Cantonal Swiss

This list depicts the Cantonal Swiss armies that terrorised most of central Western Europe at the end of the C15th. By this time the Swiss were mainly fighting with pikes rather than halberds.

Swiss Cantonal armies often deployed in a traditional manner in 3 divisions (the Vorhut, Gewalthut and Nachhut):

The Vorhut (vanguard) contained the bulk of the armies Si along with some close combat troops, and had the role of scouting out the battle field, finding the enemy army and breaking up enemy formations with missiles. Swiss SI were not adverse to entering into hand-to-hand combat but usually only in close terrain

The Gewalthut (centre) was the main ‘punch’ of the army, usually containing the bulk of the close combat troops and was often disproportionately larger than the other 2 divisions

The Nachhut (rearguard) was generally the smaller of the 3 divisions and was usually detailed to protect the flanks and/or rear of the Gewalthut. Very occasionally, this division was split in two to add further depth to the tactical deployment of the army or to create an ambushing force.

The whole army would often advance in echelon with the Vorhut preceded by the Gewalthut and then followed by the Nachhut.

Era: Age of Chivalry   Cantonal Swiss CR: H: 4 L: 2   BP: 2 Init: 6
Number Type   Description Key FV PROT Weapon Cost
3 PH   Key 8(2)3 +1 Pikes etc 16
3 SI     2[1]1 +2 X-bow 2
2 SI     2[1]1 +2 Hand Guns 2
6 PH   Key 8[2]3 +1 Pikes etc 16
1 LHI   Key 5[1]2 +1 Halberds etc 8
1 MAA*   X 5[1]0 +2 Lance 12
1 LC(d)**   Key 1[0]0 +1 X-bow 6
4 SI     2[1]1 +2 X-bow 2
1 SI     2[1]1 +2 Hand Gun 2


Core: 1 SH

Bonus: (Max: 3 ) 2 GR; 2 SH; 1 WD


Core: 95 Bonus: 144

The PH units are armed with a mix of pikes and polearms, halberds & spears, with the pike element starting at c.30% at the outset of the C15th, rising to c.75% at the close of our period. The increase in the use of pikes by the Swiss was as a result of their ‘enlightening’ encounters with Austrian & Italian dismounted men-at-arms fighting with cut down lances (at Sempach and Arbedo). These units have a COH style wheel-and-move ability.

There are records of small cantonal detachments of fast moving, lightly armoured troops (armed primarily with halberds & spears) being attached to the Vorhut to protect the skirmishing X-bows & hand-gunners and participate in rapid flanking, ambush or forced march manoeuvres. The single LHI unit represents such troops

*The MAA are allied troops in the command of allies such as Rene, Duc of Lorraine. If MAA are purchased LC must also be bought. As there is no evidence that these allied Men-at-Arms fought dismounted when co-operating with Swiss Cantonal forces they may not dismount. Thus, the absence of a (d) indicator is deliberate.

Native Swiss armoured cavalry were too few in number at this period to warrant a separate unit of their own.

LC are either allies or native Swiss mtd X-bows (which would have acted more like mounted infantry than traditional LC)

**LC(d)(X-bows) dismount as SI [k] 2(1)1 +2 X-Bow @ 6pts. If dismounted, they retain their 2 BP status.

HG count as X-bow in all respects

Optional Notes:

These options cannot be used in competition & can only be used with an opponent's agreement

Command structure:

In an attempt to reflect the ‘Command by Committee’ approach adopted by Swiss Cantonal armies and their tactical battlefield flexibility, the Swiss player can opt to not field a General element and can instead have up to 3 Reserve Divisions (regardless of the number of Heavy commands in the army). In this circumstance, the allied MAA cannot be allocated as a Reserve Division

Ordo Link: Cantonal Swiss

Last Edited: 21 April 2006

List Author: Aetius