Since time immemorial, people have not only forged swords, but also built walls. And all because it is simply not possible to live in any other way among the same civilized people around. Of course, a wall alone was not enough to protect a city or an important strategic point in antiquity and the Middle Ages. Therefore, the defenders of the walls used a variety of insidious devices, devices and items of equipment.
Today, one can hear frankly strange theses of a number of researchers that boiling resin was not used in the defense of cities, including because it was expensive. But forgive me, who will count the pennies when not the most respectable contingent climbs into your house with the intention to burn down the barn, dishonor your spouse, and most importantly (which is categorically impossible to put up with in comparison with the first two points!) - to take your wealth?
1. Liquid and hot
Tar or var (tar) has been poured from the walls onto the besieging cities and castles since time immemorial. Warmed to a boil, var is one of the most ancient remedies. Its use is mentioned in too many sources to be ignored or taken seriously.
Most importantly, boiling resin is a tool, although not free, but very simple, relatively affordable and extremely effective with the broadest potential for tactical use. It was possible to pour hot water on the besiegers themselves and, more importantly, on siege devices: ladders, battering rams, towers. A bucket of tar on the head - does not add health and vigor to a person. And most importantly, a good burning fraction can be prepared from the resin. There were no fire shields on the siege vehicles, so a blazing ram could very quickly lose all usefulness. Ordinary boiling water could be used as a budget alternative. Not so effective, but the appearance of a vat with something clearly hot on the edge of the wall at least made the besiegers tense.
And here many will have a question: where does such a quantity of resin come from in cities and castles? In fact, everything is simple. For a long time, resin was actually a strategic resource, because it was widely used for household needs. In shipbuilding, construction, as well as in the production of barrels (which is especially important). So, the ancestors had enough stocks of vara in the cellars.
2. A stone on the head
What could be simpler and at the same time more effective than a stone falling from a height of 10-15 meters under the action of free fall acceleration? Simple, cheap and effective enough. Doesn't take up much space. In most cases, it will not be too difficult to get stones of 5-20 kg in weight. As a last resort, it was always possible to start dismantling buildings in the city.
When the besiegers nevertheless penetrated the streets of the city, the favorite "entertainment" of all responsible and patriotic residents, from the time of Ancient Rome, was to get out onto the roofs and start throwing everything on their heads. First of all, shingles, if any. A blow with a tile even on a metal helmet with a comforter does not add health to a person.
3. Garlic (not a vegetable)
The military barrage of garlic (several metal thorns boiled together) is also one of the oldest countermeasures. In the cities it was not used, however, when preparing the defense of the city, garlic was scattered on the surrounding roads and in places where opponents could move on horseback. The bottom line is that if such garlic gets into the horse's hoof, then it will receive a serious injury, and the unfortunate (and extremely valuable) animal will most likely have to be allowed for food.
Most often, garlic was used in field battles to cover some important directions from cavalry attacks. Of course, you could use them only in those cases when the initiative was behind your army. Garlic has been used since at least Roman times.
4. Bloody diarrhea
The main thing in defending a castle or fortress is not to kill all the attackers, but to sit out. A siege is primarily about the war of logistics and storage. Who has more supplies, who has better organized storage and distribution, who has a better organized camp, care for the wounded and disposal (as it may sound blasphemous) of the killed. An attack of fortifications is too big a risk and huge losses are guaranteed.
Therefore, everything must be done so that the enemy runs out of supplies as soon as possible and illnesses begin in the camp. And then there is a high probability that the besiegers will simply remove the camp and leave. First of all, for this it was necessary to fill up all the wells in the area or poison them. The latter is done very simply: a dog (cat, sheep, cow or any other unfortunate cattle) is taken - killed, after which its carcass is thrown into the well.
Even if you take out the corpse, it will take a long time for the water in the source to be completely renewed and become drinkable again.
5. Forced evacuation
Most likely, when a siege camp is set up around the city or castle, “people with good faces” - foraging units - will begin to ride around on horseback from it. These guys will do two things: rob and drive local residents to work. The foraging squads will be robbed primarily not in order to fill their pockets (although not without it), but in order to get additional food for the besiegers. Locals can also be involved in useful activities such as trenching, digging, artillery embankments and collecting building materials.
This means that very soon the entire district will be working against the fortress. The conclusion is obvious - even before the start of the siege, everyone who succeeds should be taken behind the walls along with food and livestock, and the rest should be driven from their places and forced to go to other lands.
This is exactly what the defenders of Korsun did, for example, when it was besieged by Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavich. The garrison of the fortress, having learned about the approach of the enemy, forced all the peasants to leave and take their cattle, at least 100 kilometers from the place of the siege.
But in Jerusalem, during the First Crusade, the Arab garrison did not think of this, though it drove all Christians out of the city, having carried out a reverse evacuation. This was done so that the crusaders did not have anyone to negotiate with outside the walls. Then only Muslims and Jews remained to defend the city (what an irony).
6. Pits and pits again
It is impossible not to remember about such an extremely simple, but again effective means, like an ordinary moat! Today, many ditches are buried around the surviving castles for security reasons. This is because even a moat without water poses a known threat to an unwary person. Of course, the ditches were dug in the first place so that the walls could not be approached just like that. However, they had another extremely important function. The moat protected the walls from the shots of throwing machines. It just needed to dig a ditch larger than the trebuchet's shot range. Rare trebuchet metal stone for 250-300 meters. As a result, the besiegers had to spend time and effort to bury the ditches with fascines (bundles of brushwood) and earth. This had to be done under constant fire from the walls. Overcoming dry ditches also did not add happiness to the besiegers.
For example, during the Albigensian Crusade during the siege of Carcassonne, one of the friends and comrades-in-arms of Count Simon IV de Montfort fell into a moat and was seriously injured. As a result, Montfort personally rushed after him right under the crossbow fire and pulled his friend out.
7. Catch the log
You can throw from the walls not only stones, but also logs. Or even bundles of logs! Even in antiquity, the Greeks and Romans thought of tying logs on a chain, processing them with a burning fraction, setting them on fire and hanging them in this form from the wall so that a siege tower could not be erected in this place (at least right now). As soon as the tower stopped moving, the log was lifted back on the chains and kept ready.
8. (Un) secret tunnel
The walls were smashed not only with siege machines. Most often, for these purposes, tunnels were used. A properly made tunnel is guaranteed to cause the wall to collapse in some area, and then the besiegers will be able to rush into the breach for an attack. In order to prevent this from happening, in the most advanced and powerful castles next to the walls, their own tunnels with special galleries were torn off.
Defenders were on duty in these galleries and listened attentively to see if there were any extraneous noises. If there were suspicions that somewhere nearby a brigade of siege engineers was wielding shovels and picks, then a horseshoe-shaped barricade was immediately erected in the place of the potential collapse of the wall. When the wall collapsed, the defenders occupied the barricades and were already ready to meet the invaders fully armed.
In addition, many castles had their own secret tunnels, which were used to carry supplies, correspondence and, most importantly, the exit of groups of fighters who, under cover of darkness, tried to penetrate the besieging camp and do some nasty stuff there. For example, setting fire to a newly assembled throwing machine or siege tower.
9. All to the barricades
Actually, the already mentioned barricades. Without them, it's just not like protecting cities. They were built not only in the places where the walls were broken, but also just on the streets. A competent garrison always knew how to properly organize street battles. The seizure of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible can be considered the clearest example of a bloody defense. Kazan fought desperately. After the army of the future Russian tsar entered the walls, the garrison did everything in its power. I had to fight literally for every street and house. Unfortunately, this still did not help the Kazan people, the besiegers acted better and more decisively. Nevertheless, the barricades are the last chance to hold the fortification.
A negative example can be safely considered the already mentioned first siege of Jerusalem by the crusaders. The Arab garrison, apparently, did not set up barricades, and when the militia fled from the walls, the crowd, succumbed to panic, was caught between the garrison troops and the besiegers. As a result, people began to be cut from both sides. The crusaders slaughtered the townspeople "from feelings", and the garrison was forced to slaughter its own inhabitants because of the threat of being handed over. As a result, even before the robberies began, the streets of Jerusalem were literally covered in blood.
Continuing the topic, you can read about what is the main mystery of the star fortresses, and whether there is a sacred meaning in their form.