Friday, 22 June 2012

I've been thinking about the composition of Wars of the Roses armies in the rules sets I've read and the all important ratio between men-at-arms, billmen and archers. The bottom line is that we simply don't know the answer. The only real records we have of the composition of fifteenth-century English armies are those relating to royal forces. The important thing to note is that these don't correspond necessarily to the tactical role the soldier played or the weaponry he carried. Basically, by the middle of the fifteenth century the royal records (and we're talking about the records of the Exchequer for the muster and payment of soldiers) list four types of soldiers: mounted men-at-arms at 12d a day; mounted archers and men-at-arms on foot at 8d; and archers on foot at 6d. While it's fair to surmise that the man-at-arms at 12d was a fully armoured man, armed with a poleaxe, what do we make of the archer at 6d. I suspect that in most cases he wasn't an archer at all, but a foot soldier armed with a brown bill. By the 1475 the ratio of 'men-at-arms' to 'archers' was 1:8, but did this mean eight archers to every man-at-arms? Almost  certainly not. On a wargames and figures note, what do we make of this selection from the Perry Miniatures plastic boxed set? Who would be be paid a shilling, 8d or 6d a day?


  1. Hi, great job, love this period myself. Look forward to watching your progress with it

  2. I'm with Sean, it's a really fascinating period in history.

    I've got a couple of Medieval blogs tooif you fancy sharing links? :O)