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Das Nachtjäger Fähnlein

We are Die Kaiser Lichte Fußknecht von Niedersachsen. You may call our Fähnlein (company) Das Nachtjäger (the Night Hunters), named after the wolf packs that haunt the wild lands between the cities.


In July of 1568, Georg von Frundesberg, son of Caspar von Frundesberg and named after his grandfather, Georg von Frundesberg (the father of the Landsknecht), decided to follow in his family's footsteps and stake personal funds to muster a regiment of Landsknecht when he was given a recruiting commission from Emperor Maximilian II. With Georg as the regiment's Oberst (colonel) the various fähnleins were formed. Das Nachtjäger Fähnlein was one of these units. As Georg was currently in the northeast area of the Empire on other Imperial business, the regiment was formed in the area of Braunschweig in Lower Saxony.

Turkish Invasion

The primary purpose of the recruitment commission was to provide additional troops to repel the Turks in Austria. The regiment traveled southeast throughout the late summer and fall of 1568 and finally arrived in the Graz region two weeks before the Christmas holiday. The regiment was repeatedly sent out of Graz throughout the winter and spring of 1569 to quell Turkish raids and border incursions. The entire regiment was seriously depleted of manpower during this time and was constantly seeking new recruits from outside civilians and by gathering stragglers from other decimated Imperial regiments in the area. In May of 1569, Oberst von Frundesberg received permission from the Emperor to stand down and dismiss the regiment. However, a day later, the Elector of Saxony, Augustus, offered to hire the regiment to travel to France and assist the Protestant cause there by fighting in support of the Huguenots in their religious war against the Crown. The regiment held a final muster in Graz and began the trip to France.

The Third French Religious War 

The regiment arrived on French soil in November of 1569. The Huguenot forces put the unit to use immediately, putting the Landsknechts into the front lines of the fighting. Das Nachtjäger Fähnlein saw active fighting in several areas of France. On August 8th 1570 while the regiment was just outside of Paris fighting Catholic forces, a treaty was signed that brought an end to the battles. Knowing the history of unrest that followed the first two religious uprising between the Crown and the Huguenots, Catherine de Medici needed to establish some sign of ease between the camps. As such she elected to place a unit with a sound history that fought for the Huguenots as her guard. The von Frundesberg regiment was selected because of its service record and being Landsknechts, we had no ill will toward the Crown.

Royal Protectors

Catherine de Medici, the mother of Charles IX of France hired the von Frundesberg regiment to act as personal guard from August of 1570 to October of 1571. The duty was light and mostly ceremonial. The unit was the behind the scenes guard force as Catherine continued to use French household guards for most official functions. However, anytime a presence was needed or additional troops for security were necessary, the unit was there. In October of 1571, Catherine dismissed the von Frundesberg regiment from her service. Georg again began to look for employment for the regiment while considering the option of returning home to disband.

The Dutch Revolt 

In mid-November of 1571 a Dutch noble by the name of Philips van der Aa hired the von Frundesberg regiment to fight against Spanish rule in the Dutch Revolt. By Christmas of 1571 the regiment was in the Netherlands. It soon became apparent that the funding for the regiment was coming through English involvement in the support of William I, Prince of Orange. In April of 1572, the regiment was fighting in the Mechelen area when Oberst von Frundesberg personally invited Das Nachtjäger Fähnlein to form a Verloren Haufe (Forlorn Hope) and act as a decoy for the remainder of the regiment. We were promised great rewards and a break from the fighting to all who survived. Das Nachtjäger was to "break and retreat" to draw out the Spanish cavalry: an ambitious, if not costly tactic in the best of conditions. As the Spanish charged us in our "weakened" condition, they became trapped by our foot soldiers and artillery and decimated to the last. Das Nachtjäger Fähnlein was equally decimated but the ploy was a great success. Because of the sacrifice of the fähnlein, the Spanish forces were forced to retreat and the Dutch forces took the city of Mechelen.

Service in England

The survivors of the Verloren Haufe were rewarded by being sent to England along with our families from the baggage train. In England we serve as bodyguards and warfare instructors to nobles wishing to align England with the Holy Roman Empire. Some of us here in England still display the white feathers of service in Verloren Haufe and wait eagerly for news from our comrades still fighting on the mainland under our Hauptman, Wolfgang von Schwartzwald.

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Last modified: Tuesday May 08, 2012 12:01:32 PM.