When you think of the different ways armies fought during medieval times, pickaxes and battering rams are probably some of the weapons you don’t easily associate with as common warfare techniques. In this article, you will learn some of the most popular ways that medieval folks would attack a castle:
Although not as effective when used on low ground, positioning archers on large timber platforms served as a suitable line of attack. The structures to hold the archers could be constructed within a couple of days. Later on, bow and arrows were replaced with the crossbow, which efficiently killed opponents , so much so , the church actually forbid its use for a short stretch of time. The contents of a crossbow (called quarrels) could easily slice through the armor and other protective gear of an enemy.
If a castle was old, chances were they possessed thin walls. Pickaxes allowed armies to make holes in walls. Sometimes, it took a couple of days to make headway. Pickaxes were helpful against castles build out of timber and thin stone, but they didn’t help armies trying to siege larger structures.
To attack the doors or thin walls of a castle, armies would chop a tree to weaken structures. Six to 10 men would hold the tree and knock it against parts of the castle. Some battering rams were outfitted with iron as a way to protect bodies from boiling water or arrows.
If a castle was made out of timber, fire was a popular method of gaining an upper hand. When an increase of stone castles spread across the country, using fire became obsolete. However, at its peak, attackers would shoot thousands of fire arrows to set anything beyond the castle walls on fire, which was usually huts and pieces of furniture.
First appearing during the 13th century, the trebuchet was originally built to throw stones, but this was not the only thing an army used against their opponents. Similar to a catapult, trebuchets helped launch a variety of items as weapons, such as rotten meat, large rocks, and animals of all sizes. The trebuchet also made it easier for armies to overcome castle walls that were higher than the typical structure. The first time the use of a trebuchet was recorded involved the siege of Castelnaudry, which took place in 1211 AD.
Built during the Norman period in the 11th century, Warwick Castle in Britain is one of the most famous castles in the country. With a deep history, exciting tales, and an association with the Earls of Warwick, this castle is home to the largest trebuchet in the world, measuring 18 meters high and weighing 22 tons.
To penetrate body armor, the longbow allowed armies to compete with opponents that used mechanically drawn crossbows. In some cases, they were actually quickly. The longbow was a popular weapon used in the battlefield, while the crossbow played an important role in many sieges.