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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Prologue: The eve of Battle
September 17th 1509. On the river Agno South-East of lake Garda

Sitting on a large flat rock I looked across the beauty of God’s creations spreading itself below. A beautifull valley, the rays of the evening sun, soon to dissapear and evolve into a red sky, touched the hills, streams and woods. I was thinking, pondering and wondering what the future might bring for me. At that, I was not the only one. Everywhere around me men where thinking of the day of tomorrow. They where wondering if they would survive, how worse it would be and if they would be brave enough. Some praid not to be wounded. And, if they where in a gruesome way, to have the Lord’s aid in their perillious time and the mercy of swift salvation.
It was always like that on the eve of battle. Surely it has been. I didn’t know it back then as I had never been in a proper battle before. I had drawn my sword, shot my crossbow and seen the dead and wounded fall into the grass. But, I had only been in minor skirmishes. Battles in which a few dozen men fought each other. Raids. Duels. Tomorrow I would see the real work.

As the other men I wondered if I would be brave, I needed to be brave. I could do nothing else, but be brave. Probably I would be wounded, I hoped I would make my first kill. But above all I told myself; I would be brave.
I would show those dogs whom I was. ‘The Nose’ wasn’t someone you could laugh at, make fun of and think of as one out of many. ‘The Nose’, as they called me, was a true soldier, a natural born fighter and leader. Tomorrow they would know, tomorrow they would know.

The sun had set and my thoughts drifted from this place, this valley in Northern Italy, to my home town of Brugges, Flanders. My mother and sisters would be eating a delicious meat-pie now. It was Saturday and to celebrate the comming day of the Lord that was their custom to do. My father was one of the rich merchants of the Flemish city. He had made his name and fortune and sent me out to do the same. Like him before me I would serve in the army, the Flemish crossbow company of Julles le Clerc, for three years. I would return from my journeys and adventures stronger, wiser with more knowledge and above all, a man.
He had seen to it I would not have to start as a common soldier, the lowest dirt. No, he had bought me a commision in Le Clerc’s mercenary corps. Thus, I would lead one tenth of the one hundred and eighty of them in the common battle.

On my way from Mainz to Trento I had learned a lot. Julles tought me and so Michiel Barentzoon, the old sergeant of my section, had told me the tricks. “I wouldn’t let a young sixteen year old lad like you die without a chance. I will be at your side. I will lead the section and you will give the commands. Back then it had all been strange to me. I wouldn’t listen to a sergeant, I had told myself. But, as we crossed the Alps I found myself doing just that. The journey had been tough and the Frisian segeant had dragged me through it. Now was the time for the final challenge, the battle. It would make me a man or leave me on the field a child.

I sighed as I pushed the heels of my boots deep into the grass. The grass was somewhat brownish here in Italy, scourched by the heath of the summer sun and completely different in color, lenght and structure from anything which grew on Flanders Fields. I sighed again. Still, the tough remarks made by one of the French knights I had visited that afternoon couldn’t leave my thoughts. But they had to, they had to. I had to sleep. I had to preserve my strength. I had to be fit for the next day. In the end I slept. I slept on the eve of battle.
 
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Veldmaarschalk

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Good start and interesting set-up as always.
 

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Ohh, this looks interesting Singleton, I'll have to read it later!
 

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Great beginning, SM. And very nice to see you dipping your toe into the EUIII waters.

I like the PoV here - a mercenary. Not one we have seen yet. Looking forward to the story you have to tell. :)
 

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Chapter 1: William ‘the Nose’
September 18th 1509. On the river Agno South-East of lake Garda


After waking up and eating some the rumours circulating camp reached my ears. The German Emperor; Maximillian, had laid siege to Padua. We where about to crush the Venetian rebellion and reinstate the governors. I didn’t give a damn about the fate of the Venetians, about the reason they had to be subjegated. But, I was happy with the news as it would make the Ventian force at the other side of the field have doubts about the importance of our battle.
Maximillian’s ten thousands where battering the city of Padua, the Venetians inside the city would have a hard time for sure. These troops before us tried to cut us off from aproaching Venice itself. But, was their sacrifice of any use now we had virtually won this war?

I smilled, for the first time in days I smiled. Perhaps this fight wouldn’t be that difficult at all. The gnawing feeling in my stomach, yes, it was fear, receded a little. Only when I saw Baron Riginald de Montpellier rode past on his big charger this feeling returned. He sat upright, looking austern at his men. I watched back my eyes piercing at the man’s back. If a view could kill, mine would have fried the bastard and brought him straight to hell.

As he rode away with all his arogance and so called ‘noblery’ I reflected on the meeting I had had with him the day before the battle. I watched it as if I wasn’t there but was at the same time.


As the young boy entered the baron’s tent he saw Riginald de Montpellier sitting on a throne-like chair. Everything was splendor, gold and silk. This man wasn’t only powerfull, eh was very rich as well. Pages and servants obeyed his every command and bowed for him till the peacock feathers of their hats touched the carpets which covered the Perian rugs at their feet.
‘Decadence.’ was all William could say.
To the right of the lord of Montpellier stood a elaborately clothed chamberlain with his young aid, a boy of William’s age, at his side.

“William of Brugges. Lieutenant of Mercenaries.”. William was announced by the older man in a dark, deep voice. The earth almost trembled as he spoke.

William stepped before the baron and swallowed away a lump in his throat. This was his time, now he could ask. Reginald, the baron, bowed a little bit towards him. He looked at Williams large nose intently, shifted his view to William’s eyes and then let his eyes run back to the nose. “That’s why they call you the Nose.” He spoke and followed the words with a smirk only slammed from his face when a load and rasping couching interupted him enyoing the fun of his own remark.
“What do you want ‘rat’.” The last word was spat out, as if he held William responsible for the pain in his throat preceding the coughing.

William hesitated but then looked the baron deep in his eyes. “Most wise lord, I.” He stuttered but continued a second later. “I would like to ask you a favor.” The baron chuckled. “You, asking me a favor? I know your father from a visit of mine to Flanders. But my boy, that’s all why should I grant you a favor?”
William answerd quickly, trying to be sharp. “Because before you stands a great warrior sir. I wish to be a proper soldier, not a crossbowman. I can ride, I can fight with a sword! I want to be of real vallue in this battle.” All around him people chuckled, some laughed out load. William knew he should never have said the things he just said.
In a corner, partially concealed by a curtain, a lady and two maids laughed as well. “Poor boy, poor poor boy.” One said to the other.

Now Reginald de Montpellier raised and looked at the boy in front of him. He pointed his finger at him as his face turend red. “Boy listen!” He barked.”You now piss of and never come before my eyes or I’ll shove this sword up yoru ares till it comes out at your nose! You aren’t a man of noble birth. You are a pig! You do you dare to make such demands of me. How do youd dare. Get out!”

The susequent retreat was as shamefull to William as any he could have made on the field of battle. He felt disgraced, honourless. But determination took over as he promissed himself he would win the glory taken by him on the field of valour.


Yes, that was a tough meeting. And a silly thing of me to do. But, as many descisions at that age it shaped me. Apart from the inspection of the troops by the baron nothing much happened that morning and only until late in the afternoon would the troops be drawn up for battle. The scenery was a great one. As much as four and a half thousand troops lined the ridge. Down below in the valley near the river some three thousand Venetians would attempt to block our passage.


 
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Entertaining. I am positive that William of Brugges, old nosey, Lieuetenant of Mercenaries will find it impossible to win honour and renown as a crossbowman. Still, fighting across a river may present opportunities of another sort, as he can accidentally shoot the Baron out of his saddle.
 
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Chief Ragusa said:
as he can accidentally shoot the Baron outof his saddle.


That would be so inconvenient ;)
 

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Great start and good writing Singleton. This seems like it can be another of your great AARs. This mercenary seem to be having a hard time, but asking a noble for a favour normally isn’t be cleverest thing to do, but now that he has decided to win glory on the battlefield I guess he will fight well and do well in the battle, so then I guess you will win.
Looking forward to more.
 

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Well, at least it shows our mercenary has some balls to confront the noble. Takes guts, it does. ;)
 

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Excellent start. Seems our mercenary needs to be a better persuader to get what he wants - or perhaps he should attempt a different avenue. Italy, after all, is a place where nobodies can make a name for themselves...
 

Veldmaarschalk

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Riginald de Montpellier better start watching his back, an accidentely fired crossbow-bolt can easily make an end to his pityfull live
 

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Nice writing. Let's hope this keep in going.
 

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Snake IV said:
Nice writing. Let's hope this keep in going.

:) it does. I am now developping a nice story and writing the 2nd chapter as well.
 

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*Subscribes*
 

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Fulcrumvale said:
*Subscribes*
:)

Question: Do you guys like it if I illustrate the battles of this AAR with some pictures from Medieval Total war? For the bits of flavour?
 

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Chief Ragusa said:
They do add flavour. How do you manage to use total war in conjunction with EU?

I play the campaign in EUIII (you will see some maps in the posts after the battle). Then I play a custom battle with MTW to get into the mood for writing the battle and getting some flavour picks. This time it turend out real well as I was able to put togheter the battle I had hoped for when writing the above two posts.
 

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Chapter 2: Towards the river and into the fray
Evening of September 18th 1509. On the river Agno Garda


As the morning had dawned splendidly so the sunset on this day did so in suitable style. But in the small period before the sunset started and total darkness there was a battle to fight. This gave us only a time-window of one and a half hour and I will never understand why our commander, Baron Gilles de Montepellier, waited throughout the day to send us in.

Le Clerc’s crossbowmen await battle, on the ridge above the Agno.

Finally the command arrived with Julles le Clerc, commander of one hundred and eighty crossbowmen, recieved the orders to march his troop to the front. The relieve was widespread. Battle was a tensious time which played upon your sences. One moment you had to be patient, the next you had to run as if the hellhound Ceberus was attempting to drag you into hell itself. Above all there was one thing worse then all the tension of battle, waiting for a battle to start. We had looked across the small river all day, studied the ford, knowing we had to cross it, we had to fight for it and men would die at it. The Venetians had found theirselves a fine position, one they could defend with ease. It would have to be our pieces of artillery which would win us the day as we had no advantage in missletroops.

The line of infantry readies itself for battle.

At the eleventh our our line sprang to attention as Le Clerc ordered us down the ridge, across the road and towards the ford. Our first task was to screen the deployment of the infantry whom would screen the deployment of the artillery pieces in turn. Those where big monstrous iron guns. Each one as likely to kill its target as its opperator as they where well known for their gruesome misfires.
As soon as the line of spearmen and pikemen, amongst whom a company of Swiss, was in place Baron de Montpellier ordered us even more forwards, into the firing line. We would soften them up, hopefully enough for the infantry to do its job, taking the ford by force.

While marching Julles spoke to the men. His old, sunburnt and ‘salty’face completely devoid of any emotion. He wasn’t thinking anymore, he was now a machine.

”Men. Be smart now. It is our time to show the brass up there what fighting is. Soon the cannon will rumble and that will be our sign to give it to them. Pepper those damned Venetians with our bolts and send them straight to hell. Be sure to aim well. Every shot has to be a hit. Every enemy missed will be an enemy slaying one of our own as they will cross to the other shore.
Remember lads, the nobles are looking down on us and again it has come down to this. We are slughing down here in the mud and they will stay clean, high up in their sadless. Arogant basterds. We will show them what fighting men are!”
Julles was finished, he had said all he wished to say, all he needed to say. The man where sharp now, as he wished them to be, they would grapple the throats of the Venetians and killed them. Not because they hated them no, because it was their job and they where paid to do so.

“But”
Julles said. And he hesitated for a moment or two before he whispered his final words “perhaps that is our destiny, that is where we live for.

A cannon boomed on the ridge overhead. A second spear of fire soon shot from the iron hulk next to it. The gound shook and my eardrums seemed to be torn apart, even as we where over a hundred metres from them, and well below. Two big iron balls, spheres of death, shot through the sky and across the river. One of them landed in the river, skipped once on its surface as a tiny rock during a game, then a second time only to find the end of its momentous path in a large fountain of water spraying our Venetian counterparts. They yelled with joy. The shouted to taunt us. But their faces turned stark when the watched the solitair soldier which had been hit, squarly in the chest, by the second cannonball. Nothing was left of the young man. The red griffon of Venetia sewn onto his tunic had turned crimson.

The red griffon of Venetia sewn onto his tunic had turned crimson.


“Steady. Aim. Loose!”
And our bolts shot through the evening sky. Their noise the shreiking of an eagle, their impact deadly and forcefull. The battle had opened.
 
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stnylan

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The red griffon of Venetia sewn onto his tunic had turned crimson.

This was a nice little touch. Nothing too obvious, understated, and very effective.