By Peter Purton
Medieval struggle used to be ruled through the assault and defence of fortified locations, and siege tools and expertise built along advancements in defences. This booklet makes use of either unique ancient assets and facts from archaeology to examine this dating as a part of a accomplished view of the full topic, tracing hyperlinks throughout 3 continents. It considers crucial questions raised by way of siege war: who designed, outfitted and operated siege gear? How did medieval commanders achieve their wisdom? What have been the jobs of theoretical texts and the constructing technological know-how of siege battle? How did nomadic peoples discover ways to behavior sieges? How a ways did castles and city partitions serve an army function, and the way a ways did they act as symbols of lordship? the amount starts with the substitute of the western Roman empire by means of barbarian successor states, but in addition examines the advance of the Byzantine Empire, the Muslim Caliphate and its successors, and the hyperlinks with China, via to the early 13th century. The better half quantity, A heritage of the past due Medieval Siege, keeps the tale to 1500.
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Extra resources for A History of the Early Medieval Siege, c.450-1200
In a time of insecurity, continued periodic invasions and raiding, and weak or non-existent central authority, people everywhere had to look for ways of finding refuge when needed. One of the most obvious solutions was to reuse what already existed, and there is evidence that iron-age hill-forts, abandoned for centuries, were pressed back into service. In many cases they would form the basis for the hilltop villages that later became such a feature of, for example, medieval Italy. Earthen ramparts could be supplemented with wooden palisades or stone walls, according to the availability of the material locally, and would be of sufficient size to accommodate the inhabitants of local villages.
Procopius goes on to describe their construction, which confirms they are of the type we have seen described by Vegetius. 1 This appears to contradict what has been said about the problem of mounting the onager on top of a wall because of the likelihood of its damaging the wall through the violence of its recoil. However, it was noted earlier that the defences of Rome had been substantially reinforced twice after their original rebuilding, and the walls and towers were a great deal stronger than the walls that surrounded so many Roman cities in the rest of the old empire.
Ammianus is quoted as saying it needed eight men to wind down the arm, and its immense recoil when fired made it impossible to place on a stone wall because it would dislodge the stones. 3 There are strong grounds for believing4 that torsion-powered machines went out of use, at least in the west, during this period. The reasons are evident from the descriptions given. While the solid stone towers added to the walls of Roman defences were quite sufficient to cope with the weight of the ballista, it is not at all apparent that they could sustain the “violent shock”, to quote Ammianus again, of the onager.
A History of the Early Medieval Siege, c.450-1200 by Peter Purton