History of Technology 4: Iron and Siege Warfare

Catapults, and ballistas, and trebuchets, oh my!

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TechnologyHistory of Technology

Transcript

00:24

and swords instead it was fought with cities walls

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catapults and long months spent waiting for the people inside the castle to

00:34

starve. it was great for the waistline but not so great for well being alive.

00:39

siege warfare became more common in the Middle Ages when cities and castles had

00:44

walls built around them. a wall seemed like a good idea right keeps out the

00:50

riffraff you know the guys who like disembowelling everyone in sight.

00:53

but all these big walls also set off a sort of arms race. potential invaders

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looked at these castle walls and said to themselves you know what would be [man walks castle walls]

01:03

awesome ? a giant machine that would bash those dumb walls down. and you know what?

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they built those machines. isn't it nice when dreams come true? of course that

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meant that castle builders started making bigger and thicker walls to stand

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up to the machines. this of course led to others making bigger badder machines and

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so on and so forth yeah. well the crudest of these devices was probably the

01:28

battering ram usually they're just big logs used to smash in doors and walls

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which yeah it's not the most ingenious idea that's ever been had you know it's [men use battering ram]

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kind of the Hulk and whole corner. but still if a fella wanted to bash in the

01:44

doors of a castle a battering ram was a good option especially if the Hulk was

01:48

around Olinda big green ham. iron did a lot to make battering rams more

01:52

effective. by putting iron tips on the logs battering ram builders are really

01:57

upped their game. a castle doors and walls weren't nearly as safe well things

02:03

got more complex and deadly with the catapult. these ancient machines

02:07

they're basically humongous slingshots they were great for hurling big rocks

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too. no down castle gates and walls I think. it

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also hurl rocks and giant balls of flaming pitch over castle walls to set [catapults hurl things at castle]

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everything on fire inside of them wreaking havoc on the citizens therein.

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well of course castle dwellers got wise and built catapults of their own

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allowing them to hurl things back over the walls and say things like I fart in

02:35

your general direction. maybe that was from Monty python. it's kind of like the

02:39

neener neener. all right well ballista were another

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kind of ancient catapult like thingamajig first invented by the Greeks.

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these were basically gargantuan crossbows which shot equally gargantuan

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arrows. and while Cupid's arrows spread love, ballista spread a world of hurt. [man uses ballista]

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the baddest of these machines was the trebuchet invented in Europe around 1100.

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well the trebuchet looked like a catapult okay pretty much was a catapult

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except that it included a long sling at one end and wasn't powered by bending or

03:13

cranking anything down. instead it used a clever system of weights which were

03:17

suddenly dropped. that sling meant that trebuchets could throw stuff much

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further and faster than simple catapults. for a while it looked like trebuchets

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might end the long tradition of sitting outside the city's walls for weeks

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playing solitaire and hoping everyone starved to death. but in general the

03:34

defense of building bigger tougher walls seemed to win.

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well that and using trebuchets inside castles to smash the trebuchets

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shaves outside castles. yeah how about that isn't it sad when trebuchet czar

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turned against each other. [two trebuchets talk to each other]