6mm French Wars of Religion

French Catholics and Huguenots (Calvinists) fought it out at the club last night… on the tabletop. Thankfully it was just a wargame: a loose refight of the Battle of Dreux (1562).

The Huguenots (Kamall, Theo, Patrick) had better and more plentiful cavalry, while the Catholic side (Rob, Doug, Jonathan) had superior and more numerous infantry.

We used my ‘True Religion’ rules, which seemed to play well, apart from an oversight which meant that after Rob rolled a one to establish the quality of his commander, denoting a ‘Favourite’ (not a good thing), the unit to which it was attached could neither score hits nor save anything…

I have a strong interest in the Reformation/Counter-Reformation period, having completed a PhD on the Polish Counter-Reformation back in 2008, so it was fascinating to read up on the French Wars of Religion.

With lots of colourful unit types including the Gendarmes (knights), Swiss pikemen, Landsknechts, and a range of cavalry including chargers, pistoleers, arquebusiers, and light cavalry with bows/javelins, not forgetting early artillery, this period is a visual feast, straddling late medieval and early modern times.

The eight civil wars in France (1562-1598) were absolutely vicious (two kings were also assassinated) but were as much or more about power and politics than religion per se. Aristocratic factions, the Crown, the so-called politiques (Catholics favouring religious toleration), foreign powers, not to mention big personalities such as Henry of Navarre and the Guise brothers, were all involved, making this a heady brew with wonderful wargaming potential.

My figures were mainly Heroics & Ros, with gendarmes from Rapier Miniatures (I actually used ancient Greek Companion cavalry with cloaks for these… which sums up the merits and issues with 6mm figures in all honesty). On the positive side of the ledger, most of these figures could be used for the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) too, which I intend to do at some point.

Overall, this was a fun game with some enjoyable banter. The Huguenots managed to win the refight, having destroyed more units, a result which reversed the outcome of the historical engagement.