War-winning Wagons

This one is for Sarah, who always complains that no-one writes about medieval logistics.

You may have heard about the war wagons of the fifteenth-century Hussite Wars (if you haven’t, look them up; they’re very cool), but here’s a wagon story from the middle ages you’ve probably never heard.

Historian Ronnie Ellenblum says that one of the big advantages that Crusader armies had in twelfth-century sieges was a superior siege train. Using heavy four-wheeled carts that weren’t otherwise in use in the region, the Crusaders were able to bringing in pre-cut heavy beams and other materials they used to build siege towers and stone-throwing artillery that helped them capture thirteen cities in twenty-five years. The wagons may have been slow, but they were part of a cutting-edge siege system that, once the tables were turned, forced the development of monster Crusader castles like Belvoir, Krak des Chevaliers, and ‘Athlit to resist the same sorts of attacks.

(Source: Ronnie Ellenblum, Crusader Castles and Modern Histories [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007], pp. 192-210)


One thought on “War-winning Wagons

  1. Huh. Did they have roads for the wagons, or were they moving them largely cross country? I was under the impression that medieval carts weren’t terribly good for carrying cargo longish distances, and were more used as intra-community transport.

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