Category: Italian Wars

Late medieval and renaissance Italy was divided into a gaggle of competing states. For 66 years during the period 1494–1559 the great European powers – notably France and Habsburg Spain – were in almost continuous conflict to control these small Italian states. The wars signified the passing of chivalry, largely due to the extensive use of gunpowder weapons by relatively untrained infantry, the arrival of artillery as a field weapon, and the rise of the famous Spanish Tercios. They were also characterised by the extensive use of mercenaries (Swiss, German and Italian) with the problems that entailed. On the whole the Hapsburgs were the winners, with Spain being left in control of Milan and Naples and France with nothing more than the Alpine marquisate of Saluzzo.


First Battle of Seminara 28 June 1495

Ferdinand II (Ferrandino) of Naples

During the Italian Wars, there were three battles at Seminara, in toe of the Calabrian peninsula. This is the first one (28 June 1495), where Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, known to history as the Great Captain (El Gran Capitán), suffered his only defeat. This battle was also the first field battle in the Italian Wars. The French gendarmes drove off Gonsalvo’s genitors, the Calabrian Militia panicked, and the Swiss pikemen (apparently) rolled over the lightly equipped Spanish infantry. This defeat forced Gonsalvo to rethink Spanish arms and tactics. Decisions that subsequently lead to the successes that made his name.

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Battle of Fornovo 6 July 1495

1495-07-06 Battle of Fornovo - Map from Oman

In the comments of my post Choosing a date for a DBA-RRR game in the Italian Wars John Rohde pointed out I had got the results of the Battle of Fornovo (6 July 1495) wrong. This was the second major field battle of the Italian Wars. In a short but brutal fight the French gendarmes proved their superiority over their Italian counterparts.

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Constructing 24 element armies for DBA and DBA-RRR

Constructing 24 element armies for DBA and DBA-RRR

Our recent game of DBA-RRR with 24 elements a side, shared between two players was great fun. But it did exhaust my supply of figures, as I’d collected enough for 12 point armies using all options. It also resulted in both army looked pretty much identical. Lots of shot, men-at-arms, and light horse. With as few pike as possible. I think more games with 24 point armies are quite likely in the future, but I’d like the army lists some real choices in what troops appear on table. So how should I arrange my 24 point army lists?

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Making a ditch and bank for the Italian Wars

Ditch and Bank 43 Swiss attacking Spanish camp

The Spanish surprised their French and Swiss opponents in the Italian Wars by putting arquebusiers behind a ditch and bank. So I thought I should make one. Or, more accurately, make some modular sections of ditch and bank so I can make any shape of fortifications. The modular features are using my Big Bases for use with Big Base DBA and DBA-RRR.

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Choosing a date for a DBA-RRR game in the Italian Wars

DBA-RRR Army List Logo

DBA-RRR has lots of army lists for the Italian Wars. I can field all the variations so the question is, which army lists will we use for each game. In our recent games we have arbitrarily chosen a date and that has given us the army lists. One night I went for 1512 (Battle of Ravenna) and another night Adam chose 1525 (Battle of Pavia).

I’d like to systematise the choice, preferably using a die roll or cards. So in this post I do a bit of analysis on the battles in the Italian Wars and line them up

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2018 Reflections of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian

Megalomaniac 2018

Continuing my Megalomaniac tendencies, this is my reflection on 2018 and how I did against my world conquering goals. Check out my 2018 Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian for my overly ambitious aspirations.

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My Wishlist for DBA-RRR Big Base Italian War

Italian Wars 47 Existing Figures

You have gathered from my recent posts on the Reformatted DBA-RRR Spanish Army Lists and Reformatted DBA-RRR French Army List that I’m currently keen on DBA-RRR and the Italian Wars (1494-1559 AD). I started this project 20 years ago when I commissioned the Spanish from a professional painting company. I got the Spanish infantry back but I never saw my Spanish cavalry figures or the money again.

It has taken two decades to get over the shock but I’m having another go. I’m repurposing what figures I have for big bases and filling in the gaps. Of course I’m

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Reformatted DBA-RRR French Army List (Italian Wars 1494-1559 AD)

DBA-RRR Army List Logo

Following my reformatting of the DBA-RRR army list for the Spanish, I’m now doing their main opponents … the French of the the Italian Wars. The aim is to: (1) more closely match the style of other DBx army lists; (2) to understand them better with a view to perhaps tweaking them in the future; (3) know what to buy/build/paint.

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Reformatted DBA-RRR Spanish Army Lists (Italian Wars 1494-1558 AD)

DBA-RRR Army List Logo

Tony Aguilar’s DBA-RRR, for DBA Extension rules for Renaissance, Reformation and Restoration 1500-1700, look promising for playing the Italian Wars. Aguilar provides army lists to accompany the rules, based on those for DBR, but I have some gripes with the formatting. In this post I reformat the DBA-RRR Spanish Army Lists (1494-1558 AD) to more closely match the style of other DBx lists. I admit it also helped me internalise the lists – understand them better – with a view to perhaps tweaking them in the future.

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2017 Reflections of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian

Megalomaniac 2017

I have noticed that my The Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian of 2015 was literally a confession, describing my overly inflated ambitions and incomplete projects. But the 2016 edition was more a reflection on my progress against those goals. It has been a 23 months since the 2016 edition and it is time to revisit. But I’m going to split the reflection aspect from the confessions bit. So this is my reflection on the 23 months from the beginning of 2016 to the end of 2017.

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Italian Wars – How did the Spanish colunela deploy in battle?

Detail from Siege of Alesia

In the first part of the Great Italian Wars, until the introduction of the Tercio in 1534, the Spanish were organised into columns (colunelas) under a Colonel. We have some idea of the theoretical organisation of the Spanish colunela, but how did the Spanish colunela deploy in battle? And what is the difference between a colunela and a coronelía? This is what I know.

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Pierre Picouet on Spanish Tercios from Pavia to Rocroi

Pierre Picouet Les Tercio Espagnols 1600-1660

I got a bit worried last week. Dr Pierre Picouet’s website on the Spanish Tercios had disappeared. But I quick email to the man himself and I discovered that the website had just moved. It is now at Tercio1617. What a relief. Pierre’s material is a must read for anybody with an interest in Spain, the tercios, the Great Italian Wars and/or the Thirty Years War. To celebrate finding it again I thought I’d do a small tour of the website.

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17th Century Cavalry – Investigations of a Dog

Royalist Cavalry

You know how sometimes something big is going on but you don’t hear about it. I feel a bit like that about Gavin Robinson’s blog Investigations of a Dog. The blog was active 2006-2013 but is, unfortunately, now closed. Luckily the site is still up and is well worth a look. It contains some marvellous analysis of certain aspects of 16th and 17th Warfare, particularly the use of cavalry.

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What is the origin of the term ‘Tercio’?

Early Spanish tercio

What is the origin of the term ‘Tercio’ – the name adopted by the large Spanish pike and shot units of the Renaissance? The word literally means a bundle, or a one-third part of something (Notario Lopez & Notario Lopez, 2012) but he origin of the term for a military unit is not known. There are, however, various theories.

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15mm Wargaming Figures for the Italian Wars

Here’s my guide to 15mm wargaming figures for the Italian Wars. When I started this project in the 1990s only Essex Miniatures and Gladiator Games (now Black Hat Miniatures) had reasonable Italian Wars ranges in 15 mm. These ranges were fine at the time but more recent ranges, such as Venexia Miniatures: Range 4, are much better.

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