Research on Medieval Sieges

Research on Medieval Sieges

Medieval Sieges Project

Using computer databases and spreadsheets, it is possible to record and analyze complex historical phenomena in ways that yield both quantitative and qualitative results.  Historians of medieval warfare have long recognized that sieges were more common than battles in the Middle Ages, and have argued that the development of gunpowder artillery revolutionized siege warfare at the end of the period. But until now they have not conducted the research necessary to answer questions like: how much more common were sieges than battle?  How long did the average siege of a castle or fortified town last? What was the ratio of failed sieges to successful ones?  When sieges succeeded or failed, to what factors did contemporaries most commonly attribute the result?

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In the summer of 2018 four cadets worked with Professor Cliff Rogers (the first Director of the DHC) to design and implement a database that would make it possible to answer those questions for the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453).  An article summarizing the preliminary results was published in 2022 in Medieval Warfare.  In the future, we plan to publish the database itself, and also to build a new one of sieges of the Anglo-Norman period.