Medieval Winter Siege
Trebuchets Atop Siege Towers
Scene depicting refugees in a defensive trench during a medieval winter
siege. In the background are hinged counterweight trebuchet batteries atop
siege towers. Although this would give the trebuchets additional range,
siege towers, or belfries as they where known, were normally built for
overrunning castle walls.
Belfries were built at a distance from the wall, then rolled into position.
They were constructed with a series of platforms connected by ladders.
Heavy planking and fresh animal hides helped protect the attackers from
missiles and hot or burning liquid thrown from the castle. Once in position,
the men in the belfry would lower a bridge and rush the defenses atop the
wall. The ground level of the tower provided protection for sappers, or
could house a battering ram.
It is unlikely the belfries in the illustration could close the distance
to the castle; the approach is too steep. On level ground, defenders often
prepared the ground around the castle to disable belfries. The defenders
dug ditches and refilled them with soft earth that could not support the
enormous weight of a siege tower. Attackers were forced to fill and compact
the approach before advancing the belfries.
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