Knight on the town.

On the afternoon of the 3rd April, in the year of our Lord 952, the Heroes wandered into the Zvijezda (Star) in Saczow, intent on a quiet drink. They soon settled into a discreet corner of the large tavern, where they began to enjoy the Zvijezda’s excellent nappy ale; even Pavel sipping contentedly, distracted by his comrades’ company and the attentions of Bola, the buxom serving wench.

The scene of peace and beer fuelled bliss was rudely shattered by the intrusion into the tavern of a mob of upwards of twenty thugs armed with cudgels staves and brickbats, singing the praises of the Ban. These ruffians at first attempted to intimidate the bar staff in this fine upmarket establishment, which was known as a steadfast and staunch stronghold of the Kralj. Not content with this, the ruffians soon set about raucously haranguing peaceful customers who showed any sign of not supporting their proselytizing partisan prattle.

Carloman was the first of the Heroes on his feet to question the intent of the intruders. However, before he had chance to intervene, the hooligans had launched a full scale assault on anyone they suspected of being a supporter of the Kralj. They had chosen the wrong place for their attack! Our Heroes were soon joined by irate customers in fighting back; visiting royalist seamen and warriors allied themselves with the Kralj’s local supporters in driving the interlopers out of the establishment.

At first, a calm settled on the Tavern and our Heroes returned to their ale pots along with most of the other drinkers. However, it soon emerged that a popular local had died from his injuries in the fight and anger at the arrogance of the Ban in orchestrating the attack soon took hold. As the news was passed from house to courtyard, ally to street, through the neighbourhood and beyond, angry crowds began to gather, swelling in numbers and rage as the tidings spread. As afternoon faded into evening anger turned to fury and a ravening mob of citizens and denizens of Saczow poured down from the upper town towards the docks where Ban Pribina had a fortified compound.

The commotion outside little concerned our Heroes and they settled back to their early evening pivo. Before long however, their complacency was shattered by the arrival of a courier from the Kralj himself. He urged the Paladins to arm themselves and aid the mob of ‘loyal citizens’ in their endeavours to avenge themselves upon the Ban, pointing out that Pribina had upwards of thirty veteran armoured warriors protecting his compound. One or two, pointing out that there may well be opportunities to loot the Ban’s property, the others more or less disgruntled at the interruption of their ale, all our Heroes armed themselves and set out for the docks.

Before the Companions could force their way through the dense masses of rioters, the affair was, to all intents and purposes, over. The irate protesters had indeed launched a spirited attack on the Ban’s compound near the docks, but had been driven off by his armoured retainers. Several of the Ban’s men had been wounded and half a dozen of the rioters killed and many more injured. As they neared the Ban’s residence, our Heroes braced themselves to lead a renewed assault, only to find that he and his men had used the lull in attacks to flee to their boats and had pulled to safety across the river.

The Heroes took possession of the Ban’s compound in the name of the Kralj, finding it to consist of his mansion, a warehouse and extensive stables. All had been thoroughly looted by the mob, before our friends arrived, but they had preserved it from fire and were subsequently to be awarded its ownership by a grateful Kralj. The Ban had succeeded in carrying away his portable treasure and sought refuge with one of his supporters some twelve miles up-country on the left bank of the R. Elbasan.

The Walls of Babylon

Kralj Miroslav is not known for his decisive nature. However, such was his fury at events following the brawl in the Zvijezda, that he clamoured for an immediate pursuit, to arrest and punish ‘This vile traitor Pribina’. Leaving Saczow well defended against any sudden raid by the Ban or his allies, Kralj Miroslav set out on the 5th intent on supressing what he saw as the Ban’s revolt, before it took hold. He led a force of around three hundred men, including our Heroes’ 29 horse and 44 foot and fifty chosen men of Saczow’s militia, under Biskup (Bishop) Henricius. The Kralj put great faith in what he called his ‘Kelts’, our Heroes.

Ban Pribina’s centre of support was in Bosnjea, the Province of which he was Ban, or Viveroy, where he held the power of a Kralj. After the riot in Saczow, he found himself deep in Kralj Miroslav’s territory, only twelve miles or so from the city. However, such was his fame and charisma that within days of his retreat from the city, he had rallied a force of upwards of 300 men at the manor of his supporter, the Voivode Zvonimir of Kosa-Janjačka.

The Kralj and his host, in company with our Heroes crossed the river from Saczow to the east bank during the 10th of April and marched on Kosa-Janjačka on the 13th. They reached the manor in the same day and camped nearby. On the morning of the 14th the opposing forces drew up for battle in the morning mists, on opposite sides of an old ditch (Kosa jarek) that once formed part of the boundaries of the manor. (see map)

The Ban anchored his infantry line on two large enclosures to his left, running away northwards behind the manor buildings to the woods beyond. To the south of the enclosures he extended two units of feudal cavalry, the rest of his horse he deployed behind his centre as a reserve. To bolster the confidence of his infantry, in which he put his chief reliance, Ban Pribina dismounted and stood with his army standard and his Champion Mihajlo at the centre of the infantry line.

Across the kosa-jarek, the Kralj also anchored his left on an enclosure, which he filled with his best archers. Behind these, he posted the stolid Militia of Saczow, under the command of Biskup Henricius. His rather shorter infantry line ran south from the enclosure to the woods, into which he put another archer unit. In front of his feudal infantry, Miroslav deployed our Heroes’ spearmen and crossbows in a sold phalanx under Vlad. He drew up the whole of his mounted strength, including the two banners of Heroes, behind his right flank. His intention, in consultation with Radovan, Pavel and Miguel, was to move around the southern end of the jarek and fall turn the Ban’s left flank, without his cavalry having to charge across the obstacle.

map of battlefield
RoyalistsBan's Forces
1Light cavalrya,cLight cavalry
2Heavy cavalry, Voivode Radekb,dHeavy cavalry, Voivode Kresimir & Pjevačica Ljutomisl (cantador)
3Heavy cavalry, Kralj Miroslav & Voivode Berislavj-mspearmen, Ban Pribina, Voivode Drzislav, Prvak Mihailo
4Heroes’ knights, Radovan, Pedrag, Carloman & Dragoldube, narchers
5Heroes’ knights, Pavel & Miguelf-ispearmen, Voivodes Kresimir & Zvonimir
6Heroes’ infantry, Vlad   
7 & 8Archers  
14Saczow Militia Biskup Henricius   

As the sunlight melted away the morning mists, the opposing hosts began to move towards each other. Seeing that his right wing faced empty pasture Pribina instructed its commanders, the Voivode, Kresimir & Zvonimir to fall on the Royalist left with speed and fury. The loyal warlords obeyed faultlessly urging their warriors to rush to their new positions. In this flurry of movement, the Ban’s cavalry reserve moved into the gap, widening between the Ban’s infantry centre and the Voivodes’ rapidly moving right. In doing so they exposed themselves to an arrow storm from the Kralj’s archers in his enclosure. Seeing the Kralj’s superior mounted force emerge from behind the wood and begin to outflank his outnumbered feudal horse, Pribina withdrew them behind the enclosures.

On the Royalist side of the jarek, the tight packed deployment was beginning to cause confusion. The Kralj’s feudal horse moved smartly past the end of the ditch and into position facing the Ban’s left flank. Hindered by the movement of the Kralj’s men, Radovan led his banner towards his position on the Kralj’s right. However, Pavel’s banner was not in support, where it was planned to be. Pavel, impetuous for action and frustrated having to wait for the Kralj’s feudal horse and Radovan’s banner to move ahead of him, had ridden off to the north.

Vlad’s phalanx had pivoted north-westwards, whilst the Kralj’s feudal infantry had remained in place, leaving a gap between them. Into this gap, Pavel led his banner. At this moment, The light cavalry screening the Ban’s cavalry reserve had come under crossbow shot from Vlad’s phalanx, adding to the arrows of the Kralj’s archers in the enclosure. Under the crossfire the light cavalry broke, running into and disordering their heavier brothers behind them. Kresimir & Zvonimir’s men were finally coming into position facing the Royalist refused left flank around the enclosure, having bypassed or crossed the jarek. On the Ban’s left, the warbands told off to defend the enclosures protested loudly that hiding behind hedges ‘betrayed their honour’ and cut their way through the hedges with their axes, to stand manfully before them, facing the Kralj’s approaching cavalry.

The climax of the battle was approaching. Thinking that their ally Radovan was going to charge the Ban’s axemen, appearing from the enclosures, the Kralj’s feudal horse charged. But Radovan did not charge! He was not satisfied with his men’s alignment and fussed them into perfect order before ordering a charge. For a moment, the Kralj’s fate hung in the balance. His horsemen failed to break the axemen facing him and a furious melee ensued, in which Miroslav and his household horsemen were outnumbered and threatened with being overwhelmed.

In the next instant the balance tipped. Radovan and his Heroes charged into the Kralj’s assailants and at the same moment, Pavol and Miguels Heroes charged into the first of Kresimir & Zvonimir’s men as they emerged from the jarek, in the centre. The ban stood helplessly looking into the chaos. Radovan’s charge broke the Rebel’s left, Radovan himself killing three men. Simultaneously, Pavel’s charge broke their right wing as it crashed into its most easterly units; Miguel killing three in his melee.

These actions somewhat disconcerted the mighty thewed Vlad. Having generously taken command of the foot in the expectation of a 'Big Bash' in the close terrain where cavalry could be expected to be of little use, the greed and selfishness shown by his fellow heroes seemed not to be in the spirit of comradeship he had dutifully expected. Still, no doubt his hour would come...

With four units in flight, the morale of the Ban’s host gave way, the local men sought their homes and the Bosnjeani began to think of the hills of their fatherland far away. As his army disintegrated around him, Prabina, his champion and his standard bearer mounted their horses and rode north-east. The Rebel leaders and their mounted followers rode clear, but their infantry was cruelly hunted down through the pastures and woodlands of Kosa-Janjačka, by the jubilant, but rather bemused Royalists. To our Heroes, it was all in a day’s work.

"A mounted Kelt is irresistible; he would bore his way through the walls of Babylon.”
Anna Komnene ‘The Alexiad’,

Did the Kralj press the pursuit of Prabina?
No, he returned to Saczow to celebrate his victory.

Te Deum laudámus: te Dominum confitémur.
Te ætérnum Patrem omnis terra venerátur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi cæli et univérsae potestátes.
Tibi Chérubim et Séraphim incessábili voce proclámant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth.
Pleni sunt cæli et terra majestátis glóriæ tuæ.
Te gloriósus Apostolórum chorus;
Te Prophetárum laudábilis númerus;
Te Mártyrum candidátus laudat exércitus.
Te per orbem terrárum sancta confitétur Ecclésia:
Patrem imménsæ majestátis; Venerándum tuum verum et únicum Fílium;
Sanctum quoque Paráclitum Spíritum.
Tu Rex glóriæ, Christe.
Tu Patris sempitérnus es Fílius.
Tu ad liberándum susceptúrus hóminem, non horruísti Vírginis úterum.
Tu, devícto mortis acúleo, aperuísti credéntibus regna cælórum.
Tu ad déxteram Dei sedes, in glória Patris.
Judex créderis esse ventúrus.
Te ergo quǽsumus, tuis fámulis súbveni, quos pretióso sánguine redemísti.
Ætérna fac cum sanctis tuis in glória numerári.