Book Review - Medieval Siege Warfare by Christoper Gravett

Medieval Siege Warfare Book Review coverThis book takes a good look at the evolving and changing world of siege warfare during the Middle Ages. But it is not a dry and scholarly look at the subject. It is clearly written in a normal tone and aimed at the average reader. And it comes complete with around 50 drawings and photographs of sieges, castles, siege engines and more.


The title of the book in this review is “Medieval Siege Warfare”. It is written by Christoper Gravett and the color plates were drawn by Richard and Christa Hook.

Siege warfare is a fascinating topic because during the Middle Ages a real arms race was going on. It was the race between castle builders, weapon builders, and siege engineers. Technology and engineering changed dramatically during medieval times and castles had to change and adapt in order to cope with this growth and keep their inhabitants safe. Both siege engineers and castle builders used many ingenious means and devices to achieve their goals. This book takes a good look at these tactics and techniques and how they changed and evolved over a several hundred year period.

The art of the siege was more than just ladders and catapults. It was a whole science with an arsenal of weapons for attack and methods for defense; and the book takes a good look at all these variations from tunnel digging to the building of moats and gatehouses and even diplomacy and biological warfare. And it gives solid examples, with pictures, of real castles and how they were built and attacked. It also has many DaVinci like drawings of siege weapons and tactics.

Some of the best parts of the book are the references to real sieges of real castles throughout history. It gives you short looks at how the sieges occurred and what happened. Some of the famous sieges covered are the first siege of Le Puiset in 1111, the sea-borne attack on Acre in 1189, and the siege of Chateau Gaillard in 1203.

This book is written for an audience of teens to adults and if you are looking for a good introductory book about the whole subject of the sieging of castles during the Middle Ages this is the perfect choice. It is not too scholarly, has lots of pictures and illustrations, and takes a complete look at the whole subject area.