Easily one of the most famous last stands in history would be the Battle of Thermopylae, which pitted 300 Spartans against 250,000 Persians. In the modern world, most people believe that the Spartans’ numbers were 300, but historians believe their numbers were closer to 7,000 while the Persians were between 100,000 to 300,000. Either way, this battle showed how a few men can wipe out half their enemies before being overrun. In the end of the first volume of my spin-off fantasy series, I will be depicting a similar battle where over 600 men battle an enemy force that outnumbers them ten to one. Also, like Thermopylae, my battle will make use of a bottleneck to make it a more even and intense fight.
One of my new favorite battles from the Scottish War of Independence is the Battle of Loudoun Hill. This battle was depicted at the end of the film The Outlaw King. I researched the actual battle and the film depicted the battle very accurately despite a few changes that were made. After my ancestor, Robert the Bruce, was crowned King of Scots, he suffered serious defeats while fighting the English. After evading the English and rivals Scots, Robert the Bruce rallied 600 infantry to his cause to combat 3,000 English knights and cavalry. The location of the battle was right in the middle of a road that had thick marshlands on either side. In a direct contest of brute strength, the Scots stood no chance against the English. In order to negate the English’s numerical advantage, the Scots used the road as a bottleneck and dug ditches to hinder the charges from English cavalry. If the English tried to flank the Scots, their horses would be stuck in the deep marshes and English knights would sink in the bog due to their heavy armor. Soon the battle turned into a one-sided massacre. Despite outnumbering the Scots five to one, the English were defeated and forced to retreat to the nearest castle to avoid being hunted down by battle-crazed Scots. Overall, the tactics of this battle were nearly identical to the Battle of Stirling Bridge, which also used a bottleneck tactic to beat the English. For my spin-off fantasy trilogy, I will be depicting a similar battle.
One of my all-time favorite themes of fantasy is dragon warfare! Imagine controlling the mightiest creature in the known world at your command. You would wield the power to demolish castles and annihilate entire armies. During a siege, a castle’s walls can defend you against conventional attacks such as trebuchets and siege towers. However, such defenses are useless when it comes to fending off dragons. The reason for this is because dragon fire can melt stone and even if you take shelter in the deepest and most secure section of the castle the dragon fire would super-heat the stone and you would be baked alive in your own stronghold. In addition to being ideal for sieges, dragons can also fly right over enemy territory and perform systematic strikes on enemy strongholds, which would weaken your enemy’s power base from within and make them easier to conquer. During an open battle, even if your armies are hopelessly outnumbered a dragon can give you an immense advantage in six distinct ways. First, a dragon can perform a military maneuver called strafing in which it would sweep over the enemy army over and over while blasting it with fire. Second, a dragon could dive bomb in the center of the enemy host, which would increase the damage to both the army itself as well as its morale. Third, a dragon could set fire to the surrounding landscape to not only throw the enemy army into chaos but also blind their archers. Fourth, if your army can hold the enemy in place with the vanguard then the dragon can blast the enemy from behind with impunity. Five, because dragons fly they can give their rider a scouting position by flying overhead to watch enemy movements then report them to your allies, which will give your own forces enough time to prepare. Six, a dragon can also be used for guerrilla warfare and hit-and-run tactics by attacking and raiding enemy supply lines, which would cripple enemy armies and make them easier to crush. However, despite all their size and power, dragons are far from invincible. Even though their scales are hard enough to withstand normal steel, they can be pierced with either special or mystical weapons. For example, you could tip a spear or arrows with this special material and then use them to bring the dragon down. Also, you can counter a dragon with either another dragon or another beast that is just as powerful. Overall, I am exceedingly excited to explore all of these aspects of dragon warfare to the fullest in my second volume, which will depict an entire war from start to finish.
In the second volume of my fantasy series, I decided to include a battle that will have one unique factor that will set it apart from the others. Instead of being sunny and dry or dark and cold, this battle will take place in the middle of a rainstorm. Rain can have several unexpected hinderances during a medieval battle. The ground will be so muddy and slippery that cavalry charges will be useless. Bowstrings need to be dry in order to work so firing arrows is also not an option. Therefore, fighting on foot is the only option and even that is difficult because the ground would be muddy and slippery so the soldiers cannot get an even footing and the rain and wind would constantly blow in their faces. From the way I see it, this is going to be a grueling and filthy battle where victory or defeat can be decided with one misstep or one missed attack.
This is a type of sword I included in Numen the Slayer, a falchion. A falchion is a type of single-edged sword that operates like a machete and can only be wielded one-handed. It is one of the weapons of choice of King Robar Baal and has a blade forged from a meteorite called a Ferruman. King Robar uses this in conjunction with a meat cleaver that has a handle made from human bone. These weapons make King Robar a frightening enemy on the battlefield.
Did you know that the average archer could fire twelve arrows a minute? Therefore, at the Battle of Agincourt (which had 6,000 English archers against 30,000 French cavalry) those 6,000 archers fired around 72,000 arrows a minute. If 20,000 archers were deployed, they would launch 240,000 arrows a minute! That many arrows would eclipse the sun!
One of my favorite battles in medieval history would be the Battle of Pilleth during the Welsh Revolt of 1402. It pitted the Welsh rebel Owain Glyndwr and his 1,500 men against Sir Edmund Mortimer and his 2,000 men. Mortimer had Glyndwr outnumbered by 500 men and the Welsh only specialized in guerilla warfare instead of open warfare. Although a risky tactic, Glyndwr divided his army in half with 750 men on top of the hill and the other 750 men hidden in a valley on the other side of the hill. Meanwhile, Mortimer’s much larger army was marching towards the 750 men on the hill. The hill was very steep and Mortimer’s men were exhausted from carrying heavy armor and weapons up as they marched. Once the two hosts were in position, they fired on one another with arrow fire. Due to the steepness of the hill, the Welsh archers fired their arrows further downhill than the English could fire their arrows uphill. As a result, the English were taking all the casualties and the Welsh were untouched. With none of his arrows reaching the enemy and his men dying left and right, Mortimer changed tactics and attempted to take the fight to Glyndwr. However, because the battle was turning out so badly for the English, the archers on the left flank of Mortimer’s army mutinied and started firing arrows at their former allies at point blank range. Some say these archers were double agents Glyndwr infiltrated into Mortimer’s army while others believe that they switched sides when they thought Glyndwr would win. Either way, this unexpected treachery disrupted the integrity of Mortimer’s host. Glyndwr saw his chance and charged at the English from on top of the hill. As the battle progressed, the archers switched their longbows for daggers so they could finish wounded enemies off. When Mortimer was on the verge of defeat, the other half of Glyndwr’s army emerged from the valley on the other side of the hill and ambushed them from the right flank and rear. This resulted in the Welsh’s first victory in open warfare against the English. For the second volume of my fantasy series, I am thinking of combining elements from this battle with the Battle of Towton in a major battle.
In Numen the Slayer, I depicted a major battle that unfolds throughout the story. It takes place at the castle of Foxden and pits 500 archers and crossbowmen and 700 men-at-arms against 14,000 infantry, 2,000 archers, and 2,000 cavalry. I drew inspiration for this battle by researching the various weapons and tactics used in medieval sieges. I did not base this battle on any one historical battle. I will not say if the defenders will receive a relief force or the invaders will conquer the castle. All I can say is that it is the best collection of battle scenes I have ever written. I am expecting to write more battle scenes like this as the Magnus Dynasty Saga progresses.
The main war in my fantasy series will be fought on many fronts from land, sea, and air. Because I am modeling the main protagonists after Henry Tudor and William the Conqueror, I will be modeling some of the battles they fought after historical battles Henry and William fought. For example, during the Norman Conquest of 1066 A.D. ten thousand vikings under Harald Hardrada invaded England around the same time as William the Conqueror. In order to stay true to my viking roots and draw inspiration on Hardrada’s raids, I am thinking of including some sea and coastal battles in the second volume of my fantasy series. The first of Hardrada’s raids was the Battle of Fulford, where the vikings won their first and only victory in the Conquest of 1066.
While the Battle of Fulford allowed the vikings to conquer and sack Fulford and York, their victory was short lived. Soon the vikings wandered too far away from their ships and became trapped behind enemy lines. This misfortune really hurt their war effort when they fought the Battle of Stamford Bridge. By this time King Harold Godwinson of England raised an army to beat back the viking host and he had them outnumbered two to one. The losses the vikings took were so severe that only two dozen of their three hundred ships made it back to Norway.
However, while Harold Godwinson defeated the vikings in the north, William the Conqueror and his Norman army landed in the south. After landing, William and his Normans wasted no time in consolidating a foothold on their future kingdom. In an attempt to defend his crown from the second invading army, Harold and his English army ran south to meet William in open battle. By the time they reached Hastings, Harold and his men were exhausted from running from one side of the country to another. William and his Normans, on the other hand, were well rested and ready for battle. This was one of the factors that ultimately led to Harold’s defeat at the hands of William the Conqueror. This chain of events ultimately led to crowning William king of England and establishing a dynasty that has lasted for almost a thousand years.
In the second volume of my fantasy series, I am thinking of depicting a similar series of events, but with several unique changes of my own. This collection of battles and skirmishes will be even more intense and epic than what happened in real life.
For the second volume of my fantasy series, I am planning on depicting a very epic and bloody battle that will pit two armies that are each roughly one hundred thousand strong. To make the battle as believable as possible, I will be drawing inspiration on the Battle of Towton from the War of the Roses. The Battle of Towton was the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on British soil where sixty thousand men fought one another. Of those sixty thousand only half of those men survived the bloodbath. This skirmish was a crushing defeat for the Lancastrians and also consolidated Edward IV’s position as a strong and charismatic leader, which would eventually crown him King of England. While I will be basing my battle on some of the tactics of Towton, I will also be making it even larger and more epic as new weapons of war are deployed.