The Burgundian Lance

The main source of information for this is Gabriele Esposito’s article “Forming the Burgundian Lance,” in Medieval Warfare IV.4. He provides an overview of the important ordinances of the reign of Charles the Bold, and the required equipment for soldiers of the time.

The Burgundian Lance consisted of nine soldiers who were called up together, but served separately based on their equipment.

The first soldier was the man-at-arms, equipped with plate armor (including a blue-and-white plume in the helmet), three horses (one each for himself, the coustiller, and the page), a lance, a dagger, and a mace. AC 6/2, 7 1/3 stone (reduced to 6 1/3 if lance is dropped), 180’ mounted movement.

The second was a swordsman (or coustillier). Lighter-armed than the man-at-arms, the swordsman wore brigandine with a plate collar, tassets, and arm guards, with a lance, sword, and dagger, mounted on a horse. The armor is considered equivalent to banded plate. AC 5/2, 6 1/3 stone, 180’ mounted movement.

Third was a page. This was usually a teenager, essentially an apprentice to the man-at-arms. The main battlefield duty mentioned in the ordinances was to carry the lance of the man-at-arms when it wasn’t needed. Presumably armored (as the page rode on the battlefield), ACs could range from 4 (for chain) to 6 (for plate), with light weaponry and whatever horse the man-at-arms could provide (with a minimum value prescribed by ordinance).

The next three were mounted archers, equipped with shortbow, 30 arrows, a two-handed sword, a dagger, and chain armor. AC 4/2, 6 1/2 stone, 180’ movement on medium riding horse.

There was also an infantry crossbowman, equipped with a heavy crossbow and 30 bolts, plus the armor and melee equipment of the mounted archers. AC 4, 6 1/2 stone, 90’ movement.

Eight was a pikeman, who wore a chain shirt, padded armor, and a breastplate and plate armor on the right arm. Required weapons were a pike (spear) and a sword, and the pikeman also wore a buckler on the left arm. Armor is not quite at the level of plate armor, equivalent to banded plate. With the shield, AC 6, 7 1/6 stone, 60’ movement (rises to 90’ if pike is dropped).

Last was a handgunner, equipped with chain shirt and breastplate of the pikeman. In addition to the firearm, a sword and dagger were carried. AC 5, 6 1/3 stone, 90’ movement. The gun should be considered a matchlock arquebus using the rules from LotFP.

In 1471, Burgundy was able to muster 1,250 lances, for an army of approximately 1,250 heavy cavalry, 1,250 medium cavalry, 3,750 archer, 1,250 crossbows, 1,250 gunners, and 1,250 pikes. They were divided into 12 companies, each of approximately 100 lances, led by a Conducteur. Each company consisted of 10 groups of 10 lances, led by a Disenier. Each of those groups was split into 2 groups, one of 6 lances (led by the Disenier) and one of 4 lances (led by a Chef de chambre). Each company had a clerk, a trumpeter, a surgeon, and a billeting officer for logistics.

The pikeman received the lowest wages, at 2 francs. The handgunner and crossbowman each received 4 francs, the mounted archers 5, the man-at-arms 15 (to pay for himself, the swordsman, and the page), a Chef de chambre 20 francs, a Disenier 24, and a Conducteur 100. Thus, each lance cost 40 francs of pay each month, although this was usually paid three or four months in arrears to discourage desertion. A company would cost 4,000 francs for the 100 lances, plus 100 francs for the Conducteur and 440 francs for the 10 Diseniers and Chefs de chambre, for a total of 4,540 francs per month per company.

Very interesting, thanks for posting!

These archers with two-handed swords, did they fight mounted, on foot or both? Do you know why they were the most numerous troop type?

The archers were mounted infantry exclusively during Charles’ time. Some were mercenary English longbows (at Morat, out of 4,062 archers, 1,377 were English). They were the most numerous because Charles the Bold had picked up the English preference for ranged combat; he was one of the earliest to have an effective battlefield artillery train. In combat, the pikemen were trained to form the front line and kneel with their pikes held forward, the archers firing over them. Based on some of the other reading I’ve done, if the page wasn’t needed by the man-at-arms, he would stay with the archers, remaining mounted and controlling their horses when they dismounted. This might be done if (for instance) the terrain was unsuited for a cavalry charge, so the man-at-arms dismounted, gave his lance to the page, and had the page go off with the archers for mobility.