Tag Info

Hot answers tagged

21

The first example of catapulting plague victims into a besieged city was that of Caffa (Modern day Feodosia) in the Crimea. This was in fact the first account of plague in European history. Caffa had been under siege by the Mongol (aka. Tartar or Golden Horde) army. The siege had been long a protracted. First starting in 1343, it was lifted by the arrival ...


15

Your main question has been pretty well answered, but I'd like to clarify a few points: If the attackers had plague victims to toss over the wall, it means they were also exposed to the plague. Which might adversely affect their ability to maintain the siege. Even an extremely virulent plague like the Black Death only killed something like a third to ...


10

Like this thread on catapulting diseased dead bodies, the pouring of boiling oil and tar did happen - though not so commonly. Remember that many castles never saw action. Many more castles were built decoratively as a fashion rather than because defence was needed. However, when you look to city wall and city gates, here you see more use. Also a city will ...


8

Note item (6) - New Harbour Entrance on your map. This entrance was constructed in 147 B.C. (the third year of the siege) simultaneous with item (7) - Scipio's Mole blocking the original entrance. During the siege the Carthaginians were able to continue trading overseas, albeit with limited success because of Rome's influence. The Siege was prosecuted ...


8

No definite figure can be given, as so much depends on circumstances. were prefabricated parts available for use? This saves a lot of time availability of appropriate raw materials. A nearby forest with nice straight trees helps a lot trained craftsmen. If you have a few hundred carpenters and blacksmiths experienced in building the equipment you need, ...


7

How do you defend against the plague? You seal up any house that gets hit. This was how they controlled the plague in Milan so I'd expect other cities and fortresses took similar measures at various times. Biological Warfare was quite common in the ancient and medieval world.


7

There's actually quite a bit available, even just from wikipedia: Catapults: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Carthage_%28c._149_BC%29 Trireme Rams, Corvus (naval): http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_corvus.html Sambuca, Claw of Archimedes, Heat Ray, onagers (naval): ...


7

The answer is yes. While both the strength of fortifications and terrible mistakes from the Ottomans (I would also count the great determination and strategy of defenders as a third condition) played a highly important role, during the siege, Hospitallers used also a kind of defensive weapons that were unavailable to any other forces of their times. I ...


7

The 'Highland fling' , a trebuchet project in Scotland took some two weeks and around 35 people. http://www.macdonaldandlawrence.ca/portfolio/publications/the-highland-fling.pdf It worked.


5

pretty much, yes. Set up camp, play loud music over the walls, send out parties to pillage and loot the surrounding countryside for supplies and to hunt for attempts at tunneling under your camp), if possible maybe rotate out part of your forces with fresh ones from home. It's a game of chicken basically, who has the most patience and resources, with the ...


5

The other issue is that because disease was not fully understood, the efficacy of this maneuver would be mixed at best. Sure, if you send plague victims over the wall, that could give the people inside of the city the plague. However, the belief at the time was that disease was caused by bad smells, and so a dead, decaying horse would have been believed to ...


5

Amplifying Tom Au's answer: With the military revolution in European warfare, two features entered military operations: professionalism intensive siege warfare Prior to the military revolution (cf: Tercio), a subcaste of the nobility mastered warfare, and primarily gained benefits by in group status and rapine. However, the professionalisation of ...


5

I'm not sure that this was all that common as a means of overtaking a besieged castle. Perhaps more than anything else, it was intended to have a psychological effect on the occupants. As for how they defended themselves, quite honestly they couldn't. The most common means of handling this was to designate individuals who were responsible for gathering the ...


4

I don't believe there is a separate name for either type of siege, they are both considered simply a siege. The whole point of a siege in general is to overtake the castle, and as you indicated, there are different means for going about doing this. The considerations for choosing one over the other ultimately comes down to a basic function of time and ...


4

Boiling oil is a good weapon, because its boiling point (400 degrees Fahrenheit) is much higher than that of water (212 degrees). It was a moderately effective weapon against men. But by its boiling and burning properties, it was a very effective weapon against ladders, rams, catapults, and other war instruments made of wood. Also, if successfully used, it ...


3

In the 17th and 18th centuries, fortresses had changed from the medieval castle, and were designed for artillery and musket defense. A methodical siege technique evolved, primarily associated nowadays with Vauban. This involved digging saps and parallels, and setting up artillery positions in the parallels. Typically, the third parallel (trench roughly ...


2

I agree with Steven Drennon about psychological affect. This was probably the main reason for catapulting the bodies. One early example is catapulting to the Hannibal's camp the head of his brother Hasdrubal Barca, who was coming to relieve the siege and was defeated by the Romans.


2

A "forlorn hope" is a small breach, or at least a weakening of the walls or defense system of a besieged city or fortress. It is the place where the attacker will initially try to enter the defenses, which is why the defenders will typically do their utmost to contain it. As a result, most of the attackers, at least the early ones at the "forlorn hope," will ...


2

Attacking a fortification is a risky proposition indeed and many soldier will die trying. So, softening the defenders could be done if you had the manpower to starve them out. The longer the siege, the more there was a chance of both sides would develop disease and one will have to either surrender or leave. Sieges were, generally, not a good idea as they ...


2

Remember that frequently the objective of a siege was not to defeat the opponents troops, but to bottle them up, and prevent them from joining military action elsewhere. Military action is designed to achieve a strategic objective, not just to slaughter people. I think if you look at the English wars of the 12th century, or the English civil war you'll ...


1

The description of several sieges that I read suggests that their main activity was digging, building walls, ramps and later mines. You can see the ancient fortress of Masada in Israel, which is located on a mountain with almost vertical slopes. The fortress had very large supplies, sufficient for several years of siege. The Romans who besieged the fortress ...


1

Based on some digging through the limited primary source material that is available online, I have some doubts that this is verifiable. I also can't find a reference in any of the secondary materials that I have access to other than the un-cited Wikipedia entries. Note that the dates below shouldn't be used to build a timeline, given the fact that different ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible