Blog Post 3:
The Siege of Dover Castle
Year: 1216 AD
Location: Dover on the English coast
The attacking forces consisted of English and French rebels with the express purpose of overthrowing King John and replace him with Prince Louis, commonly nicknamed “The Lion” who had been offered the crown by the rebel barons. They were eager to do this as King John had recently changed the Magna Carta, removing some of its more profound content, greatly upsetting the Barons.
The defenders in this siege were led by Hubert de Burgh who had 140 knights and more soldiers of different types at his disposal. They were loyal to the crown, attempting to keep the king safe while still sitting on the thrown. Hubert had a history of defence of castles and other fortresses. One example of this was his defence of the Chinon castle in France in 1204 which lasted more than a full year.
How and Why the Mangonel was used:
In the siege, the mangonel was used by King Louis to attempt to break down the large walls of Dover Castle. They fired at the castle walls for months until King Louis decided to call a truce. During this time, the mangonel siege artillery had failed to do any significant damage to the walls and other vital structures in the castle. The mangonels on the English side had better results. From their elevated position over the French and English rebel forces, they had an advantage in range and power thanks to gravity. They fired down on the enemy positions, inflicting many casualties amongst the attacking army.
Effectiveness of the Mangonel in 1216:
The mangonel is a weapon that can have its effectiveness greatly increases or reduced depending on what kind of position it is put in. In this siege, you can see that the Mangonels on higher ground turned out much better results than the mangonels that had to fire up hill and fight against gravity. From this I concluded that the mangonels used by the English loyalists were used much more effectively because of their advantageous positioning while the French and English rebel Mangonels had their effectiveness reduced significantly thanks to some poor positioning.