Located on the North German Plain, astride the lower reaches of the mighty Elbe River, the lush pastures and farms of NordMark form the rural hinterland of the great Hanseatic City of Hamburg. The Plains of NordMark are famous for their horse stock and the NordMarkers are great horse breeders and cavalrymen. The Royal House of Fornost have ruled NordMark since at least the Middle Ages. The Ducal seat is at Potsdorf, east of Hamburg, where the Schloss Fornost sits impregnably on a great upthrust of rock, a branch of the mighty Elbe itself forming an impassable moat.

The Schloss Fornost on the Elbe

The Schloss Fornost on the Elbe
Seat of the Royal House of NordMark since the Middle Ages


A.D. 1095 - Baron Fornost leads a determined band of German Knights to the 1st Crusade in answer to the call of Pope Urban II.

A.D. 1097 – At the Siege of Antioch Baron Henry Fornost saves the life of Baron Rupert of Lichtengrein during the battle before the city to defeat the relieving Saracen force under Kerbogha.

A.D. 1099 – At the Siege of Jerusalem the two German Barons, now close friends, won great renown, fighting side by side in the Breach “ … and on that day the Saracen heads lay thickly strewn round about them … mighty was the slaughter thereof … no infidel could stand before their face … “.

The great and enduring friendship between the ruling Houses of NordMark and Lichtengrein dates from this period of courage and endeavour.

A.D. 1101 – Whilst returning from the 1st Crusade up the Danube Valley in the company of the Lichtengrein contingent the NordMarkers are ambushed by the wild mountain folk of Lichtengrein. After beating off the attack and capturing the leaders Baron Fornost is so impressed by the military prowess of these proud, ferocious tribesmen that he hires a group of them to come north to Nordmark and serve as light, skirmish infantry.

A STORM OF RELIGION: 1618 - 1648

1631 – September 17th - A contingent of NordMark cavalry is present with the Great Gustavus Adolphus at Breitenfeld where they deploy against great odds to protect the left flank of the Swedes after the rout of the Saxons.

1632 – November 15th - At Lutzen, the NordMark cavalry fight their way through Pappenheim’s Imperial Cavalry but are too late to reach Gustavus before he is killed. They bring away his horse but cannot find his body.

As luck would have it the NordMark Guard Regiment frequently found itself fighting alongside Scottish Protestant troops during this period and quickly formed a close bond with them. Bonds of brotherhood and loyalty forged in the heat and stress of battle are the strongest, refined as they are by shared suffering and privation for a common cause. It is from this period that a Regiment of NordMark Guard, recruited exclusively from ethnic Scots appears on the Duchy’s Order of Battle, eventually becoming known as the NordMark Scots Guards.

Map of the Battle of Breitenfeld - September 17th 1631

Map of the Battle of Breitenfeld - September 17th 1631
When the Saxons collapsed on the Protestant Left the NordMarkers re-deployed to cover the Swedish Center


In 1683 NordMark sends troops to join The Holy League in the defense of Vienna against the Ottoman Army of Grand Vizier Merzifonlu Pasha. Fighting valiantly beside the light horse of King John III Sobieski of Poland, the NordMark heavy cavalry, led personally by the Grand Duke, are acclaimed for their skill and heroism. The Holy Roman Emperor, in gratitude, elevates the Grand Duke to the status of Elector of the Holy Roman Empire.

Vienna - Circa 1693

Vienna - Circa 1693
The Relief of Vienna was a milestone in NordMark military history.


The Grand Duke hires out a large contingent of horse and foot to the Anglo-Dutch Alliance and the NordMarkers see action under the Great Captains Marlborough and Prince Eugene at The Storming of the Schellenburg, and the battles of Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet. At Ramillies the NordMark Royal Gendarmes, posted on the Allied left, save Marlborough himself when he is un-horsed by a charge of the French Maison de Roi. Later at Malplaquet a skilful attack by 2 Battalions of the NordMark Leib Guard, pushed forward with great gallantry, captures a French Battery and saves the Dutch Guard from complete destruction.

Map of the Battle of Ramillies - May 23rd 1706

Map of the Battle of Ramillies - May 23rd 1706
NordMark Cavalry fought the Maison du Roi to protect the Duke of Marlborough.


Having fought many times alongside the Prussian troops of the House of Brandenburg against Danish and Swedish incursions into northern Germany The Grand Duchy of NordMark is the only ally of Frederick the Great made aware of his plans to sieze Silesia. Thus a small NordMark contingent is present at Mollwitz and 3 Regiments of NordMark Cuirassiers help to stabilise the Right Wing after the initial rout of the Prussian Cavalry.

The Battle of Zorndorf - August 25th 1758 by Carl Rochling

The Battle of Zorndorf - August 25th 1758 by Carl Rochling
Frederick the Great leads an attack with the Elector of NordMark at middle left urging forward the 2nd Battalion of the NordMark Leib Garde.


NordMark troops are mustered with the western Allied forces and find themselves in desperate actions to cover the retreat of the Duke of Cumberland in the Hastenbeck Campaign. Disgusted with the Treaty of Kloster Zeven the Elector of NordMark commits his forces to support the Prussian Armies under Prince Henry and King Frederick himself. The NordMarkers are present at Leuthen. Loyally, the Elector continues to support Frederick to the end and at Torgau NordMark Hussars under Zieten are instrumental in finding and crossing the Causeway to attack the Austrian rear.

The Battle of Leuthen - December 5th 1757

The Battle of Leuthen - December 5th 1757
NordMark Grenadiers assault the Church at Leuthen Village


1806 – August - The Grand Duchy of NordMark, a staunch Prussian Ally, mobilizes and marches out with the Royal Prussian Army to meet Napoleon and his Grande Armee.

1806 – October 14th - Assigned as eastern flank guard to the Prussian Main Body the NordMarkers, in divisional strength , march swiftly to sieze the Salle Bridge at Dornburg. Suddenly, out of the early morning mist, they find themselves assailed by Raffinieres 2nd Division of Bernadottes I Corp. They struggle to hold first the bridge and then the town of Dornburg against the dynamic and veteran French troops. Fighting alone against an entire French Corps the gallant NordMarkers, conscious of their responsibility to hold the Prussian flank, are forced back, stubbornly giving ground. They pay a stiff price in blood to slow the French advance. By mid-afternoon, reduced to half their strength, fatigued and with blown horses and having shot away most of their ammunition the gallant remnants of the NordMark Division, the Leib Guard Battalions, including the Scots Guards with Bagpipes wailing, are formed in square around their courageous young Crown Prince preparing to fight to the last man when a thunderbolt reaches them. A NordMark officer, attached to the Prussian HeadQuarters, threads his way through the lines with the news of the twin disasters of Jena to the South and Auerstadt to the North. The unthinkable has happened and Marshal Bernadotte now summons them to surrender – “ … brave men of Nordmark, you have done all that the honour of War requires … “


Upon hearing the news of the triple calamity – Jena, Auerstadt & Dornburg – the aging Elector, now 84, suffers a massive seizure. He lingers several days, broken in heart and mind, scarcely able to comprehend the downfall of Prussia. His own son and heir and his beloved Army of NordMark have been almost consumed in the vortex of this new type of war. With the glories of his youth now tumbled to ruin the Elector is laid to rest with his ancestors in the Crypt of the Great Lutheran Cathedral at Potsdorf. A giant has fallen.

It is several weeks before the battered remnants of the Army of NordMark struggles home, released by a French Emperor eager to see NordMark join his Confederation of the Rhine. Late Winter snow is still falling when the Crown Prince, still recovering from his wounds, returns home and in the Cathedral of Potsdorf , above his father’s tomb, is crowned Elector of NordMark and leader of the House of Fornost. After a short period of official mourning for his Father the new young Elector stuns the Court and Administration with a stream of decisive Ducal Decrees that collectively initiate an unprecedented wave of deep and significant reforms. Deeply impressed by what he has witnessed during his short “captivity” in Napoleon’s HeadQuarters, inspired by the energy and dynamism of the French Army around him the young Elector seems determined to fashion a modern European State with his inheritance. Starting with an immediate joining of NordMark to the Confederation of the Rhine and followed by upheavals across the whole of the armed forces with sweeping changes to drill, tactics, uniforms, officer promotion, logistics, weaponry and so on the widespread and major reforms extend to the NordMark government institutions, legal system and even the very social fabric of the Grand Duchy.


After a lengthy march south across Germany a shiny, new NordMark Army with Horse, Foot & Guns, transformed over the past 3 years by the energy and enthusiasm of their new young Elector, joins the mustering in Bavaria of The Army of Germany.

Arriving too late for the initial clashes, the Advanced Guard of NordMark troops gets their first taste of action in the 1809 Campaign as members of a Provisional Corps under the overall command of the illustrious Marshal Jean Lannes.

1809 – April 22nd - At Eckmuhl the NordMarkers are deployed on the Allied extreme right wing where they seize the bridge at Rogging over the Grosse Laaber and capture the town. They are then deployed as flank guard against Austrian re-inforcing formations hurrying to assist Rosenburg’s overmatched IV Korps at Eckmuhl.

1809 – May 21 – 22nd - The NordMarkers next major action is at Aspern- Essling, where they are the only part of Lannes Corp able to cross the bridges from Lobau Island on the first day. Assigned to move east and secure Napoleon’s Right Wing the NordMarkers quickly capture the pretty village of Gross- Enzerdorf and immediately set about fortifying their position.

Within a short space of time they are assaulted by the entire weight of Rosenburg’s 4th & 5th Columns who are seeking to rapidly drive in the Allied Right Wing and cut off the Bridgehead. After hours of desperate, close quarters struggle, against overwhelming odds and with the village reduced to smoking rubble about them a decimated NordMark contingent is driven back upon Essling. Their sacrifice has bought the Emperor time to scramble a defence though the NordMarkers are withdrawn to Lobau early on the second day.

1809 – July 5th – After 6 weeks to rest, refit and absorb replacements from home the NordMark contingent, now officially designated the 12th Corps of The Army of Germany advances on the Allied Right in the proud company of Marshal Davout’s magnificent IIIrd Corps. Supported by Montbrun’s Cavalry the 12th Corps capture Leopoldsdorf on the Russbach Stream and settle in for the night, excited by the sounds of gunfire to the west along the line of the Russbach Heights. It appears the Austrians under the Archduke Charles are determined to stand their ground. Good, then maybe on the morrow they can end the Campaign and go home.

1809 – July 6th – The Battle of Wagram – Concerned by overnight news that a large Austrian force under the Archduke John is rapidly approaching from Pressburg to re-inforce the Archduke Charles Napoleon assigns the 12th Corps to advance on Ober-Siebenbrunn in the early morning and secure Davout’s flank so he can launch the major attack of the day up onto the Russbach Heights at Markgrafneusiedl.

Anxious to play a more significant part in proceedings the 12th Corps dutifully cool their heels around and to the east of Ober-Siebenbrunn until noon when electrifying news arrives from the NordMark cavalry screen. Scouting well to the east they have detected a large body of Austrians advancing to attack Ober-Siebenbrunn and the Allied flank. Enemy numbers are estimated to exceed 13,000 men.

Now commences one of the most glorious moments in the annals of NordMark military history as the 12th Corps, under the personal command of their 30 year old Elector, proceed to cover themselves and their nation with glory.

Manouvering swiftly in the open country to the east of Ober-Siebenbrunn, astride the Pressburg road, the cavalry heavy 12th Corps find conditions ideally suited to their fast moving, flowing battle style. Though clearly outnumbered by a wide margin the NordMarkers relish the opportunity for glory. Demonstrating their new found tactical flexibility and experience and confidance from the preceding 4 months the Nordmarkers fall upon the Archduke John like a thunderbolt. By nightfall the Austrians have been utterly smashed and routed from the field with Nordmark cavalry pressing at their backs. Next morning, at breakfast, a delighted Napoleon receives the Elector and is presented with 17 captured Austrian Standards and 20 guns.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Welcome to The Grand Duchy of NordMark

These are early days in the development of a new "imagi-nation" - The Grand Duchy of NordMark. The main constraint is time but as this scarce resource permits I will add Orders of Battle and Uniform Guides, After Action Reports and a richening (Is that a word? Well it is in NordMark) of the background and history of The Duchy. Please enjoy, Nick