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A History of the Late Medieval Siege, 1200-1500

A History of the Late Medieval Siege, 1200-1500

Peter Purton
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 548
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  • Book Info
    A History of the Late Medieval Siege, 1200-1500
    Book Description:

    The siege dominated warfare during the medieval period. Contemporary evidence - from both accounts of sieges, and records of government - survives in relatively large quantites for the later medieval period; together with archaeological evidence, it is used here to offer a full and comprehensive picture of siege warfare. The book shows how similar methods were practised everywhere, with knowledge of new technologies spreading quickly, and experts selling their skills to any willing employer: it also looks at how the erection of defences capable of withstanding increasingly sophisticated attack became an expensive proposition. The question of whether some of the immense surviving monuments of this age really had a military function at all is also addressed. The book begins with the Mongol conquests in Asia and Europe and the thirteenth-century apogee of pre-gunpowder siege warfare, before examining the slow impact of guns and the cumulatively massive changes in attack and defence of the fifteenth century. The companion volume, A History of the Early Medieval Siege, covers the period from around 450 until 1200.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-804-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Table of Maps
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. List of Plates
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xi)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xii)
  8. Maps
    (pp. xiii-xxviii)
  9. 1 The age of the Mongol conquests
    (pp. 1-54)

    At the end of the twelfth century, an extraordinary leader was gradually uniting the tribes of Mongolia into a single entity, displaying complete ruthlessness and remarkable skill, including military prowess of the highest order. The man who would be known as Genghis Khan first created a Mongol federation,¹ of which he was acclaimed the Khan in 1206, then turned his attentions to his neighbours. At the outset, the Mongols had few apparent advantages over their more settled enemies. Their nomadic and pastoralist existence meant that Mongol people were physically very tough and capable of great feats of endurance, and it...

  10. 2 Attack and defence in the late thirteenth century (ca. 1260–1320)
    (pp. 55-111)

    The period between the middle of the thirteenth century and the middle of the fourteenth centuries represented the end of a long period of continuous expansion of wealth and population. In western and central Europe, the fourteenth century was one of calamity, with the arrival of the Black Death preceded by years of awful famine. Massive social change, and beginnings of challenges to the social order, would be among the consequences.

    In 1260 this all lay ahead. The Byzantines were about to recover Constantinople from the Latin emperors, but not to recover the glory of the east Roman empire. The...

  11. 3 The fourteenth century: siege warfare at the start of a new age
    (pp. 112-175)

    Historians debate whether there was a late medieval “military revolution” during the fourteenth century, as states continued to develop, alongside big economic and social change. In Europe, a new regional power emerged in Poland-Lithuania. In the Muslim world, the Ottoman Turks rapidly became a potent force and brought Islam into the Balkans. Russia shook the rule of the Golden Horde for the first time under the leadership of a new city state, Muscovy, while the Mongol Yuan dynasty in China was overthrown and native rule restored with the Ming.

    Conflicts in Iberia in the 1360s were part of the wider...

  12. Plates
    (pp. None)
  13. 4 The age of Timur “the world conqueror”: the fourteenth century in the East
    (pp. 176-205)

    We have surveyed the sieges of Europe (and Rus’), north Africa and the middle east during the first decades of the century in which gunpowder weapons appeared, a time marked by social upheavals and marred by plagues and apparently incessant warfare in every country. During this same period, the history of Asia came to be dominated by the extraordinary career of a single man, the creator of the last great nomad empire. The empire of Timur would stretch from the border of China to Asia Minor, from Delhi to the Russian steppe, and never during his life was this remarkable...

  14. 5 The early fifteenth century: changing times
    (pp. 206-280)

    There are times in history when it is generally accepted that the changes that took place represent such significant developments as to amount to the end of one era and the beginning of another. The fifteenth century has commonly been accepted as such a period. While this was certainly not so true for the great nations of the east as it was for the states of the west, the consequences of the economic, social, cultural and political revolutions in Europe would quickly be felt across the whole world. We need only to list them, in no particular order: in the...

  15. Plates
    (pp. None)
  16. 6 The late fifteenth century, I: France, Britain, Central Europe and the Balkans
    (pp. 281-342)

    The middle of the fifteenth century suggests a moment when the power of the offensive seemed unusually dominant. In the year that Constantinople fell, the armies of France with their newly powerful and effectively organised artillery completed the expulsion of the English with remarkable speed. Yet even now, there was evidence that the equilibrium between attack and defence was again about to be restored, in the failed Ottoman attack on Belgrade, or the successful defence of Neuss nineteen years later. We have examined the significant progress in the quality, quantity and in particular in the organisation of artillery achieved by...

  17. 7 The late fifteenth century, II: A time of transition?
    (pp. 343-395)

    At the other end of the Mediterranean from the growing Ottoman empire, the consolidation of the Christian-ruled states in Iberia reached a critical point during the fifteenth century, with Portugal becoming the first to turn to the creation of an overseas dominion, while the unification of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon in the last third of the century laid the foundations for the emergence of what would become, in the following century, the dominant western European power. An initial stepping stone for the development of this potent force was the conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella of the last Muslim...

  18. 8 New weapons and new defences
    (pp. 396-406)

    Just as a successful attack on a major fortification required a combination of different resources on a large scale, so also the defence needed to adopt a range of measures where possible. Whether there was a defence against mines depended in part on the site, and on how deep the ditch was. The defence against artillery relied both on the strength of the wall and towers, but also and increasingly on the design of outer layers of defence, ditches and wet moats, and second walls. In the ideal design, the combination of ditch and outer wall would protect the inner...

  19. Time line
    (pp. 407-421)
  20. Glossary
    (pp. 422-428)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 429-468)
  22. Index
    (pp. 469-488)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 489-489)