Blog Post 3

The battle of Xiangyang was a key battle between the invading Yuan Dynasty armies fought by the Mongols and the Southern Song forces between 1267 AD and 1273 AD.  It was one of the longest sieges in the medieval world and was the longest campaign in the war against the Song Dynasty. This was obviously located in Xiangyang, Hubei with the result of the Yuan being victorious. Xiangyang was the strongest fortress of the Song dynasty which had fallen which caused the Yaun forces to freely conquer the rest of southern China. This battle involved skirmishes, ground assaults and the siege of the twin sacred cities. The twin cities were expecting an assault with powerful weaponry and prepared for it. The city had a mat which had a width of 150 metres which forced Yuan’s siege weapons to be set up for distance. Also, the cities walls were reinforced with clay, they also made netting screens ten centimetres thick and ten metres in length to cover them and lower the impact of flying projectiles. As a result, the Yuan siege weapons had low-damage and were inaccurate.

This was the first battle which involved the counterweight trebuchet (our trebuchet). This is because Han Chinese commander Guo Kan witnessed under Hulagu (Mongol ruler) in the Middle East who heard of siege engines of amazing power. Two men, Ismail and Al al-Din were sent to China to build these weapons. The counterweight trebuchet had a firing range of 500 metres and could fire projectiles weighing over 300kg. Yuan built around 20 and used them to assist them on their attack on Xiangyang. These trebuchets proved to be one of the main contributing factors towards the surrendering of the two cities in 1273. The trebuchets were the main thing which contributed to the surrender of the two cities, therefore being extremely effective in this siege.

There was a significant role for the counterweight trebuchet. Because Yuan hired Muslims to design and create the counterweight trebuchet, they were called in Chinese history as the Muslim trebuchets. The largest trebuchets had the wooden framework above the hole in the ground. They assisted in destroying Fancheng which had Chinese and Muslim engineers operating these weapons. The Mongols launched explosives and other projectiles into the city with their new counterweight trebuchets.  The weapon was used to destroy the Fancheng walls and to fire projectiles into the city.

There were numerous units involved in this battle. There was the Mongolian army, Chinese infantry, Chinese manned navy, over 100 trebuchets and over 20 counterweight trebuchets. The leaders or commanders where Lü Wenhuan, Li Tingzhi, Aju, Liu Zheng, Arikhgiya, Shi Tianzhe and Guo Kan. There were at least 8,000 regular troops plus 200,000 normal civilians. There was 100,000 Mongols and Chinese with 5,000 ships.