By Peter Purton
Medieval conflict used to be ruled by way of the assault and defence of fortified areas, and siege tools and expertise constructed along advancements in defences. This booklet makes use of either unique historic assets and facts from archaeology to examine this dating as a part of a finished view of the total topic, tracing hyperlinks throughout 3 continents. It considers an important questions raised via siege battle: who designed, equipped and operated siege gear? How did medieval commanders achieve their wisdom? What have been the jobs of theoretical texts and the constructing technological know-how of siege war? How did nomadic peoples discover ways to behavior sieges? How some distance did castles and city partitions serve an army function, and the way some distance did they act as symbols of lordship? the quantity starts off with the substitute of the western Roman empire by way of barbarian successor states, but in addition examines the improvement of the Byzantine Empire, the Muslim Caliphate and its successors, and the hyperlinks with China, via to the early 13th century. The better half quantity, A background of the overdue Medieval Siege, maintains the tale to 1500.
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Extra info for A History of the Early Medieval Siege, c.450-1200
1â•‡ Landels, Engineering in the ancient world, 105. 2â•‡ Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum gestarum, IIIâ†œ: 494–5 (book XXXI, 15, xii). 3â•‡ Landels, Engineering in the ancient world, 132â†œ; Frankland-Payne-Gallwey, The crossbow, 249–50 and appendix. The discussion is also summarised in Southern and Dixon, The late Roman army, 152–9. 4â•‡ For example by Chevedden, “Artillery in late antiquity”, 132–63, and Purton, “The myth of the mangonel” . For further discussion, see Chapter 9. 5â•‡ Humphries, Engines of war.
Interestingly, Vegetius discussed this only from the viewpoint of the defence. So it is clear, this is a very practical treatise, one designed to deal with the defensive problems faced at its time (even if some of the descriptions given obviously allude to earlier times). One of the repeated points made by this author in passing was that skilled and experienced people are necessary to operate the equipment. 3 This was to be a recurring theme throughout the whole middle ages. For the present, when examining the actual siege warfare of the two centuries following the eclipse of the western empire, the availability of such expertise is a basic question always to be borne in mind.
The attackers who gave some evidence of aptitude were the Huns. In their invasion of the Balkans after 441, they are recorded as taking some one hundred towns. 3 In 454, Attila’s sons captured three towns in Dacia by regular siege, not by direct storm or starvation. In 452, Attila himself had attacked Aquileia (northern Italy). He constructed and brought to bear “all kinds of machines and artillery”, where the use of the word tormentorum implies, although it does not prove, that torsion artillery is meant.
A History of the Early Medieval Siege, c.450-1200 by Peter Purton