It was first used against the Arabs at the siege of Constantinople of
Description of Medieval Greek Fire
The weapons used the Medieval times include the Medieval Greek Fire. Fire
caused havoc in a besieged castle or city and a variety of fire missiles
were thrown from a trebuchet - none more terrifying than Medieval Greek Fire.
Medieval Greek Fire was a liquid that ignited on contact with water. Medieval Greek Fire
had the property of developing intense heat, spreading in all directions
and burning on water! The use of the trebuchet and Medieval Greek Fire was
featured in the 2003 movie Timeline, based on the book by Michael
Crichton. This movie depicted the making of Medieval Greek Fire and how it was
used, to devastating effect, during siege warfare between the
English and the French.
How to make Greek Fire
- Recipe /
Formula / Ingredients
Medieval Greek Fire was such a devastating
weapon that the exact composition of a Medieval Greek Fire Recipe was a closely
guarded secret. There were various formula for creating Medieval Greek Fire. Some
accounts of Medieval Greek Fire suggest that petroleum and oil was used as an
ingredient. Other Medieval Greek Fire recipe or formula which seems far more
likely include a combination, or composition of ingredients such as
Quicklime, Saltpeter, Bitumen, Sulphur, Resin and Pitch. No one, to
date, has been able to successfully recreate the exact composition. This
terrifying fiery substance stuck like glue to almost any surface and was
nearly impossible to extinguish except with sand, salt, or urine.
Throwing water alone on Medieval Greek Fire only fanned the flames.
How to make Greek
Fire - Greek Fire Recipe -
the Ingredients and Formula
How to make Greek fire. The Medieval Greek Fire recipe for Medieval Greek Fire
included the following ingredients which are defined as follows:
Quicklime - Quicklime
also known as calcium oxide (white, caustic, lumpy powder )
Saltpeter - Saltpeter
aka Sodium nitrate is a type of salt which has long been used as an
ingredient in explosives
Bitumen - Asphalt and
tar are the most common forms of bitumen. The city of Carthage was
easily burnt down due to extensive use of bitumen in construction.
Sulpher (Sulfur) -
Sulfur is a soft bright yellow solid. Unlike most other liquids,
increases with temperature due to the formation of polymer chains.
Because of its flammable nature, sulfur also finds use in matches,
gunpowder, and fireworks.
Resin - Resin is a
sticky liquid produced by most plants. Some reins contain heptane
which is explosively flammable
Pitch - Pitch is a
thick, dark, sticky substances obtained from the distillation
residue of coal tar, wood tar, or petroleum and used for
Understanding the properties
of the ingredients which were possibly included in the recipe or formula
for Medieval Greek Fire explains why its exact composition was kept such a
closely guarded secret/
First Hand History of Medieval Greek Fire
The Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville
provides a fascinating description of Medieval Greek Fire. Born in 1225, John,
Lord of Joinville, Seneschal of Champagne was only twenty-three when he
joined the French King Louis in the disastrous Seventh Crusade when
Medieval Greek Fire was used by the Saracens.
"... the tail of fire that trailed behind it was as big as a great
spear; and it made such a noise as it came, that it sounded like the
thunder of heaven. It looked like a dragon flying through the air. Such
a bright light did it cast, that one could see all over the camp as
though it were day, by reason of the great mass of fire, and the
brilliance of the light that it shed.”
His companion, Lord Walter of Cureil wrote:
"Sirs, we are in the greatest peril that
we have ever yet been in. For, if they set fire to our turrets and
shelters, we are lost and burnt; and if, again, we desert our defences
which have been entrusted to us, we are disgraced; so none can deliver
us from this peril save God alone. My opinion and advice therefor is:
that every time they hurl the fire at us, we go down on our elbows and
knees, and beseech Our Lord to save us from this danger."
Medieval Greek Fire fighters stated:
out the fire, and before we had got it under, we were covered from head
to foot with the fire-darts that the Saracens shot across the river."
The devastation caused by the use of
Medieval Greek Fire is well illustrated in the above fascinating descriptions and
first hand history of Medieval Greek Fire by John, Lord of Joinville.