Burnt Siena: The Battle of Monte Riggione


It was well after vespers in the chapel of the Abbey of Saint Cecilia, patron saint of his Order of healing monks and also the village of Ponte Staggia. In the streets of the village, some of the residents prepared to greet the coming of the New Year with traditional Tuscan revelries. But Abbott Benedictus was kneeling motionlessly before the altar. Slowly, quietly, he began to pray aloud the ancient prayer of his Order, "Adsum , Domine: Me gratiam corpora hominum sanare concessisti." Here I am Lord: Thou hast granted me the Grace to heal men's bodies. As he sank reverently into the peace of the familiar prayer, his mind began to contemplate his place in the wider events flowing around him and his Abbey like the torrent that the Staggia would become when the mountain snows began to melt in the now far off spring.

More than a century ago his Order had been witness to the carnage caused by the enduring rivalry between the cities of Siena and Florence, and the ambitions of their rulers at the battle of Montaperti. Then it was Ghibelines and Guelphs, now it was the rivalry of the merchant princes of the respective republics. Little difference it made where the fragility of men's bodies and the Calling of his Order were concerned. But this time it was also the Supreme Pontiff of his own faith who was also taking the field of battle. Not content with his temporal power, the present Pope, John V, sought to reestablish Rome as a secular power as well. His Holiness, now 56 years old was ambitious as well. Perhaps not as much as some secular princes, but rather more than Father Benedictus felt suitable for a man of God. Admittedly the head of Lord God's church on earth was charming, and proud of his Church and it's position in Italy. Unfortunately he was rather too cunning, and was bad tempered and merciless as well. Why, earlier that day, he had been summoned to the presence of his Holiness to receive his Blessing upon himself and his order, amidst his armed camp. But not only for the blessing, for the Vicar of Christ on Earth had also suggested that Mother church would not take it badly if, on the morrow, his Order were to be sparing in its services to those of the army of his Florentine enemies. The very idea was abhorrent to the core of one called to serve as a healer such as Benedictus. Praise be to Almighty God that he had managed to croak out some vague utterance that committed him and his Order to no such abomination.

His mind continuing to meander, Benedictus mused on the events that had brought armies to the outskirts of his beloved Abbey. It all began in a fashion familiar enough to a man who was both priest and a healer of men. Cardinal Omberto of Spain had finally died of the ravages of Syphilis, aged 83. Pope John V had lost little time in appointing Ignacio, ArchBishop of Salamanca, a second son from the House of Leon, as the new Cardinal from Spain. Only 40 years old, he was reputed to be still more ambitious than the Pope himself. Like John, Ignacio was widely said to be charming, also like the Pope, but unlike him, merciful. In the keeping with the general attitudes within the Renaissance Church, Benedictus did not hold his reputation as a lover against him. Indeed, Ronquita Maria de Aragon had just borne an illegitimate son, Ricardo, to the newly appointed Cardinal Ignacio. It is rumored that her father the King of Spain, Carlos Miguel de Aragon himself had used his influence to have Ignacio appointed as Cardinal, both to improve the prospects for his bastard grandson, as well as to separate his daughter and the Archbishop, both of whom seemed to have more hormones than common sense.

Continuing in the trance like state of his devotions, Benedictus continued to contemplate the machinations of the material world. Spain had a lot to do with the events about to occur just outside the walls of his Abbey. Juan Santiago de Aragon, heir to the throne of Spain was becoming a problem to the King, as he spurned the hand of one fine Castilian lady after another. Of course, it didn't help matters that the young Prince was both arrogant and ugly. Never the less, like his sister, there was no hormone deficiency inherent in the line of Aragon, for he too had a reputation as a lover. But the legitimate succession was what mattered. Juan Santiago seemed well equipped to lead Spain there. He was already relatively warlike and courageous, and was widely regarded as absolutely loyal to his father, King Carlos Miguel.

Thus it was, ruminated Benedictus, that while on service with the Spanish forces dispatched to aid Duke Rinaldo Flabenico of Savoy against the ultimately successful French invasion, Prince Juan met and fell passionately in love with Venusia Olivia Fiorella. Now 25 years old, she is none less than the eldest daughter of Lazarus, the Gonfalonier of the Florentine Republican - ancient foe of Siena, to whose territory Ponte Staggia belongs. Very beautiful, unlike her suitor Juan, she is otherwise remarkably similar. She too is already a famous lover, and energetic. What was worse for the cause of peace in Italy was that she was notoriously warlike, more so even than Juan, and had trained with the finest swordsmen in Italy! A match of passion like this (not to mention potential gain for the two powers involved) could not long be forestalled, and the couple had married a few months ago in Madrid.

Even an isolated Abbott like Benedictus could see the wedding as the cementing of an alliance between the Florentine Republic and the Kingdom of Spain (and thus Naples). Obviously, some parties would have been happy to see the alliance fail before it even got started. Thus it was that Juan's cousin, Grandita Olivita de Castile was murdered at the age of 18. Poisoned while attending the wedding banquet, it was widely suspected that the culprit had accidentally poisoned the wrong attendee. There had been widespread speculation as to had been behind the shameful act, with suspicion falling especially on those with the greatest apparent interest in seeing cooperation between Spain and Florence thwarted. At first, Benedictus had been shocked that Pope John V had been included in the list of those who might have arranged the foul assassination. After meeting his excellency, however, the good Abbott began to find his disbelief dispel. The mustering of the Papal forces had been unusually swift. As he considered matters, Father Benedictus found their arrival in Sienese territory at the supplication of her Chief Magistrate, Bruno Umberto, to be suspiciously prompt in response to the invasion of Sienese territory by the Florentines. So timely indeed, that the aggressor in this latest contest in Tuscany might well be the Holy Father, rather than the Florentines. And if that were the case, then might the Pope have gone as far as to order an assassination as well? For the sake of the Pope's immortal soul, the Abbott prayed that it was not so. And so it was that his musings and the prayer of his Order came to a close simultaneously. Shuddering slightly in the cool air of the Mediterranean winter night, he intoned "Duce et regere servum tui, Domine, ab omnibus tentationem, ita ut honor purus et donum meum incontaminatus sit. Amen" Guide and guard thy servant, Lord, from all temptation, that honor may be spotless and my gift unstained. Refreshed and troubled at the same time, Benedictus left the chapel and began to prepare the bandages, tourniquets, wine and opium that would be needed in the aftermath of the battle that would open the New Year. Then, aware of the long day ahead of him and his brother monks, he retired to his cell before the last day of the old year had yet fully waned.

The Scenario

The Florentine army has barely entered the territory of the Republic of Siena, when it is met by the army of the Papal states, led by Pope John V himself, and seconded by key members of the Sienese elite. The Florentines plan to invest the walled town of Monte Riggione, reduce its medieval fortifications with canon, and push on to burn the city of their centuries old rival, Siena. An alternative invasion route, as well as the chief road along which supplies reach the enclosed populace, lies through the village of Ponte Staggia. either way, the forces of Florence will have to ford the river Staggia in order to attack. In spring, melting alpine snow can make the river all but uncrossable, but in the cool dry Tuscan winter, the river is but a minor obstacle. More significant is the dense trees, rocks and brush of the Boca d' Salvani, which runs through and around a sharp bend in the Staggia, and therefore partially divides the battlefield in half. See map for terrain and deployment. each of the buildings of Ponte Staggia as well as the walled courtyard of the Abbey are worth 2 Morale Chips to the side that gains control of them.

The Forces

Florence: Tomaso Niccolo " The Vice" Caponi, commanding

Army Reserve: Tomaso Niccolo Caponi

  • 1 Unit Sword and Bucklers: Armorer's Guild
    HI, 3 per stand, Regular, Composite armor, Shield, swordsman @ 28 points
    Fire: NA Melee: NC Morale: NC

Left Wing: Lazarus Giulio Fiorella, Gonfalonier of the Florentine Republic, commanding

  • 1 Unit Condotiere di Bellasti
    HC, 3 per stand, Lance, Regular, Composite armor @ 40 pts
    Fire: NA Melee: UP 3 Morale: NC
  • 1 unit Skirmish Arquebusiers: Apothecary's Guild
    2 per stand, Militia, LI, Arquebus, no armor @ 18 points
    Fire: UP 2 Melee: DN 1 Morale: NC

Center: Rigatoni Eduardo Fiorella, commanding

  • 10 Units Florentine Militia: From left to right: Stone Masons & Blacksmith's Guilds, Dyers & Weavers, Sculptors & Painters, Tanners & Potters, Carpenters & Coopers.
    4 per stand, Militia, Pike, no armor or helmet, may use phalanx @ 25 point
    Fire: NA Melee: NC Morale: NC
  • 2 units Arquebusiers: Scribes and Banker's Guilds
    MI, 3 per stand, Militia, Arquebus, no armor, helmet @ 28 pts
    Fire: UP 2 Melee: DN 1 Morale: NC
  • 1 Heavy gun, Militia, no armor @ 24 pts
    Fire: UP 2 Melee: DN 3 Morale: NC
  • 1 Unit Crossbowmen - Barber's Guild
    LI, 2 per stand, Crossbow, Militia, helmet, no armor @ 21 pts
    Fire: UP 2 Melee: DN 1 Morale: NC

Left Wing: Pierro "Bambino" Sonderini, commanding

  • 2 Units Men at Arms: Medici, Pazzi
    EHC, 3 per stand, Regular, Lance, Plate armor, Bard,"Unique" @ 52 pts
    Fire: NA Melee: UP 4 Morale: UP 1

Maneuver Force: Pierro "Bambino" Sonderini, commanding

  • 1 Medium Gun, Militia, no armor @18 pts
    Fire: UP 1 Melee: DN 3 Morale: NC
  • 1 Unit Mercenary Mounted Crossbowmen
    LC, 2 per stand, Militia, Xbow, Helmet @ 18 pts
    Fire: UP 1 Melee: DN 1 Morale: NC
  • 1 Unit Crossbowmen: Barristers
    LI, 2 per stand, Crossbow, Militia, helmet, no armor @ 21 pts
    Fire: UP 2 Melee: DN 1 Morale: NC
  • 1 Unit Mercenary Mounted Arquebusiers
    LC, 2 per stand, Militia, Arquebus, Helmet @ 18 pts
    Fire: UP 1 Melee: DN 1 Morale: NC
  • 660 pts Sequence Deck: Italian 16th C. Roll Correction: Italian City States 16th C
  • This army will add 1 Superstitions and Omens card to its TAD deck

The Papal - Sienese Alliance: His Holiness, Pope John V commanding

Army Reserve: Pope John V

  • 2 Units Lanze Spezzate: named for the Archangels Gabriel and Raphael
    EHC, 3 per stand, Guard, Plate, Lance, Bard @ 60 pts
    Fire: NA Melee: UP 5 Morale UP 2

Right Wing: Coniglio Umberto

  • 1 Unit Mercenary Mounted Crossbowmen
    LC, 2 per stand, Militia, Crossbow, Helmet @ 21 pts
    Fire: UP 1 Melee: DN 1 Morale: NC
  • 1 Unit Mercenary Mounted Arquebusiers
    LC, 2 per stand, Militia, Arquebus, Helmet @ 21 pts
    Fire: UP 1 Melee: DN 1 Morale: NC

Center: Bruno Umberto

  • 4 Units Mercenary Pikes: Primus, Secundus, Tertius, Quartus
    MI, 4 per stand, Militia, no armor, Helm, Pike, may use phalanx @ 25 pts
    Fire: NA Melee: NC Morale: NC
  • 4 Units Arquebusiers: The 4 Gospels - Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John
    LI, 2 per stand, Militia. Helmet only, arquebus @ 21 pts
    Fire: UP 2 Melee: DN 1 Morale: NC
  • 1 Unit swordsmen: Recruited from the 1st Contrade of Siena
    HI, 3 per stand, Regulars, swordsman, composite armor, helm, shield @ 28 pts
    Fire: NA Melee: NC Morale: NC
  • 2 units Crossbowmen: The Cherubs and Seraphs
    HI, 3 per stand, Regulars, mail, helmet, crossbow @ 36 pts
    Fire: UP 2 Melee: NC Morale: NC
  • 1 Unit Papal Guards - named for the Archangel Urkiel
    EHI, 4 per stand, Guard, Plate, Halberd @ 55 pts
    Fire: NA Melee: UP 3 Morale: UP 2
  • 1 Unit Heavy Guns @ 24 pt
    Fire: UP 2 Melee: DN 3 Morale: NC
  • 1 Unit Medium Guns @ 18 pts
    Fire: UP 1 Melee: DN 3 Morale: NC

Left Wing: Paulus Giancovicci

  • 1 Unit Casa - Knights of the Papal Household, named for the Archangel Michael. EHC, 3 per stand, Guard, Plate, Bard, Lance, Unique, "Fearsome" @ 68 pts Fire: NA Melee: UP 6 Morale: UP 3
  • 1 Unit Condotiere di Pisa
    HC, 3 per stand, Regular, composite armor, helmet, Lance @ 40 pts
    Fire: NA Melee: UP 3 Morale: NC
  • 651 points total
  • This army would always have the Divine Inspiration card placed in its TAD deck.
  • Sequence Deck: Italian 16th C. Roll Correction: Italian City States 16th C

The Deployment

Pope John V lay awake in an unfamiliar bed, awaiting the New Year. He was sure that he was carrying out the will of God by his attempts to expand the secular territories of the Papal states. After all, unless the Holy See controlled adequate territory to assure it's independence from the rapacious rules of Italy, the Papacy would mere become a puppet to whatever power was ascendant at that moment. Shepherding God's flock was serious business, and the rulers of Italy and beyond could not be allowed to manipulate the edicts and doctrine of the Holy Church to suit their personal needs. Thus it was that the forces of Rome were opposed to fellow Christians in the army of Florence. He simply could not allow the marital union between the Throne of Spain and the Florentine Republic to become an effective alliance as well. He would have to triumph. He knew he was well read in the arts of war, but most of that was the classic histories of Plutarch and Livy and uncertain in it's relevance to modern war, especially with the ascension of weapons using gunpowder continuing. Thus it was that his Legate, Paulus Giancovicci, had conducted for him an exchange of letters on matters military with Pierre-Marie, Duc d' Andreacon, and commander of the victorious French army at the battle of Pinerolo ("Organ Recital"). He studied his notes, as well as a crude sketch map of the environs.

He had opted for a rather unconventional deployment, trying to make maximum use of the ground and the strengths of his forces, while trying to neutralize the effect of the forest of pikes that comprised the bulk of the Florentine army. Anchored on the sturdy buildings of the village of Ponte Staggia, and especially the formidable Abbey of some moldy old healing Order of monks, he had placed his heavy guns, supported to the rear by his armored and disciplined crossbowmen, nicknamed the Cherubs and Seraphs. Between them and the river, were his 4 units of unarmoured but determined pikemen, which he had unimaginatively termed Primus, Secundus, Tertius, and Quartus, organized into 2 deep phalanxes and screened by the Arquebusiers of St. Mark. Like their fellow Gospel named troops, he hoped they would rain fire and brimstone down upon his enemies. Behind them were another unit of skirmishing Arquebusiers, those of St. Luke, and behind them and under his personal command the heavily armored Lanze Spezzate of Archangel Gabriel and Raphael. The river divided the units. Well into the second line, and poised behind the bridge over the Staggia, were the impeccably trained and accoutered Papal Foot Guards. Named for the Archangel Urkiel, they were armoured from head to toe, and equipped with vicious looking halberds. Pope John thought them perhaps the finest body of infantry in the world today, although their armor was wont to make them slow in action. Continuing across his front line, there were the skirmishing Arquebusiers of St. Matthew, poised at the edge of the Boca d' Salvani, and immediately behind them the Swordsmen of the 1st Contrade of his Sienese allies, and the last of the Aquebuisiers, those of St. John, both deployed in deep formations. Just to the right of the woods, were his medium guns. He knew they'd be overrun, but he hoped the crews would first make the best of the inevitably huge target the Florentine army would make. To the far right of his line, under Paulus Giancovicci himself, were posted the two units of mercenary light cavalry. Pope John figured that the Legate might as well make use of his correspondence, and his presence would explain why he had undertaken it in the first place. Lastly, if he were to meet an unfortunate end in the morrow's battle, well, that would further obscure their correspondence. In support of this weak right wing, was a second, considerably more formidable force of cavalry - the imposing and heavily armoured knights of his personal household, named for the Archangel Michael, Marshal of the Hosts of the Lord. Joining them were the heavy Condotiere cavalry lancers recruited form Pisa. An even more implacable foe to Florence than Siena herself, it was no accident that he'd hired these particular mercenaries. He knew their courage would not fail them while in sight of the ancient foe.

He'd just have to see if his plan for the army worked - sweep forwards with his left, and hold with his right, hoping that the Pikes might expose a flank or two to his cavalry as they swarmed to come to grips with his army. He was confident that the bulk of the Florentine army would be deployed opposite Monte Riggione itself, but hew knew that the walls of that place were formidable enough to be unassailable in the time frame of a battle in the field.

In all honesty, John V was having more trouble deciding what he would wear for the battle that would open the New Year. He'd had somber black, white, and sky blue clothes prepared for him in keeping with the latest fashions of wealthy nobles, complete with a "bishop's cape" of mail. But as he lay down, trying to sleep, he felt vaguely uncomfortable with the choice. He was the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, and it would likely inspire his troops to have a constant reminder of the favor God found with their cause, and so he determined that instead he would wear full papal vestments (over armor, of course!), and celebrate a mass early that morning to raise the morale of his soldiers. Murmuring the words of the Pater Nostrum, Pope John V at last fell asleep.

The new day and with it the new year 1501 dawned cool and bright. As his troops roused themselves and stamped their feet, Tomaso Niccolo Caponi surveyed the field of battle. As he did, he was amazed to realize that the leader of the opposing army, none other than Pope John V was celebrating a mass for his troops, clad in full Papal vestments! Didn't the man realize that today is the dawning of the 16th century, and such things were just not in keeping with the spirit of the times? The 40 year old son of the head of the Potter's guild had showed affinity for things martial since his childhood, and he was in his element leading the armies of his beloved Republic. He had already lost his left pinkie and ring fingers in service to her, but the strength he had built in the remaining fingers of that hand well justified his popular nickname, "the Vice." Although generally regarded as on the ugly side, he fondly remembered the maiden who had shared his bed the night before, keeping him pleasantly occupied perhaps longer than was prudent with a battle to fight the next day. Wisely, he put such thoughts in the back of his mind as he contemplated his deploying troops. He had nearly 10,000 of the new city militia pikemen as the heart of his army. Enthusiastic, they yet lacked the battlefield experience required for him to have greater confidence in them. Still worse, the terrain around Monte Riggione was less than favorable for their deep phalanx formations, broken up as it was by the river Staggia, really barely a stream at this time of year, the Salvani woods, and the town of Ponte Staggia and it's walled Abbey. Having preceded the forces of the Pope by almost a day, Tomaso had placed a bold but perhaps not fully considered plan into action.

To his right, he had deployed both of his mercenary light cavalry units, along with the light infantry crossbowmen drawn from the barristers of the Republic and their dependents. They screened a battery of very well trained medium guns, which was to fire in support of a general and rapid advance by this "Force de Maneuver", as military fashion would call it. Tomaso had assigned Piero "Bambino" Sonderini to command this force, as well as his right wing, containing his best cavalry, the heavily armoured Men at Arms of the families de Medici and Pazzi. Still, he knew these troops were less than evenly matched against the best that Rome could put in the field. The handsome 36 year old head of the dyer's guild and Prior of the Council was an apt choice. More warlike than Tomaso himself, the man was known to be completely merciless.

To cover his far left flank, Tomaso had given his titular superior, Lazarus Giulio Fiorella, the 58 year old Gonfalonier of the Florentine Republic, a small force consisting of the light infantry arquebusiers from the Apothecary's Guild, supported by the heavy cavalry Condotiere de Bellasti. Handsome, extremely good natured, charming, and courageous, it was never the less his very active greed that was the ruler's outstanding characteristic rather than martial talent. Thus, Lazarus had yielded overall command (and in the event of failure, perhaps the blame, no?) to the more qualified Caponi.

In the center with the bulk of the troops, was Lazarus' younger brother, Rigatoni Eduardo Fiorella. A very ambitious man, he promised to display more talent in command than might otherwise have been expected. Unfortunately, he would likely need it. The terrain and constricted front for deployment created by the woods in his center forced 2 of the 5 pike phalanxes to be deployed in the second line. Expecting the main action of the battle to take place before the walls of Monte Riggione itself, 3 of these phalanxes supported by the City Militia arquebusiers drawn from the Guilds of the bankers and scribes were deployed to the left of the woods, supported by the heavy guns. The Stone Masons & Blacksmith's Guilds made up the leftmost phalanx, with that of the Sculptors & Painters Guilds to its right, and the least well trained Guilds, the Dyers and Weavers were placed in reserve in a phalanx behind and to the left of the bridge. A single unit of light infantry crossbowmen of the barber's Guild were stationed within the woods, with the swordsmen of the Armorer's guild stationed behind them in reserve under Tomaso's personal command. Finally to the right of the woods were the remaining phalanxes, the Tanners & Potters in the front, with the Carpenters and Coopers behind them.

Thus it was that the bulk of the Florentine army had little opposition before it, while the right flank looked as though it might be sorely pressed to hold it's ground against the Papal onslaught. Well, "Fortune favors the Bold, eh, Rigatoni?" remarked Tomaso to the commander of his center. We'll just have to give His Holiness cause to worry about his flanks, and try to hold the line in the right center. As he spurred his charger off to survey the rest of his line of battle Tomaso debated with himself over the matter of the Carroccio. Lazarus, as Gonfalonier had argued strongly in favor of the elaborate medieval cart with it's altar and banners accompanying the army into battle. A modern man, Tomaso had scorned the idea, and refused to allow his army to be encumbered by the thing. Besides, the sacred landship had last appeared in battle at Montaperti, fighting the Sienese, and that battle had been a severe defeat for Florence, with the Carroccio itself being lost. Thus it had seemed ill advised to return the thing to service, but now Tomaso wondered if he had made a mistake by neglecting the positive effect the familiar relic might have had on some of his superstitious tradesmen. Were wishes golden florins, most men would be rich beyond measure, philosophized Tomaso. Time to get his troops on the march! Perhaps he might yet surprise His Righteousness!

The Battle

My Dearest Niccolo,

I have already written to you about the occasion of my meeting our Pope, John V, in fading moments of the 15th Century, but I have yet to tell you of the now termed Battle of Monte Riggione which took place just outside the walls of our Abbey on the first day of the new Century. I must caution that some of my account is composed of things that I saw or heard myself, but many others are based upon events related to me by actual combatants injured in the action, and treated here at Saint Cecilia's. You may think it odd for a monk from a healing order to take such an interest in such things, however our avocation commonly exposes us to war and its horrible consequences. But I am digressing from the subject of this letter.......

The Battle opened with both sides being rather surprised with the other's dispositions, both of which were somewhat unconventional. However, if I may be permitted to venture my own opinion, it would seem to me that General Tomaso Caponi of Florence was rather more surprised than the Holy Father. The Pontiff seemed not to have followed the ordinary rules of war in providing conventional cavalry wings to guard the flanks of his army. Whether or not this was madness or genius will have to be left to you to decide as you see the battle unfold through the mechanism of my narrative. In any event, it seems that Caponi ordered as rapid an advance on the flanks as he could manage, in order to silence the well sited but exposed battery of medium guns the Pope had caused to be emplaced adjacent to the woods and commanding the path of advance upon Monte Riggione on his left, and to seize our village of Ponte Staggia and potentially our Abbey itself on his right. Evidently, the Florentine general hoped that swift occupation of the village might threaten the left flank of the Pope and his Sienese allies, and cause their spirits to flag.

As the morning sun rose in the crisp blue sky, this plan seemed to be working well. The Florentine left center pikemen swept forwards, crossing the river Staggia with considerable alacrity. The lead unit suffered rather heavily from the well sited Papal artillery during the advance, several painter's and sculptor's guild leaders falling during the advance. Their supporting arquebusiers gradually advanced as well, but rather more circumspectly. The maneuver force also got off to a swift advance, whilst the Florentine right center edged forwards most cautiously. The Papal heavy guns fired upon the massed Florentine Men at Arms, but to little discernible effect. My brother, the boom of these great monsters was so loud that it rattled the candles throughout the Sanctuary each time they belched forth their smoke and fire.

As the pikes of Florence continued their advance towards Monte Riggione and the Papal Guns, the light cavalry supporting those guns proceeded to withdraw. leaving them utterly without any support. Thus it should come as no surprise to you, my brother, who have fought upon the field of battle often enough yourself, that the isolated guns were overrun, with the crewmen run through or off to a man. At about the same time, on the Florentine right, their light crossbowmen of the Barrister's guild gained the outside of the front wall of the Abbey courtyard, just as the heavy crossbowmen "The Cherubs" of the Pope also reached the side wall. The Florentine light infantry had support from their light cavalry on the far right, where the swift horsemen looked to sweep around the courtyard and threaten the Abbey and village itself. On their left, the Papal artillery and the advancing heavy infantry crossbow Seraphs had caused the Florentine mounted Arquebusiers to be rather more judicious in their movement, yet they were still in position to support the attack upon the courtyard.

Meanwhile, in the center of the field the Florentine medium arquebusiers of the Banker's Guild had advanced towards the river Staggia and the Salvani woods. On the side of the Holy See, Bruno Umberto had first ordered his arquebusiers to fall back from the woods, but it seems, my dear brother, that he now had a change of heart, for the arquebusiers of St. Mathew returned to and entered the woods, in dispersed formation, followed shortly by the arquebusiers of St. John. In due course, this led the opposing arquebusiers of St. Mathew and the Banker's guild to exchange a fire which I am told was very brisk. Evidently, 2 captains were laid low in the Arquebusiers of St. Mark, whilst there was little discernible effect upon those of the Guild. I have it on the best authority that the Papal troops had committed an error which, my brother, you are probably aware, is common among inexperienced troops in that they had failed to correct for the difference in elevation between the units. In any event, the bankers coolly reloaded, and moved to the edge of the river, appearing to make ready to cross it and seize control of the woods. This would be a sinister development for the Papal cause, you may have no doubt of it! Bruno Umberto, who as I may have mentioned, is the Chief Magistrate of our fair Republic of Siena, directed the arquebusiers of St. John, still in deep formation for better ease in traversing the thick Salvani woods, to contest the attempted crossing as soon as humanly possible. Gallantly, they responded by establishing themselves in the woods at the edge of the river. As the bankers trained their arquebuses upon them, the intrepid men of St. John must have taken inspiration from he who told of the coming of the Light of our world, for they beat the Florentines to the punch, and loosed their volley first, and, brother mine, it was as devastating a volley as that of St. Mark's troops had been ineffectual. With three of the most prominent bankers of the Republic laid low, the challenge to the morale of the remaining men could not be resisted, and they streamed back towards the road to Florence, and it has been said that they never rested until they reached the gates of their city, so great was their panic.

If I may be permitted, esteemed brother, I shall now return to the events occurring on the Florentine left flank, beyond the woods. As this fight occurred well outside my field of vision, I must again relay what I am told by the wounded which we have treated here at the Abbey. Having dispatched the medium guns, Piero Sonderini directed the 3 units of his left center to sweep around the edge of the woods, and threaten the rear of the Papal forces. This movement was carried out with the amazing swiftness which generally accompanied the actions of Florentine troops throughout the battle, and soon there were no less than 3 full phalanxes so poised. Thus it was that the responsibility for action fell upon the shoulders of the son of our Chief Magistrate, one Coniglio Umberto by name. While none doubted his courage, he had barely 17 years on the day of the battle, and was as well known for his remarkable comeliness as are in fact you yourself, but otherwise he was held in little regard. Perhaps his young blood was disgusted with the withdrawals he had been ordered to carry out in the face of the enemy, or perhaps it was the first evidence of a genius for things military - as a man of the sword, you are likely to be a better judge of these matters than a man of the cloth such as I. Whatever may have been the cause, Coniglio boldly moved his mounted Arquebusiers forwards in a rapid movement to pass the flank of the lead Florentine Pike phalanx, drawn form the ranks of the Stone Masons and Blacksmith's Guilds. The river and the low ridges to the far edges of the battlefield had evidently greatly delayed the flank guard troops commanded by the Florentine Gonfalonier, Lazarus, and thus it was that where the vulnerable flanks of the phalanx should have been covered by cavalry an light infantry, there was none even positioned within even close to supporting distance from the pikemen of Florence. Seeing the audacious nature of Coniglio's advance, the Papal Legate, Paulus Giancovicci, began to turn his Condotiere and the "Archangel Michael" Papal Casa towards the Florentine advance, so as to be able to take advantage of any opportunities which Providence might choose to present to him. As this movement was underway, Coniglio's thin line of mounted Arquebusiers passed the flank of the Florentine pikes, and was able to maneuver so as to be in position in order to assail them. making full use of the Opportunity thus given to him, Coniglio rose up on his charger like St. George bearing down upon the Dragon, and flung his lightly armed troops onto the flanks of the equally lightly armed pikemen, ordering them not to fire as they charged, on pain of death. It seemed this bold stroke would overwhelm the Masons and Blacksmiths, Disordered as they were by the unexpected turn of events. However, after absorbing the initial onslaught of the light horsemen, the immensely strong craftsmen managed to turn their pikes round so as to face the arquebusiers directly, and this remarkable feat achieved, the advantage lay solely with the footsoldiers. Deftly they skewered all 4 of the captains of the cavalry, and any remaining troopers were spent as a fighting force for the day, streaming back for the walls of Monte Riggione itself. However, the sacrifice of Coniglio's troop was not in vain, my valiant sibling, as the craftsmen now found themselves both in disorder, and with their hindparts facing the advancing Condotiere. It was anyone's guess whether the pikes would be able to maneuver yet again before the Condotiere were able to get close enough to seize the potential Opportunity to charge. As the will of our Lord would have it, it was the cavalry who gained the upper hand, and charged full tilt into the rear of the same pikemen. Being more than mere mortal flesh could stand, the entire phalanx broke in rout and began running for the rear. One phalanx down, two to go!

My lifelong friend, I am sorry if the passage above is difficult to make out, for I fear the excitement of the events I have just related caused me to break into a cold sweat and as a result, the words I have just penned have run. Therefore, I shall now turn my attention to those events which had transpired during the same time closer to my own post here at the Abbey of Saint Cecilia. Until such time as we should be brought wounded to treat, I stationed myself high in our bell tower, and thus I had as fine a view of the action in my environs as one could possibly aspire to. When I left off relating events on this portion of the field of battle, our fair courtyard was the subject of contention. Not surprisingly, the more lightly armed Barristers of Florence won the race of the crossbows, and seized control of the walls. With the all the advantages of their cover, and extended lines, the Barristers for once sent forth bolts of iron rather than their accustomed writs of paper. However, it seemed to me that the range was overlong, and the heavy armor of the "Cherubim" turned aside all but a paucity of their shafts. Then it was the turn of the Papal crossbowmen to return the favor. Being barely 10 yards from their commander, I hope you will not think me frivolous, my warrior brother, if I relay an amusing conversation I heard between the master of the Cherubim and one of his captains. It seems they were debating whether to turn aside from the courtyard, and instead fire upon the still approaching Florentine Mounted Arquebusiers, or to let fly against the Barristers now, and leave the light cavalry for later. "Imbecile!" roared the Master. "It should be plain as the nose on your face, Donatello! First, we kill all the lawyers!" So saying, he had his Cherubim let fly, and it must have been the hosts of Heaven themselves that guided their bolts, for all four of the chief Barristers were transfixed in the twinkling of an eye. All opposition by the leaderless and multipunctured men of law evaporated like a bought witness not paid his fee, and these particular troops were not seen again upon the field of battle that day. "See, what did I tell you?" sneered the Master to the captain. "Now, lets move on to that irritating cavalry, eh! So, they deigned to attempt to seize the courtyard themselves, but rather turned to join the general advance of the Papal left flank that was now taking place.

With the Florentine threats for the moment blunted, I heard Pope John V direct his pikemen to press the advance, with the Lanze Spezzate of the Archangels Gabriel and Raphael and his heavy crossbowmen in support. In addition, he directed his footguards, named for the dark Archangel Urkiel to swing their halberds across the Staggia in order to support the advance as well. At the same time, not yet free from fear for his right flank, he directed Bruno Umberto to turn his swordsmen, already crossing the bridge over the Staggia towards our village, back towards the right flank and the wood's edge. I found this somewhat amusing, my most excellent brother, as they had just reached said position after several hours of marching, and they now appeared to headed back to exactly the same spot where they had begun the day. As the forces of His Holiness advanced past my Abbey, they both began to screen their own heavy guns, and exposed themselves as targets to the Florentine medium guns. Even with my untrained eye, I could now see that this battery was composed of the most skilled artillerists, so great was the volume and accuracy of their fire. For while my Abbey still shook each time the great Papal pieces were set off, they still seemed to be having little effect upon the enemy, while on the other hand the Florentine guns ripped great gaps in the ranks of first the advancing light infantry arquebusiers of Saint Luke, and then the following heavy crossbowmen of the Seraphim and Cherubim.

My narrative, my veteran friend, now returns to the Salvani woods once again. The victorious Arquebusiers of St. John, still in their deep formation, now withdrew from the river and maneuvered themselves skillfully to the edge of the woods facing Monte Riggione, thus threatening the near flank of the Pikemen of Florence, the nearest phalanx being that drawn form the Sculptors and Painters of the city. Their earlier deadly accuracy having made them Fearsome to their foes, they were a force that had to be neutralized were the Florentine advance to have any chance of proceeding. Unfortunately, pikes are poorly suited to fighting in woods, so a considerable delay ensued as the medium arquebusiers of the Scribe's Guild and, at last, Lazarus' command with the light infantry arquebusiers of the Apothecary's Guild and the Condotiere cavalry all came up for flank and rear support. Not having seen it with my own eyes, brother, I now report what I was told of the Florentine Heavy guns stationed on that flank, and you must be the judge as to its likely accuracy. My patients relate to me that these guns, left without any targets and in any event screened by their own advancing troops, had actually limbered, planning to use the roadway to Monte Riggione to advance over the bridge and reposition themselves so as to come to bear on the Pope's troops. So cumbersome and heavy were the guns, and so ornery were the local mules hired to draw them, that more than 3 hours passed without any significant change in their location. That being the case, the passage of events had now caused the guns to be situated to bear on the arquebusiers of Saint John, and the loudly swearing battery commander was able to cut the traces on the recalcitrant mules and unlimber the guns and lay them for their shots.

Who, my cherished brother, can ever hope to know the mind of our God? Certainly not the commander of an army, even if he be God's own Vicar on earth. A combination of events all across the field of battle now brought the action to a crisis. My Abbey courtyard once again filled with the profane voices of Florentine soldiers, now the mercenary mounted crossbowmen who had dismounted in order to seize it once again. They threatened the flanks of the Papal heavy battery, and the rear of the advancing heavy crossbow Cherubim and Seraphim. In the event, they proved to be to weak and too far from the action to have any actual impact upon anyone but myself and my brother monks. At the same time, the Pontiff's pikemen finally closed to within charging distance of the Florentine phalanx of the Tanner's and Potter's Guilds. As their screening arquebusiers of Saint Mathew broke off to screen them from the light crossbowmen of the Barber's guild, who had infiltrated the stretch of woods in the loop of the river Staggia, the pikes of Primus and Secundus closed home on their opposing number. More astonishing, the other Papal phalanx, Tertius and Quartus also attacked - the heavily armed and armoured mounted Men at Arms of Florence! It was all that the surprised nobility of the city could do to spur their mounts into a countercharge. On the further flank, near the woods, the Swordsmen of the 1st Catrade of our fair Siena charged into the phalanx of the Sculptors and Painters, hoping to use their superior armor and deadly short swords and shields to slip in under the cumbersome pikes, and deal with them as the Aragonese swordsmen of Spain are said to. Finally, the Florentine heavy guns at last opened fire upon the Arquebusiers of Saint John in the Salvani woods, who were themselves threatening the flank of the reserve pike phalanx of Florence, which was drawn from the Weaver's and Dyer's guilds.

As a priest, dearest brother, I am privileged to have more than common knowledge of the weaknesses of the hearts of men. The crisis of the battle would sorely test those of the combatants. Firstly, an odd event occurred that was told to me by so many wounded form Florence that it seems to have the ring of truth. As you may be aware, it was in years past the custom of the cities of Italy to be accompanied into battle by great, elaborately decorated carts, bearing banners, altars and priests saying mass for the benefit of the souls of those slain on the field of battle. The people of Florence had hoped to be accompanied by such a grand display as they marched to war. However, despite the encouragement of Lazarus, the Gonfalonier of their Republic, Tomaso Caponi had refused to have anything to do with an idea he termed "simply not in keeping with the spirit of modern men", and so there was no such Carroccio in the army. However, at this moment there appeared in the distance, coming down the road from Florence, a great brightly painted wagon or cart. "The Carroccio", a sign form God of his favor towards Florence and her people!" exclaimed one of the captains, and soon many of the troops took up the cry, raising their spirits for a time. For others, though, the time for the Test of Courage had come, and the Dyers guild, worried about the arquebusiers of Saint John to their heart lost heart and began to pull back of the field, although the Weavers were made of sterner stuff and stood their ground. Their fortitude was soon rewarded as the Florentine heavy guns, hitherto silent from the beginning of the battle, vomited forth such an earthquake of metal into the men of Saint John and the surrounding woods, that when the smoke cleared, there was neither a man nor a tree in that entire segment of woods left standing. The splintering of the tree trunks, it was reported to me, greatly multiplied the carnage done by the canon's shots themselves. In any event the Arquebusiers of Saint John were expended as a force, and their threat neutralized at last.

Just the other side of the woods, the melee between the swordsmen of Siena and the pikemen of Florence was swiftly resolved. Although they seemed to have every advantage, the swordsmen were unable to lift up the pikes and slip under them, and were, consequently soundly defeated, fleeing back and off the field of battle. Meantime there was a "push of pike" as fierce as any ever described by the Successors of Alexander. After a long struggle, the papal forces first gained the upper hand, and then routed the phalanx of the Tanners and Potters. Next, the Men at Arms of Florence handily defeated the opposing pikemen, one of the mercenary standard bearers being slain in the action, but could not break them, and as Tertius retired to the rear to rally, Quartus stepped in to take their place as a matter of course.

As the phalanx of the Tanners and Potters retreated, they in turn disordered the phalanx of the Coopers and Carpenters behind them. Pierro Sonderini galloped up and was able to restore order to the men of the Tanner's Guild, but after that it seemed as though his morale currency was spent, and he could not hope to rally any more of his men. Reluctantly, Tomaso Caponi recognized that victory was now impossible, and he began to rapidly withdraw his troops from the field of battle, utilizing his guns and fresh troops to discourage pursuit. It is said that Pope John V, in an effort to spur his troops to close with the enemy as they attempted to withdraw, showered offers of Papal indulgences upon anyone who would attempt to catch the retreating Florentines, followed by golden ducats. But the men were too tired, and the army of Florence retired without significant molestation by their enemies. Withdrawing down the long road back to their own territory, the "Carroccio" was found instead to be a troop of gaily painted gypsy wagons - what had seemed a Favorable Omen, had instead turned out to be a reminder of the fickleness of the fates.

Exhaustion overtakes me, my beloved Niccolo, after so long a day of battle and apprehension, followed by our ceaseless efforts to put together the bodies that war has torn asunder. Therefore, I must close my letter to you. It is my sincerest hope that my poor account has enabled you to understand the events of the battle of Monte Riggione, and that such knowledge will assist you in the pursuit of your chosen profession. I pray that God may keep you safe and hold you in his right hand, on the battlefield and off.

In brotherly love,
Father Bennedictus, still known only to you and our family as Hubeht Urlife
The Abbey of Saint Cecilia
Ponte Staggia, Republic of Siena


The Florentine invasion of the territory turned aside once more, it remains to be seen if Spain will try once again to take an active role in Italy, using the events at the royal wedding and at Monte Riggione as an excuse, or whether it will remain aloof from affairs there. But that is another story, as yet untold. As for Pope John V, he directed the appalled Abbott Benedictus to have frescoes of the battle executed upon the walls of Saint Cecilia's to commemorate the battle.

Game Notes

The healer's prayer is stolen from the Deryni books of Katherine Kurtz, a longtime favorite author of mine since my sister recommeded them to me more than 25 years ago.The perspective of a healer monk seemed a natural one for the time and my own profession. Sorry about the lawyer dig, Andy F. and others! Information about the battle of Montaperti from Ruggero of the REMPAS list was useful background for the battle. As our camapign is set in the real world (more or less), I've made use of maps from the internet to help decide where the actions would take place. In the case of this battle, there's a great website, The Castles of Tuscany, whic has maps of Tuscany locating a great many existing castles and/or their ruins, complete with pictures, layouts of the castle, and a brief history of each. The listing for Monte Riggione is at: http://www.castellitoscani.com/monteriggioni.htm and the rest of the site can be accessed from there. Give it a look!

The background for the battle was generated by our semi-historical Renaissance campaign, using the ideas of the one and only Ken Baggaley. It also served as an introduction to both Piquet and Renaissance gaming for my longtime friend and wargames opponent, Paul Yankowich ("Paulus Giancovicci"), who has been living in Arizona the past 5 years or so, and was back to Connecticut visiting over the Holidays. It was also the first time we'd used the army lists I'd drawn up for Florence and the Papal States. There were no less than 14 units of Pikes, in 7 Ken B. phalanxes - over 250 pike figures. I had to use Spanish pikes for the Pope, and even then I barely had enough [see, Joe, I still do need more pikes! :-) ] The battle was very attractive - you can see some of the pictures courtesy of the new Nikkon Coolpix 800 - I have no talent as a photographer, but I'm pretty happy with how these came out. Hopefully they don't take too long to load - I used JPEG quality ratings of 21 to 31 - maybe I can get away with 11 next time to cut down on file size and speed loading time. To see them, go to the Piquet Egroups site: http://www.onelist.com/community/Piquet

If you aren't already a memeber, you'll have to sign up with Egroups, which costs nothing, and join the Piquet group at least temporarily to access the files, which are in the "Burnt Siena" folder.

Paul and I had exchanged a rather lengthy and detailed series of Emails prior to the game, in which I gave him the benefit of my Piquet and Band of Brothers experience, hence the bit about the Papal Legate's correspondence. The Popes sartorial dilemma at the outset of the deployment is a reflection of the game set up process. I had just finished the WF figure I was planning for Paul to use as Pope John - wearing a vaguely clerical seeming Landsknecht mounted officer's garb in somber colors - the morning of the game. As Paul rolled for his C-in-C, he rolled Abysmal 3 times in a row. Not wanting to prejudice his introduction, I let him re-roll several times. After the third roll, he asked for a change of figure, and I brought out an old Minifigs Bishop from their long missed Alexander Nevski range - even painted in liturgically correct colors for the date - white! Whereupon the new figure was returned to storage, and he rolled up Poor on his next roll. As I had already rolled up a poor C-in-C myself, we let that stand!

To help even things out experience wise, I gave Paul a Brilliant Leader card in his sequence deck. He had 6 Army characterization cards to draw, and got 25 chips plus the UP 1 for Infantry Morale, extra Heroic Moment card in sequence deck, and the heroic cavalry unit stratagem (the Condotiere of Pisa). Because I had no elite or guard units in my army (and very few non militia ones!), I only got 5 cards. Drew a 2, a 3, the extra artillery reload and Brilliant commander cards plus some other effect card. Threw the odd one back and drew a 4! Threw the Reload card back and drew a 5! Still only 14 morale chips, and I had 22 units! I was sweating now - I had to throw that beautiful "add a Brilliant Leader card" back, and draw another number card - at least I finally managed an 8! Just enough or I would have had to start eliminating units from my roster. We did use the on table camp rule as usual, and that was the only thing that kept me in the running as long as I was. At the end of the game, Paul was buying down my impetus with morale chips to slow down my withdrawal!!!! Grrr!!!

I rolled high on the deployment die, allowing the Maneuver Force deployment, something I've never used before. So, I ignored all my own advice, and adopted a plan that was too clever by half, prevented my artillery from having good lines of fire, and even foolishly tried to redeploy a heavy battery (Duh!) and ultimately paid the price. The game was interesting in that there wasn't a single cavalry versus cavalry melee the whole game - a dramatic first for us. As a result, the game went longer than usual, but we got a lot of fascinating infantry melees we hadn't seen much of before. It was a great game, with many swings of impetus ( the double initial move of a phalanx took Paul and me both a bit by surprise - as these pikes were unarmoured, their base move was 8" instead of the usual 6". And on the other flank, I used the double initial move of the Maneuver Force ) and fortune. I don't think I'll be spotting Paul that extra Brilliant Leader card next time! :-)

- Peter Anderson

PS - my Abbott Benedictus is the brother of the famous Condotiere Niccolo Urlife, presently commanding the armies of Venice as they march to attempt to relieve the Ottoman siege of Durazzo!

Page Last Updated On: 18 Aug 2007