The era of the Middle Ages for most of us is associated with noble knights who live in huge fortified castles. But not everyone lived like this, and the poor sometimes needed protection just as much. This was especially true of heretics who were not accepted by society and were persecuted by the army at the instigation of the church. Unable to defend themselves using traditional methods, they found an extraordinary way out - to turn into a mobile military fortification … an ordinary cart.
Fairly speaking, the first fortifications from carts were found in antiquity. Later, similar tactics of warfare were actively practiced by nomadic tribes. But nevertheless, the most widespread and its name - wagenburg - fortresses from carts received it in the Middle Ages. And most often their appearance in Europe is associated with the Hussite movement.
Interesting fact: Wagenburg literally translates from German as "transport city".
The Hussites are followers of the teachings of the Czech thinker Jan Hus. In a way, their existence can be called the forerunner of the Reformation. Hus himself was burned to the stake as a heretic for his beliefs, and this became the reason for the outbreak of the so-called Hussite wars.
The main driving force behind the army of the heretics was their radical direction - the Taborites. At some point, they began to burn Catholic churches, and then Crusades began to be waged against all the Hussites - according to Novate.ru, there were five of them in the period 1419-1434.
Taborites are mainly located on Mount Tabor, from which, in fact, they got their name. There they literally lived on wheels - the carts were both a habitat and, as it turned out, a good defensive fortification. Also one that you can take with you in case of a change of residence.
During the battle with the crusaders or other enemies, the Hussites lined up carts in columns, which could be from one to three. The troops went either behind the carts, under cover, or between them.
And the Wagenburg itself was undergoing changes: initially it was just an additional line between the sides of the battle. The number of carts was used at the rate of one for 15-20 infantrymen. Later, to improve the defensive qualities of the Wagenburg, shields were installed between the carts, as well as chains with which the carts were fastened together.
The mobility of the Wagenburgs allowed them to be used in almost any conditions, even when traveling from place to place. In the event that the temporary camp of the Hussites was attacked, the carts were regrouped, lining them up in a circle or quadrangle and fastening them together with chains. In addition, if the defense was supposed to be long, then all the passages between the fortifications were closed, and a ditch was dug in front of Wagenburg.
To increase the fighting efficiency of the Hussites, cannons were installed between the carts. Moreover, they were fixed rigidly, without the ability to turn them anywhere. Therefore, in the event of a frontal attack, those who dared to attack the fortress on wheels often suffered serious losses.
The practice of using the Wagenburg proved its worth, and the Hussites were not the only ones in Europe who used fortresses on wheels. References to such tactics of warfare can be found, for example, in the history of the Hundred Years War. This practice was not spared by the Russian Empire: during the campaign against Kazan and the defense of Moscow, fortified heavy carts were also used, which were called "walk-gorod".
The decline of the era of the knights affected not only the nature of the battle, but also the appearance of the European armies: Unhurried era, or How the soldiers of European armies defended themselves after abandoning solid armor.