Saturday, 29 May 2021

The Battle of Arousa

 ‘Now, sergeant, what do you think of the young lady singing?’

‘She has a fine voice, sire.’

‘That’s not all that is fine, eh? Get a message to her that I shall look forward to entertaining her in quarters this evening.’

‘I am not sure I can do that, sire.’

‘You got through to the army, man.’

‘Yes, sire, but there are other complications with delivering messages to ladies. The queen’s orders, for one thing.’

‘Oh, bosh man! She’s not here. Look, invite her friend to your tent as well, and we’ll say no more about it, eh?’

‘I cannot do that, sire.’

‘Oh, really. I mean…. Sergeant?’

‘Yes, sire?’

‘Are you the commander of my bodyguard?’

‘Yes, sire.’

‘Are you not supposed to stop people from, for example, holding daggers to my throat.’

‘Yes, sire, with exceptions.’

‘What exceptions would they be?’

‘When the person holding the dagger is Her Majesty, sire.’

‘And so in the current instance…?’

‘My orders are not to intervene, sire.’

‘Oh. Izzy, how nice of you to stop by.’

‘Just in time to stop you doing something which I might have let you live to regret, Ferdie. Now, come away, because I have a job for you.’

‘Is it an enjoyable job?’

‘It is, being as how it is your duty to lead our army against the enemy, and that they are on the march to reach Arousa town before your roistering is done.’

‘That isn’t what I had in mind for this evening, Izzy my dear.’

‘I am well aware of that, which is why I needed to bring the dagger. If you stop the Granadines, I might consider your future more enjoyable employment in my tent. I’ve bought a new moveable bed.’


Having taken the castle of Al-Arousa, Ferdinand was anticipating having an evening off. However, the Granadines are attempting to throw a garrison into Arousa town, so he has to get on his horse and see them off. The opening dispositions are in the picture.

Ferdinand has deployed his heavy cavalry to the right, across the river (which is fordable), and is aiming to deploy his jinites at the bridge to block it, along with infantry support. The Granadines are going to have to deploy their jinites to delay the Castilian heavies and get their foot across the bridge. I reckoned that they might have to deploy their crossbowmen to see off the gendarmes, but that should be possible.

The aims of the commanders were fairly well mirror images. The Granadines aimed to get at least half their army into Arousa (to the near left of the table. Ferdinand’s aim was to stop them (and then test his new bed). The balance of the scenario seemed to be reasonable…

The interim photographs did not fair well, but the final one shows the Granadine problem in spades.

As you can see, Ferdinand’s plan succeeded, probably more easily than he (and certainly than I) expected. While the Granadine jinites did delay one of the three gendarme bases, they were forced to retreat by the others onto the deploying infantry and were then charged and routed. The gendarmes then crashed into the infantry supports and damaged them, forcing them back behind their supporting lines, which the gendarmes (at increasingly unlikely odds, it has to be admitted) then forced back again, and routed the original shaken first-line troops, causing the whole lot to rout. Two bases had basically destroyed half the Granadine army.

Meanwhile, at the bridge, the Castilian jinites have forced the Granadine cavalry back by sheer weight of fire (and luckier dice rolls than their colleagues on the other side) while the Castilian infantry have started to deploy and ford the river. At this point, while Granadine morale had not completely collapsed (and the remaining gendarmes, off-camera to the right, had refused to charge the Granadine jinites from behind) the Granadines have clearly failed in their attempt to put a garrison into Arousa and therefore withdrew their remaining forces.

I really thought here at one point the I had the beating of the Castilian gendarmes. They beat the jinites fair and square, but then ploughed into crossbows supported by spearmen, without support themselves. Ferdinand, however, proved himself to be a lucky general: while one base recoiled, the other rolled a five to the spears’ one and the spears recoiled shaken.

One of the rules of campaigns is, I have found over the years, what happens on the table happens. Going back and re-rolling events or combats is normally not a good idea. But I think, in all fairness I do need to find a way of blunting the Castilian gendarmes. The Granadine army does not really have an answer to the sheer violence of the assault even by two bases, unsupported.


‘Good morning my sweet.’

‘You seem cheerful this morning Ferdie.’

‘After last night, my dear, why shouldn’t I? I think we gave that bed a thorough testing, don’t you?’

‘It stood up well to the activity Ferdie. I expected you to be a bit tired, however.’

‘Oh, well, some things energise one for the day.’

‘You might feel a bit less energised when I read you this.’

‘What is it, my dear? You seem a bit downcast by it.’

‘It is a letter from the Masters of the religious orders. You know, the ones who supply most of the heavy cavalry.’

‘Oh yes. My favourite battle winners. Launch them at the foe and ‘Boom!’, no foe. What do they want?’

‘I’ll summarise. In essence, the letter says that they are withdrawing from the army for the celebration of Lent and Easter, as per the latest edict from the Pope regarding the celebration of the same. They will be praying for your continued success against the infidel.’

‘Oh. Right. Fine, no problem….What?

‘I am sure you heard me, Ferdie. They will replace the troops they withdraw, the Brethren, with paid men, some jinites and some crossbowmen.’

‘But without the gendarmes how am I going to win battles?’

‘Well, you’d better figure that out Ferdie, otherwise last night could be the last night of passion for a while.’


  1. HAHAAA - I love it.
    And so, we realise how battle winning strategies are 'actually' concocted.
    This is clearly why the Missus beats me in every wargame I play with her, no matter what the period, or how much of an 'expert' I think I am ...t'is true, the female brain is very different ;)

    1. Absolutely: as someone said for a generalship roll: '+1 general on a promise'.

      There are possibly two slightly more serious points here: first, the historical actors were generally young, which I at least forget. Second, it does sometimes seem in the Reconquista that Isabella was the one wearing the trousers.

      Still, you are a brave man taking your lady on in a wargame. Mine is too competitive for me...

  2. Fun times for Ferdinand, with more in store; perhaps!
    Regards, James

    1. He hopes, but without most of his heavy cavalry, who knows?