Tuesday 16 January 2024

Piggy Longton - Bishop of Dungborough’s perilous journey.

Resuming the Chronicles of Piggy Longton. 

It is 1472 and Lord Darcy, of Lancastrian persuasion, is convinced that he is about to be attacked by the Yorkist, Edward, aided by Lord Trebian of West Rottington. 

While preparing the defences at the hamlet of Piggy Longton, he has despatched messengers seeking military assistance from Somerset (4th Earl).

He must also get a message to King Henry, advising that Edward is in open rebellion and has foreign mercenaries with him, plus a handsome war chest provided by France. 

This task he has entrusted to his close friend and ally, the resourceful Bishop of Dungborough.

For the rest of this post, which follows the Bishop’s journey, please use the ‘read more’ tab.

As far as Darcy was concerned, there could be no better man for the mission than the good Bishop. We can remind ourselves that he was always referred to as Stephen the Fearless - perhaps telling its own story.

To get to London, the Bishop would for the most part be travelling through territory than that was sympathetic to the Lancastrian cause, but once he pushed on beyond Northampton and along the London road, towards St. Albans, there was an increased chance of bumping into Yorkist patrols.

His cover story was that he was journeying to visit the Archbishop of Canterbury, which was good enough reason to account as to why he was on the London road. His entourage would hopefully not attract too much attention.

He travelled with his constant companion Friar Evian and the monks from Crispin Abbey, all Godly men, but his party also included ten soldiers, dressed as common folk, claiming pilgrimage and seeking a blessing from the Archbishop.

This group was led by William Atkins, a captain and the only person within the group that was mounted and obviously well armed. It would not be unusual for a man of military rank to be put at the service of senior clergy for such journeys, again adding a touch of authenticity.

As the procession neared the village of Dunstable, Atkins was the first to notice that a cavalry patrol was approaching. He readied his party.

Click me

The cavalry patrol comprised of eight riders. Their colours of the Tiptoft family betrayed their sympathy as Yorkists. 

Nervousness flickered through the group as the cavalrymen started to move amongst them, eyeing them suspiciously. 

A man in expensive armour pulled up along side the Bishop and following an exchange of pleasantries, the Bishop explained the nature of their journey. 

The cavalryman, a huge figure of a man, seemed satisfied by the groups intention, but suddenly a cry went up.

One of the Atkin’s soldiers had lost his nerve as a cavalryman dismounted and walked directly over to him. The soldier instinctively drew his sword, the cavalryman did likewise and within moments, everyone seemed to have a weapon in their hand, with men marking men and a further three of the cavalrymen dismounting. Suddenly there was a swirling melee with swords slashing to the right and left.

The greatest surprise fell to the patrol leader, Bixby, as the Bishop, Stephen the Fearless, pulled aside his garment and in one swift action, stepped forward, bringing his sword up in a most soldiery fashion!

Above - The eight horsemen, four of them dismounted, were marked man-to-man as per the above diagram and as the Bishop’s party outnumbered the horsemen, they were able to gang-up against some individuals. The Bishop was lucky that a nearby foot soldier came to his support, as Friar Evian having avowed to never take a life, could only watch on in some horror. 

Above - Red dots are first strike wounds and it is clear that the Bishop’s party comes off worse, but the large ‘X’ marks a mounted cavalryman that is killed. The two footmen involved in that fracas move to join actions 6 and 7 (from left to right).

The Bishop’s initial strike at the cavalry leader opens a large gash in his leg, but the rider’s own sword strike cuts down into the Bishops raised sword arm, both men are wounded.

Above - Blue dots are second strike wounds. This time a mounted cavalryman (in position 3) kills a foot soldier and he moves across (to position 2) to aid his friend. (Note in error, position 3 is still shown in the diagram, even though he has moved to position 2). Unfortunately for the Yorkists, they lose a second cavalryman (position 7).

Above - The fight continues and is fairly even, both sides are tiring and close to breaking, but a total of three footmen have now joined the Bishop and assailed from all sides, the cavalry commander, Bixby, falls, his life leaving him!

Enough! The horsemen break contact and flee.

That was a close shave, both the Bishop and the Captain are wounded and it is most fortuitous for them that the monks from Crispin Priory are on hand with medicines and potions to tend to their injuries.

They cannot afford to linger, the enemy will be back in larger numbers, looking for revenge. They must press on for the safety that the area around St. Albans offers, which is under the control of John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford.

After a little over three hours of good paced walking, they are challenged by another cavalry patrol, but these men carry the colours of John de Vere and are a most welcome sight for sore eyes.

With cheers from the party, they are safely escorted the remaining distance to St. Albans, where John de Vere greets them. 

Alarmed at the news that Edward is raising a rebellion and that mercenaries have been able to move so deeply into the country, he sends a full company of cavalry to London to warn Henry, while the Bishop and his entourage remain as his guests with their wounds attended to. 

Conclusion - well that was all rather fraught. I have grown to like the creation of Stephen the Fearless and here was a real chance that he might become a fatality - the breath was indeed held as the die were cast.

I made a matrix, with the four dismounted and four mounted soldiers each having a single box on a track. Against that, members of the Bishop’s party were drawn from the proverbial hat and matched against each of the cavalrymen, with the excess four soldiers being allocated by an 8 sided die.

Literally the last die roll gave the Bishop a supporting foot soldier - Phew!

For combat, everything was allocated an attack value of either two or three D6, with the Bishop, the mounted cavalry and the Captain all fighting on 3D6. 

Friar Evian and the monks obviously do not become involved in any way in the combat - but those fighting next to them drew some comfort from their piousness.

Each cavalry position (8 in total) is treated as an individual combat. Both sides rolled simultaneously with doubles causing a wound and a second wound resulting in a kill. If triples are rolled, that would be an outright kill, initially giving the cavalry patrol a slight advantage with four of their number remaining in the saddle.

If there is more than one soldier in a group that receives a casualty, then a die roll determines who takes the wound. In the opening fight, the Bishop took the first hit and I gulped!

The idea was that two rounds would be fought and that would be enough to determine which side would break ….. but it all ended in a draw so a third round was started, moving left to right across the positions and the first loss would end the fight.

The re-allocation of soldiers who had successfully removed their opponent(s) would be calculated by a roll of a D8 - it was therefore something of pure chance that two more soldiers joined the Bishop, but it never-the-less had the right ring to it and of course a sense of good fortune.


The cavalry leader, Bixby, didn’t really stand a chance against such odds and that, as they say, was that!

Anyway, this was a really important mission. If the Bishop had been prevented from getting word the King, which was a real possibility, then the subsequent delay in the King being alerted and therefore being able to mobilise his army, might significantly weaken his chance of victory in the battle for the crown that now quite obviously looms.

However, with the Bishop succeeding, the King has been duly alerted and he has already started to gather a King’s army (Lancastrian). 

Though wounded and needing time to recover, the Bishop of Dungborough has preserved his credentials as Stephen the Fearless and proven that he is up to getting the job done.

Good, because I am not looking forward to the day when he falls and his replacement, Stephen the Timid arrives to fill his boots!

William Atkins, also wounded, is to be rewarded by Lord Darcy for his determined leadership and loyalty.

As to the future, in the short term, we will have to wait and see whether Edward will exact revenge on the hamlet of Piggy Longton for what he perceives as Darcy’s snub, when Darcy declined to join Edward’s rebellion. 

Beyond that, we will likely need to look at the national stage, as Lancastrian and Yorkist mobilisation gets under way. 

King Henry is sending out messengers across the land with the expectation (read hope) that all will fall in behind his banner.

Does he still have the support that he needs?

Resource Section.

An earlier post that explains the meeting between Darcy and Edward. LINK 


My sister webspace ‘COMMANDERS’  showcases the various figure and boardgame systems that I am enjoying and gives a flavour of where current projects are up to. Link.