This is a brief paragraph or two on each of the major siegeweapons. For the not just the besiegers but also thedefenders. Please note most of these weapons were notused alone and often had many different versions of thesame weapon.
KNIGHT At age seven a son of a noblefamily was sent to a nobleman or lord, often who was arelative. Here he was a page and taught how to ride ahorse, and his manners. At the age of fourteen he wasapprenticed to a knight. As the squire to the knight hewould take care of his horse, help him put the knightsarmor on and keep it clean. In turn he was taught how touse a bow, carve meat, and other knightly skills. The squirewould have to go into battle with the knight to help himwhen he was wounded or unhorsed.Order now
If the squire wassuccessful he would be knighted at the age of 21. Whenthere wasn’t a war going on knight would have to practice,practice, and practice some more. They would wrestle,fight with blunt swords, do acrobatics, and also do sportslike javelin and putting which is throwing a heavy stone asfar as you can. Experienced knights would participate intournaments held by the king. The winner would usually justget bragging rights and sometimes a sum of money.
Themost common event was jousting. Jousting is a sport whereto fully armored knights ride at each other on horses whileaiming a long wooden lance at the each other. With speedsreaching 60 miles per hour sometimes there could be fatalaccidents. If the person was knocked off the other wasvictorious. CATAPULTS The catapult, was invented bythe Romans, and plays a large role in the siege of anycastle.
Besiegers could fire 100-200 pound stones up to1,000 feet. The catapult was used to destroy buildings andwalls inside and outside of the castle walls, it could alsodestroy an enemies moral by throwing severed heads ofcomrades, they could spread disease by throwing shit anddead animals in, and they could destroy wooden buildingby throwing bundles of fire in. Earlier models just used alarge weight on one end of a pivoting arm. The arm waspulled back the missile was placed and then let go. Theweight went down the arm went up and good-bye missile.
Another later model gained its power from a tightly woundskein of rope, hair, and skin. the skeins were twistedincredibly tight and then had a wooden arm up to sixty feetlong placed in between them. The arm was pulled backusing pulleys and rope the missile was placed in the woodcup and then the arm was released. The arm sprang to a 90degree angle where it was stopped by a large paddedpiece of wood. The arm was then brought back downagain and fired again.
CROSSBOW The crossbow is anincredibly powerful weapon in the arsenal of any army. Awell aimed shot could kill a person even if they werewearing armor! It did however take a long time to reloadthis made it and ideal weapon for defenders of a castle. While reloading defenders could hide behind battlementswhere they wouldn’t get shot. Sometimes a crossbowmenwould have an assistant to reload while they were aiminganother crossbow. Besiegers after a while built smallmovable shields where bowmen could reload. Thecrossbow gained its power from a tight cord was pulledback over a small bump, the bolt was then placed in a littlecrevice and when the trigger was pulled the bolt would goflying.
The bolt was a small foot long arrow with a foursided iron tip. When reloading the crossbow you wouldhave to put your foot in the stirrup and pull back the cordsome crossbows were too taught so a windlass and pulleywere needed. BALLISTA The ballista was like a muchlarger version of the crossbow used by besiegers. Theballista used by the ancient Greeks was and anti-personnelweapon.
It was placed outside the city doors to discouragesorties, when defenders rush out for a counterattack. SIEGE TOWERS Sometimes if other methods had failedan attacker would have to build large siege towers. Siegetowers were wooden structures on wheels that were justtaller than the castle wall itself. The tower had a largedrawbridge type thing that lowered at wall level. When thedrawbridge was lowered attackers rushed in.
The towerhad arrow slits so attacking archers could pick offdefenders. The tower ran the risk of being burned from firearrows so besiegers placed animal hides on the side todeflect arrows. If a castle had a ditch surrounding it theditch had to be blocked with wood and dirt then rolled upnext to the wall. Sometimes if a castle had a body of watersurrounding it siege towers had to be placed on boats thenferried across. If siege towers were not available scalingladders had to be used scaling ladders however could bethrone off and rocks and boiling water could be tossed atmen on them.
RAM A ram was used to actually breakdown a wall or door. A ram was usually one or more treesthat had a metal tip on the end was either held by people orswung on chains while inside a small penthouse. The ramcould break down the wall and when it did besiegersstormed in. This was dangerous work for the people sincestones and arrows were flying down onto them. They thenbuilt wooden penthouses to deflect those and keep themsafe.
Defenders would toss mattresses to cushion theblows. MACHICOLATIONS Machicolations were piecesof the castle that jutted out from the top of walls that alouddefenders to throw rocks, boiling water, and otheroffensive substances down on the people below. Versionsof machicolations have been incorporated into castles allover Europe. One in most usually found in the gate houseare “murder holes” they are little holes in the ceiling wheredefenders throw all sorts of things down on attackers.
TUNNELING Tunneling was one of the techniques usedby besiegers only if they planned for a long and hard battle. They didn’t use it very much because of expense. Whenthey would do it they dug under one of the towers and setup shoring. When they had dug far enough under they puttwigs and flammable substances then burn it all. If itworked properly the tunnel would cave in and the towerwould crumble to pieces. Defenders to counter act thiswould either put out large puddles of water so that anytunneling would create ripples then they could counter digand have an underground fight, or they could just have amoat which would make digging hard and dangerous.