Saturday 23 June 2018

Moving On….

Don Pedro looked gloomily at the sketch in front of him. ‘So, we have to hold this bridge, or the English will take us from the rear?’

‘Yes, sire. The Northern English and the Scottish could be moving south, and they will need to cross that bridge. It is the first one on the river from the sea.’

‘But we must take York by the autumn. I do not have sufficient troops to do both.’

‘There are reinforcements arriving at Whitby, my lord. Should they get past the English ships.’

‘What do you mean, should they?’

‘Well, the English are alerted to where we are now, my lord. They will be watching.’


The King looked unhappily at his council. ‘Are we sure?’

‘As certain as we can be, sire. The Spanish have landed in Yorkshire and are advancing inland.’

‘The English army?’

‘Has not managed to stop them yet, sire. The main force is marching north, aiming for York.’

‘Look, my lords, it is far too early for us to worry about. The Spanish force the English to surrender. What is that to us?’

‘My Lord Maxwell, if the English surrender, so will we. And the Inquisition will start burning us.’

‘Hardly. If Scotland returns to the true faith there will be no need for Inquisitions.’

‘Maxwell, Scotland is a land of the true faith. Mr Knox ensured that we returned to the faith of our fathers, not the corrupted Romish mumbo-jumbo of the Spanish and their allies.’

‘The faith of our fathers is the faith of Rome, my Lord! We should….’

‘Silence! This is no place for theological discussion. Our sister of England is in danger, and it is for us to aid her.’

There was an uncomfortable quiet.

‘Then you will fight for the heretic, sire?’

‘If I were not so reasonable a man, Maxwell, I could interpret that remark as treasonable. I know your views; this is not about any faith, true or not, but I will not have England in thrall to Spain if it is in my power to stop it.’

‘Very well, sire; I shall return to my lands and raise my forces.’ Maxwell stood and left. After a little hesitation, two more lords rose, bowed and left.

‘Huntley and Montrose are gone too, sire.’

‘I know. They have been in correspondence with Philip of Spain too. Raise an army, but be prepared to fight in Scotland first.’


‘They must be stopped. The port must be blockaded.’

‘We have little powder and fewer ships for the job.’

‘Nevertheless, you command the Queen’s ships and this is what they are for. How will our posterity judge us if we refuse to hazard our ships and our lives in this service?’

‘Captain, a Spanish fleet is heading for Whitby. They carry reinforcements for the invaders.’

‘We must intercept them, I suppose.’

‘Captain Anderson, if I did not know better I would think you were reluctant to take on the task.’

‘Not reluctant, my lord, but…. A Fleet in being is more dangerous to our enemy than a fleet at the bottom of the sea.’

‘We beat them up the Channel, captain. Can we not beat them up the North Sea?’

‘Um. Well, we did not really beat them, my lord. That is the difficulty. The Spanish got to Calais in perfect order. We expended great quantities of powder for little gain; even the ships we damaged were able to keep going.’

‘The bulk of the Armada is still at Calais, captain. We are only dealing with a break-away group and now a small number of reinforcements.’

‘Who expected the Spanish to fight their way ashore at Calais?’

‘It saved England. They have not re-embarked.’

‘Yet, my lord. We must watch them.’

‘Yes, and we are. But we must also deal with this Spanish invasion in the north. They must be cut off from reinforcement. If so, they will wither like crops in a drought. If not, then if York is lost the north will be, and if the north is lost the kingdom will be. The fleet at Calais will be an irrelevance.’

‘Captain, this is what the Queen’s ships are for. You must go forth and intercept these Spanish, and send them to the bottom or at least prevent them from landing.  If we cannot risk the Queen’s ship on such an undertaking, then what are they for?’

‘That is your clear order, my lord?’

‘It is. If any English ships under your command are still afloat and the Spanish land, do not bother returning to Her Majesty, for a place in the Tower has been reserved for those who do not hazard all for the realm.’


The campaign has been a bit quiet of late, but that does not mean I have not been pondering things. A look at a map of North Yorkshire will show Don Pedro’s problem. He currently has the Moors to his left and the Tees to his right. However, he has now come to the gap between the Moors and the Dales and needs to turn south, to march on York. However, he cannot assume that the rest of northern England and the Scots (who were officially Calvinist by this time) would not march south and take him in the rear, so Yarm Bridge needs to be held. Actually, he probably needs to hold Piercebridge as well, but one problem at a time.

The Scots are also a bit divided. At least three lords were in treasonable correspondence with Philip II from 1586 or so, but James chose to turn a blind eye to it. However, it is unlikely that the lords who fought so hard twenty years previously to establish the Calvinist Kirk would let it be threatened by a Spanish conquest (or even a favourable treaty permitting Catholic toleration in England) without a fight.

Don Pedro, of course, needs reinforcements to guard the bridge so he can then strike south. The English navy is lurking at Hull to intercept the ships. As someone noted with respect to Operation Sealion on the question of whether the Royal Navy would risk its ships in the Channel if the invasion had taken place ‘That is what the RN is for.’

Things are, practically, a little tricky. I have no decent Armada era naval rules (any ideas?), and, if Maxwell is going to oppose James, then I will need to, at least, rebase some highlanders. So things might be slightly delayed…


  1. If you don't mind paper ships:


    1. Thank you for that, it looks intriguing, and I like simple rules too...

  2. Brilliantly set-up for the next stages of the campaign. Can't wait. I've not been this excited about a 'pike and shot era serial' since the Flashing Blade.

    I like the way you've set-up the possibility of internecine conflict in Scotland as well as Scottish intervention in England.

    1. Well, I have in mind the next two actions now - one off Whitby and one at Coldingham Priory (I've got to keep with the Abbeys theme, after all).

      I reckon I'm a mere 192 figures away from the battle, plus a few painted bases. and some naval rules, of course.

  3. Took me a minute to figure out that the Moors in question were terrain, not another Spanish enemy, one from warmer climes.

    1. Ah, yes :). Just to further confuse things, I've nearly finished my ancients Spanish army (actually, a doubled one - 40 bases) and their first opponents are likely to be Moors, the African ones....