The Battle of Nernier, 1480 AD

Extract from a letter from one Rusticello, a man-at-arms in Savoyard employ, to his brother yet my brother, for you will no doubt have heard by now that we have routed the Genoese.

It is true, as you know, that I had no confidence in Volante when the Duke first appointed him, and even less after his ignominious drubbing outside Turin. Why the Duke kept him on after that was beyond me. All the more was my surprise then when Volante's plan smashed the Genoese quite handsomely, then.

We were outnumbered, and not only that, but the best part of our forces were local militia. The militia had been set digging trenchlines around Nernier, a village jutting out into Lac Leman, as the locals call it here - they speak some strange French patois, you know, and my company was ordered to garrison it.

All to my taste, good brother, for if we lost, there were a couple of fishing boats tied up by the wharf I had my eye on; but as it was, we had a magnificent veiw of the proceedings. The village is built upon an upraised knoll, and an old castle seems to have been built here at some time in the past, although it has long since been demolished, judging by the remannts of some foundations still to be seen.

Anyway, Volante had ordered off some men early in the morning into the hills to the south to fall on the enemy's flank, but by the time the mist cleared and the Genoese could be seen advancing up the road past the village towards Geneva, they still hadn't turned up. Volante ordered out our reserves to meet the enemy's horse head on - sheer suicide it looked from here, but as a swirling cavlry melee developed, the Genoese south flank was broken by our supporting infantry. Touch and go it looked, but we won in the end.

The Genoese infantry tried to storm the entrenchments after that, but couldn't make too much headway, and in the meantime the rest of the Genoese horse had fled as the lads from the hills finally arrived, cutting off their retreat. Butchery it was, I tell you. I reckon their army was seven thousand strong, maybe more - and we killed three and a half thousand of the buggers as they ran back to...


This was the third battle fought in the campaign. The Genoese senate (played by Kevin Neilson) had ordered their generals Giovanni Ambulatore (played by Andre Evers) and Walter de Brienne IV (played by Bryan Sowman) to follow up their recent success at Nice by striking inland for Geneva, the Savoyard capital. The Duke of Savoy (played by Johnathan Parks) ordered his general Disco Volante (played by Dave Evans) to abandon the newly recaptured city of Torino to the Milanese, and defend the capital.

Volante had time to raise the entire Genevan militia contingent, and moved to block the Genoese advance at Nernier, a small village on the souther shore of Lake Geneva. Entrenchments were dug around the town, and breastworks constructed across the plain extending to the road that led to Geneva. The small plain stretched for half a league before meeting the foothills of the Haute-Savoy.

Early in the morning, seeing the cloying mist enveloping the lake in the chill morning air, Volante dispatched a mounted flank march south into the foothills. The Genoese force opposite him was not as large as the Milanese force that had beaten him earlier that year, but was still definitely much larger than his own, and undeniably of better quality.

If was but two hours from noon when the mist cleared, and the Genoese boldly advanced across the plain. Ambulatore, the Genoese captain-general, was only momentarily disconcerted to find the Savoyards to be more numerous than expected, as his hopes were raised considerably when he realized that half of them were unarmoured militiamen. He ordered Brienne's infantry and guns forward to assault the Savoyard centre positions, while at the same time moving forwards himself to threaten their southern positions.

Deployment Map

Brienne's guns got off only a few shots, as his own men were pressing forwards in their eagerness to get to grips with the enemy. They did however succeed in killing some of the defenders before their line of sight was blocked off entirely.

Volante searched the southern hills looking for his men, but saw nothing. 'Desperate times call for desparate measures', he told himself, and he ordered out his reserve command from behind the entrenchments to contest the southern flank. Seeing this move, Ambulatore spurred his horse forwards to meet them, and the two lines met with great violence. The more numerous Genoese horse soon pushed back the Savoyards, and as the swirling cavalry melee moved westwards, the Savoyard militia summoned up their courage, and charged into the Genoese flanks. The ground was churned up by flailing horse's hooves, and soon the militiamen were unhorsing the Genoese in great numbers. It proved too much for the Genoese southern flank which broke and fled to the rear.

Ambulatore's own squadrons of lancers had to be comitted to the fight to restore the situation, and they too suffered heavy losses. Eventually they broke the Savoyards opposed them, but they had lost most of their own strength in doing so. His infantry were faring a little better, moving up to the entrenchments which were only lightly guarded in his sector.

Brienne's infantry had meanwhile attempted to storm the trenchlines in front of them. Some of his billmen made it over, only to be cut down by Volante's personal squadron of lancers which was acting as a reserve, and the Genoese infantry pulled back to reorganize themselves.

It was at this stage that the Savoyards that had been marching through the foothills to the south were sighted marching over the plain towards the Genoese baggage. The remnants of Ambulatore's command looked over their shoulders seeking to withdraw, and the Savoyard infantry chose this moment to charge out of their fortifications, breaking Ambulatore's own crossbowmen in rout. The rest of his men soon followed suit, and seeing their flanks exposed, their baggage threatened, and fresh forces to thie rear, Brienne's men did likewise, leaving their guns behind to be captured by the elated Savoyards.

The Savoyard flank-march inflicted fearful casualties on the fleeing Savoyards, killing 2000 and capturing some 1300 others, leaving the remants wondering why they had left the pleasant port of Nice for this cold accursed place in the first place.


This page last modified: October 31, 1998

Return to the campaign introduction.