the assembled Nobles that he needs a mobile army [ a Commitatenses], in order to stop any Seaxons settling in Britannia.  These new Kings do not trust each other and they regard Ambrosius as an Outsider, but they are in awe of Merlin. They grudgingly supply Ambrosius small numbers of men for the Field Army. His only Veterans are some of his Officers and his Cavalry.

Meanwhile, in Gaul the Saxons, Jutes and Angles are being forced out of Normandy and the Loire Estuary. there are also Germanic  warriors on Andum [ Jersey] and Lesia [ Guernsey].

476 AD; In Italy, the Western Roman Empire was in its final death throes. A barbarian Patrician by the name of Orestes had seized power. In turn he had promoted his son Romulus Augustulus [aged 16] to the position of Emperor. The centre of power in the waning Western Empire is Arelate ( Arles ) in south- eastern Gaul.

A Foederati General named Odoacer is the next to sieze power. Odoacer has Orestes killed. he then has Romulus exiled to Castelum Lucellum. Romulus is never heard of again.

Odoacer has the Imperial Regalia sent to the Emperor Leo in Constantinople with a message  saying that it was no longer required. With this act the Western Roman Empire ceased to be.

477 AD;  The incursions into Britannia begin in the Spring. Ambrosius at Caerleon gets a report that a large group of Seaxons with women and children have landed at Selsey. The leader of this group is called Aelle. he has three sons; Cymen, Wlencing and Cissa, along with 2000  Jutish people including 800 warriors in 20 ships.

Aelle moves north and attacks Chichester ( Noviomagus Reginorum). The town is in a poor state with dilapidated walls and there is only a small population. These people are killed or driven out with most making their way to Portus Aderni [ Portchester ].

As Ambrosius musters the army, more reports are coming in of Seaxon landings. Fifty ships have landed at Lundene on the Thamesis, carrying 5000 people including 2000 warriors. This is the Saxons under Bardulf and his brother Colgrin.

A third landing has taken place on the estuary of the river Welland. Another 2000 people including 700 warriors. This is Osla with his tribe of Angles.

See 477AD; Ambrosius decides that Aelle has to be dealt with first. Giving the army a victory would give them confidence. Ambrosius gives Medreut his first independent command.

In July Medreut sets out with his force taking seven days to reach the Chichester area via Glevum and Silchester. The force consists of;

3 cohorts of Auxilliary Infantry @ 200 men;

600 = 0.6 x 40 = 24 points = 12 stands of Auxilliary Infantry.

1 Cohort of Light Archers @ 200 men;

200 = 0.2 x 40 = 8 points = 4 stands of Light Archers @ 1point = 4 points.

Medreut @ 1 point.

Owain @ 1 point.

2 stands of Militia Infantry @ 1 point = 2 points.

1 Cohort of Light Cavalry @ 200 men;

200 = 0.2 x 40 = 8 points = 4 stands @ 2 points.



Aelle has been told of the Britons approach and draws up 700 warriors on Dummer Hill just north of Chichester ;

Aelle @ 1 point.

Cissa @ 1 point.

Cymen @ 1 point.

Wlencing @ 1 point.

4 stands of Light archers @ 1 point = 4 points.

10 stands of Warrior Infantry @ 2 points = 20 points.

Some of the warriors under Cymen,s command are left within Chichester to protect the people.

Here are the opposing armies laid out for battle;



NOTE; There are two ways to fight this battle

1] Allow the Jutes to move first and fire first on every Game-Turn and to keep the Initiative Point on every Game-Turn. this would stop the Briton army from being able to manouvre. Also, with no space to allow for "move-backs", the Briton army would start losing stands quite early in the game.

2] Play the game in the normal way.

The Watchtower can only be entered by Infantry.  One movement phase is required to move in. One movement phase out. Stands can Fire or engage in Close Combat after the Movement phase of the same Game-Turn.

Each game is played for 8 Game-Turns.
----------------------------------------------------------"-----------------------------------------------------------

As Medreut forms his men Aelle leads an all-out charge downhill into the Britons. Before Medreut can react the men break! 



Some try to put up a fight but they are no match for Aelle,s seasoned warriors. Medreut joins Owains cavalry in fighting a rearguard action.



Having retreated, Medreuts force makes a weary journey back to Caerleon. Aelle now establishes his group in the area.

Noviomagus becomes Cissa-ceaster.  Modern Selsey becomes Cymensora at that time and the village of Lancing gets established.

The Winter Solstice of 477 brings a stormy meeting at Caerleon. Ambrosius asks the Kings for more support, pointing up the success of the Jutes and the possibility of the enemy tribes combining with the Scots-Irish. It is only a matter of time before the homelands are invaded.

After a series of angry meetings. Ambrosius gets the troops he needs. Towns on the frontier like Viroconium are repaired and manned. The fleet stays protecting the West coast.

478 to 483 AD; In this six year period, the Briton mounted troops continuously attack Seaxon terrritory. The infantry go out in small bands raiding where they can. Arthur and Medreut are 16 and 18 respectively and leading raids into enemy territory aided by experienced warriors

484 AD;  A pivotal point is reached. The Seaxons hold their first Witan ( a Council) at Lundene, which is now an Angle settlement.

The people are angry with their leaders because of the continued attacks by the “ Walisch “( the Britons ). A decision is made to attack into Gwent and on to Caerleon.

In May, 400 Jutes under Aelle, 500 Saxons under Bardulf, 500 Saxons, under Colgrin  and 800 Angles under Osla gather at Verulamium ( Saint Albans ). Bardulf is elected as leader. Three days later this army of 2,200 men commences the march westward on the old Roman road of Akemen Street toward Glevum.

Ambrosius, on hearing of this advance by the Seaxons, musters the army in the old amphitheatre at Caerleon. The army is expecting him to lead them. At 73 he can feel his body failing him but he knows he has to be there.

 Arthur is to lead the Elite Clibanarii,  Medreut, the  Infantry. Owain is to lead the Light Cavalry and assist Medreut. Morfael one of Nynniaw,s Veterans is to lead the Gwent Militia. The Briton Army of 2,600 men;

1,200 Auxilliary Infantry [ Javelins, Plumbata, Swords ] in 6 Cohorts; 1,200 = 1.2 points x 20 = 24 points = 12 stands @ 2 points each. 

200 Light Archers in 1 Cohort = 200 = 0.2 x 20 = 4 points = 3 stands of Archers @ 1 point + Owain @ 1 point.

200 Light Cavalry in 1 Cohort = 200 = 0.2 x 20 = 4 points = 1 stand @ 2 points + Arthur @ 1 point + Medreut @ 1 point.

300 Elite Clibanarii Cavalry in 1 Cohort = 300 = 0.3 x 20 = 6 points = 1 stand @ 3 points + Ambrosius @ 3 points.

500 Gwent Militia  [ javelins and spears] = 500 = 0.5 x 20 = 10 points = 5 stands @ 2 points each.

200 Gwent Light Archers = 200 = 0.2 x 20 = 4 points = 3 stands @ 1 point + Morfael @ 1 point.

A feeling runs through the Army that this is THE battle. weapons and armour are bought to their best. The Army takes the road leading East marching past Glevum. After three days, the Briton force reaches the vally of the River Glyme.

Ambrosius knows this is where he will fight his last battle so has donned his best armour. the Seaxon Army is also drawing near having arrived at the abandoned site of Alchester on the Akeman street route.



The next day, the two opposing armies draw up on opposite sides of the gently undulating valley.  The Seaxons facing West, the Britons East.

The Seaxon Army lines up in order;

Left Wing; 800 Angles = 800 = 0.8 x 20 =16 points= 7 stands of warriors @ 14 points = 1 stand of Light Archers @ 1 point +Osla @ 1 point.

Left centre; 500 Saxons = 500 = 0.5 x 20 = 10 points= 4 stands of warriors @ 2 points = 1 stand of Light Archers @ 1 point + Colgrin @ 1 point.

Right centre; 500 Saxons = 0.5 x 20 = 10 points = 4 stands of warriors @ 2 points = 1 stand of Light Archers @ 1 point + Bardulf @ 1 point.

Right wing; 400 Jutes = 400 = 0.4 x 20 =8 points = 3 stands of warriors @ 2 points + 1 stand of Light Archers @ 1 point + Aelle @ 1 point.

NOTE; All the warrior infantry carry throwing weapons. The River Glyme is very shallow so any stands can move and fire as normal while positioned in the river. However the Cavalry do not get the 3 points for attacking Infantry if the Cavalry stand is itself positioned in the river.

The game is played for 8 Game-Turns.

Aelle and Ambrosius; 

 At the end of the 8th Game-Turn if the stand representing Alle is in an adjacent square to Ambrosius, one six sided die is thrown by the Saxon Player. On a roll of 3,4,5 or 6 ; Ambrosius is removed from the board.


Ambrosius exhorts his men. Failure would mean the end for their families and country. Bardulf, being the elected leader of the Seaxon force tells the army that failure would see them and their families being swept into the sea!

After a brief moment of reflection, Ambrosius raises his sword with the battlecry; DUW A PRIDAIN!

Bardulf replies with WOTAN! 

After six hours of fighting both sides are exhausted with neither gaining an advantage. All the leaders are caught up in the fighting with the heaviest combat centred on Anbrosius’s position. Even the cavalry has been negated by the terrain. In a last ditch attempt Ambrosius launches his Clibanarii at the right wing of the Seaxon army where Aelle is positioned. This time Ambrosius with Arthur leads the attack. Aelles men lock shields as the horsemen approach uphill.

The horses can only trot at the enemy infantry and cannot force the line. As the fighting ebbs away, Aelle launches a spiculum which finds its mark. Ambrosius is mortally wounded! As the two sides draw apart the Seaxons withdraw behind locked shields. The Britons are to tired to persue. The Britons claim a victory but it is phyrric.



The body of Ambrosius is carried back to Caerleon to be buried. The morale of the Army is low. the people are frightened. In the meantime the Seaxons have dispersed back to their settlements in high spirits. The Germanic settlers know they have won a great victory. Aelle,s status rises amongst the tribal leaders.

As the Winter Solstice of 484 arrives, the Kings gather to  bury Ambrosius, and to decide what to do next. Without the personal force  of Ambrosius, each King refuses to appear subservient to the others.  There is only one remaining character who has the Power and Mystery to exert any influence;

MERLIN.

As before, the table I use is 3 feet x 2 feet ( 60cm x 90cm). The figures are nearly all Hat Industries with some Newline Designs and Miliart..

The square bases are from picture framing card. The round bases are from Minibits.

The representation of Chichester is scratchbuilt. The Watchtower is an old model of a Saxon building with a scratcbuilt tower added.

The hills are from Brian at Essex miniatures. One hill is made from a garden kneeling pad from Wilkinson’s.

The wood bases are from S and A Scenics and the trees are from various manufactures

The river and road sections are cut from thin cardboard.

The Seax  or Scramasax 



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