In the Middle Ages the lords and kings of Europe fought for dominance. They built castles as a symbol of military might and protection of the castle’s ruler. Invading armies or lords could not rule or conquer the area without the castle. Because castles were designed to keep even the most determined enemy out, attackers had to develop new weapons to get in. The battle between the castle defenders and the attackers became known as a siege. A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static defensive position. ...view middle of the document...
The arrow was prepared with a notch, or nock, at the rear end into which the bowstring fitted, and a head at the other end, which could be anything from the tip of the wood, which was fire hardened, to complex and ornate shapes of stone, bone, petrified wood, ivory, jade, or metal. Stability in flight was provided by fletching the arrow that is, fitting stabilizing flights at the tail end. These were usually two, three, or four feathers, arranged symmetrically around the shaft and attached by gluing or binding. Some arrows, notably those used by Bushmen and other indigenous peoples, are without flights, but these can be used with accuracy at only short ranges. For the maximum range, flights are essential, giving a degree of aerodynamic lift to the arrow as well as ensuring that it flies straight (Cross 98).
Longbow arrows in sieges were mainly used as incendiary arrows, which were used throughout the ancient and medieval periods. The simplest flaming arrows had oil- or resin-soaked tows tied just below the arrowhead and were effective against wooden structures. Upon impact, the arrows send out great jets of fire, setting light to everything nearby. For the inhabitants of Oran, under siege by the Spanish in 1404, it is a terrifying attack causing immense destruction. For more precise aim soldiers used the crossbow (Hammer).
The crossbow appeared in China around 500 B.C. How it arrived in Europe is a matter of some conjecture, but by the twelfth century, it had become a popular weapon throughout Europe. At its simplest, the crossbow is a conventional bow mounted upon a shoulder stock, but the mechanizing of the bow produced an exceptionally powerful weapon, which had a maximum range of about three hundred and fifty yards, or three hundred and twenty meters, comfortably outranging the longbow’s two hundred yards, or one hundred and eighty meters. Its principal defect was its slow rate of fire. A heavy crossbow could fire one shot per minute, the lighter crossbows perhaps four shots per minute, whereas a skilled long bowman could release six to twelve shots in a minute. In Medieval warfare, where the target was generally massed ranks of men, rate of fire for more than precise accuracy (Cross 99).
The matter of drawing the crossbow also caused problems the simplest way was to fit a stirrup to the forward end of the stock, place this on the ground and put one foot into it, then seize the string with both hands and draw it up until it could be lodged in its catch. The claw was a simple hook attached to the man’s belt; he stood on the stirrup, bent forward, and hooked the claw onto the string, then straightened up, and so drew the bow. Another method was the “goat foot” lever, a claw like contrivance that hooked onto pivots on the sides of stock and, by means of hinged hook, levered the bowstring back (Hindly 46).
Once drawn, the string was retained by a catch, and the projectile, generally known as a bolt or “quarrel”, was...