Weapons of the Crusades Essay

The Weapons of the Crusades Guy Steuart 4/20/13 War in Society Dr. Jobin The Crusades were extremely violent times. With constant pressure to take back the holy city, armies were constantly fighting and killing. They were also always trying to find better and more efficient ways to fight and kill. Old weapons were engineered to be more destructive, new weapons were invented to destroy the ever-advancing technology in fortification. The three main categories of weaponry that were most important to the crusades were foot soldiers, knights, and siege weapons.One of the many siege weapons used during the crusades was the Trebuchet.

It was extremely important to sieges and resembles the catapult, however the trebuchet was more complicated, intercut and damaging than its close relative. The trebuchet used a sling attached on one end to a wooden beam with a heavy weight at the other end of the beam. The beam was fixed at the top of two vertical supported arms to balance the horizontal, elevated beam. The trebuchet was loaded using a crank and pulley system to lower the sling side of the beam and raise the heavy weight side.Then the rope holding down the sling side was loosed which, in turn, would drop the weight causing the sling attached to the arm to quickly raise up releasing the projectile. The trebuchet had a very versatile arsenal, it was capable of firing boulders, sharp wooden poles and darts, fire, burning tar, burning sand, dung, dead and sometimes mutilated bodies or even disease ridden bodies, body parts, and dead animals, all of which caused utter chaos inside the castle walls.The force of the Trebuchet was capable of reducing castles, fortresses and cities to rubble with its immense firing power and its ability to launch up to 2000 missiles a day. The trebuchet was an extremely important and vital piece of any siege, capable of destroying even the most fortified cities, however its one downfall was its immobility.

Trebuchets were built on-site by engineers who were on the field of battle directing soldiers on how to construct it. This was a slight problem because time was always of the essence in battle and in construction of the weapon.The time it took to build the trebuchet might have made the difference in winning or loosing a battle. Enemies could also disrupt or halt the construction of a trebuchet if they got too close. Another of the siege weapons used during the Crusading times was the Ballista. The Ballista was an extremely important siege weapon during the crusades as well. It was built similarly to a giant crossbow and was loaded and fired similarly.

The biggest difference, however, was its size. The Ballista was designed to essentially be a medieval missile launcher powered by two short bow arms.It was capable of firing huge wooden or ironclad darts or arrows. The projectiles were powered by twisted skeins of rope, hair, or sinew that were cranked back and attached to a firing mechanism at the opposite end of rope. Then, the projectile could be loaded and fired; the ballista design was based on a huge dart-throwing machine. The balista was capable of firing its projectiles at a flat trajectory or into the air.

The projectiles from the balista were designed to be capable of penetrating through multiple enemy lines.This siege weapon was extremely important for the front lines of an attack. It was light, highly mobile, accurate and fast. The gunmen were capable of firing 1000 rounds in one day making it an extremely dangerous and terrifying weapon. Its only downfall was the weight of the rounds it could fire. It could never have the pure destruction power of the trebuchet, which was built to launch huge boulders.

Its lightweight rounds slightly hindered its ability as a siege weapon, however its ability to mow down the enemy makes up for its lack of size.Of these two siege weapons, the Balista come across as the more dangerous. The trebuchet, although extremely powerful and capable of toppling great fortifications, its immobility, lack of speed and “tricki[ness] in operation” deemed it less crucial to the battle field than the balisti.

This is because of its mobility, accuracy, firing power, quickness, level of ease and its ability to “wound a great many of the fortifications” in the crusading times its it can be considered more dangerous and efficient than the trebuchet. The knight was an extremely important aspect to every crusading force.Generally on horseback the knight was well trained, brave, and loyal. A knight almost always had two weapons on him which include his sword and his lance. The Sword came in all kinds of different sizes, weights, and edge types.

However the most common type of sword for a knight was a longsword or a greatsword which was more capable of delivering more fatal blows then its smaller cousin, the one-handed sword. They were able to deliver such bone crushing blows because of its weight of 6-10 pounds and its length of 50-72 inches.The Sword’s versatility and variability of attack in battle and relatively long reach in hand to hand combat made it an effective weapon. However its’ extreme difficulty to very skilled at and the fact that the sword is only as good as who is wielding it made the sword less effective. The Knight spent most of his time fighting mounted on his horse. This gave him a speed and height advantage over those on foot; However being on horseback made it harder to wield a long, heavy sword thus bringing fourth the effectiveness of the lance.The lance was a long wooden pole, usually measuring 9-14 feet in length. The shaft of the pole was usually made of a hard wood, usually ash, with a metal tip mounted on the end.

The lance was used most effectively by a knight while on horseback as he rode towards his enemy in attempt to land a blow to the target with the end of the lance. It was fairly easy to train a knight to use a lance and it was also cheap to manufacture. The lance was made effective by its excellent reach in close combat battle as well as its ability to be used as a hit and run weapon.The lance was made ineffective if the attacker got too close to the knight with a lance rendering it almost entirely useless.

Of the two weapons that a knight almost always had on him, the sword was the more effective in battle. Because of its ability to deliver such a fatal knocking blow as well as cut through the enemy, which the lance could not do; its effectiveness in close combat battle as well as hit and run type of attacks on horseback; and its versatility in battle, the sword is more capable of causing more damage to an army or an individual than the lance.A foot soldier did not have the luxury of being on a horse with a lance and usually could not afford a usable sword so the foot soldier generally had one of two weapons on him, the crossbow or the poleaxe. The poleaxe was a foot soldiers best friend in close combat against a knight on a horse. It consisted of a broad, short axe blade mounted on one side of a wooden shaft, or pole, with a heavy hammer head on the opposite side as well as a spike at the end of the, generally, five to six foot pole. This weapon was so beloved y the foot soldier because of its effectiveness against an armored knight with a sword.

The poleaxe was effective against the sword because it was longer than most all swords knights wielded. This made it harder for the knight to get close enough to strike a blow. The poleaxe was also very heavily weighted at the attacking end due to the metal axe head, hammer and spike making it capable of delivering a fatal chopping blow with the axe or a just as devastating strike with the hammer which could easily crush the helm of a knight. The Spike at the end of the poleaxe worked very well as a long range dagger.It wasn’t capable of piercing armor but it certainly would be an easy and devastating hit to an unarmored enemy. This weapon was extremely successful in medium range combat but if the enemy got too close or the battle was raging in close quarters it was almost useless as it was far too unwieldy to use in close combat. The crossbow was used by a foot soldier usually for longer range fights. It essentially is a modified and advanced version of the bow and arrow.

The crossbow was made of varnished wood, generally ash, and a hemp string attached to both ends of a short bow which was fixed to the front of the stock.The string was then drawn back using a crank or lever system allowing it to deliver more force than the strength of the bowman alone. After the string was drawn, it was attached to a firing mechanism, which was released by pulling the trigger.

After the string was drawn, the bolt must be put into place which was in a groove which ran from one end of the cross bow all the way to the other allowing the bolt to fire straight. The bolt differed from a traditional arrow because of its size and weight. The bolt closely resembled a dart and was capable of being fired up to 400 yards.What made the crossbow so effective was its ease in use and firing as well as its killing capability. It was extremely easy to fire and reload as well as aim.

It was accurate and did not require a lot of strength to use making it the perfect weapon for a young boy, an old man or a sick or injured soldier. The bolt was fired hard enough to pierce a fully armored knight and even kill the fully armored knight. The crossbows biggest downfall, however, was its slow firing rate.

The crossbow was only capable of firing two rounds a minute making the bowman extremely vulnerable while reloading.Both the crossbow and the poleaxe were extremely useful and effective weapons during the crusades, however because of the crossbows ability to kill from a distance, the crossbow is a more effective weapon than the poleaxe. The poleaxe is more effective as a defense weapon than an attacking weapon, which the crossbow epitomizes.

A foot soldier wielding a poleaxe is not nearly as capable of taking out as many fully armored knights as the crossbow. The crossbows ability to fire extremely deadly projectiles from a long range that are capable of killing a fully armored knight make it the most effective foot soldier weapon.All of these weapons mentioned were extremely vital to any crusade.

If an army were without foot soldiers wielding a crossbow or a polexe; a knight with a lance or a sword; or a siege effort with a trebuchet or ballista, the crusaders would be devastated by the enemy. These weapons allowed for the success and failure on both sides of the crusade effort and each of these aforementioned weapons were very devastating to the enemy and were pivotal to the efforts.References Members.

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