Nursery Rhymes

Siege Tower

Medieval life and Times

Definition of a Siege Tower
The Siege Tower was a device used during siege warfare. The Medieval Siege Tower was designed to to protect the soldiers attacking the defensive walls of a castle, town or fortress.

Medieval Siege Tower Objectives
The objective of a Medieval Siege Tower was to allow soldiers to mount a direct and close attack on a fortification - castle, fortress or town.

Siege Towers were usually constructed with wheels and reached 3 stories in height. A Medieval Siege Tower was a multipurpose machine which could hold men, their weapons and even small siege engines  from close-range positions of relative safety. A Mangonel was sometimes placed at the top of a Medieval Siege Tower. 

Description and Siege Tower Design
One of the siege weapons used the Medieval times include the Siege Tower. The Medieval Siege Tower was an invaluable Medieval siege attack weapon. The Medieval Siege Tower was designed to to protect the soldiers attacking the defensive walls of a castle, town or fortress. It was also designed to hold soldiers and siege weapons. The Medieval Siege Tower was usually a tall, rectangular construction with four wheels and a height roughly equal to that of the wall or sometimes higher. The Medieval Siege Tower mechanism carried scores of soldiers, who climbed ladders to move between the different levels of a Medieval Siege Tower. Near the top of the Medieval Siege Tower was a strategically placed drawbridge which was lowered to allow the attackers to race onto the battlements. Siege Towers were large and expensive to construct - they were therefore the last type of siege weapon to be constructed at a prolonged siege when the fortification could not be penetrated by ladder assault, sapping or by pounding walls.

Siege Tower Coverings
The relative safety offered by the Medieval Siege Tower from missiles or fire  was due to the cover that it offered the soldiers. The framework of the Medieval Siege Tower was covered in animal hides. At the last minute when the Medieval Siege Tower was about to be rolled or wheeled into place the hides were soaked in mud and vinegar to add further protection. There were even iron plates which could be added to the siege towers, although this was an extremely expensive option.

Medieval Siege Tower Variations
The relative safety offered by the Medieval Siege Tower from missiles or fire led to a series of Medieval Siege Tower variations. A horizontal version of a Medieval Siege Tower was developed to provide cover for a battering ram. Conventional siege towers were also known to have a battering ram built into the lowest level of the structure. Each Medieval Siege Tower was designed to suit the requirements of the wall it was required to attack.

Medieval Siege Tower History
Medieval Siege Tower history dates back to antiquity. The Medieval Siege Tower is believed to be an ancient war engine which was  used in China and by the Romans and Greeks. Records of major English sieges of the Middle Ages mention the use of siege towers. It was not uncommon for the defenders also to build siege towers to directly oppose those of the attackers.  A Medieval Siege Tower was used at the siege of Kenilworth Castle in 1266. Records show that the Medieval Siege Tower held two hundred archers and eleven siege engines.

Preparing to use the Medieval Siege Tower
Many preparations had to be made before using a Medieval Siege Tower. Many castles and fortresses were surrounded by moats and ditches so before the tower could be moved near the walls the moat or ditch had to be filled with rubble and earth. The ground leading up to the required position had to be chosen to allow for easy transportation of the siege tower.

Attacking with the Medieval Siege Tower
When all was ready the Medieval Siege Tower would be rolled, pushed or wheeled into into place next to the wall. Men were positioned on all levels. The drawbridge on the top deck was lowered, like a gangplank, enabling the soldiers to  rush forward on to the wall of the fortification.  As men departed from the Medieval Siege Tower reinforcements moved upwards from the lower levels which added weight to the initial assault. Not all the soldiers left the Medieval Siege Tower. They were often were defended by archers shooting through arrow slits.

Building a Siege Tower
Building a  Medieval Siege Tower required the design and building skills. Siege weapons, such as the Medieval Siege Tower, were made to order! They were far too cumbersome to move from one place to another. In a siege situation the commander would assess the situation and the siege weapons design requirements to break a siege. Engineers would instruct soldiers as to the construction and building of siege weapons such as the Medieval Siege Tower.

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