Burgundian Ordonnance 1471 AD - 1477 AD

Cold. Ag 4. WW, Rv, H(S), H(G), Wd, O, V, RGo, M, Rd, BUA.
Nominal list scale: 1 element equals equals 250 men (normal scale).

C-in-C - Reg Kn (S) @ 35 AP 1
Household gendarmes - Reg Kn (S) @ 35 AP 0-1
Household archers - Reg Mtd Bw (S) @ 8 AP 1-2
Other household infantry - Reg Bd (O) @ 7 AP 2-3
Replace all household infantry with mixed formations - 1/2 Reg Bw (X) @ 7 AP, 1/2 Reg Bw (S) @ 5 AP on double element bases with voulgiers in front, archers at the rear. 0 or 4
Ordonnance gendarmes, coustilliers and pages - Reg Kn (O) @ 12 AP 9-15
Ordonnance mounted archers - Reg mtd Bw (S) @ 8 AP 2-4 per 3 Ordonnance Kn (O)
Downgrade Ordonnance mounted archers as crossbowmen - Reg mtd Bw (O) @ 6 AP 0-1/6
Other English archers - Reg mtd Bw (S) @ 8 AP or Reg Bw (S) @ 7 AP 0-12
Ordonnance handgunners - Reg Ps (S) @ 3 AP 2-3
Ordonnance foot archers - Reg Bw (S) @ 7 AP, or crossbowmen - Reg Bw (O) @ 5 AP 2-5
Ordonnance pikemen - Reg Pk (O) @ 4 AP 6-8
Replace Ordonnance pikemen with Ordonnance handgunners - Reg Ps (S) @ 3 AP 0-2
Replace Ordonnance pikemen and archers with mixed formation Ordonnance infantry - 1/2 Reg Bw (X) @ 7 AP, 1/2 Reg Bw (S) @ 5 AP on double element bases with pike in front, archers at the rear. 2 such double element bases replace 1 or 2 elements of Ordonnance pikemen and 3 or 2 elements of Ordonnance archers. Any
Other Italian men-at-arms - Reg Kn (O) @ 12 AP 0-8
Italian mercenaries - 1/2 Reg LH (I) @ 3 AP, 1/2 Reg Bw (O) @ 5 AP 0-1 per 2 Italian Kn (O)
Upgrade Ordonnance or Italian Kn (O) as sub-generals - Reg Kn (O) @ 32 AP 1-2
Low Country militiamen - Reg Pk (I) @ 3 AP 0-4
Feudal men-at-arms - Irr Kn (I) @ 8 AP 0-5
Feudal crossbowmen - Irr mtd Bw (O) @ 5 AP 0-1 per Kn (I)
Petardiers - Reg Ps (X) @ 6 AP 0-1
Bombards - Reg Art (S) @ 10 AP 0-3
Field guns - Reg Art (O) @ 8 AP 1-3
Light guns - Reg Art (I) @ 4 AP 2-12
Field works - TF @ 2 AP 0-24
Wagon laager for camp - TF @ 1 AP 0-24
Low Country militia allies - List: Low Countries (Bk 4)

This list covers Charles le Hardi's Burgundian armies from his 1471 reforms until his death at the hands of the Swiss. Feudal contingents had declined badly in quality, and the Low Country militia, while respected for their proficiency in arms, served extremely unwillingly. Usually too few answered the summons to muster to be useful, and when sufficient numbers did they could not be controlled effectively. Charles had the most complete collection of artillery of his day, though it did him little good in his battles against the Swiss. Organ guns had been replaced by light serpentines, and the bombards supplemented by more mobile modern guns on 'Burgundian' carriages, represented by Art (O). Several contingents of English archers reinforced the army at various intervals, but rather than fighting separately, they were enrolled into regular units, some in the Ordonnance companies, some as extraordinary companies, and others in the Household guards. The ordonnance issued at the end of 1472 reveals a lack of sufficient infantry shooters, especially handgunners, with extra pikemen making up the difference in numbers, but individual company records show that the extra pikemen may not have been employed. Low Country allies must have a regular general and may not be used with other Low Country militiamen. Kn (S) must be in the C-in-C's command. Ordonnance and Feudal Kn may be deployed dismounted.


I make no claim to be familiar with the primary sources for this list, but there are several good secondary sources dealing with them which all agree with each other as to the details, and their numbers simply don't tally with the numbers given in the Ordonnances that the current army list purports to 'closely' follow. Hence this list, paying a stricter regard to the actual numbers of troops involved.

Aggression: 4 certainly captures the spirit of Charles' aggressive campaigns of expansionism.

Terrain: The current list's selection is fine.

List scale: The army was 8000 strong at Nancy (one account claims 4000 but this doesn't tie in with the other sources), 15000 strong at Grandson; so a list scale of 1:250 is fine. This gives a minimum army size of 287 AP.

Generals: Charles was of course was surrounded by his Ducal guards; other generals were frequently Italians - either Savoyards (such as the Comte de Romont, prominent in the struggles for the Burgundian inheritance after Charles' death), or mercenary Condottieri.

Household gendarmes: These were approximately 500 strong, ie. two element's worth, but by the time of Nancy, most of the army had been depleted badly in strength. Few battle casualties came from the Ducal guards it seems, but since loses in officers and such from elsewhere would likely have been replaced from these men, non-battle casualties may have been significant.

Household infantry: the guard infantry were supposedly 1600 strong in the document that detailes their strength most explicitly, being some 16 company's worth, but of these, 4 archer companies were actually seconded Ordonnace companies (and here counted in the Ordonnance totals), and 8 companies were of non-archer infantry, again some seem to have been seconded from other places. The archer elements were more up to strength than the other infantry, and so their 400 men are rated as 1 to 2 elements; the 700-odd men of the other infantry companies being rated as 2-3 elements. A contemporary wood-block illustration shows Burgundian archers deployed behind voulgiers in a formation like that described for the Ordonnance infantry, so they too are allowed to be deployed in a mixed formation.

Ordonnance gendarmes: Each Ordonnance gendarme was supported by a coustillier and a page, plus 3 mounted archers. As the archers fought separately, they are listed as such, but the coustillier and the page usually stayed with the man at arms, and are thus assumed to form the rear ranks of each Kn element. The minimum number of men-at-arms recorded, just before Nancy, is over 1100, the maximum less than 1250 (ie 12 companies each of approximately 100 men-at-arms), giving 15 elements at full strength, with 13 even at Nancy. However, the pages occasionally held the horses of the archers, and this gives scope to reduce the numbers of elements by up to a third, and also allows 12 to elements to represent the 12 companies; it is also whether pages ought to be included in the nominal 'fighting' strength of a man-at-arms element.

Ordonnance mounted archers: At full establishment strength these would be at a ratio of 1:1 per gendarme element, but as noted above, the practice of removing the pages from the men-at-arms lowers their numbers, thus increasing the ratio of archers. However, battlefield casualties fell heavily on the archers, and some companies are reported as not much above 50% of their establishment strength at the review held just before Nancy, hence the option for a lower rather than higher ratio.

Mounted crossbowmen: 600 men out of 3600 mounted archers were reported to be crossbowmen in the 1472 review; it is likely these were eventually replaced by English archers, and are hence not compulsory.

English mounted archers: 2-3000 arrived from England in 1472, more in 1473, and another 1000 in 1474. The 13 men-at-arms commanding these last hardly seem to warrent their being counted as an allied contingent, and although by this stage there were reportedly over 3000 English archers serving in the army, this would seem to includes all those in the Ordonnance companies as well as the guards - certainly before Morat in 1476, there were 13 companies of purely English archers incorporated into the regular structure of the army, 4 in the Household Guards plus 9 of the 36 Ordonnance companies. If these ratios held at earlier times, this would leave approximately 2000 men unaccounted for, and as another 2000 more archers had arrived in 1475, it seems there would have been at a conservative estimate some 10 elements worth of separate English archers, and likely more. What proportion would have been mounted is unknown. I have made no provision for English allies representing Edward IV's force as the list currently allows, since the two armies never linked up, and in any case, the English army would be too large to be repesented by a normal ally contingent; Edward IV might well have had the better claim to be a 'C-in-C' of such a combined force anyway (Charles did visit Edward with a few troops in tow, but not an entire army).

Handguners: There were supposed to be 1200 in the army, but the 1472 figures show only 600 had been found thus far, hence the range in numbers from 5 elements right down to 2.

Pikemen: Again, there were supposed to be 1200 in the army, and while the 1472 review suggests that there were in fact 2000 of them, compensating for the lack of shooters, thecompany returns suggest here may have been less than this employed in reality. By Nancy, like all the foot, their numbers had reduced considerably - but not down to the meagre 2 elements required by the present list!

Infantry archers and crossbowmen: There were supposed to be 1200 in the army, but the 1472 figures show only 1000 had been found thus far, and by Nancy, like all the foot, their numbers had been further reduced. As some Ordonnances seem to have specified crossbowmen, and others archers, rather than have a compulsory mixture of each as in the current list, I have left the exact ratios unstated.

Mixed formations: I have deliberately made the description of how to depict these formations somewhat vague, since I feel the best despiction is actually 4 pikemen kneeling at the front of the base, 3 or 4 archers in the middle of the base, and a page with a horse at the rear.

Italians: These were first contracted for (outside the Ordonnace companies) in 1472; in this instance 500 mounted crossbowmen, 500 infantry (presumably crossbowmen on foot), 400 4 man lances and 150 (size unknown) other lances. The present list ratios allowing more LH than Kn, and more Bw than either, are therefore unacceptable. Separated Italians in 1474 are described as 1000 men-at-arms, both 'good and bad' (possibly a reference to the rear ranks being the equivalent of coustilliers), but not as infantry.

Sub-generals: Having these as an upgrade rather than as a separate entry keeps the numbers of companies consistent.

Low Countries pike: Only a few elements are allowed (and as Reg Pk (I), being unwilling), unless taken as allies. Their competence as pikemen is noted by contemporaries (and are hence Pk (O) when used as allies), but so is their disregard for authority, which is well simulated by making them regular allies (they will then not desert unless in a civil war). The larger contingents are recorded as ranging in size from 4000 right up to reputedly 8000 men.

Feudal troops: Still counted as part of the Duchy's military strength despite the difficulty of getting them to the field of conlict in time for battle, theie numbers are not recorded in any battle as far as I can determine; 1200 poorly-equipped feudal men-at-arms are recorded at Montl'hery in 1465, and since on that occasion they are noted as being almost wholey without armed valets and the like, a maximum of 5 elements seems reasonable. I have restricted the number of monted crossbowmen by the number of men-at-arms taken - it seems unreasonable to allow followers to be fielded without their masters. Given the dribs-and-drabs nature of the levy, I can't understand why there is a starred minimum of 4 elements in total.

Artillery: 420 pieces are recorded at Grandson, 200 at Morat and even 103 at Nancy when the army was at its smallest recorded size, where there were 30-odd field guns. The artillery park at Neuss consisted of 17 bombards and 210 other pieces of various sizes; that in Lorraine in 1475 was 12 bombards, 48 small serpentines and 23 intermediate weight pieces. Accordingly the current artillery minima are too few. Currently the lists/rules do not include any gunpowder Art (O), despite this being an excellent classification for later 15th century field guns. As bombards are scaled at 6 per element, and light guns (well, bolt-shooters anyway) at 30 per element, I have scaled these field guns at an intermediate 15 per element.

Fortifications: The Grunhag at Morat was defended by 2000 foot and 1200 horsemen, so 9 elements, not counting the considerable artillery that was known to be emplaced behind it, and yet it was deemed to be lightly defended. Thus the current 10 elements width maxmum of TF allowed is a joke - since then every section would be then be defended by at least one element! I have also allowed a fortified camp, since Commynes, speaking of a French force in ca. 1481 that they had learnt the art of fortifying camps with wagons from Charles.

This page last modified 8 May, 2005

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