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European Medieval Battle Strategy

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Tristan Phillips

on 6 November 2012

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Transcript of European Medieval Battle Strategy

European Medieval Battle Strategies By: Tristan Phillips, Varun Mohan, Sean Courtney, and Kevin Hays. Archers Introduction In medieval Europe, different warriors clashed for control over castles, strongholds, and land. Battles were fierce, and each side used advanced strategies to try and overcome the enemy. Such strategies included the use of archers, chemical and biological warfare, siege engines, and siege tactics. Castle Defense Chemical and Biological Warfare Archers were especially useful in great numbers. When they fired arrows in large volleys they can severely weaken an opposing force. Utilizing the power of the long bow, archers were devastating on the battlefield and could easily eliminate the threat of knights. A siege is when military forces seal off a building (a castle in this case) to compel those inside to surrender. The siege causes those trapped inside the castle to gradually run out of food and starve. Then they can be defeated by wits, by force, or by blockades. Siege Engines Conclusion The different techniques that different comanders used in battle helped greatly in influencing the outcome of the battle. Many came from Roman and Greek techniques, and they still were highly useful on the battlefield. European medieval battle strategy was advanced and helped pave the way for modern military tactics. With all the strength that archers had, they had one critical weakness. If the enemy were to come close enough to attack, they would be easily defeated. To counter this weakness, the phalanx and tortoise battle formations were used by infantry to protect them. Sieges were one of the most common battle techniques used in order win a war. If a siege was successful, the land and resources under the castle's control can be obtained. If unsuccessful, a siege can be a costly loss. Greek fire was among the greatest defensive advancements and most commonly used form of chemical warfare used by the Greeks and now the Europeans. This mixture of flammable chemicals not only allowed it to act much like napalm but even gave it the ability to burn equally fierce on the surface of water. This allowed the flames to be utilized not only on ground troops but on ships as well. Biological warfare proved to be devastating during the medieval era. In order to try and eliminate enemy number, soldiers fired plague or other diseased victims over castle walls. Using catapults or trebuchets, the corpses easily flew over and infected those inside. As a result, those inside would be weakened and forced to surrender in order to survive. This technique resulted in the plague being spread and could easily backfire . Types of Sieges:
Storm- This form of siege is when a castle is required to be taken by force and fast. This is only done when there isn't time for reasoning or blockading.
Deals- A deal can be made with the lord of the castle to make him give it up. This lost the least lives but happened rarely.
Blockading- Every entry and exit of a castle would be sealed. Nobody could get in or out. The people inside the castle had to survive on provisions. It usually took months for a castle to surrender. This was the most costly because the soldiers had to be paid for months for simply waiting. Castle Defenses:
Ballistas- Ballistas were massive crossbows that fired spears. They were especially deadly when fired but they took an extremely long time to reload making them somewhat ineffective.
Boiling water/oil- Boiling water/oil was extremely useful to disorient and burn troops below. However, the water had to be carried up a ladder. Heating the water while on the tower proved to be slow.
Archers- Archers were necessary to cripple the infantry.
Drawbridge- A drawbridge was useful to prevent soldiers from approaching the castle. Unfortunately the castle was still prone to ranged attacks.
Moats- A moat is another defense that strictly limits how close a soldier can approach a castle Although there were many ways to defeat the powerful walls of a castle, defenders also had their ways of stopping the attackers before they were overcome. First of all, it would take quite some time before battering rams could break the thick castle walls. This would give defenders time to attack and kill attackers. Also if the castle was properly built for defense, towers would be rounded. These were much harder to destroy then squared towers, and allowed archers to be protected while raining arrows on infantry. The defenses of the medieval castle were so great that a simple assault by foot soldiers would be complete suicide. As a result various forms of siege engines were created. These ranged in purpose from the destruction of castle wall, the destruction of the towns themselves, to even simply creating methods for the soldiers to breach the wall. One of the most common of these was the battering ram. This simple machine allowed the soldiers to break through the otherwise impenetrable gate. However these became very vulnerable to defenses, such as boiling oil, which were often concentrated around the gate. To solve this problem the siege tower would come into play. This tall mobile tower allowed a small group of soldiers to ride within and be deployed on the castle walls themselves. However these were still slow, considerably fragile, and took a great length of time to build. To solve this other problem a new approach must be taken. The solution to passing the walls without the necessity of scaling them was simple, destroy the wall. Trebuchets and catapults could do the task but were far too inaccurate to do it effectively. For this duty they would need the cannon. The cannon held a great many purposes on the battlefield. They could be used to bombard opposing forces, town, and foremost they could destroy castle walls. They were mobile, powerful, accurate, and easier to build than most other siege weapons. This was an easy way to demolish enemy forces. Bibliography Sieges
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