My son, the down of youth
grows on thy check. Thy arm has wielded the spear of war. Foes have
felt thine force.
— James Scott MacPhearson, Ossian
Unique stealthy ranged medium cavalry, slower than most other cavalry units, but endowed with slightly more armour than normal Javelin Cavalry.
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Can attack units whilst pursuing.
Few warriors would have the courage to stand up to an attack by Uchelwr, much less hunt one of these Welsh cavalrymen down. For not only do these men have the same constitution and strong mounts as most javelin cavalrymen in Rise of Kings, they also have another bonus: they are only visible to the foe when attacking, giving the Welsh armed forces the advantages of shock and surprise. This is also aided by the fact that all Gaelic cavalry (including the Teulu, the Uchelwr’s big brother, and the Breton Routier, which is the mercenary version of the Uchelwr) have slightly more armour than normal javelin cavalry, thus making them somewhat impervious to archer fire. Think of how horrifying it is to close in on the foe, only to realise that a group of mounted men have materialised out of nowhere to throw sharpened stakes into your rear!
Still, the Uchelwr nonetheless has several enemies. Because of the need for greater mobility, the Uchelwr doesn't have the same armour as a knight, so it can be easily taken down by rapid-firing ranged weapons such as bows. The same logic also means that it is also very weak if cornered by melee units — a cornered Uchelwr is pretty much a dead one.
As in Wales, the terrain of northern France also consists of broken terrain, marsh and forest, making it an ideal place to lay ambushes and for skirmishing. As a result of this treacherous geography and the conflicts going on in France, there is a breed of mercenaries that follows the same drill as the Uchelwr: the Breton Routier. Although they normally serve the feudal kingdom of France, these men, hailing from an impoverished part of the world can nevertheless be found in the service of Papal and Burgundian courts, as all cash-strapped warriors tend to do and form some of the finest missile cavalry units available to most Christian factions.
- Riding Like Hell — Because of their decent armour and the sheer power of their javelins, Uchelwyr are highly effective counters for heavy cavalry and crossbow infantry, despite their slower speed and worse range.
- Over-Counter Cavalry — Uchelwyr are high effective against slow-moving or slow-firing units, but light cavalry and archers can easily kill them.
- Ghosting — Because Uchelwyr are cloaked except when attacking, they are very useful for infiltration and surprise attacks.
- Breton Routier — Breton mercenaries serve the courts of France, Burgundy and the Papal States, following the same traditions of the Uchelwyr.
The Mediaeval Era in Europe has often been called the "Age of the Knight" because the knight not only dominated local politics, but also had an overarching influence on military affairs, fighting in the role of both heavy cavalry and infantry. In Wales, however, it was another matter. The Welsh lands which alternated between unforgiving hill country and treacherous bogs meant that cavalry did not always work as well as it should — indeed, the Normans' insistence on using knightly heavy cavalry and infantry meant that the conquest of Wales took much longer than the rest of the British Isles. Welsh cavalry often formed the elite bodyguard (Teulu, "family") of a lord, and often preferred to use javelins in the Gaelic style as opposed to the fullblown glorious charge which was the hallmark of their Norman foes.
Coincidentially, the terrain of the French region of Bretagne (short for "Little Britain") resembled also that of Wales, and the British migrants who settled the area in the wake of the expansion of Anglo-Saxon rule in Britain also carried some of their Celtic ways along with them, inclduding this style of guerilla warfare. For this reason, Brittany managed to remain almost a law by her own self even in the face of Merovingian expansion, and for many centuries, Bretons were often favoured as mercenaries and found employment in various courts across Europe.