Author Topic: 1st Manuscript (scroll) Contest of the Order of the Serpent # 1318  (Read 77 times)

Pero Anes

  • General group
  • Baby Member
  • *
  • Posts: 14
  • Honour: 0
  • Ad astra per ardua
The Order of the Serpent, house and bosom of those who write, copy, bound, study or collect books and manuscripts [scrolls] (IG), invites all copyists to submit their manuscripts copied and bound until 1318.

Manuscripts should be published in reply to this topic from our anniversary day (25th november) until December 31, according to the manual prepared by the Emerita Thekla Argyra (visit in our Office: https://rpforum.medieval-europe.eu/index.php?topic=18329.0).

Between January 1 and January 31 1319, members of the Order may cast their votes (in reply to this topic, ergo «I vote on [name of the scroll]») in accordance with this rule:

- the vote of the Emeritus is worth three (3);

- the vote of the Magister and Maecenas is worth two (2);

- the vote of the Discipulus is worth one (1).

On February 1, 1319, by simple counting, the first three awards will be determined: 1st («Golden scroll»), 2nd («Silver scroll») and 3rd award («Bronze scroll»). The excluded scrolls will be listed as honorable mentions in the final post of the contest.

There will be no pecuniary (money or other) prizes in this first contest.

You are free to vote or abstain.
« Last Edit: 06 December, 2018, 11:55:03 PM by Pero Anes »
Pero Anes

Emeritus of the Order of the Serpent

Pero Anes

  • General group
  • Baby Member
  • *
  • Posts: 14
  • Honour: 0
  • Ad astra per ardua
On Weapons and War - Part One
« Reply #1 on: 25 November, 2018, 03:01:13 PM »
On Weapons and War




This treatise is dedicated to Pierre du Vallon, illustrious Count of La Roche, notable Constable of France, pious Acolyte of the Theological Chruch and brave Guard Captain of Ile de France.




***




Dear reader, don't arm yourself with the deadly weapons you'll find described in this parchment, but use them well in the battlefield or in duel without bringing shame to you and your prince or republic.




Copied and edited by Pero Anes and bounded in Venice on the 2nd of June 1318



***



Swords





A sword is a long, edged piece of forged metal, used primarily as a cutting or thrusting weapon and occasionally for clubbing.

A sword fundamentally consists of a blade and a hilt, typically with one or two edges for striking and cutting, and a point for thrusting. Unlike the bow or spear, the sword is a purely military weapon. Swords can be single or double-bladed edges. The blade can be straight or curved.



***



Arming Swords






The arming sword (also sometimes called a knight's sword) is the single handed cruciform sword of the High Middle Ages, in common use between the XIth and the XIVth centuries.

Typically used with a shield or buckler, the arming sword was the standard military sword of the knight until technological changes led to the rise of the longsword in the late XIIIth century.

The arming sword was overall a light, versatile weapon capable of both cut and thrust combat; and normally boasts excellent balance. Although a variety of designs fall under the heading of 'arming sword', they are most commonly recognised as single-handed double-edged swords that were designed more for cutting than thrusting. Most XIIth-XIVth century blades seem to vary between 30 and 32 inch blades. As a rule, arming swords began to polarise in design forms from the late XIIth century, becoming either increasingly squat and heavily pointed, or longer and heavier in design. This would seem to reflect two separate methods of adapting the arming sword to combat increasingly tough armour; either to make the blade sufficiently heavy-duty to inflict blunt trauma through the armour, or narrow-pointed enough to pierce it with a thrust. Arguably these two forms of blade evolve into the longsword and the 'cinquedea'.



Broadswords



The term 'broadsword' defines a sword with a usually substantial, straight two-edged blade.






A falchion is a one-handed, single-edged sword of European origin, whose design is reminiscent of the Persian scimitar. The weapon combined the weight and power of an axe with the versatility of a sword.

Falchions are found in different forms from around the XIth century. In some versions the falchion looks rather like the scramasax and later the sabre, and in some versions the form is irregular or like a machete with a crossguard. While some propose that encounters with the Islamic shamshir inspired its creation, these "scimitars" of Persia were not developed until long after the falchion. More likely, it was developed from farmer's and butcher's knives of the seax type or in the manner of the larger messer. The shape concentrates more weight near the end, thus making it more effective for chopping strikes like an axe or cleaver.

The blade designs of falchions varied widely across the continent and through the ages. They almost always included a single edge with a slight curve on the blade towards the point on the end and most were also affixed with a quilloned crossguard for the hilt in the manner of the contemporary long-swords. Unlike the double-edged swords of Europe, few actual swords of this type have survived to the present day; fewer than a dozen specimens are currently known. Two basic types can be identified

Cleaver falchions: shaped very much like a large meat cleaver, or large bladed machete.

Cusped falchions: The majority of the depictions in art reflect a design similar to that of the großes Messer. This blade style may have been influenced by the Turko-Mongol sabres that had reached the borders of Europe by the thirteenth century.

It sometimes presumed that these swords had a lower-than-average quality and status than the longer, more expensive swords. It is also possible that some falchions were used as tools between wars and fights, since they were very practical pieces of equipment. It is commonly thought that falchions were primarily a peasant's weapon, but the weapon is commonly shown in illustrations of combat between mounted knights.Some later falchions were very ornate and used by the nobility.

A number of weapons superficially similar to the falchion existed in Western Europe, including the messer, hanger and the backsword.



Longswords






The Longsword is a type of European sword used during the late medieval period. Longswords have long cruciform hilts with grips over 10 to 15 cm in length providing room for two hands. Straight double-edged blades are often over 1 m to 1.2 m length, and weigh typically between 1.2 and 2.4 kg, with light specimens just below 1 kg, and heavy specimens just above 2 kg.

The longsword is commonly held in combat with both hands, though some may be used single-handed. Longswords are used for hewing, slicing, and stabbing. The specific offensive purpose of an individual longsword is derived from its physical shape. All parts of the sword are used for offensive purposes, including the pommel and crossguard.

The longsword, with its longer grip and blade, appears to have become popular during the XIVth century. The longsword was a powerful and versatile weapon. For close personal infantry combat, however, the longsword was prized for its versatility and killing capability.

While nearly every longsword is in some way different from one another, most contain a few essential parts. The blade of the sword forms the cutting portion of the weapon and is usually double-edged. Blades came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Broad and thin blades are more effective for cutting-oriented longswords while thick tapering blades are found on varieties more effective at thrusting. However, all longswords were effective at cutting, slicing and thrusting and variations in form made only minor alterations in use. The hilt comprises the portion of the sword that is not the blade. Like the blade, hilts evolved and changed over time in response to fashion and as the swords were designed for different specific purposes.

The blade of the longsword is straight and predominantly double edged. The construction of the blade is relatively thin, with strength provided by careful blade geometry. Over time, the blades of longswords become slightly longer, thicker in cross-section, less wide, and considerably more pointed. This design change is largely attributed to the use of plate armour as an effective defence, more or less nullifying the ability of a sword cut to break through the armour system. Instead of cutting, long swords were then used more to thrust against opponents in plate armour, requiring a more acute point and a more rigid blade. However, the cutting capability of the longsword was never entirely removed, as in some later rapiers, but was supplanted in importance by thrusting capability.

Blades differ considerably in cross-section, as well as in length and width. The two most basic forms of blade cross-section are the lenticular and diamond. Lenticular blades are shaped like thin doubly convex lenses, providing adequate thickness for strength in the centre of the weapon while maintaining a thin enough edge geometry to allow a proper cutting edge to be ground. The diamond shaped blade slopes directly up from the edges, without the curved elements of the lenticular blade. The central ridge produced by this angular geometry is known as a riser, the thickest portion of the blade that provides ample rigidity. These basic designs are supplemented by additional forging techniques that incorporated slightly different variations of these cross-sections.

The most common among these variations is the use of fullers and hollow-ground blades. While both of these elements concern themselves with the removal of material from the blade, they differ primarily in location and final result. Fullers are grooves or channels that are removed from the blade, in longswords, usually running along the centre of the blade and originating at or slightly before the hilt. The removal of this material allows the smith to significantly lighten the weapon without compromising the strength to the same extent, much as in the engineering of steel I-beams. Though colloquially called "blood-grooves", fullers were not designed, nor do they function, to allow blood to flow out of a wound more easily, nor to run off the sword. Fullers differ in number and thickness on swords, with some incredibly broad fullers spanning nearly the entire width of the weapon while smaller more numerous fullers are usually thinner. The length of fullers also displays variation - on some cutting blades the fuller may run nearly the entire length of the weapon, while the fuller stops one-third or half-way down other blades. Hollow-ground blades have concave portions of steel removed from each side of the riser, thinning the edge geometry while keeping a thickened area at the centre to provide strength for the blade.

A variety of hilt styles exist for longswords, with the style of pommel and quillion (crossguard) changing over time to accommodate different blade properties and to fit emerging stylistic trends.

Combat with the longsword was not so barbaric and crude as is often portrayed. Codified systems of fighting existed, with a variety of styles and teachers each providing a slightly different take on the art. The longsword was a quick, effective, and versatile weapon capable of deadly thrusts, slices, and cuts. The blade was generally used with both hands on the hilt, one resting close to or on the pommel. However, in some circumstances, the weapon may be used only with one hand. In a depiction of a duel, individuals may be seen wielding sharply pointed longswords in one hand, leaving the other hand open to manipulate the large dueling shield. Another variation of use comes from the use of armour. Half-swording was a manner of using both hands, one on the hilt and one on the blade, to better control the weapon in thrusts and jabs. This versatility was unique, as multiple works hold that the longsword provided the foundations for learning a variety of other weapons including spears, staves, and polearms. Use of the longsword in attack was not limited only to use of the blade, however. The cross has been shown to be used as a hook for tripping or knocking an opponent off balance.



***



Blunt Hand Weapons






Clubs and Maces



A mace is a simple weapon that uses a heavy head on the end of a handle to deliver powerful blows.

A development of the club, a mace differs from a hammer in that the head of a mace is radially symmetric so that a blow can be delivered equally effectively with any side of the head. A mace consists of a strong, heavy, wooden, metal-reinforced (or metal) shaft with a head made of stone, copper, bronze, iron, or steel.

The head is normally about the same or slightly thicker than the diameter of the shaft and can be shaped with flanges or knobs to allow greater penetration of armour.

The length of maces can vary considerably. The maces of foot soldiers were usually quite short (70 to 90 cm). The maces of cavalrymen were longer and better designed for blows from horseback. Two-handed maces could be even larger.

During the Middle Ages metal armour and chain mail protected against the blows of edged weapons and blocked arrows and other projectiles. Solid metal maces and war hammers proved able to inflict damage on well armoured knights, as the force of a blow from a mace is large enough to cause damage without penetrating the armour.

One example of a mace capable of penetrating armour is the flanged mace. What makes a flanged mace different from other maces is the flanges, protruding edges of metal that allow it to dent or penetrate even the thickest armour. This variation of the mace did not become popular until significantly after knobbed maces. Although there are some references to flanged maces as early as the Byzantine empire circa 900, it is commonly accepted that the flanged mace did not become popular in Europe until the XIIth century.

Maces, being simple to make, cheap and straightforward in application, were common weapons. Peasant rebels and cheap conscript armies often had little more than maces, axes and pole arms. Few of these simple maces survive today. Most examples found in museums are of much better quality and often highly decorated.

A mace type commonly used by the lower classes, called the Holy Water Sprinkler, was basically a wooden handle with a wooden or metal head and radiating spikes; the name most likely originates from the similarity to the church object.

A plançon a picot is a heavy and thick two-handed mace with an Armour-piercing spike on top.

The mace was the usual weapon of the Cavalieri, essentially mercenary armies of Northern Italy hired by Italian city-states and throughout Europe starting in the 14th Century. The production of both body armour and weaponry to support the cavalieri centred around Milan, partially in support of the Milanese movement to remain separate from Papal rule.

Maces were employed by the clergy in warfare to avoid shedding blood (sine effusione sanguinis). Bishop Odo of Bayeux is shown wielding a club-like mace at the Battle of Hastings in the Bayeux Tapestry. Other Bishops were depicted bearing the arms of a knight without comment, such as Archbishop Turpin who bears both a spear and a sword named "Almace" in the The Song of Roland. Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy, fought as a knight during the First Crusade (1096–1099).

Maces are rarely used today for actual combat, but government bodies, universities and other institutions have ceremonial maces used as symbols of authority, in rituals and processions, and for other purposes.

Like many medieval weapons, maces have been used in blazons, either as a charge on the shield or as external ornament.



Morning star






The morningstar is a medieval weapon consisting of a spiked club resembling a mace, usually with a long spike extending straight from the top and many smaller spikes around the particle of the head.

The spikes distinguish it from a mace, which can have, at most, flanges or small knobs. It was used by both infantry and cavalry; the horseman's weapon had a shorter shaft. The mace, a traditional knightly weapon, developed independently, became all-metal with heads of various forms, while the morningstar retained its characteristic spikes, with a usually wooden shaft, often found in longer two-handed forms measuring up to six feet or more, was popular among troops.

The morningstar first came into widespread use around the beginning of the fourteenth century, and the term is often applied to the military flail which consists of a wooden shaft joined by a length of chain to one or more iron balls or an iron shod wooden bar, in either case with or without spikes (heavy sword pommels have also been used as weights).

Although it is often assumed that the morningstar was a crude peasant weapon, this is not entirely correct. There were three types in existence, all differing in quality of workmanship. The first was the well crafted military type used by professional soldiers, made in series by expert weaponsmiths for stocking in town arsenals. The second and much simpler type would have been hand cut by peasant militiamen, rather than turned on a lathe, from wood they had gathered themselves and fitted with nails and spikes by the local blacksmith.

The shaft and head were usually of one piece but sometimes reinforced at the top with an iron band.

The third type was decorative in nature, usually short hafted and made of metal, one sixteenth century example being of steel and damascened with inlaid gold and silver.



Flails






The military flail is a weapon commonly attributed to the Middle-Ages but for which only a limited amount of historical evidence currently exists for most of this era.

Typically, the weapon is depicted as one (or more) weights attached to a handle with a hinge or chain. Modern authors have used multiple conflicting names for this weapon: the "mace and chain" is the equivalent of the German "morningstar and chain" referred to above, but the latter term is rarely used in English. Additionally, the English terms "morning star" (a rigid haft topped with a spiked ball), and even "mace" (a bludgeoning weapon similar to a morning star), which properly refer to non-chained weapons, have also been used to refer to the military flail.

Throughout the Middle-Ages, agricultural flails were sometimes employed as an improvised weapon by peasant armies conscripted into military service or engaged in popular uprisings.



***



Pole Arms






A pole weapon or polearm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is placed on the end of a long shaft, typically of wood. The purpose of using pole weapons is either to extend reach or to increase angular momentum—and thus striking power—when the weapon is swung. The idea of attaching a weapon onto a long shaft is an old one, as the first spears date back to the Stone Age.

Spears, glaives, poleaxes, halberds, and bardiches are all varieties of polearm. Pole weapons are relatively simple to make, and easy for most people to use as they were often derived from hunting or agricultural tools.

Massed men carrying pole weapons with pointed tips (spears, pikes, etc.) were recognised early in the history of organised warfare as effective military units. On defence the men holding the polearms were hard to reach; on the attack they were devastating to any units that could not get out of the way.

With the advent of armoured fighters, especially cavalry, pole weapons frequently combined the spearpoint (for thrusting) with an axe or hammerhead for a swinging strike which could pierce or break armour.



Spears






A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a sharpened head. The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft, or it may be of another material fastened to the shaft, such as obsidian, iron, or bronze. The most common design is of a metal spearhead, shaped like a triangle or a leaf.

Spears were one of the most common personal weapons from the Stone Age until the advent of firearms. They may be seen as the ancestor of such weapons as the lance, the halberd, the bill and the pike. One of the earliest weapons fashioned by human beings and their ancestors, it is still used for hunting and fishing. Its influences can still be seen in contemporary military arsenals as the rifle-mounted bayonet.

Spears can be used as both ballistic and melee weapons. Spears used primarily for thrusting may be used with either one or two hands and tend to have heavier and sturdier designs than those intended exclusively for throwing. Those designed for throwing, often referred to as javelins, tend to be lighter and have a more streamlined head..

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the spear and shield continued to be used by almost all Western European cultures. Since a medieval spear required only a small amount of steel along the sharpened edges (most of the spear-tip was wrought iron), it was an economical weapon. Quick to manufacture, and needing less smithing skill than a sword, it remained the main weapon of the common soldier. The Vikings, for instance, though often portrayed with axe or sword in hand, were armed mostly with spears, as were their Anglo-Saxon, Irish, or continental contemporaries.

Spears were either designed to be kept in hand (thrusting spears), or to be thrown (throwing spears). Within this simple classification, there were a remarkable range of types.

Notable types of Early medieval spears include the Angon, a throwing spear with a long head like a Roman pilum used by the Franks and Anglo-Saxons and the winged (or lugged) spear, which had two prominent wings at the base of the spearhead, either to prevent the spear penetrating too far into an enemy or to aid in spear fencing . Originally a Frankish weapon, the winged spear was also popular with the Vikings. It would become the ancestor of later medieval polearms, such as the partisan and spetum.

The thrusting spear also has the advantage of reach — being considerably longer than other weapon types. Exact spear lengths are hard to deduce as few spear shafts survive archaeologically, but 1.8 m to 2.5 m would seem to be the norm. Some nations were noted for their long spears, including the Scots and the Flemish. Spears were usually used in tightly ordered formations, like the shieldwall or the schiltron To resist cavalry, spear shafts could be planted against the ground. William Wallace drew up his schiltrons in a circle at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298 to deter charging cavalry, but it was a widespread tactic, sometimes known as the "crown" formation.

Throwing spears became rarer as the Middle Ages drew on but survived in the hands of specialists such as the Catalan Almogavars.

Spears began to lose fashion among the infantry in the XIVth century, being replaced by pole weapons which combined the thrusting properties of the spear with the cutting properties of the axe, such as the halberd Where spears were retained they grew in length, eventually evolving into pikes which would be a dominant infantry weapon.

Cavalry spears were originally the same as infantry spears and were often used with two hands or held with one hand overhead. In the XIth. Century, after the adoption of stirrups and a high-cantled saddle, the spear became a more powerful weapon. A mounted knight would secure the lance by holding with one hand and tucking it under the armpit (the couched lance technique). This allowed all the momentum of the horse and knight to be focused on the weapon's tip whilst still retaining accuracy and control. This use of the spear spurred the development of the lance as a distinct weapon which was perfected in the medieval sport of jousting.

In the XIVth century, tactical developments meant that knights and men-at-arms often fought on foot. This led to the practice of shortening the lance to about 1.5 m. to make it more manageable. As dismounting became commonplace, specialist pole weapons such as the pollaxe were adopted by knights and this practice ceased.



Winged Spears






The winged (also lugged or barred) spear was a common type of thrusting spear during the early Middle Ages. It consisted of a leaf or lozenge shaped head, beneath which on the socket there were prominent wings. The earliest use of barred spears for hunting is recorded by Xenophon in the IVth. century BC and illustrations of Roman examples are known. Its use in war, however, seems to relate to German tribes in the Early Middle Ages, particularly the Franks, and it was used by the Vikings. The type is commonly illustrated in Early Medieval Art, including the Bayeux Tapestry and the Golden Psalter of St. Gallen.






The winged spear is shown used by both cavalry and infantry. Although some authors claim the intention of the wings was to prevent the weapon from penetrating too deeply into an enemy, others see them as an aid to spear-fencing. In the later Middle Ages a number of polearms derived from the winged spear evolve. Some, such as the Bohemian ear spoon, differ little from the original. Weapons such as the spetum, ranseur, corseque and partisan show a greater evolutionary change.



Lances






The word lance is a catchall term for a variety of different pole weapons based on the spear. The name is derived from lancea, Roman auxiliaries' javelin.

A lance in the original sense is a light throwing spear or javelin. The English verb to launch "fling, hurl, throw" is derived from the term (via Old French 'lancier'), as well as the rarer or poetic to lance. A thrusting spear which is used by infantry is usually referred to as a pike.

The use of the basic cavalry spear is so ancient, and warfare so ubiquitous by the beginning of recorded history, that it is difficult to determine which populations invented the lance and which learned it from their enemies or allies.

The best known usage of military lances was that of the full-gallop closed-ranks and usually wedge-shaped charge of a group of knights with underarm-couched lances, against lines of infantry, archery regiments, defensive embankments, and opposition cavalry.

It is commonly believed that this became the dominant European cavalry tactic in the 11th century after the development of the cantled saddle and stirrups and of rowel spurs which enabled better control of the mount. Cavalry thus outfitted and deployed had a tremendous collective force in their charge, and could shatter most contemporary infantry lines.

While it could still be generally classified as a spear, the lance tends to be larger - usually both longer and stouter and thus also considerably heavier, and unsuited for throwing, or for the rapid thrusting, as with an infantry spear. Lances did not have spear tips that (intentionally) broke off or bent, unlike many throwing weapons of the spear/javelin family, and were adapted for mounted combat. They were often equipped with a vamplate, a small circular plate to prevent the hand sliding up the shaft upon impact. Though perhaps most known as one of the foremost military and sporting weapons used by European knights, the use of lances was spread throughout the Old World wherever mounts were available. As a secondary weapon, lancers of the period also bore swords, maces or something else suited to close quarter battle, since the lance was often a one-use-per-engagement weapon; after the initial charge, the weapon was far too long, heavy and slow to be effectively used against opponents in a melee.

Because of the stopping power of a thrusting spear, it quickly became a popular weapon of footmen in the Late Middle Ages. These eventually led to the rise of the longest type of spears ever, the pike. Ironically, this adaptation of the cavalry lance to infantry use was largely tasked with stopping lance-armed cavalry charges.

In Europe, a jousting lance was a variation of the knight's lance which was modified from its original war design. In jousting, the lance tips would usually be blunt, often spread out like a cup or furniture foot, to provide a wider impact surface designed to unseat the opposing rider without spearing him through. The centre of the shaft of such lances could be designed to be hollow, in order for it to break on impact, as a further safeguard against impalement. They were often 4 m long or longer, and had special hand guards built into the lance, often tapering for a considerable portion of the weapon's length. These are the versions that can most often be seen at medieval re-enactment festivals. In war, lances were much more like stout spears, long and balanced for one handed use, and with sharp tips.



Pikes






A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting weapon used extensively by infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. Unlike many similar weapons, the pike is not intended to be thrown. Pikes were used by European troops from the early Middle Ages until around 1700, and wielded by foot soldiers deployed in close order. While the soldiers using such spears may not have called them "pikes", their tactical employment of these weapons ran along broadly similar lines.

The pike was an extremely long weapon, varying considerably in size, from 3 to 6 metres long. It had a wooden shaft with an iron or steel spearhead affixed. The shaft near the head was often reinforced with metal strips called "cheeks" or langets. When the troops of opposing armies both carried the pike, it often grew in a sort of arms race, getting longer in both shaft and head length to give one side's pikemen an edge in the combat; the longest pikes could exceed 6 m in length. The extreme length of such weapons required a strong wood such as well-seasoned ash for the pole, which was tapered towards the point to prevent the pike sagging on the ends, although this was always a problem in pike handling.

The great length of the pikes allowed a great concentration of spearheads to be presented to the enemy, with their wielders at a greater distance, but also made pikes unwieldy in close combat. This meant that pikemen had to be equipped with a shorter weapon such as a sword, mace, or dagger in order to defend themselves should the fighting degenerate into a melee. In general, however, pikemen attempted to avoid such disorganised combat, at which they were at a disadvantage. To compound their difficulties in a melee, the pikeman often did not have a shield.

On the battlefield pikes were often used in "hedgehog" formations, particularly by troops such as rebel peasants and militias who had not received a great deal of training in tactical manoeuvres with the weapon. In these, the troops simply stood and held their pikes out in the direction of the enemy, sometimes standing in great circles or squares with the men facing out in all directions so that the enemy was confronted by a forest of bristling pikeheads, and could not attack the formation from the sides or rear.

Better-trained troops were capable of using the pike in an aggressive attack, each rank of pikemen being trained to hold their pikes so that they presented enemy infantry with four or five layers of spearheads bristling from the front of the formation.

As long as it kept good order, such a formation could roll right over enemy infantry, but had its own weaknesses – as the men were all moving forward, they were all facing in a single direction and could not easily turn to protect the vulnerable flanks or rear of the formation, and the huge block of men carrying such unwieldy spears could be difficult to manoeuvre, other than for straightforward movement.

As a result, such mobile pike formations sought to have supporting troops protect their flanks, or would manoeuvre to smash the enemy before they could themselves be outflanked. There was also the risk that the formation would become disordered, leading to a confused melee in which pikemen had the vulnerabilities mentioned above.

Though primarily a military weapon, the pike could be effective in single combat, and a number of 16th-century sources explain how it was to be used in a duelling situation; fencers of the time often practiced with and competed against each other with long staves in place of pikes.

In the Middle Ages, the principal users of the pike were urban militia troops such as the Flemings or the peasant array of the lowland Scots. For example, the Scots used a spear formation known as the schiltron in several battles during the Wars of Scottish Independence including the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, and the Flemings used their geldon long spear to absorb the attack of French knights at the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302, before other troops in the Flemish formation counterattacked the stalled knights with plancons. Both battles were seen by contemporaries as stunning victories of commoners over superbly equipped, mounted, military professionals, where victory was owed to the use of the pike and the brave resistance of the commoners who wielded them.

These formations were essentially immune to the attacks of mounted men-at-arms as long as the knights obligingly threw themselves on the spear wall, but the closely-packed nature of pike formations rendered them vulnerable to enemy archers and crossbowmen who could shoot them down with impunity, especially when the pikemen did not have adequate armour. Many defeats, such as at Roosebeke and Halidon Hill, were suffered by the militia pike armies when faced by enemies who employed their archers and crossbowmen to thin the ranks of the pike blocks before charging in with their (often dismounted) men-at-arms.

Medieval pike formations tended to have better success when they operated in an aggressive fashion. The Scots at the Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297), for example, used the momentum of their charge to overrun an English army while the Englishmen were halfway through the process of crossing a narrow bridge. And then, at the Battle of Laupen (1339), Bernese pikemen overwhelmed the infantry forces of the opposing Habsburg/Burgundian army with a massive charge before wheeling over to strike and rout the Austro-Burgundian horsemen as well. It was not uncommon for aggressive pike formations to be composed of dismounted men-at-arms, as at the Battle of Sempach (1389), where the dismounted Austrian vanguard, using their lances as pikes, had some initial success against their predominantly halberd-equipped Swiss adversaries. Dismounted Italian men-at-arms also used the same method to defeat the Swiss at the Battle of Arbedo (1422).

The Swiss solved the pike's earlier problems and brought a renaissance to pike warfare in the XVth century, establishing strong training regimens to ensure they were masters of handling of the long pike on manoeuvres and in combat, the Swiss having also introduced marching to drums for this purpose. This meant that the pike blocks could rise to the attack, making them less passive and more aggressive formations, but sufficiently well trained that they could go on the defensive when attacked by cavalry. German soldiers known as Landsknechts later adopted Swiss methods of pike handling.

The Scots also still used pikes heavily by now, but were dropped in masses after ineffective use after a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Flodden. Swiss and Landsknecht phalanxes also contained men armed with two-handed swords and halberdiers for close action against both infantry and attacking cavalry.

The high military reputation of the Swiss and the Landsknecht again led to the employment of mercenary units across Europe in order to train other armies in their tactics. These two and others, who had adopted their tactics, faced off in several wars leading to a series of developments as a result of these confrontations.

These formations had great successes on the battlefield, starting with the astonishing battlefield victories of the Swiss cantons against Charles the Bold of Burgundy in the Burgundian Wars, in which the Swiss participated in 1476 and 1477. In the battles of Grandson, Morat and Nancy, the Swiss not only resisted the attacks of knightly foes, as the relatively passive Scottish and Flemish infantry squares had done in the earlier Middle Ages, but also marched to the attack with great speed and in good formation, their attack columns steamrolling the Burgundian forces.

The deep pike attack column remained the primary form of effective infantry combat for the next forty years, and the Swabian War (1499) saw the first conflict in which both sides had large formations of well-trained pikemen. After that war, its combatants – the Swiss (thereafter generally serving as mercenaries) and their Landsknecht imitators – would often face each other again in the Italian Wars, which would become in many ways the military proving ground of the Renaissance.



Guisarmes






A guisarme (gisarme, giserne or bisarme) was a pole weapon used in Europe between 1000–1400. It was used primarily to dismount knights and horsemen. Like most polearms it was developed by peasants by combining hand tools with long poles, in this case by putting a pruning hook onto a spear shaft.

While hooks are effective for dismounting horsemen from mounts, they lack the stopping power of a spear especially when dealing with static opponents. Early designs were simply a hook on the end of a long pole. Later designs implemented a small reverse spike on the back of the blade.

Eventually weapon makers incorporated the usefulness of the hook in a variety of different polearms and guisarme became a catch-all for any weapon that included a hook on the blade.



Fauchards






A fauchard is a type of polearm used in medieval Europe from the XIth through the XIVth centuries. The design consisted of a curved blade on top of a long pole. The blade bore a moderate to strong curve along its length. Unlike a glaive the cutting edge was only on the conc side. This made the fauchard blade resemble that of a sickle or a scythe.

This was not a very efficient design for the purposes of war, and was eventually modified to have one or more lance points attached to the back or top of the blade.



Glaives






A glaive is a polearm consisting of a single-edged tapering blade similar in shape to a modern kitchen knife on the end of a pole. The blade is fixed in a socket-shaft configuration similar to an axe head, both the blade and shaft varying in length.

Illustrations in the XIIIth century Maciejowski Bible show a short staffed weapon with a long blade used by both infantry and cavalry. Typically however, the blade was around 55 cm long, on the end of a pole 180–210 cm long. Occasionally glaive blades were created with a small hook or spike on the reverse side.



Halberds






A halberd (or voulge) is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the XIVth and XVth centuries. First recorded as "hellembart" in 1279, the word halberd possibly comes from the German words 'halm' (staff) or 'helm' (helmet), and 'barte' (axe).

The halberd consists of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on a long shaft. It always has a hook or thorn on the back side of the axe blade for grappling mounted combatants.



Danish Axes






The Danish Axe is a weapon with a heavy crescent-shaped head mounted on a haft 1.2-1.8 m. in length. Originally a Viking weapon, it was adopted by the Anglo-Saxons and Normans in the XIth century, spreading through Europe in the XIIth and XIIIth centuries.

In the XIIIth century, variants on the Danish axe are seen. Described in English as a sparth or pale-axe, the weapon featured a larger head with broader blade, the rearward part of the crescent sweeping up to contact (or even be attached to) the haft. Another development extended the forward part of the crescent.

In Ireland, this axe was known as a sparr. Originating in either Western Scotland or Ireland, the sparr was widely used by the galloglass. Although sometimes said to derive from the Irish for a joist or beam, a more likely definition is as a variant of sparth. Although attempts have been made to suggest that the sparr had a distinctive shaped head, illustrations and surviving weapons show there was considerable variation and the distinctive feature of the weapon was its long haft.



Bardiches






A bardiche (berdiche or long poleaxe), is a type of polearm known in medieval and renaissance Europe, especially in Eastern Europe and Russia where it was used instead of halberd.

Occasionally the weapons of such form were made in Antiquity and Early Middle Ages, but the regular and massive usage of bardiches started in the late XIVth century. It was probably developed from the Scandinavian broad axe.
   


Mauls






The maul is a long-handled hammer with a heavy metal head, either of lead or iron. It is similar in appearance and function to a modern sledgehammer but is sometimes shown as having a spear-like spike on the fore-end of the haft.

The use of the maul as a weapon seems to date from the later XIVth century. In 1382, rebellious citizens of Paris seized 3,000 mauls from the city armoury. Later in the same year, Froissart records French men-at-arms using mauls at the Battle of Roosebeke, demonstrating it was not only a weapon of the lower classes.



***






End of the First Part
« Last Edit: 25 November, 2018, 03:04:37 PM by Pero Anes »
Pero Anes

Emeritus of the Order of the Serpent

Pero Anes

  • General group
  • Baby Member
  • *
  • Posts: 14
  • Honour: 0
  • Ad astra per ardua
On Weapons and War - Part Two
« Reply #2 on: 25 November, 2018, 03:03:39 PM »
On Weapons and War




This treatise is dedicated to Pierre du Vallon, illustrious Count of La Roche, notable Constable of France, pious Acolyte of the Theological Chruch and brave Guard Captain of Ile de France.




***




Dear reader, don't arm yourself with the deadly weapons you'll find described in this parchment, but use them well in the battlefield or in duel without bringing shame to you and your prince or republic.




Copied and edited by Pero Anes and bounded in Venice on the 2nd of June 1318



***



Ranged Weapons






A ranged weapon is any a projectile or weapon that launches a projectile. In contrast, a weapon intended to be used in man-to-man combat is called a melee weapon.

Early ranged weapons include weapons such as javelins, throwing axes the bow and arrow, and medieval siege engines like catapults, ballistas and trebuchets.

Ranged weapons were effective in combat in comparison to melee weapons, as they gave the wielder opportunity to launch multiple projectiles before an enemy armed with melee weapons or shorter ranged missile weapon posed a threat to him.

Siege engines were also used for passing or hitting obstacles like fortifications.

After the invention of gunpowder and the development of firearms, ranged weapons became the weapon of choice. Maximum effective range of a weapon is the greatest distance fired and able to produce casualties or damage consistently.



Throwing Axes or Franciscas






The francisca is a throwing axe used as a weapon during the Early Middle Ages by the Franks. It was a characteristic Frankish national weapon at the time of the Merovingians from about 500 to 750 AD and is known to have been used during the reign of Charlemagne (768 - 814). Although associated with the Franks, it was also used by other Germanic peoples of the period including the Anglo-Saxons. Examples have been found in England.

The term francisca first appeared in the book Ethymologiarum sive originum libri XVIII by Isidore of Seville (c. 560 - 636) as a name used in the Iberian kingdoms to refer to these weapons "because of their use by the Franks" ('francos').

The francisca is characterised by its distinctly arch-shaped head, widening toward the cutting edge and terminating in a prominent point at both the upper and lower corners. The top of the head is usually either S-shaped or convex with the lower portion curving inward and forming an elbow with the short wooden haft. The upswept point and downturned edge were both capable of penetrating chain mail.

Sometimes the head is more upswept forming a wider angle with the haft. Most franciscas have a round or teardrop-shaped eye designed to fit the tapered haft, similar to Viking axes. Based on surviving heads of franciscas recovered at Burgh Castle and Morning Thorpe in county Norfolk, England the length of the head itself measured 14-15 cm from the edge to the back of the socket.

The Roman historian Procopius (c. 500 - 565) described the Franks and their use of throwing axes:

...each man carried a sword and shield and an axe. Now the iron head of this weapon was thick and exceedingly sharp on both sides while the wooden handle was very short. And they are accustomed always to throw these axes at one signal in the first charge and thus shatter the shields of the enemy and kill the men.
[/i]

The weight of the head and length of the haft would allow the axe to be thrown with considerable momentum to an effective range of about 12 m. Even if the edge of the blade were not to strike the target the weight of the iron head could cause injury.

Another feature of the francisca was its tendency to bounce unpredictably upon hitting the ground due to its weight, shape, lack of balance and curvature of the haft, making it difficult for defenders to block. It could rebound up at the legs of opponents or against shields and through the ranks. The Franks capitalised on this by throwing the franciscas in a volley in order to confuse, intimidate and disorganise enemy lines either before or during a charge to initiate close combat.



Javelins






The javelin is a light spear designed primarily for casting as a ranged weapon. The javelin is almost always thrown by hand (unlike the arrow and slingshot which are projectiles shot from a mechanism). It was used throughout medieval Europe.

There is some literary and archaeological evidence that the Norse were familiar with and used the javelin for hunting and warfare, but they commonly used a spear designed for both throwing and thrusting.

Viking grave excavations have revealed spears and spearheads among the funerary offerings. They were one of the most common weapons found.. These spears included throwing javelins, as well as pikes for thrusting. The employment of javelins in battle by the Vikings was documented in the Anglo-Saxon poem about the 991 Battle of Maldon.

The Anglo-Saxon term for javelin was france. In Anglo-Saxon warfare soldiers usually formed a shield wall and used heavy weapons like Danish axes, swords and spears. Javelins, including barbed angons, were used as an offensive weapon from behind the shield wall or by warriors who left the protective formation and attacked the enemy as skirmishers.

The Almogavars were a class of Aragonese infantrymen (although the term was used with tha same meaning in other iberian kingdoms, like in Portugal and Castille) armed with a short sword, a shield and two heavy javelins, known as assegai. The equipment resembled that of a Roman legionary and the use of the heavy javelins was much the same.

Jinetes or Ginetes were iberian light horsemen armed with a javelin, sword and a shield. This troop type developed in the Middle Ages in response to the massed light cavalry of the Moors. Often fielded in significant numbers by the iberians, and at times the most numerous of the iberian mounted troops, they were proficient at skirmishing and rapid manoeuvre, and played an important role in iberian mounted warfare throughout the Reconquista and up until the sixteenth century.

The Welsh, particularly the North Welsh, used the javelin as one of their main weapons. During Norman and later English invasions, the primary Welsh tactic was to rain javelins on the enemy troops and then retreat into the mountains or woods before they could pursue and attack them.



Bows






A bow is a weapon that projects arrows powered by its elasticity .It is a form of spring. As the bow is drawn, energy is stored as potential energy in the limbs of the bow and transformed into kinetic energy as the string is released, the string transferring this energy to the arrow

A longbow is a type of bow that is tall (roughly equal to the height of the person who uses it). This allows its user a fairly long draw, at least to the jaw. A longbow is not significantly recurved. Its limbs are relatively narrow so that they are circular or D-shaped in cross section.

Flatbows can be just as long; the difference is that, in cross-section, a flatbow has limbs that are approximately rectangular.

Traditional longbows are made from a single natural piece of wood. They have been used for thousands of years, for hunting and warfare. Bows for warfare tend to be more powerful, with the most powerful bows being the English longbow.

In the Middle Ages the Welsh and the English were famous for their very powerful longbows, used to great effect in the civil wars of the period and against the French in the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), with notable success at the battles of Crécy (1346), Poitiers (1356) and Agincourt (1415).

A typical military longbow archer would be provided with between 60 and 72 arrows at the time of battle. Most archers would not loose arrows at maximum rate, as it would exhaust even the most experienced man. A modern warbow archer does not like to try for more than six a minute. Not only are the arms and shoulder muscles tired from the exertion, but the fingers holding the bowstring become strained;

Ranged volleys at the beginning of the battle would differ markedly from the closer, aimed shots as the battle progressed and the enemy neared. Arrows were not unlimited, so archers and their commanders took every effort to ration their use.

Resupply during battle was necessary. Boys were often employed to run additional arrows to longbow archers while in their positions on the battlefield. As one commentator has put it "The longbow was the machine gun of the Middle Ages: accurate, deadly, possessed of a long range and rapid rate of fire, the flight of its missiles was likened to a storm."

This rate of fire was much higher than that of its nearest rival on the battlefield, the crossbow. It was also much higher than the standard early firearms right up the nineteenth century although the lower training requirements and greater penetration of firearms eventually led to the longbow falling into disuse.






Because the longbow can be made from a single piece of wood, it can be crafted relatively easily and quickly. Amateur bowyers today can craft a longbow in about ten to twenty hours, while highly skilled bowyers can craft wooden longbows in a few hours.

One of the simpler longbow designs is known as the self bow. By definition, a self bow is made from a single piece of wood. Truly traditional English longbows are self bows, made from yew wood. The bowstave is cut from the radius of the tree so that the sapwood (on the outside of the tree) becomes the back two thirds and the belly, the remaining one third, is heartwood. Yew sapwood is good only in tension, while the heartwood is good in compression. However, one must make compromises when making a yew longbow, as it is difficult to find perfect unblemished yew. In other desirable woods such as Osage orange and mulberry the sapwood is almost useless and is normally removed entirely.

Longbows, because of their narrow limbs and rounded cross-section (which does not spread out stress within the wood as evenly as a flatbow’s rectangular cross section), need to be either less powerful, longer or of more elastic wood than an equivalent flatbow. In Europe the last approach was used, with yew being the wood of choice, because of its high compressive strength, light weight and elasticity.



Crossbows






A crossbow is a range weapon that shoots projectiles (called bolts or quarrels) consisting of a bow mounted on a stock. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which derived from the word ballista, a Roman torsion engine resembling a crossbow in appearance.

Historically, crossbows played a significant role in the warfare of Europe and the Mediterranean.

A crossbow is a bow mounted on a stock with a mechanism that holds the drawn bow string. Early designs featured a slot in the stock, into which the cocked string was placed. To fire this design, a vertical rod is thrust up through a hole in the bottom of the notch, forcing the string out. This rod is usually attached perpendicular to a rear-facing firing lever called a trigger or 'tickler'.

A later design implemented a rolling cylindrical pawl called a 'nut' to retain the cocked string. This nut has a perpendicular centre slot for the bolt, and an intersecting axial slot for the string, along with a lower face or slot against which the internal trigger sits. They often also have some form of strengthening internal 'sear' or trigger face, usually of metal. These 'roller nuts' were either free-floating in their close-fitting hole across the stock, tied in with a binding of sinew or other strong cording, or mounted on a metal axle or pins.

Removable or integral plates of wood, ivory or metal on the sides of the stock kept the nut in place laterally. Nuts were made of antler, bone, ivory or metal, usually brass.

A trigger system, usually made of iron or steel from medieval times onwards, was used to retain the force of the cocked string in the nut and then release the nut to spin and the string to shoot the bolt. Complicated iron triggers that could be released with little strength are known in Europe from the early 1400s. As a result crossbows could be kept cocked and ready to shoot for some time with little effort, allowing crossbowmen to aim better.

The bow of early crossbows was made of a single piece of wood, usually ash or yew. Composite bows are made from layers of different material—often wood, horn and sinew—glued together and bound with animal tendon.

These composite bows, made of several layers, are much stronger and more efficient in releasing energy than simple wooden bows. As steel became more widely available in Europe around the XIVth century, steel prods came into use

The crossbow prod is very short compared to ordinary bows, resulting in a short draw length. This leads to a higher draw weight in order to store the same amount of energy. Thick prods are less efficient at releasing energy, but more energy can be stored.

Traditionally the prod was often lashed to the stock with rope, whipcord, or other strong cording. This cording is called the bridle.

The strings for a crossbow are typically made of strong fibres that would not fray. Whipcord was very common. Linen, hemp, and sinew were used as well. In wet conditions, twisted mulberry root was occasionally used.

Very light crossbows can be drawn by hand, but heavier types need the help of mechanical devices. The simplest version of mechanical cocking device is a hook attached to a belt, drawing the bow by straightening the legs. Other devices are hinged levers which either pulled or pushed the string into place, cranked rack-and-pinion devices called 'cranequins' and multiple cord-and-pulley cranked devices called windlasses.

The Saracens called the crossbow 'qaws Ferengi' or "Frankish bow," as the Crusaders used the crossbow against the Arab and Turkoman horsemen with remarkable success. The adapted crossbow was used by the Islamic armies in defence of their castles. Later footstrapped version become very popular among the Muslim armies in Iberia. During the Crusades (1096-1291), Europeans were exposed to Saracen composite bows, made from layers of different material—often wood, horn and sinew—glued together and bound with animal tendon. These composite bows could be much more powerful than wooden bows and were adopted for crossbow prods across Europe.

The repeating crossbow automated the separate actions of stringing the bow, placing the projectile and shooting. This way the task can be accomplished with a simple one-handed movement, while keeping the weapon stationary. As a result, it is possible to shoot at a faster rate compared to unmodified version

The arrow-like projectiles of a crossbow are called bolts. These are much shorter than arrows, but can be several times heavier. There is an optimum weight for bolts to achieve maximum kinetic energy, which varies depending on the strength and characteristics of the crossbow, but most could pass through common chain mail.

Bolts typically have three fletches, commonly seen on arrows. Crossbow bolts can be fitted with a variety of heads, some with sickle-shaped heads to cut rope or rigging; but the most common today is a four-sided point called a quarrel. A highly specialise type of bolt may be employed today to collect blubber biopsy samples from marine mammals to be used in biology research.

Crossbows can also be adapted to shoot lead bullets or stones, in which case they are called stone-bows. Primarily used for hunting wildfowl, these usually have a double string with a pouch between the strings to hold the projectile.

A bullet crossbow is a type of handheld crossbow which rather than arrows or bolts shoots spherical projectiles made of stone, clay or lead. There are two variants, one has a double string with a pocket for the projectile; the other has a barrel with a slot for the string.

The use of crossbows in European warfare dates back to Roman times and is evident from the Battle of Hastings. They almost completely superseded hand bows in many European armies in the twelfth century for a number of reasons. Although a longbow achieves comparable accuracy and faster shooting rate than an average crossbow, crossbows release more kinetic energy and can be used effectively after a week of training, while a comparable single-shot skill with a longbow takes years of practice.

In the armies of Europe, mounted and unmounted crossbowmen, often mixed with javeliners and archers, occupied a central position in battle formations. Usually they engaged the enemy in offensive skirmishes before an assault of mounted knights. Crossbowmen were also valuable in counterattacks to protect their infantry.

The rank of commanding officer of the crossbowmen corps was one of the highest positions in any army of this time. Along with polearm weapons made from farming equipment, the crossbow was also a weapon of choice for insurgent peasants .

Mounted knights armed with lances proved ineffective against formations of pikemen combined with crossbowmen whose weapons could penetrate most knights' armour. The invention of pushlever and ratchet drawing mechanisms enabled the use of crossbows on horseback, leading to the development of new cavalry tactics. Knights and mercenaries deployed in triangular formations, with the most heavily armoured knights at the front. Some of these riders would carry small, powerful all-metal crossbows of their own.

The smallest crossbows are pistol crossbows. Others are simple long stocks with the crossbow mounted on them. These could be shot from under the arm. The next step in development was rifle shaped stocks that allowed better aiming.

Crossbows were eventually replaced in warfare by more powerful gunpowder weapons, although early guns had slower rates of fire and much worse accuracy than contemporary crossbows. Later, similar competing tactics would feature harquebusiers or musketeers in formation with pikemen, pitted against cavalry firing pistols or carbines.

With a crossbow, archers could release a draw force far in excess of what they could have handled with a bow. Moreover, crossbows could be kept cocked and ready to shoot for some time with little effort, allowing crossbowmen to aim better. The disadvantage is the greater weight and clumsiness compared to a bow, as well as the slower rate of fire and the lower efficiency of the acceleration system, but there would be reduced elastic hysteresis, making the crossbow a more accurate weapon.

Crossbows have a much smaller draw length than bows. This means that for the same energy to be imparted to the arrow (or bolt) the crossbow has to have a much higher draw weight.

Cannon 29 of the Second Lateran Council called by Pope Innocent II in 1139 banned the use of crossbows against Christians.



Arbalests






The arbalest (also arblast) was a late variation of the medieval European crossbow. A larger weapon, the arbalest had a steel prod ("bow"). Since an arbalest was much larger than earlier crossbows, and because of the greater tensile strength of steel, it had a greater force. A skilled arbalestier (arblaster) could shoot two bolts per minute. Arbalests were sometimes considered inhumane or unfair weapons, since an inexperienced arbalestier could use one to kill a knight who had a lifetime of training.

The arbalest required special systems for pulling the sinew via windlasses. For siege warfare the size of crossbows was increased to hurl large projectiles such as rocks at fortifications.

Such crossbows needed a massive base frame and powerful windlass devices. Such devices include the oxybeles. The ballista has torsion springs replacing the elastic prod of the oxybeles, but later also developed into smaller versions. "Ballista" is still the root word for crossbow in Romance languages such as Italian (balestra).

The term arbalest is sometimes used interchangeably with crossbow. 'Arbalest' is Medieval French corruption from the Roman name arcuballista for crossbow. The word applies for both crossbow and arbalest



Guns






Hand cannons



A hand cannon is an early form of firearm. It is possibly the oldest type of portable firearm, as well as the simplest type of early firearm, as most examples require direct manual external ignition through a touch hole without any form of firing mechanism. It may also be considered a forerunner of the handgun. The hand cannon was widely used until at least the 1520s in Europe and Asia, where it was mostly supplanted by matchlock firearms.

As with the origins of gunpowder, there controversy as to where and when the hand cannon came into existence.

The earliest surviving documentary evidence for the use of hand cannons are from several Arabic manuscripts dated to the XIVth century.

It now generally accepted that firearms originated in China. Although there is no solid evidence for firearms in Europe before the 1300s, archaeologists have discovered a gun in Manchuria dating from the 1200s, and a historian has identified a sculpture in Sichuan dating from the 1100s that appears to represent a figure with a firearm. Since all the other evidence points to Chinese origins, it is safe to conclude that this was in fact the case.

Europeans certainly had firearms by the first half of the 1300s. The Arabs obtained firearms in the 1300s too, and the Turks, Iranians, and Indians all got them no later than the 1400s, in each case directly or indirectly from the Europeans.

The hand cannon was a simple weapon, effectively consisting of a barrel with some sort of handle, though it came in many different shapes and sizes. Although surviving examples are all completely constructed of metal, evidence suggests that many were attached to some kind of stock, usually wooden. Other examples show a simple metal extension from the barrel acting as the handle. In fact, not all hand cannons used metal at all in their construction, as some Chinese illustrations demonstrate bamboo tubes being used instead.

For firing, the hand cannon could be held in two hands while an assistant applied the means of ignition. These could range from smouldering wood or coal, red-hot iron rods, to slow-burning matches. Alternately, the hand cannon could be placed on a rest and held by one hand while the gunner applied the means of ignition himself. Projectiles used in these weapons were varied, with many utilizing a variety of different ammunition. Some fired pebbles found on the ground, while others fired more sophisticated ammunition such as shaped balls of stone or iron or arrows.

Later hand cannons were made with a flash pan attached to the barrel, and a touch hole drilled through the side wall of the gun instead of the top of the barrel. The flash pan had a leather cover, and later on a hinged metal lid fitted, to keep the priming powder dry until the moment of firing and to prevent premature firing. These features were carried on over to subsequent firearms.

Due to the poor quality of powder that was often used in these weapons and their crude construction, they were not effective missile weapons, as early examples often lacked sufficient power to punch through light armour. All were inaccurate, due to the awkward handling as well as the aforementioned poor quality of the weapons. While the noise and flash may have had some psychological effect on the enemy, many early hand cannons were used in a minor capacity and so lacked battlefield presence.

Firearms, of which the hand cannon was an early example, gradually came to dominate European warfare, and the reasons are clear. The hand cannon was inexpensive and easy to mass produce. At the same time, the forging methods required meant that centralised governments had a measure of control over their manufacture (and especially the manufacture of ammunition, an important consideration in a medieval Europe wracked by rebellion). They had superior armour-penetration capability; the longbow was somewhat effective against mail armour, and the crossbow slightly better, but the hand cannon could pierce even plate armour. Furthermore, much like the crossbow, the weapon could be employed by relatively poorly-trained troops.

The other hand-operated ranged weapons of the time had their own drawbacks. Crossbows had superior accuracy and similar power as compared to early hand cannons. However, they were expensive to make, slow to reload and their performance was almost as severely affected by wet weather as that of hand cannons. While the hand cannon could not match the accuracy nor speed of fire of the longbow, gunners did not require the special training and continuous practice from childhood required of a good bowman.

Despite the hand cannon's serious drawbacks, especially early in its development, its virtues outshone those of either the longbow or the crossbow, and it grew and evolved to become the ubiquitous firearm of later European wars.



Artilery






Stone Throwing Engines



Traction Trebuchets



The trebuchet derives from the ancient sling. A variation of the sling contained a short piece of wood to extend the arm and provide greater leverage. This was evolved into the traction trebuchet by the Chinese, in which a number of people pull on ropes attached to the short arm of a lever that has a sling on the long arm. This type of trebuchet is smaller and has a shorter range but is a more portable machine and has a faster rate of fire than a larger counterweight powered one. The smallest traction trebuchets could be powered by the weight and pulling strength of one person using a single rope; but most were designed and sized to need from 15 to 45 men, generally two per rope. These teams would sometimes be local citizens assisting in the siege or in the defence of their town. Traction trebuchets had a range of from 610 m to well over 914 m when casting weights up to 60 kg. A traction trebuchet functions in the same way as a counterweight trebuchet, except that instead of a hoisted weight, the hurling arm is powered by a crew of men, pulling on ropes attached to the short lever arm. A counterweight trebuchet is powered by a very heavy counterweight, acting on a lever arm. The fulcrum of the lever (usually an axle) is supported by a high frame, and the counterweight is suspended from the short arm of the lever. The sling is attached to the end of the long arm of the lever.

One end of the sling is captive, while the other end is hooked to the long arm in such a way as to release when the arm and sling reach the optimal hurling angles. The trebuchet is energised by lowering the long arm and raising the weighted short arm, usually with a winch, and is locked into the charged state by a trigger mechanism (cocked). With the long arm lowered near ground level, the sling is loaded with the projectile, and laid out on the ground, with the captive and hooked ends away from the target, and the load and pouch laid on the ground toward the target, under the trebuchet. When the trigger is released, the weighted short arm is driven by gravity into an accelerating pendulum motion, causing the lighter, long arm of the lever to revolve around the fulcrum at the opposite arc, which in turn, pulls the sling and its contents into a whipping motion at the end of the long arm. As the arm continues to swing past the vertical position, the counterweight rises, causing the lever motion to begin to slow down, while the sling continues to whip forward around the end of the long arm. When the sling reaches its launch angle, one end slips from its hook, releasing the projectile toward the target.

It is believed that the first traction trebuchets were used in China as early as in the 5th century BC, descriptions of which can be found in the 5th century BC. The traction trebuchet next appears in Byzantium. The Strategikon of Emperor Maurice, composed in 539, calls for "ballistae revolving in both directions," probably traction trebuchets. The Miracles of St. Demetrius, composed by John I, archbishop of Thessalonike, describe traction trebuchets in the Avaro-Slav artillery: "Hanging from the back sides of these pieces of timber were slings and from the front strong ropes, by which, pulling down and releasing the sling, they propel the stones up high and with a loud noise."



Counterweight Trebuchets






The counterweight trebuchet appeared in Christian and Muslim lands around the Mediterranean Sea in the twelfth century. It could fling 140 kg projectiles at high speeds, at times including corpses infected with various diseases including the black plague, in an attempt to infect the people under siege, as a medieval variant of biological warfare. Trebuchets were far more accurate than other forms of medieval catapults.

Our first clear written record of a counterweight trebuchet comes from an Islamic scholar, Mardi al-Tarsusi, who wrote in 1187, "Trebuchets are machines invented by unbelieving devils." (Al-Tarsusi, Bodleian MS 264).

At the Siege of Acre in 1191, Richard the Lionheart assembled two trebuchets which he named "God's Own Catapult" and "Bad Neighbour". During a siege of Stirling Castle in 1304, Edward Longshanks ordered his engineers to make a giant trebuchet for the English army, named "Warwolf". Range and size of the weapons varied. In 1421 the future Charles VII of France commissioned a trebuchet (coyllar) that could shoot a stone of 800 kg, while in 1188 at Ashyun balls up to 1,500 kg were used. Average weight of the projectiles was probably around 50-100 kg, with a range of ca. 300 meters. Rate of fire could be noteworthy: at the siege of Lisbon (1147) against the hispanic Moors, two engines were capable of launching a stone every 15 seconds. The largest trebuchets needed exceptional quantities of timber: at the siege of Damietta, in 1249, Louis IX of France was able to build a stockade for the whole Crusade camp with the wood from 24 captured Egyptian trebuchets.

The lever must be as light as possible for maximum acceleration, yet strong enough not to break under the stress. The ratio of the length of the long to the short arms of the lever, and to the sling length, are important factors in determining the range of the projectile. The object of a good design is to transfer as much energy as possible from the falling counterweight into the projectile. The efficiency of a real trebuchet is the ratio of the actual range achieved to the calculated maximum range.

There are no really detailed descriptions of medieval or earlier trebuchets that give the dimensions or shape of the beam, the ratio of its long arm to its short arm, and so on. No specimens or models from medieval times survive. The few extant contemporary drawings of them are highly schematic and sometimes show physically impossible proportions. Methods used for optimising their performance and design were apparently closely held military secrets.

Placing and aiming the trebuchet was also, no doubt, done by empirical trials. Small adjustments could be made by changing the angle of the hook holding the free end of the sling, a process which requires a heated forge on a full-scale engine. For larger, quicker adjustments, the length of the sling can be altered. Small adjustments from side-to-side can also be made by moving the channel in which the missile and sling slide in the base of the frame. The trebuchet itself could be moved as well, but with larger trebuchets, this would have been difficult; the largest trebuchets could weigh many tons.

Because of the time required to load the sling and to raise the counterweight, a large trebuchet's rate of fire was slow, perhaps not more than a couple of shots an hour. This was due both to their size and the mass of their counterweights. Smaller trebuchets can fire a couple of times a minute. The payload of a trebuchet was usually a large rounded stone, although other projectiles were occasionally used including dead animals, beehives, the severed heads of captured enemies, small stones burned into clay balls which would explode on impact like grapeshot, barrels of burning tar or oil, Greek fire, pots of burning lime, unsuccessful ambassadors, prisoners of war, hostages, and captured spies.

Trebuchets were powerful weapons, with a range of up to about 270 m. Castle designers often built their fortifications with trebuchets in mind; The range of many trebuchets was in fact shorter than that of a longbow in skilled hands, making it dangerous to be a trebuchet operator during a siege

A trebuchet can increase its efficiency by allowing the counterweight to take the straightest possible downward path. This maximises the transfer of the counterweight's potential energy to the projectile rather than to stressing the frame. Mounting the counterweight on a pivot (below top) straightens the path of its fall, increasing its effectiveness. A fixed counterweight trebuchet in particular can therefore be made more efficient by the addition of wheels to allow the frame to move freely back and forth (below bottom). This also allowed the trebuchet to fire farther.

The addition of wheels also makes the trebuchet more stable as part of the forward momentum of the falling counterweight is transferred to the forward motion of the trebuchet instead of a tilting action of the vertical frame, possibly tipping over of the machine or severely damaging the structure. The velocity of the trebuchet frame is added to that of the item being thrown, increasing its velocity and range by up to 33 percent. The wheeled trebuchet can effectively employ a fixed counterweight, mounted to the short end of the throwing arm, rather than the pendulum weight described above. The weights were usually stones and rubble, since lead was far too expensive and could be used for better purposes in a siege.

That of dead, and often partially decomposed, carcasses of animals or people. These were used to intimidate the defending force, lower their morale, and often to spread disease amongst the besieged. This tactic often proved effective as the short supply of food, which was often of low quality or rotting, combined with the cramped living space of the defenders, poor hygiene, and infestations of vermin (which made convenient vectors for disease) made the ideal scenario for the spread of disease. Burning sand also could have been thrown at enemies. This has the effect of sand sticking in armour holes, which leads to a most painful burning or death.



Onagers and Mangonels






The onager was a post-classical Roman siege engine. Its name comes from that of an Onager (a wild jack ass), the similarity being its violent kicking action. The onager was a type of catapult that used torsional pressure, from twisted rope, to store energy for the shot. It consisted of a frame placed on the ground to whose front end a vertical frame of solid timber was rigidly fixed. Through the vertical frame ran an axle, which had a single stout spoke, on the extremity of which was a sling used to launch a projectile.

In action the spoke was forced down, against the tension of twisted ropes or other springs, by a windlass. It was then suddenly released. The spoke kicked the crosspiece of the vertical frame, and the projectile at its extreme end was shot forward. Onagers of the Roman Empire were mainly used for besieging forts or settlements. They would often be armed with huge stones or rocks that could be covered with a flammable substance and set alight. The Romans greatly improved the onager's manoeuvrability by adding wheels to its base. The wheels and the onager's light weight made it easy to move.

In the Middle Ages (recorded from around 1200) a less powerful version of the onager was used that held the projectile in a fixed bowl instead of a sling. This was so that many small projectiles could be thrown rather than one large one. This engine was sometimes called the mangonel, although the same name may have been used for a variety of siege engines.

A mangonel was a type of catapult or siege machine used in the medieval period to throw projectiles at a castle's walls. The mangonel did not have the accuracy or range of a trebuchet and threw projectiles on a lower trajectory than the trebuchet.

The mangonel was a single-arm torsion catapult that held the projectile in a sling. A similar and perhaps older device was nicknamed the scorpion because of its resemblance to a scorpion's tail and sting.

The word mangonel is derived from the Greek word 'magganon' which means "an engine of war", but was first used in medieval accounts of sieges.

Mangonels shot heavy projectiles from a bowl-shaped bucket at the end of the arm. The bucket was used to launch more rocks than a sling could; this made it different from an onager. In combat, mangonels hurled rocks, burning objects (or vessels filled with flammable materials which created a fireball on impact; fire pots), or anything else readily available to the attacking and defending forces. One of the more unusual types of projectile was



Bombards






A bombard is a large calibre, muzzle-loading medieval cannon or mortar, for throwing heavy stone balls.

The name 'bombarde' was first noted and sketched in a French historical text around 1380. The modern terms bomb and bombardment derives from this.

Bombards were usually used during sieges to hurl various forms of missile into enemy fortifications. Projectiles such as stone or metal balls, burning materials and weighted cloth soaked in quicklime or Greek fire are documented.

The name derives from medieval Latin and French forms from a Greek word expressing the making of a humming noise.

A notable example of a bombard is the large "Mons Meg" weapon, built around 1449 and used by King James II of Scotland. It was very powerful used for bringing down castle walls. "Mons Meg" was capable of firing 180 kg shots and was one of the largest bombards in its time.

Eventually bombards were superseded by weapons using smaller calibre iron projectiles with more powerful gunpowder.



***



Siege Weapons






Siege Towers



A belfry was used for gaining access to a castle, generally at the level of the battlements. It was typically constructed in wood, on several stories - as many as necessary to reach the battlements. Each story offered a location for attack - bows and crossbows in the lower levels, and armed men in the upper level, ready to drop a sort of drawbridge and gain access to the castle ramparts. The belfry was normally wheeled, so that it could be moved up against the castle walls, and like all exposed wooden engines of war it would be covered in the hides of freshly slaughtered animals and regularly dowsed in water to keep it fireproof.

One way to foil the approach of a belfry was to have sloping castle walls. This forced the attackers to cover a greater distance from the top of the belfry to the top of the castle wall. This was one of the benefits of a talus.

Another way to foil the approach was to build ditches and moats to prevent the approach of belfries.

As on the right, attackers often needed to fill up the ditch or moat to provide a level surface that extended all the way to the foot of the castle wall.

In practice, all sorts of material was used for this: earth, rocks, straw, dead bodies, wood, whatever came to hand. If too much wood was used in the infill then the infill itself became a target for fire setters.



Battering Rams






A battering ram is a siege engine originating in ancient times to breach fortification walls or doors. In its simplest form, a battering ram is just a large, heavy log carried by several people and propelled with force against the target, the momentum of the ram damaging the target.

Some battering rams were supported by rollers. This gave the ram much greater travel so that it could achieve a greater speed before striking its target and was therefore more destructive. Such a ram was used by Alexander the Great

In a more sophisticated design, the ram was slung from a wheeled support frame so that it could be much more massive and also more easily swung against its target. Sometimes the ram's attacking point would be reinforced with a metal head. A capped ram is a battering ram that has an accessory at the head (usually made of iron or steel, traditionally shaped into the head and horns of a ram to do more damage to a building.

Many battering rams had protective roofs and side-screens covered in materials, often fresh wet hides to prevent the ram being set on fire, as well as to protect the ram's operators of the ram from enemies firing arrows down on them.

An image of an Assyrian battering ram shows how sophisticated attack and defence had come by the IXth century BC. In the image defenders are trying to set the ram alight with torches and have also put a chain under the ram. The attackers are trying to pull on the chain to free the ram - the same scene could have been depicted in Roman, Visigothic or Medieval times.

When a castle was being attacked, defenders attempted to foil battering rams by dropping obstacles in front of the ram just before it hit a wall, using grappling hooks to immobilize the log, setting the ram on fire, or sallying out to attack the ram. Battering rams had an important effect on the evolution of defensive walls - the talus for example was one way of reinforcing walls. In practice, wooden gates would generally offer the easiest targets.

Raymondet, the future Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, used a ram at Beaucaire in 1216. He was himself besieged in the town by Simon de Montfort's Crusader forces, while he himself was besieging the garisson of the castle within the fortified town. The The Song of the Crusade tells us a little about the ram. We know for example that it had an iron head. The poet tells us that it was:


... long, straight, sharp and shod with iron; it thrust, carved and smashed till the wall was breached and many of the dressed stones thrown down. When the besieged Crusaders saw that, they did not panic but made a rope lasso and used a device to fling it so that they caught and held the ram's head, to the rage of all in Beaucaire.

Then the engineer who had set up the battering ram arrived. He and his men slipped secretly into the rock itself [presumably the hole already made by the ram, intending to break through the wall with their sharp picks. But when the men in the keep realised this, they cast down fire, sulphur and tow together in a piece of cloth and let it down on a chain.

When the fire caught and the sulphur ran, the flames and stench so stupefied them that not one of them could stay there. Then they used their stone throwers and broke down the beams and palisades.


(The Song of the Crusade, laisse 164)



The Cat






A cat was a wooden structure built (or moved) up to a defensive wall. From surviving documents it seems that an arm could manipulated to claw away at the castle wall - hence the name.

Cats could be large multi-purpose structures, perhaps with a trebuchet on top and sappers operating from the protected interior.

Cats were much feared and if they possibly could, castle defenders would try to destroy them by mounting sorties, by using stone throwing engines, or by setting fire to them.

Like all wooden siege engines they would be routinely covered in the skins of freshly slaughtered animals and regularly dowsed with water to keep them fireproof.

Simon de Montfort used a cat at the Siege of Beaucaire in 1216, but unsuccessfully. According to the The Song of the Crusade it had "no more effect than an enchanter's dream". It was "a spider's web and a sheer waste of material".

Perhaps the most famous cat was one Simon built two years later, attempting to besiege the City of Toulouse in 1217-18. It was while protecting his cat from counter attack by the citizens of Toulouse that Simon de Montfort was struck on the head by a massive stone projectile from a trebuchet on the city walls, and killed instantly.



The Weasel






A weasel was a similar sort of structure to a cat, but smaller and lighter. It seems to have been more manoeuvrable and used a spike rather than a paw to attack castle walls.

It may have taken its name from its business end looking like a weasel's nose, or perhaps its long thin body, or both.

A weasel was used by the forces of Raymondet, the future Count Raymond VII of Toulouse, at Beaucaire in 1216 according to the The Song of the Crusade. As Simon de Montfort was conducting a council of war, a beggar burst in, shouting that he had seen a weasel. The weasel was already against the citadel wall and ready to drive a spike into it. The defenders were quick to react. The chief engineer hurled a pot of molten pitch at it, hitting it in exactly the right spot and it burst into flames.



***



Other Weapons and Techniques






Greek fire



Incendiary devices were standard weapons of war. Wooden defences always needed protection from burning. Wet animal hides were highly effective against burning arrows so military engineers dedicated themselves to finding ways of ensuring that fires burned as long and as strongly as necessary to catch. All sorts of chemicals could be used for this purpose - petroleum, sulphur, quicklime and tar barrels for example.

Liquid fire is represented on Assyrian bas-reliefs. At the siege of Plataea in 429 BC the Spartans attempted to burn the town by piling up against the walls wood saturated with pitch and sulphur and setting it on fire, and at the siege of Delium in 424 BC a cauldron containing pitch, sulphur and burning charcoal was placed against the walls. A century later Aeneas Tacticus mentions a mixture of sulphur, pitch, charcoal, incense and tow packed in wooden vessels, ignited and thrown onto the decks of enemy ships. Formulae given by Vegetius around 350 add naphtha or petroleum. Some nine centuries later the same substances are found and later recipes include saltpetre and turpentine make their appearance. The ultimate in this form of chemical warfare was called Greek-Fire.

Greek fire was a burning-liquid used as a weapon of war by the Byzantines, and also by Arabs, Chinese, and Mongols. Incendiary weapons had been in use for centuries: petroleum and sulphur had both been in use since the early days of the Christianity. Greek fire was vastly more potent. Similar to modern napalm, it would adhere to surfaces, ignite upon contact, and could not be extinguished by water alone.

Byzantines used it in naval battles to great effect because it burned on water. It was responsible for numerous Byzantine military victories on land as well as at sea - and also for enemies preferring discretion to valour so that many battles never took place at all. It was the ultimate deterrent of the time, and helps explain the Byzantine Empire's survival until 1453. There was no defence. As the Lord of Joinville noted in the thirteenth century: "Every time they hurl the fire at us, we go down on our elbows and knees, and beseech Our Lord to save us from this danger." Men were known to simply flee their posts rather than face Greek Fire. On the other hand Greek fire was very hard to control, and it would often accidentally set Byzantine ships ablaze.

Greek Fire is said to have been invented by a Syrian Engineer, one Callinicus or Kallinikos, a refugee from Maalbek, or an architect from Heliopolis in the Byzantine Province of Judaea, in the seventh century (673 AD). The formula for Greek fire was a closely guarded secret and it remains a mystery to this day.

The term Greek Fire was not attributed to it until the time of the European Crusades. Some of the original names include Liquid Fire, Marine Fire, Artificial Fire and Roman Fire. (Muslims against whom the weapon was used called the Byzantines Romans).

The weapon was first used by the Byzantine navy, and the most common method of deployment was to squirt it through a large bronze tube onto enemy ships. Usually the mixture would be stored in heated, pressurised barrels and projected through the tube by some sort of pump, operators being protected behind large iron shields. Byzantines used Greek Fire only rarely, apparently out of fear that the secret mixture might fall into enemy hands. The loss of the secret would be a greater loss to Byzantium then the loss of any single battle.

In 678 the Byzantines utterly destroyed a Muslim fleet - over 30,000 men were lost. In 717-718 Caliph Suleiman attacked Constantinople (Byzantium). Most of the Muslim fleet was once again destroyed by Greek Fire, and the Caliph was forced to flee. There is virtually no documentation of its usage after this time by the Byzantines and it is generally believed that it was during this era that the secret of creating Greek Fire was lost. Formulae used after this date never seems to have had the same devastating effect.

Some form of Greek Fire continued to be used for centuries. Byzantines used it against the Venetians during the Fourth Crusade. A so-called "carcass composition" containing sulphur, tallow, rosin, turpentine, saltpetre and antimony, became known to the Crusaders as Greek fire but is more correctly called wildfire.

So far, no-one has been able to recreate Greek Fire. Arabian armies, who eventually created their own version sometime between the mid-seventh century and the early tenth. It was relatively weak copy of the original Byzantine substance, though still one of the most devastating weapons of the period. Arabs used the Greek Fire much like Byzantines, using brass tubes mounted aboard ships or on castle walls. They also filled jars with it, to be hurled by hand at their opponents. Arrows and javelins would be used to carry the mixture further and engines of war could be used to throw larger amounts over castle walls.

As a defence, water alone was ineffective. On land sand could be used to stop the burning. Intriguingly it is also known that vinegar and urine were effective - suggesting an alkaline composition that could be neutralised by acid. According to some accounts pure or salt water served to intensify the burning, suggesting that Greek Fire may have been a 'thermite-like' reaction, perhaps involving quicklime. According to some sources, Greek Fire burst into flames on contact with water. Some have suggested phosphorus, others have suggested a form of naphtha or another low-density liquid hydrocarbon (petroleum was already known in the East). There are numerous candidates including liquid petroleum, naphtha, burning pitch, sulphur, resin, quicklime and bitumen, along with a hypothetical unknown "secret ingredient". The exact composition is unlikely ever to be deduced from the inadequate surviving records.

It is not clear from contemporary reports if the operator ignited the mixture with a flame as it emerged from the syringe, or if it ignited spontaneously on contact with water or air. If the latter is the case, it is possible that the active ingredient was calcium phosphide, made by heating lime, bones, and charcoal. On contact with water, calcium phosphide releases phosphine, which ignites spontaneously. The reaction of quicklime with water also creates enough heat to ignite hydrocarbons, especially if an oxidiser such as saltpetre is present.

Ingredients were apparently preheated in a cauldron, and then pumped through a pump or used in hand grenades. If a pyrophoric reaction was involved, perhaps these grenades contained chambers for the fluids, which mixed and ignited when the vessel broke on impact with the target.



Undermining Defensive Walls






A "mine" was a tunnel dug to destabilise and bring down castles and other fortifications. The technique could be used only when the fortification was not built on solid rock. It was developed as a response to stone built castles that could not be burned like earlier-style wooden forts.

A tunnel would be excavated under the outer defences either to provide access into the fortification or more often to collapse the walls. These tunnels were supported by temporary wooden props as the digging progressed, just as in any mine. Once the excavation was complete, the mine was filled with combustible material. When lit it would burn away the props leaving the structure above unsupported and liable to collapse.

To save effort attackers would start the digging as near as possible to the wall or tower to be undermined. This exposed the sappers to enemy fire so it was necessary to provide some sort of defence. Pierre des Vaux de Cernay recounts that at the siege of Carcassonne in 1209, during the Cathar wars (Albigensian Crusade):


... after the top of the wall had been somewhat weakened by bombardment from petraries, our engineers succeeded with great difficulty in bringing a four-wheeled wagon, covered in oxhides, close to the wall, from which they set to work to sap the wall



(Historia Albigensis - Pierre des Vaux de Cernay, 53)


Successful sapping usually ended the battle since either the defenders would no longer be able to defend and surrender, or the attackers would simply charge in and engage the defenders in close combat.

There were several methods to resist under mining. Often the siting of a castle would be such as to make mining difficult. The walls of a castle could be constructed either on solid rock or water-logged land making it difficult to dig mines. A very deep ditch or moat could be constructed in front of the walls, or even an artificial. This makes it more difficult to dig a mine and even if a breach is made the ditch or moat makes exploiting the breach difficult.

The defenders could also dig counter mines. From these they could then either dig into the attackers tunnels and sortie into them to either kill the sappers or to set fire to the pit-props to collapse the attackers' tunnel. Alternatively they could undermine the attackers' tunnel to collapse it.

If the walls were breached they could either place obstacles in the breach for example a chevaux de frise to hinder an attack, or construct a coupure.



***






Finis
« Last Edit: 25 November, 2018, 03:05:32 PM by Pero Anes »
Pero Anes

Emeritus of the Order of the Serpent