oh whoops, pretty nasty decision - lose your long term protector or risk being the front line in a war with France ...
oh whoops, pretty nasty decision - lose your long term protector or risk being the front line in a war with France ...
Yes, it was always going to come down to France knocking on the door...its just a matter of when and how many men they bring to the party. I found it disconcerting that the Castillians seemed to invade the Breton lands and leave the French alone.
Act XI, Opening blows
The summer had began in Brittany, the flowers were springing out, one could hear the birds sing almost all day, the people were not as harmonic as nature. Most of the population ere in total chaos, the war with France had only been declared for a week or so, and already the roads towards Brest were clogged with refugees who were trying to escape the French armies which they feared were on their way already. Jean who had been duke for almost 20 years now was a man who had never been a great military mind, but he had been through two wars already. He also had to excellent aides, Jaque Brne who was tasked with defending the cities of Brittany and Mikael de Beaudiez who would accompany Jean and the army.
Before Jean could travel from Nantes to Brest he got his wife and children on a boat leaving for England, he wanted them to be safe, should the French come they could not be in Nantes. As soon as Jean said goodbye to his wife he rode quickly northwards, the army was gathering at Brest. Jean had ordered the recruitment of a further 2000 soldiers, half of them cavalry. He knew that the economy would buckle under the weight of this, but he had some good news for his treasurers. The English had given him war subsides, far more money than he could possibly spend, but he resolved to save some of it, should the war drag out he would need every penny.
As he rode northwards the refugees were not too happy to see the man who had brought this new war to them, and some of them cursed his name. Jean could not let this affect him, he had an immense task in front of him, defeating the finest military of Europe was not going to be easy.
Jean spent a few weeks outside of Brest, he boosted the morale of his troops when the ate, slept and trained alongside his men, he knew that they did not have good conditions and he would therefore expose himself to the same conditions. His sacrifice won back the hearts of many soldiers who had started to doubt him after the second war with Castille. As Jean instructed a couple of Men-at-arms on how to repel a French knight he spotted a courier, the man had come from Nantes. 1000 soldiers from the duchy of Auvergne had invaded Brittany, Jean instructed the army to start moving at once, he would not delay another minute.
(Jean's army on the march.)
The Bretons moved extremely quickly southwards, and within a month they had almost reached Nantes. The Auvergnean troops had just settled into their new camp, their commander believed the Breton army to be north in Finisterre, they also had little respect for the Breton army, who had been defeated by the Castillians in the battle of Vizcaya. It was a sharp awakening when the invaders heard horses charging straight for them, 2000 horsemen followed by 6000 Breton men-at-arms were charging towards their camp, many of the Auvergneian troops did not have their weapons ready and the battle turned into a huge massacre, the Bretons took no prisoners, and killed every wounded enemy they could find. When it was over 1000 enemy troops lay dead, Jean had lost 9 men.
Although it was just a small victory Jean was content, he did not have time to rest on his laurels, the French had moved a small part of their army into Armor, and they were besieging Rennes. The French force amounted to 6000 men, 2000 of them cavalry, it was a strong force. They did have a couple of weaknesses though, they had no official commander, a collection of nobles shared command of the army, they also thought that the Breton army had moved into Auvergne.
The Bretons were not in Auvergne, they were heading north, this time the French caught wind of the movements and they prepared for battle. The French nobles decided to attack the Bretons as they closed in on Rennes. At first the French pushed forward well, they hit the vanguard of Jean's army, 1000 men-at-arms hard, the Bretons recoiled under the pressure, when they were about to run reinforcements appeared, the Bretons turned the French flanks and started pushing the enemy back over the ground which they had just taken. By the next evening the French nobles were routed, they were falling back into France. The battle had been far from smooth, 1708 Bretons were dead, most of these men were infantry who had fallen in the start of the battle. The French had lost 1773, however, a much larger portion of these losses were cavalry. To Jean it did not matter much, he had beaten a French army, and his prestige soared as a consequence.
Jean did not wait for long before he set out after the remains of the French army, he now set his sights on invading France. The Bretons were ordered not to loot, they were entering territories were the population were friendly towards the Bretons, and Jean did not want to alienate his troops to the locals. The French nobles had hoped they would be safe once they got back into France, especially since 3000 troops from the Duchy of Berry had invaded Nantes. They were caught completely by surprise when the Breton army pounced upon them on a cold October day, the battle did not last long, during the battle the French had received 1000 reinforcements, all of them cavalry, when these reinforcements attacked the Bretons the main French army had already retreated, and the 1000 French soldiers found themselves facing the entire Breton force, it did not last long. 1000 French knights were dead, Jean had lost 181 men, of the other battles the casualties were not counted, but the French lost more soldiers than Jean.
The Breton charge at the Battle of Maine.)
The French main army had fallen back in good order, they headed south towards Anjou, here they waited for Jean's army to follow. The Breton army were in high spirits by now, and Jean had not waited long before he pursued the French. This time he pressed his luck too far, the French had got replacements for men lost and they fought with extreme bravery. The Bretons lost heart and they started to retreat, Jean realized that he had to fall back. Jean had lost another 993 men, the French casualties were a bit lower, 935 killed. Jean's campaign to destroy a part of the French army had failed, but he had learned a lot from the battles, and would not make similar mistakes in the future.
At this point the war did not look to well for the Bretons, on the 12 of December a huge French force of 17 000 men had started to besiege Rohan, fortunately for Jean Jaque was once again in command of the fortress, and he promised his duke to hold out. Jean's force of almost 6000 veterans could not hope to defeat the 17 000 strong enemy army. Instead he ignored the enemy and headed south, and avoided a confrontation with the main French army. His target were the 3000 men from the Duchy of Berry who had been besieging Nantes for some months now. Just after the new year Jean reached Nantes, the troops of Berry had heard about the French victory over Jean and they though his army was in poor shape. The Berrian soldiers abandoned their siege and took position on top of a hill, they were confident that an easy win was at hand. Jean decided not to use his cavalry, he had himself witnessed the hopelessness of using cavalry against a force who was entrenched on a hill, instead he personally dismounted and prepared to lead a head on infantry charge against the enemy.
At this point his personal advisor, Mikael intervened, he suggested that instead of trying to take the hill by force and that Jean should make a faint attack, and pretend to be losing, then fall back, down the hill. If Jean was lucky the enemy would leave the hill and follow him, then Mikael would charge their flank with the Breton cavalry. Jean agreed to the plan. When the Berrian soldiers saw the Breton footsoldier advancing they were confident of sucess, not long after Jeans men hit the enemy who was anchored on the hill, after fighting for a few minutes he gave his signal to his men, and they turned and retreated down the hill. The Berrian soldiers saw what they had expected to see, and enemy who had already been beaten and who was scared of a fight, they charged down the hill. They had now sealed their fate, Jean turned his men around, at the same time the Breton cavalry came in. Only too late did the enemy realize what was happening, the battle now turned into a rout.
Jean had won another victory, his losses was slim, 184 men, the enemy had by contrast suffered 1525 men, over half their strength. Over the next days Jean's army looted the battlefield, but he did not delay for long. He moved fast and set his army in pursuit of the enemy, and a few weeks later, on February 1. 1424 he accepted the surrender of the remaining enemy soldiers, to wreak further havoc upon the French he allowed his soldiers to loot the villages of Auvergne, as payback for their invasion of Vendée earlier on.
(Jean's campaign of 1423.)
The good news continued to reach Jean, and on February 4. he got a very delayed Christmas gift, the King of Aragon had taken his country to war against France, and the French were now facing a two fronted war. His hope now was that the Austrians would also join in, he knew that their ally Savoy had also attacked France, and he hoped that the emperor would seize the moment. Jean did not live under any illusions, he knew that the war was still undecided, and there was still no sign of the English army...
Last edited by Viking_Manstein; 11-09-2011 at 23:54.
great stuff, lots of neat dancing around the main threat and taking out smaller forces, but unless distracted that main French army could be your doom ... hope Perfiduous Albion isn't going to abandon you while they follow their own interests elsewhere
The English would never...yep, they'd leave the Breton's hanging out to dry in a minute. Just like Brittany would do to them!
Excellent update, using the Breton Army to break the sieges and crush the small forces deployed by your enemies.
It's really the only way you can go until somebody bigger takes a bite out of the French army
Anyways thanks to both of you for allways comenting and giving feedback
Act XII, The war of sieges
As the cold swept in over Auvergne in early February and the French armies had entered into winter quarters there were still soldiers on the move. The Bretons did not seem to mind the cold, Jean who wanted to capitalize on his earlier victories had chosen to move north, he headed for Anjou. To seize control of the region Jean knew that he had to take the fortified city of Angers, he did not have much experience with sieges, but he hoped that he could take the city in a short time space.
As the soldiers moved north many of them froze, but their speed was not hampered by the weather, and enemy resistance from the local population was virtually non-existent. In late February Jeans army reached Angers, the French had been taken by surprise, they had to close the gates of the city, and were not able to bring in a lot of supplies. Jean set up his siege in a methodic manner, and he had already decided not to try any assaults, the Breton reserves of manpower were already stretched to the limit. As Jean settled into his siege operations the French did just the same, their main army of 19 000, now reduced to 17 000 were besieging Rohan, further north a new army of between 12-15 000 men were besieging Rennes, and finally 2000 men from the Duchy of Foix were trying to take Brest. All of the enemy sieges progressed slowly, Jaque Brne had done his work well, and all the cities stopped assaults made by the enemy.
Spring passed quickly without many events, Jean's siege progressed, and the city was running out of food and water, by the end of June the French had begun negotiating a peace deal, Jean finally agreed to their surrender, they had to give up the flag of the city, but the defenders were allowed to march away. Jean had taken a French city, it was July and there was still a lot left of the campaigning season. his next move puzzled the army high command, especially his main advisor, Mikael de Beaudiez. Jean moved north, he headed straight for the city of Rennes, and the 12 000 strong French army.
The French caught wind of his moves, and they hoped that Jean could be drawn into a battle on an open field, were they hoped that their superior numbers and superior cavalry would do the trick for them. Jean had no intention to fight their army, he ordered a part of his force, 1500 men to charge the enemy, while the rest of his army passed through the armor region and headed north for Brest, his plan was to break the siege of Brest, not to fight the French. The French nobles who commanded the army though that the diversion force was Jean's main army, and they pulled most of their army away from the siege to fight the Bretons. They moved to intercept the Bretons, but they soon realized that they had been to quick. The French vanguard of infantry ran into 700 Breton archers who had positioned themselves behind a bridge, the Bretons showed no mercy and fired volley after volley at the French. The French pondered withdrawal for a brief moment, but they decided to go for it, 6000 French infantrymen charged over the bridge in waves, and even though a force of 400 Breton cavalry men, accompanied by 800 men-at-arms made a successful counterattack the French finally won the day. The battle of armor, as it became know had been a French victory, they had managed to inflict 1083 losses upon the small Breton force, however, they had lost 1495 men.
(The battle of the Rennes bridge.)
As the French nobles walked over the battlefield they looked for Jean, they hoped that they had managed to kill the Breton duke, a French noble found a Breton knight who was still alive, the French approached him. "Ou est votre roi?". the knight suddenly realized that the French though they had killed Jean, he smiled and uttered the words "Il n'est pas ici."
Jean felt bad about sending almost 1100 men to their deaths, but he knew it had to be done, his army had made it through Armor, and they were now in Finisterre, heading for Brest. Outside of Brest were only 2000 enemy troops, they had heard that Jean had been killed in Armor a few weeks earlier, and when they spotted an army of thousands approaching their camp they thought it were the French. Their illusion was shattered when a wave of 3000 Bretons slammed into their camp, the 2000 men from the duchy of Foix scrambled and tried to fight off Jean's army, despite being outnumbered they managed to fight for a few hours, but they could not escape the inevitable. When the battle was over Jean had lost 325 men, all of the enemy troops had been killed, or captured.
(The Breton charge at the battle of Brest.)
When the French nobles in Armor heard about Jean's victory they felt humbugged, some of them even left Armor, and went back home to France, the French army was left behind to continued the siege on their own.
At this point things developed quickly, the French army of 19 000 managed to take Rohan, they had starved the city into submission after about a year of siege operations. The French who felt like they were winning headed south and reached Nantes within a few weeks. Almost as soon as they reached the Breton capital they tried an assault, the first on failed, but the next one which was initiated only weeks later took the city.
To counter the French Jean had moved into Morbihan, he wanted to retake Rohan as quickly as possible, this proved to harder than the last siege he had conducted. The French continued their offensive, and they headed eastwards to take back Angers. Jean now had a hard decision to make, he could either try to take back Rohan, which could take quite some time, or head south and take back the capital. Mikael advised Jean to move south, and Jean decided to take his advice.
When Jean reached Nantes it was December, he immediately ordered his men to take the walls by storm, the Bretons who were furious that their capital had been occupied by their arch enemy swept forward, and within hours the 100 French defenders were overwhelmed.
(The Breton flag is once again on top of the walls of Nantes.)
After having stayed in Nantes for a few days to let the army be hailed for their success he moved back north, Rohan was still in French hands. it as late December when Jean finally reached Rohan, the walls were packed with Frenchmen, and the task seemed hopeless, but at this point Jean was no longer alone. The English king, William III had landed in Morbihan, and quickly marched inland to aid in Jean's siege of Rohan with 7000 men, 3000 of them were badly needed cavalry. The two monarchs greeted each other as brothers and the English king brought much good news to Jean. The French were losing badly in the south, Aragon had managed to occupy a large part of southern France, and the rest of the cities to the south were already under siege. Savoy had also invaded French territory. To top it all the Austrian emperor Albrecht V. could no longer ignore the fact that their Savoyan allies were fighting France without their help, and as a consequence, Austria had also declared war on France.
(Jean's campaign of 1424.)
Jean felt that there was now hope, not only of survival, but of victory, he dared not utter his hopes, he knew that the French could turn things around, they had survived similar wars in the past...
(The map of western Europe as 1424 draws to a close.)
Well...the English showed up. And the Aragonese are seemingly sieging the south, which would be good if the French were distracted by it. But seemingly not.
How many cogs do you have? Could the Breton army evac by sea and land...
in de Normandie???
Sorry watched the Longest Day on Sunday.
you were doing well with the ducking and diving but fast running out of space ... so good the English finally bestirred themselves. Really like your little campaign map.
Act XIII, Duke Jean goes on the offensive
1425 dawned, it was already February and Jean who had experienced much during the last two years finally felt like he was going to win the war. Jaque Brne and Mikael de Beaudiez was not entirely convinced, but they too were optimistic. Jean's army had for a time now been besieging Rohan, the French had taken it during 1424, and Jeans army of 8000 and the English army of 7 000 were besieging the city. Jean wanted to assault the city is quickly as possible, but the English disagreed, they would rather wait it out.
Everything did not go as planned though. On February 25. Jean got new from Angers, they had surrendered to the French, Jean talked things over with the English king and the two decided that the English would stay behind and besiege Rohan, while Jean would march into Anjou and take back Angers. Jean had got information that told him that the French army was heading west for the border with the Empire, this time it was the Bretons who were misinformed. The French were not going westwards, at least not all of them, the main French army were heading east, they had their sights on the Breton capital, yet again Jaque would have to prepare defenses, this time he would have to hold off 14 000 French soldiers.
Jean was not deterred, he set his army in motion, and the Bretons were eager to take back Angers, many of the soldiers were actually born in the region and they longed for it to be a part of Brittany. The soldiers began to file in front of Angers on the 12. of March, long columns of Breton soldiers who were all of them ready to assault the walls. As Jean was about to start the attack he got good news from home, the English had liberated Rohan, and were now heading after Jean, the English king had his sights set on Normandy. Jean did not delay for much longer, he ordered his 6000 infantry to attack the city, the defenders numbered only 100 French militia, and they could not hope to hold out. The Bretons swept forward ignoring the ineffective arrow fire, ladders reached the walls, it was to take four days before the Bretons could yet again plant their flags on the walls of Angers.
(Breton soldiers storming the city of Angers.)
Jean hoped that the French were beginning to break, after all most of southern France was occupied by Aragon, the French population were war weary and the French vassals were tired of a warmongering king, who in the last years had brought them little glory. Jean sought to exploit this, also he wanted his army to forage some regions which had not yet been looted by armies hungry for food. Jean therefore moved his army north, into Maine. Maine was a region which the Bretons would like to add to their realm, as Jeans soldier marched into the region a lot of the population cheered Jean's soldiers, and young men joined the army. It was now late April and Jean had started building siege works, he realized that an assault would not succeed, and he decided to wait it out, however, it was not to be. The French king had heard about the surrender of Angers and he had ordered the Duchy of Berry to move their men north and take back the city. The Duchy was already war weary, it was not a year ago since they had lost their main army against Jean, now all they could muster were 1000 poorly equipped men.
Jean still considered this a threat, his garrison had not been built up yet, and there were barely 250 men defending Angers, he decided to split his force. 1000 men where to stay behind in Maine, continuing with the siege of Le Mans, he would take the remaining 7000 men and march south together with Mikael.
(The vineyards of Maine would provide much needed economic boost for Brittany.
Jean's army closed in on Angers, the soldiers of Berry had heard about Jeans move, and they unwillingly prepared for battle, their tiny force was led by their duke, Jean II de Valois. Jean ordered his 2000 cavalry to prepare to charge, his archers were to break up the enemy with arrow fire. The tactic was nothing special, but his overwhelming odd carried the day, the soldiers of Berry fought against the cavalry for a few minutes, but they soon broke, and surrendered by the hundreds, the Bretons had lost 57 men. Jean accepted their surrender, and even allowed their duke to return back home. Jean II was overwhelmed, he had been told by the French king that the Bretons were men without honor or chivalry, he had clearly been misinformed. Jean could add another victory to his record, however, now there was news from the south.
The French king had come to realize that he could not beat the kingdom of Aragon, who was by many considered the strongest power in Europe. The French had therefore entered into negotiations with the Aragonese king. Aragon was not merciful towards the French, they demanded payment in gold, the French had to revoke their claims on Roussillon and the French had to give up Orleans, Foix, Bourbonnais and Auvergne as their vassals. During the war with Aragon the French had also lost a lot of income from the southern areas, and it would take time before they could "harvest" the regions for taxes. Jean was not too happy about the peace, he had hoped that Aragon would have dragged it out a bit longer, now he hoped that Austria would not settle for similar terms.
On the other hand Jean could now see results of the fact that Austria had declared war on France. Austrian troops were besieging cities both in northern and southern France, Jean had heard that a strong Austrian force were besieging Rouen, in the Caux region, and the English were besieging Caen, the capital of Normandy. It was not all good news though, Jeans naval reformers had invested the states money in research that had brought little, and it was soon clear that a lot of money had been wasted. As a consequence the Breton naval research had been badly neglected.
Jean's siege of Le Mans had lasted for quite a while already, he had started in late April, and it was early July now, he hoped that the siege would be over before the autumn started. His hopes were once again shattered by French movements, the French had for some time been besieging Rennes, and they had finally starved the garrison into submission. The French were happy that they had finally taken the city, for some of them it had seemed like the Bretons would never give up. The nobles in command of the army now moved south, they headed for Rohan, the city which they had lost to the Bretons just recently.
Jean did not delay for another minute, he ordered his army to split forces again. 1000 men were to be left to continue the siege of Le Mans, he took the rest of the army and moved northeast. The Bretons moved faster than ever, the region had paved roads which most of the army could use, but some of them even got local guides to show them faster routes back to Rennes. On August 2. the Bretons reached Rennes, the French who manned the walls knew what the sight of 7000 Bretons meant to them, certain death. Jean tried to convince the French to surrender, when they did not agree he told his army to give no quarter towards the enemy. The Bretons swept forward, they slammed against the walls, the French fought back with everything they had, but as had happened last time they were beaten, and 8 days later, on August 10. they were all dead, and the second largest city in Brittany was back in rightful hands.
The French army that had advanced into Rohan had been far from idle, the French wanted to keep the momentum they thought they had just gained, none of them knew that the Bretons had already taken back Rennes. The French nobles decided to try to attack Rohan, the city which after the Nordic war had been rumored to be the toughest fort in the world would now have to withstand huge waves of French troops. Jaque Brne had traveled from Nantes to Rohan to aid the defense, was with his men on the walls, and they were all ready to fight to the end. Jaque knew the importance of keeping the French busy for as long as possible. The French nobles ordered 2000 foot soldiers forward in the early hours of August 11. the Bretons gave them repeated volleys, but the French endured, and enemy reinforcements were thrown into the fight. Jaque ordered his men to prepare themselves for close combat. The Bretons drew swords and dirks and yelled Gaelic war cries as the French climbed the walls. The French were deterred but they did not give up and the close fight that started that morning went on for almost 20 days. By the end of the battle there were bodies everywhere, French soldiers were piled on top of each other at the bottom of the walls, and their blood had painted the walls red. French losses had been horrendous, but Jaque had also lost a lot of his men, 876 of his men would never see the light of day again, but he had managed what he had been required to do, fight off the French.
(The French siege of Rohan.)
In the meantime Jean had returned to Maine with the main force, he settled his army into what he thought would be a very long siege, he could not have guessed how fast things would develop. As Jeans army tried to cut off the last supply routes open to Le Mans some of the Breton soldiers spotted men marching towards them, they could not recognize their banners, and one of the Bretons walked onto the road, he asked them in French "Ou est votre roi? Quelle pays habitez vous?" The man leading the column smiled and answered the soldier "Wir kämpft für den Kaiser." The Breton soldier realized that these troops were imperial troops, he smiled back at the commander and showed him what way he should follow to get to Le Mans. That evening there was great joy in the Breton camp, the Austrians numbered only 1000 men, but it was only a small part of their army, and right now Jean needed all the help he could get. It was also a sign that the French were now facing more than just the Bretons.
(Imperial troops on the march.)
With the help of the Austrians the Bretons continued to tighten their stranglehold on Le Mans, and results were starting to show, defenders were deserting each night, and for the Bretons the extra manpower was used to build their siege works even better, many of the troops also prepared to carry out an assault, if their duke required it of them. Jean knew a bit more than they did, he had already been discussing terms with the French commander of the city, and on the 30. of September Jean could enter Le Mans with his army. To get good relations with the inhabitants the Bretons handed out bread to the people who had been starved of food for 191 days. Jean was now ruler of all the provinces that was considered a part of Brittany, he only hoped that it would last.
(Jean's campaign of early 1425.)
Last edited by Viking_Manstein; 14-09-2011 at 17:16.
Hmm, I seem to have completely missed a very nice piece of history-book AAR. Great work with a small nation in a rather difficult position, V_M!
Nice work with the pictures and maps as well.
Awesome, the titan of blue struggles under unrelenting attack.
Hopefully you can get something out of your struggle or in five years you'll be facing a do-over
at least your surival is ensured (for now ... the blob has a tendency to rebound), so its a case of whether you can now get anything out of the war
Act XIV, The bloody fields of battle.
It was now autumn in France, and Jean and his army were in good spirits, during the early part of 1425 they had scored some decisive victories, both Anjou and Maine had been captured and for many of the soldiers it seemed like the war would be over by Christmas. Jean knew that the enemy was far from beaten, but he too suffered from a spirit of optimism after the capture of Le Mans. On a cold October morning Jean was sitting in his tent and drinking a fine bottle of French wine which he had taken from the French governor of Le Mans, as he enjoyed its rich flavors he was interrupted by a messenger. Jean allowed the messenger to come in and give him the news. "Sire, the French have a force of 4000 men to the east, they are waiting for you to leave Le Mans and go back to Brittany, so that they can recapture Le Mans." "Interesting boy, are these all French troops?" "Well sire, they are all from Orleans." "You have done well boy, you may leave." As the young man was about to leave duke Jean gave him a purse of coins, he was satisfied with what he had heard.
Jean was by now known for striking the enemy where he was weakest, and he realized that he could destroy the pro-French force without suffering too heavy losses himself. His military advisor, Mikael advised the duke not to move eastwards into Alencon, but Jean would not listen, he ordered the army to strike camp and march towards Alencon, Jean's only fear was that the enemy would fall back, rather than face him.
(Jean VI, immortalized in the same fashion as his father.)
Jean's army moved fast, as had become their way of doing things, and it did not take them many days to get into Alencon. Jean hoped that the enemy had not heard about his move, he was soon proven right. The men of Orleans had no idea that Jean was on the move. Their king, Charles I de Valois was actually in command of the force, but he had not expected the Bretons to move against him, and he had allowed the army to get drunk the night before, and there were few guards protecting their camp. Charles was finally warned about Jean's move, and he managed to get his forces onto a field, they had their backs to the Seine river. Charles had many experienced fighters, but none of them where battle ready this day, nevertheless he did not try to retreat.
Jean dismounted as usual, and he gave Mikael the cavalry, 2000 strong. Jean turned to a young standard bearer and grabbed his banner, he then lifted it high above his head and he yelled a top of his lungs "Charge men, charge!" The Breton soldiers who had been keen to fight before their dukes performance where now ecstatic, they ran forward and did not show much regard for their own safety. For the troops of Charles it was a frightful sight, they tried to stand firm against the tidal wave coming towards them, but they only managed to hold for a short while. Charles himself was one of the first to run, he dropped his armor and weapons and swam across the Seine, his army saw their king in all his glory, fleeing faster than any of them, their spirits broke and they too ran. Mikael had not been needed in the battle, Jean had won another great victory, during the battle he had inflicted 2406 losses upon his 4000 man strong enemy, his own army had only lost 612 men. The Orleans troops that had survived had swam across the river, they were desperate to reach the safety of Paris.
(The Orleans line of battle wavering under the pressure.)
Jean's victory created a shock in Paris, the population had been told that the Bretons left none alive in the cities which they took, and much of the population feared that Paris would fall to Jean's army. Jean hoped he could march on Paris, but, it was not to be. The French had not been idle while Jean had been defeating their allies. The force which besieged Rohan had managed to take the city after 72 days of siege. And this army moved back north to take Rennes once again. To the south of Rohan the 14 000 strong French force besieging Nantes had split up as well, 1000 of them stayed behind to subdue Nantes, while the rest marched westwards to take back Angers.
Jean knew he had to act quickly, he knew that to save both Rohan and Nantes, eh had to march through either Anjou or Armor, and both of these regions were infested with French troops. He had faced the same problem in 1423 and he had then managed to get through to the homeland via the Armor region. He decided to use the same route. Jean's army now marched back towards Brittany, it was early November and was starting to get really cold, many of his men died of the cold, and some from lack of proper food. He wanted to halt for a while, but he knew that waiting could be fatal at this moment. On November 12. Jean's vanguard reached Armor, and the rest of his army was close by, all of them were trying to elude the French who were besieging Rennes. As his men marched through a small forest they were showered with crossbow bolt, the French had blocked the road in front of them with knights and crossbowmen, French cavalry were massing to his rear.
(The French ambush that later became known as the second battle of Rennes.)
Jean got a déjà-vu from his first campaign against Castille, and he ran to the front of his column leading his men forward, after hours of intense fighting the Bretons managed to break through the French blocking force in front of them, and the army moved eastwards away from the French as quickly as possible, they had survived the battle, but had taken heavy losses. Jean calculated that his army had suffered almost 1700 losses, 500 of them where cavalry, the French had shown their might, their losses were only 624 men, all of them infantry.
(The battle from a tactical perspective.)
Jean's army was a bit dispirited after the second battle of Rennes. Jean's ally must have understood the situation because he once again sent war-subsides to Brittany, Jean decided to pay his troops double wages, the morale of the army went up at once and they were ready to follow Jean wherever he needed them. After the second battle of Rennes Jean allowed his troops to rest a bit, he then headed southwards, Rohan was the first target for the Bretons. Jean began to besiege the city with his entire force, but after building the necessary siege works he once again divided his force, 1000 men were left behind to besiege Rohan, while he once again led the main army southwards to relieve Nantes of the siege which the French had began to conduct. The 1000 French soldiers besiegeing Nantes learned about Jean's advance, and they prepared to face him, this time the French decided to charge the Bretons. Jean deployed his 5000 strong infantry on a high hill, the French were not deterred as one might should think, they shouted and charged Jean's position. When the French had almost reached Jean's position they were charged on the flanks by the Breton cavalry, the Breton infantry also charged down the hill and finished off the French. The outcome was never really in doubt, 1000 French soldiers had been killed or captured. Jeans losses were 34 men.
Jean moved northwards again, when he reached Rohan he was surprised to find 7000 men besieging the city. The population had risen up against the French occupiers and they had joined the siege of Rohan. He was moved to tears by the fact that the entire population had taken up arms in defiance of the French. The siege of the city moved slowly, the French had been able to build tough defenses outside of Rohan, and an assault was out of the question. As 1425 gave way to 1426 something extraordinary happened, the French offered Jean a peace, a white peace. He had managed to fight well enough for one of the major European powers to offer him a peace where he would technically be the winner, it was a morale boost to the Bretons, and Jean had the peace proposal read out to the army. He had, however, no intention of agreeing to the proposal, he wanted territory which he viewed to be rightfully his.
The French king was outraged, he vowed to raise Nantes to the ground, the last one to say that had been the duke of Burgundy, his nation had never been able to do it, time would show if the French king would have better luck. To show their strength the French decided to end the siege of Angers as quickly as possible, and they assaulted the city. The Breton troops were outnumbered and starved for food and water, but they did not waver, they fought on for weeks, but the French finally carried the day and took Angers back. Jean expected the French to put their army on the road and march north and use their entire force to besiege Le Mans and take back Maine as well. The French did not put their entire force into Maine, the French king was distracted by Coalition victories in the north. Austria had captured Rouen, and by that they had gained control of the Caux region, the English had taken the city of Caen and won control over Normandy. The French king ordered his allied forces to stay behind and take back Le Mans, he trusted that Jean did not have enough forces to counter his moves, he was wrong.
Jean immediately set out with his forces from Rohan, the Breton patriots who numbered 6000 men stayed behind to take Rohan back, the king trusted them, but he left Mikael behind to help them as a tactical advisor. Jeans forces marched eastwards, they once again had their sights on Angers, and prepared for their third siege of the city. Jeans men arrived outside of the city on March 3. He offered the 100 French defenders their lives if they gave the city up without a fight, the French refused. Jean was yet again surprised by the courage of the French when facing impossible odds, he outnumbered them 80 to 1. Jean did not delay, he allowed his infantry a few hours of rest, but after that they built ladders, and the assault started that night. The French lost the walls during the second day, but the city was not secured until March 7. Jean's losses had been light, and Angers was once again in Breton hands.
With Angers once again under control Jean turned his attention towards the almost 5000 French allied troops who had started siege operations against Le Mans, the enemy force was under the command of Jean I. de Bourbon, king of Bourbonnais. Some people believed him to be a formidable general, and Jean was considered a boy who knew little compared to Jean I.
Jean was never deterred by any enemy, he had made his mind up, the Bretons would face the enemy, after all he outnumbered the enemy with a good 3000 men, also the Bretons were by now know for both their discipline and their military drill, the troops of Bourbon and Orleans had nothing to match the Breton men-at-arms.
As Jean's army marched north they were relieved that the winter was over, and the fresh spring air made their task seem simpler than it really was, the troops were hailed by the local population, the Bretons had never looted the population in either Angers or Maine, they had paid for food, the French by comparison had taken as they pleased from the poor peasants. Bourbon scouts warned Jean I. of the Breton moves, he felt confident that his abilities on the field of battle was unchallenged, and he considered Jean VI.'s victories as irrelevant, he was under the impression that Jean had never managed to beat a force that equaled his own, to some extent he was correct. Jean I. decided to take the offensive, and he picked a field which had few obstacles, it had, however, rained during the last night and the fields were muddy. Jean lined up his forces directly facing Jean I.'s men. The two armies glared at each other, while they shouted taunts. Jean I. ordered his cavalry to attack the Bretons, the cavalry commander wavered, he thought the fields to be too muddy for the cavalry to be effective, for this remark he was reprimanded and ordered once again to charge, this time he followed orders. The Bourbon horsemen moved as fast as they could over the field, when they closed with the Bretons they were showered with arrows, Jean had received companies of English longbow men in his army and by now the longbow was a weapon which the French feared above anything. The Bourbons closed in on the Bretons and now they faced off against a volley of crossbow bolts before they finally hit the Breton infantry. At this point Jean I. thought he had broken the Bretons and he ordered all his infantry to charge as well. The Bretons had not wavered, far from it. They had received the enemy cavalry according to every rule in the book, and soon dead horses littered the field. The Bourbon infantry closed in, but they were too late, Breton reinforcements charged forward, and Breton cavalry struck in fast "hit and run" attacks.
(A Breton chevauchée at the battle of Angers.)
The battle was another victory for Jean, he had managed to defeat the Bourbon king, whose flight from the field almost rivaled that of Charles I at Alencon some months earlier. Casualties at the battle had been 3166 for the Bourbons and 1588 for the Bretons, about half the Bourbon losses were cavalry, while barely a third of the Breton losses had been cavalry, Jean could also replace his losses, the Bourbons could not. Jean now felt confident that he could, together with the English and the Austrians beat the French, now it was, to him at least, only a question of when, rather than if.
(Jean's campaign of late 1425 to early 1426.)
great stuff, even if the wider war is working in your favour, the French army is still formidable so lots of careful movements. This is maybe the most detailed EU3 AAR I've read in an age but its really clear what is going on and easy to follow.