See also: Seat

In the military field, a seat is the whole of the actions carried out in order to seize a Fortified town or an enemy position. The technique of the seat, as well that of defense as that of the attack, names the poliorcetic .

These operations often include/understand a Blocus, which makes it possible to weaken the place while cutting it of any support. The objective is to obtain its rendering or to carry out its catch more easily.

A seat takes place when an attacker meets a city or a fortress which refuses rendering, and which it cannot easily take it by a direct attack. Are then implemented a surrounding of the objective, with the cut of the lines of provisioning of the city, the machines of seat (to facilitate the attack, to bombard the city), and of the operations of Sape generally cause place.

The seats probably appear with the emergence of the cities like great centers of population. The ancient cities of the the Middle East show some archaeological remainders of fortifications. With the the Middle Ages, the wars are often a succession of seats. With the Rebirth and the modern time (16th-18th centuries), the seats are the feature dominating of the war in Europe. The reputation of Léonard de Vinci, for example, comes mainly from the plans of fortifications which it drew.

Then, at the time of the Wars of the French revolution and the Napoleonean Guerres which followed, the use growing of increasingly powerful guns tiny room strongly the value of the fortifications, movement which is accentuated at the 19th century. The walls are replaced by trenches, and the bunkers replace the Château X. At the 20th century, the traditional seat disappears, the mobile warfare reducing the importance of the fortifications. Even today, the seats which still take place are neither also important nor as currents as formerly, from the facility to concentrate a destroying great power on a static objective.

Judicious to have lasted 10 years, the seat of the Greek city of Troy, told by Homère in Iliade, is often considered, wrongly, like the longest seat of the history. The Siège of Crystallized by the Othomans of 1648 with 1669 would be however longest.

A seat can be completed in four manners:

  • besieged resists without outside assistance, and pushes the attacker to be given up;
  • besieged is helped and the seat is raised;
  • the attackers take the control of the position, and the defenders can leave (it is said that the city was evacuated);
  • the attackers seize the city and kill or capture the defenders, one says whereas the city is taken.

Techniques of seat: The poliorcétique one

The term poliorcetic comes from the Greek poliorketikos , which indicates what is relating to the technique of the seat of the cities and fortified towns, or the art and the technique of the seat. One also applies it to the defense of the cities against the seats.

Techniques of seat

Summarily, a seat consists in determining a fortified town completely in order to prevent very entered and very left the latter by Circonvallation. One thus hopes to seize rather the place by time than by the force, a frontal attack against an extremely difficult and expensive strong castle being in human lives. But necessary there to make fall a place is often no time with the attackers. Indeed, immobilized by the seat, they cannot operate any more against other opposing armies which can then take the initiative to force the lifting of the seat (while concentrating) or then freedom to go to devastate the enemy grounds and cities. Thus to find its operational availability, it is necessary to reduce the duration of the seat.

  • Is by limiting the possibilities of internal resistance:

    • while crossing all supplies possible (dam in the roads of La Rochelle in 1625),
    • while limiting conditions of hygiene (carrions infested of germs),
    • by treason (by paying agents which will poison water reserves),
  • Is by avoiding the unfavourable fortifications in order to be able to assemble an attack:

    • either by boring a breach in defenses (by mines, ram, bombardment),
    • or by treason: by paying agents which will open a door,
    • is while passing over defenses and by controlling the heart of the fortress directly (parachutists on the Fort of Ében-Émael).


  • Circumvallation and Roman contrevallation , is enclosures raised around a fortified town, to prevent very left besieged and any offensive an army help coming from outside. This technique was implemented at the Bataille of Alésia by Jules César.

  • Mines and saps . A technique to come to end from a tower or a wall was to sap its base: one built a tunnel or a trench (protected by a structure of wood and skins wet) which arrived under the work. One then stuffed the space of straw, wood, dead pigs (fattiest possible), of pitch or oil, then one put fire at it. Heat made burst stones and mortar, causing the collapse of the target. Once the blasting powder imported into Europe, it was also used for this purpose.

  • Bombardment . The machines of seats are often machines making it possible to send projectiles on or over the walls, such as for example the Trébuchet. One could send heavy stones, but also carrions in order to propagate diseases, or incendiary bombs.

  • Ram : with a piece of wood raised with arm of man or suspended under a mobile frame, one comes to strike a door or a wall in order to insert it. The end can be protected by a piece of metal.

The seat in the Antiquity

Although there are enormously relations of settings to bag of cities during Antiquity, very little precise details give on what preceded the setting with bag. Popular stories describe the behavior of the heroes at the time of the battles, such as for example the Trojan horse, and a similar history tells how the city cananéenne of Jaffa was taken by the Egyptians with

The Book of Josué, in the Bible, tells the miraculous seat of the town of Jericho. A historical account more detailed, of the VIII E, called the star of Piankhi, tells how the Nubie NS besieged many Egyptian cities, by employing ram S, archers, and by building rudimentary ground bridges to pass the ditches.

  • ancient Personnages whose name remained attached to the poliércétique one:

    • Philon de Byzance (roughly -280 - -220), the first theorist of poliorcetic, and Héron of Alexandria.
    • Démétrios {{Romanian|I|1}} {{er}} of Macedonia (-336 - -283), called Poliorcète , because of its skill to make a success of a seat.
    • Enée the Tactician, author of a Poliorcétique (towards -360 - -356), true handbook on the subject.


The walls of city and the fortifications were essential with the defense of the first cities of the Middle-East. The walls were built out of bricks, or stone, were reinforced beams, according to the abundance of the last two materials. They were at the same time used to defend the city and to show the power of the king to possible possible enemies. Thus, the walls of the city of Sumer ienne of Uruk were famous: they reached an overall length of 9,5 km, for a 12 meters height. The walls of Babylon, reinforced turns and ditches, had a similar reputation.

In Anatolia, the Hittites built impressive stone walls all around their cities, being based on the relief. Other cities, like those of the civilization of Indus, or the Minoan Civilization in Crete, were less elaborate: their defense were to be more based on the protection of the borders or the coasts that on that of the cities.

Tactics of seat

As of this time, the most common practice of the seat simply consists to put the seat and to await the rendering of the encircled enemies. The Egyptian seat of Meggido to the XV E lasts seven months before the inhabitants do not go. A seat of Hittites, to the XIV E, against a city rebels of Anatolia, is completed when the queen mother leaves the city and beseeches leniency to her people.

If the finality of the military campaigns were not the conquest of a city in particular, the seat could simply be neglected. Hittites, in war against the Mitanni with, are unaware of the fortified town of Karkemish and, once the achieved objective, return to the city and take it in eight days. The seat Assyrie N of Jerusalem, known better, to the VIII E, ends when the Hebrew propose to pay a ransom and a tribute, according to the Assyrian sources, or when an epidemic strikes the Assyrian camp, according to the Bible.

Because of the logistic problems, the important seats, supposing a considerable army, could not be maintained over long lives.

The seat at the time medieval


In Medieval Europe , several defense forces were developed in order to slow down the attack of the fortresses. For example, a aha was consisted a successive whole of steps and retractable cross-pieces out of wooden. Placed at the base of a staircase or the level of the stages, they could be withdrawn quickly and obstruct the progression of the attackers. Moreover, the staircases were generally out of snail and right turned in order to complicate the task of the attackers droitiers. Ahas are still visible with the castles strong of Anay-the-Old in Expensive and Joux the into Frank one County.

With the Castle of Salses, dating from the end of the 15th century, the interior, narrow corridors and low height, had steps and lintels intended to destabilize the attackers. With the tail leu leu and lowered heads, a Carreau of crossbow could spit several soldiers of only one feature. The remainder of the attackers were to then evacuate their dead comrades in order to be able to take again the attack!

Tactics of seat

  • the poliorcetic medieval one takes again the ancient techniques mainly: the mobile turns, the cat and the ram were already used by the Greeks.

  • However, at the 11th century, the techniques of seat are renewed; at the 14th century, the beginnings of artillery radically change the construction of the forts and the walls: from 1370-1380 spread the gun S with Boulet S of stone.
  • At the time of the Mound S (), it was easy to destroy the wood fortresses.
  • Différentes techniques from seat (1100-1400) was used jointly:
    • besieging Them built concentric lines around the castle, consisted of wood palisades of turns and Fossé S. In 1203, the king of France Philippe {{Romanian|II|2}} makes arrange two lines of Circonvallation around Castle-Strapping man.
    • the most delicate operation was the crossing of the ditches; they had to be filled under the enemy shooting.
    • Turn of seat and Belfry S: known Babylonian S, these buildings out of wooden were mobile and usable only on flat, dry and solid ground. The turns were vulnerable to the ignited projectiles. They were thus armoured by iron plates or a leather coating. In 885, the Danish would have used some in the Siège of Paris. At the 11th century, military operations of the Cross Holy Land (Head office of Jerusalem in 1099). The tower had five principal functions:
      • to shelter the attackers
      • to protect the action from the sappers
      • to carry the heavy weapons
      • high to give to the principal rafter S an effective command against the defenders of the castle
      • to give an access to the Covered way
    • Cat: machine of approach on wheel to sap the bases of the wall. They were called sow, mole or fox.
    • Ram: used in the ancient Greek world, it was to shake the walls. Composed of a metal head and a beam out of wooden. It was actuated by swinging thanks to chains and cords. The shock was not very effective on a stone wall. Open breaches could then be ignited.
    • Climbing: very widespread technique with the Middle Ages, it was done by scales. The attackers protected themselves under Pavois. The climbing was effective following a treason, of a surprise attack and a favorable numerical report/ratio.
    • Sap and mine: mine or saps underground (rare) by digging of a gallery. Posts of wood coated with Pitch, of Sulfur, Bitumen or grease of pig were introduced into the breaches to make collapse the Courtine.

The seat among Mongolian

With the the Middle Ages, the conquest campaign of the Mongolian Empire carried out by Gengis Khan and its Armée against the China was extremely effective, allowing the Mongolian S to conquer broad ground. Even if they could not penetrate the most strengthened cities, they used of Tactique S innovating to control the grounds and their inhabitants:

While concentrating on the armed forces, the fortified towns were to wait. Of course, smaller fortresses, or those easier to surprise, were conquered when the opportunity arose. This had two effects. Firstly, the principal city was cut of any communication with the secondary cities which could have come to him to assistance. Secondly, the refugees coming from the smaller cities ran away themselves towards the last fortified town. The accounts coming from these cities and crowd of refugees sapped moral inhabitants and garrison of the principal city and weighed heavily on these provisions. The reserves of vivres and water were put at severely tested by the arrival of all these refugees. Thus a difficult company became easy. The Mongols were free to besiege the city without interference on behalf of the armed forces destroyed previously… With the seat of Alep, Hulegu used twenty catapults against Bab Al-Iraq (the Door of Iraq). In Jûzjânî there are several episodes in which Mongolian built several hundreds of machine of seat to exceed the number of machine that had the besieged city. Although the case of Jûzjânî it acts of exaggerations, the raised number, to see improbable, of machine of seat used by Mongolian and besieged gives an idea of the broad number used at the time of a seat.

Another Mongolian tactic consisted in catapulting corpses of victims of the plague in the cities besieged. The lice carrying the disease were going thus to infect the inhabitants of the city. The plague was propagated in the city and this one could be conquered, although the vector of the disease was not known at the time.

The seat at the time modern

Progress of artillery revolutionizes the war of seat: the increase thickness of the walls is not enough any more to resist the kinetic impact of a metal ball. Successes of Charles VIII and François Ier which takes seat thanks to their guns on the spot show this irrefutable fact well. The Italian engineers as Francesco Paciotto d' Urbino thus invented the bastionnées fortifications: the walls become very low, oblique and preceded by a ditch. The attacker who cannot frontally attack any more with the risk to see himself decimated by shootings of grapeshot approaches the fortifications by networks of trenches. Extremely of its experiment of the Poliorcétique, it designs or improves the fortifications of many cities and ports French, between 1667 and 1707, work gigantic license by the richness of the country. It revolutionizes as well the defense of the fortified towns as their capture. He is the craftsman of the sanctuarisation of the borders of France thanks to a network of fortified towns which can support itself between them: Vauban wanted to make France a " précarré" , according to its expression, protected by a belt from citadels. It equips France with a glacis (" the belt of fer") that progress of artillery démodent only at the end of the 18th century. One of its achievements most known is the Citadelle of Besancon.

Seats in the history

See also: List of the seats

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