Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > seige questions Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Mike H





Joined: 12 Nov 2005

Posts: 41

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 9:12 am    Post subject: seige questions         Reply with quote

I had a few questions about seiges. I just recently went to Austria and I saw incredible castles built on steep cliffs thousands of feet up, I've never seen any illustrations about sieges on castles like this but ive heard of them. Im just curious how they would attack a castle like this. If anyone has any illustrations or info on this i would be greatful.
Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes- pope John Paul II
View user's profile Send private message
Dan P




Location: Massachusetts, USA
Joined: 28 Jun 2007

Posts: 208

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 10:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Surround them and starve them out maybe.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,177

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 10:20 am    Post subject: Re: seige questions         Reply with quote

Mike H wrote:
I had a few questions about sieges. I just recently went to Austria and I saw incredible castles built on steep cliffs thousands of feet up, I've never seen any illustrations about sieges on castles like this but ive heard of them. Im just curious how they would attack a castle like this. If anyone has any illustrations or info on this i would be greatful.


I would think mostly blockade and starvation would be the main way to siege a castle built on a high and very steep cliff.

Also water supply can be a problem with these types of castles since digging a well wouldn't work in most cases and the water supply would depend on rain water collected in large cisterns.

If the castle was close to a river and it was possible to protect the castle's access to the water in some way the water supply problem might be less severe.

Some siege machines might be able to hit the walls if they could be situated close enough or high enough on a close by
hill ? A lot would depend on the geography of the site.

Strategically an almost inaccessible site makes " sorties " or harassing an enemy bypassing the castle difficult: Site hard to attack but also a pain climbing up to every day.

Now such a fortress might be useful as a watch post and easy to defend with a tiny garrison and might be able to signal the approach of an enemy army using smoke signals, mirrors or a big sound alarm like a giant gong, trumpets or drums.
Oh, and messenger pigeons.

Another way to take such a castle might be getting in by stealth or disguised as something else. Bribery of the garrison might also work in some cases.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Martin Wilkinson





Joined: 05 Mar 2006

Posts: 155

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 10:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

During the crusade against the Cathars there was a siege against a castle similar to this.

What was done, if i remember correctly, was that the besiegers blocked the easy route to the castle. And then set up a battery of trebuchets to smash the cliff into a staircase. The besiegers then climbed the stair case and took the castle, unless i'm badly misremembering this.

"A bullet you see may go anywhere, but steel's, almost bound to go somewhere."

Schola Gladiatoria
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Mike H





Joined: 12 Nov 2005

Posts: 41

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, you have all given me great ideas, Im writing a story write now and in the beginning there is a seige on this type of castle, I can't believe i couldnt think of the surround the castle and starve them out technique, my head hasnt been on right this week
Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes- pope John Paul II
View user's profile Send private message
Bryce Felperin




Location: San Jose, CA
Joined: 16 Feb 2006

Posts: 552

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You could also do what the Romans did at Massada. Build a big ramp up to the enemy ramparts. ;-)
View user's profile Send private message
Gordon Frye




Location: Kingston, Washington
Joined: 20 Apr 2004
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,191

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Though specific to the later Renaissance and Early Modern period, this series of articles by Barry Siler will give you a good idea of the sorts of techniques used for various sorts of seige warfare:

http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/features/siege/index.html

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Likes: 7 pages

Posts: 2,229

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexander the Great took one such fortress by placing his mangonels on a hill which his engineers built in order to get high enough to shoot on the enemy walls.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,177

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 2:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Either you need lots of work and a big work force to build a ramp or hill or lots of time to starve the garrison that if well supplied in food and fresh water might be able to last a year or more !

Major siege works could resemble a major mining operation and maybe only the Romans would have had the persistence and engineering skills to literally bring down the hill on which the castle was built ! ( Or Alexander the Great )

This could include moving mountains of rock or diverting rivers ! Oh, If I remember correctly one Ancient history siege of Babylon involved changing the course of the Tigris or maybe the Euphrates. ( Not sure which )

The sieging force would also be subject to the risk of disease and might eventually have to give up the siege.

Friendly forces could attack the siege force or at least harass it's foragers i.e. a large siege force has large logistical needs that might exceed the local food supplies that could be exhausted before the supplies in the castle ! The siege force might be starving faster than the besieged !

A scorched earth policy by the friendly to the castle forces could deprive the besiegers of needed local supplies.

Oh, here is a link to an article about the siege of the Chateau Gaillard that might be useful: http://ezinearticles.com/?About-the-Famous-Si...;id=529391

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Hugo Voisine





Joined: 25 Feb 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 336

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 5:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Throwing a couple of dead cows and some really big rocks with trebuchets inside the walls maybe ?

Digging in the soil until you get to the fundations and then put all kind of nasty explosive things in the hole should do the work also. But of course you can't do that on rocky terrain.

« Que dites-vous ?... C'est inutile ?... Je le sais !
Mais on ne se bat pas dans l'espoir du succès !
Oh ! non, c'est bien plus beau lorsque c'est inutile ! »
View user's profile Send private message
Christopher Lee




Location: Sunshine Coast, Australia
Joined: 18 Apr 2006

Posts: 160

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 6:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, really it depends upon what time period you are talking about as the techniques changed over time and the location of the particular castle geographically. What held true in france may not hold true in balkans during the 16th C. turkish siege methods differed from french or german. If the site was truly inaccessible then the methods used would be, as others have mentioned, starvation, blockade, ect. However, if the castle was unlikely to be relieved then there was the possiblity that the castle would be unwilling to hold out indefinatly, risking disease and starvation or treachery resulting in massacre or enslavement. Also, never underestimate the power of bribery. To a certain extent, the terror tactics of the mongols and others when conducting sieges were an attempt to ensure that they didn't have to actually conduct that many sieges. If a fortress decided to hold out they knew that the mongols would not give up until they had reduced the fortress and massacred the garrison; a disincentive for other castles to even think about resisting, undermining morale before it came to a siege. Essentially a fortress is only as strong as its defenders and there are many cases of garrisons thinking better of holding out,even when their positions were very strong.
View user's profile Send private message
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,098

PostPosted: Wed 15 Aug, 2007 11:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christopher,

Or it can also solidify a group as it did in Hungry and other places against them. Killing of garrisons has major mixed benefits and penalties. Think of What the killing of the garrison did for Charles the Bold. Not always a good thing. Many commanders would set dates of surrender. If you run the risk of them killing you no matter what you could be more likley to hold out for much longer.


German seiges are different than elsewhere most often because they have useful terrain around. They also build their castles different in a number of ways. I think the main one is the keepish castle is placed in a primary defence position and is still made to be a last resort as well, some reached by drawbridges. Think of what gatehouse towers in Englanf become first line defences that can be held as independant fortifications. They also do not have many arrowloops usually but do make use of the wallwalks. Into the 15th century german uses large engines like springalds and smaller trebuchets to counter enemy attacks so even if high up on a cliff they are not completely defensive. They also adapt firearms in the late 14th into 15th to use with and instead of traditional artillery. I read a great book on this some time ago but I cannot remember where.

RPM
View user's profile Send private message
Andreas Auer




Location: Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria, Europe
Joined: 15 Dec 2006
Likes: 2 pages
Reading list: 11 books

Posts: 122

PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2007 1:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@ Mike H: where in austria have you been, or wich castles have you seen , maybe i can do a little research as im from Austria , Tirol to be exact...a few of our castles were taken very late, when the weapons became stronger than intendet by the castlebuilders...
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Mike H





Joined: 12 Nov 2005

Posts: 41

PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2007 6:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I went to Innsbruck. But all the castles I saw was on the train heading there from Italy. I didnt get to know any names Sad
Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes- pope John Paul II
View user's profile Send private message
Andreas Auer




Location: Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria, Europe
Joined: 15 Dec 2006
Likes: 2 pages
Reading list: 11 books

Posts: 122

PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2007 8:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike H wrote:
I went to Innsbruck. But all the castles I saw was on the train heading there from Italy. I didnt get to know any names Sad


as i live in Innsbruck, i know all the castles that are around. most of them where ministerial castles meaning court was held in them... almost all of them where besiegt by bavarians by starvatian and isolation...as there is no space for big siegeengines...when im at home from work i´m gona look for some fotos and dates...most of them castles where taken by the french army...
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2007 9:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, the sultan Yusuf ibn Ayyub, better known as Saladin, was once faced with a similar situation--and witness his solution to it:

http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/pdfs/hamblin.pdf
View user's profile Send private message
Mike H





Joined: 12 Nov 2005

Posts: 41

PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2007 3:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, Andreas, I wish I couldve spent more time to check them out but i was only there for 2 days and had to get my fill of hiking before I left Happy
Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes- pope John Paul II
View user's profile Send private message
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2007 6:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that in some cases time was the biggest advantages outside besiegers could have.
The tours of the Marksburg Castle boast of the fact that the castle was never actually taken. It has a well inside that reaches down to the river water. About 50% of its perceived wall height is actually mountain base rock. The castle courtyard level was actually dug down into the mountain top.
http://www.roadstoruins.com/marksburg.htm

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
Mike H





Joined: 12 Nov 2005

Posts: 41

PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2007 6:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like marksburg castle, thats sort of the look im going for in my story except its surrounded by more mountains and also this castle, hohenzollern http://www.preussen.de/de/heute/burg_hohenzollern.html
Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes- pope John Paul II
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,177

PostPosted: Thu 16 Aug, 2007 8:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike H wrote:
I like marksburg castle, thats sort of the look im going for in my story except its surrounded by more mountains and also this castle, hohenzollern http://www.preussen.de/de/heute/burg_hohenzollern.html


In real life one finds a site and takes best advantage of it: In fiction one can design/invent a site with a great deal of advantages that one would have to be very lucky to find on one's land.

Now here are a few features I would " design in " to the castle and site:

1) As with Marksburg using base rock and digging in as well as building up the walls.

2) The site would be surrounded on 3 sides by a swift river at the base of a high steep cliff leaving only the fourth side accessible at a very narrow front : A bit like an island of rock connected by a narrow stone bridge.

3) The accessible side would still be steep but approachable on a switch-back road defended by a series of forward works and gates.

4) The stone bridge or narrow section would be cut deeply by a dry moat that would slant in a way that any rubble intended to fill the ditch would roll down inclines and not fill the ditch easily: The floor of the ditch being slanted rather than flat. In other words, the floor would be cut like a peaked roof and rubble would roll out of the slot-like cut in the stone bridge that would be crossed by a drawbridge.

5) A deep well would reach the level of the river, so water supply would be assured.

6) The bottom of the cliff side would be reachable at the bottom from the castle so that one could use the river for escape or re-supply making a " starvation " type of siege very difficult. The swift river with rapids should be hard to cross on the side opposite the castle but still reachable by supply or escape boats hugging the castle side.

So this escape route would be very easy to defend and hard to reach or blockade as the river would be too fast for boats or ships to keep station in front of the base of the castle.

Blockade might be possible but very very difficult as the river could split upstream and down stream into a " thousand Islands " type of mountainous or rolling hills that would be almost maze-like.

7) The castle would be able to block a major trade or invasion route for both security and revenue making it worthwhile to garrison it generously and have the income to pay for it all i.e. a dream Fief for the owner and a nightmare for a besieger.

Anyway, this would be my concept of an almost impossible to take castle. Wink Laughing Out Loud

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > seige questions
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum