Siege is an ordinary part of almost any war. The troops hide in a fortified place and even being surrounded can successfully resist the superior forces of the opponent. The attacking side loses a lot of soldiers during the assaults, and the defense without timely supplies of food and weapons will slowly fade out because of hunger and disease. We have already talked about the longest sieges in history, and today we will talk about those that lasted, albeit not for long, but cost a huge number of people on both sides of the fortifications.
Siegietvar Siege, 1566 year.
The siege of a small Hungarian fortress became a very significant event for medieval Europe. Cardinal Richelieu generally believed that it was this battle that saved civilization. Szigetvar was the eastern fortress of the Habsburg Empire. It was here that the Turkish troops came under the leadership of the old Sultan Suleiman I. The Croatian governor Nikola Zrini managed to deploy a huge army of conquerors only 2,300 soldiers, mostly from his own personal army. Defenders of the fortress refused to surrender, despite the fact that the enemy was much larger – almost one hundred thousand people. Zrini understood that his fortress was in fact the last obstacle to the enemy on the way to Vienna. The governor refused even the offer to become the head of the province in case of transition to the side of the Turks. The siege of the fortress began on August 6 and lasted until September 8. By that time there were only about 300 soldiers, as well as members of their families. Then Zrini ordered the soldiers to kill their wives and children so that they would not be captured and did not experience all his horrors. The men carried out the order and continued to fight as long as they could. The Ottomans who entered the fortress destroyed the survivors. Only now Suleiman did not manage to see the victory, dying from the consequences of dysentery the day before. This battle cost the Ottomans about 30 thousand soldiers. The Turks realized that they no longer had the strength to conquer the campaign and returned home. And although the siege was successful – the defenders, deprived of the support of Vienna could not defend the fortress, the Croats had a great influence on the history of Christianity. If it were not for the brave warriors of Szigetwara, much of Europe could be under Muslim influence.
Siege of Nuremberg, 1632 year.
That siege cost the lives of about 40-50 thousand people. In those years, Nuremberg was one of the greatest Protestant cities in the world. Who would have thought that he would be a place of massacre during the Thirty Years’ War? In 1632 the city was occupied by the troops of the Swedish king Gustav Adolf. Nuremberg besieged the army of the Holy Roman Empire under the command of Albrecht von Wallenstein. And although the Swedes had 150 thousand soldiers, which is 30 thousand more than the enemy, they forgot to arrange the supply of food to the city. Wallenstein immediately blocked all trade routes, besieging Nuremberg. Only now the imperial army also lost supplies, as a result, both sides suffered from hunger, disease, including typhus. After 80 days of siege, Adolf tried to retire with battle in the Battle of the Old Fortress. When this maneuver failed, the Swede simply fled the city. He realized that the army would sooner or later give up because of hunger. And it happened, and most of the victims died not in battles, but from illnesses. The hitherto neutral Nuremberg was devastated – trade routes bypassed it, the city paid debts. This led to the decline already in the XVII-XVIII centuries of the once prosperous city.
The siege of Kiev, 1240 year.
The defense of Kiev in 1240 was one of the main events of the Mongol invasion of Russia in the middle of the 13th century. Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Europe and the capital of the Slavic state of that time. Here came the hordes of the Mongols, wishing in addition to Russia in the future to seize Poland and Hungary. Batu, the grandson of Genghis Khan, headed the conquerors. He first sent envoys to the city, ordering him to surrender. But the leader of the defense of the thousandth prince Daniel of Galich, Dmitri, refused to surrender.Moreover, the ambassadors were executed, which angered the Mongols. The siege began on September 5, and on November 28 the Mongols began to take decisive action, starting bombarding the walls with catapults. The decisive storm began on December 5, when the walls of Kiev were destroyed in several places. The army of the Khan rushed into the city, having organized mass slaughter. Many civilians took refuge in the Tithe Church, which was already about three hundred years old, but the building was set on fire. Ruined, it buried many of the townspeople. Of the 50 thousand Kiev residents, only two thousand remained alive, including Dmitr. The khan saved his life, as a sign of respect for his courage. Destroying the city, the Mongols left further, leaving behind a ruin. Six years later, Archbishop Giovanni and Plano Carpini visited Kiev, who noted that previously a large and crowded city practically ceased to exist. Fortunately, Kiev was able to reborn.
Siege of Ostend, 1601-1604.
120 thousand people became victims of the defense of the Belgian city, of which quarter are civilians. Ostend was the site of one of the longest sieges in history, as well as the bloodiest battle in the Eighty-Years’ War. Shortly before the siege the city was fortified, becoming an excellent place to defend the combined forces of the Netherlands and England under the leadership of the Duke Francis Vier. And the Spaniards stood under the command of Archduke Albrecht. The siege began on July 5, 1601, and stretched out for three years. The defenders had about 50 thousand people, the Spaniards were about 80 thousand, mostly infantrymen. In 1603, the command of the Spaniards took over Ambrosio Spinola, who christened the siege “a long deadly carnival.” By that time, the parties, seeing the futility of the siege, began to try to solve the matter with the help of traitors. But the attempt to organize a riot inside Ostend failed. Vir himself was accused by the Spaniards of false negotiations, which he refused at the last moment. In 1604, the Spaniards were able to break through the outer defenses, the remnants of the Dutch and the British capitulated. It is said that when the wife of Albrecht, Isabella, entered the ruined city, she burst into tears from the sight of the destroyed and blood-stained city. After the fall of Ostend, the parties concluded a 12-year truce.
Siege of Baghdad, 1258 year.
And again the siege was committed by the Mongols. This time the city was surrounded by another grandson of Genghis Khan, Hulugu Khan. Then Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid caliphate. This Islamic state was in the territory of modern Iraq. True, the capital itself has lost its former grandeur. Nevertheless, educated and rich people lived in Baghdad. Hulug also dreamed of destroying one of the largest and most important Islamic cities. More than one hundred thousand Mongols besieged Baghdad after Khalif al-Mustasim refused to open the gates. Moreover, the head of state not only did not strengthen the walls of his capital, but also threatened the attackers. And the Shiite Muslims, offended by them, also went over to the side of the enemy. The battle began on January 29 and ended on February 10. The Mongols not only repulsed the attacks of the Caliph army, but also lured them into a trap, flooding with water from the destroyed dams. On February 5, the Mongols captured part of the walls and the city was doomed. Hulagu gave Baghdad his wines for a week’s plunder. The senseless slaughter began, the Mongols burned houses, libraries, palaces, centuries-old buildings. Al-Mustasim himself was wrapped in a carpet and trampled to death with horses. The Mongols destroyed the House of Wisdom – an invaluable repository of manuscripts in a variety of sciences, the intellectual center of civilization. Almost all the books were thrown into the river, making the Tiger black from the ink. Witnesses said that across the river you could wade on a horse, so it was filled with manuscripts. The number of victims is about one hundred thousand according to the most conservative estimates, and up to a million – according to Arab sources.
Defense of Sevastopol, 1854-1855.
Military operations near Sevastopol became the basis of the Crimean War. The Russian army opposed the combined forces of the British, the French and the Turks.The siege became one of the first examples of positional warfare. For 11 months both sides tried to survive and win. When the Russian troops realized that they could not defeat the enemy in open battle, they took the army to Sevastopol and entrenched themselves on defensive positions. The battle thundered, without ceasing. The Russian army suffered damage from artillery shelling, but changed and restored its defensive structures at night. Unfortunately for both sides, a very tough winter has come out. Many soldiers succumbed to concomitant diseases – cholera and dysentery. Most of all, this affected the French, whose contractors almost all remained in the Crimean land. Despite the fact that the fortress was defended successfully, the Russians eventually had to retreat. September 9, 1855, the Allies entered Sevastopol, which marked the end of the war. The siege greatly exhausted the strength of the parties – more than 230 thousand soldiers were killed. Heroic defense became an occasion for perpetuation in the form of poems, paintings, panoramas. For example, Lord Tennyson’s poem “Attack of the Light Brigade” is dedicated to those events.
Siege of Tenochtitlan, 1521 year.
The fall of this city marked the fall of the Aztec empire under the pressure of the Spanish conquistadors. In early 1521, Hernan Cortes captured all the significant Aztec cities around, embarking on the siege of Tenochtitlan. At the base of the forces of conquistadors were allied to them by other Indians. The army of 200 thousand people had even guns. The defenders were one and a half times as many. But this did not frighten Cortez, who sought to capture the rich lands and treasures of the Aztecs. The Spaniards, realizing that they would not manage to seize the city, decided to destroy the water supply. This led to problems with drinking water in the city, the epidemic of smallpox began there. So defense was weakened. Realizing that he would not be able to fight for every house in the city, Cortez started bombarding Tenochtitlan with guns. Completed the defeat of the cavalry – the Indians were horrified at the sight of horses. The siege itself lasted only three months, the victims were about 220 thousand people, half of them – civilians. Cortes plundered the city, destroying all the buildings. On the ruins of the Aztec capital was laid a new city, Mexico City.
The battle for Carthage, 149-146 years BC.
During the time of the Roman Empire, Carthage was a powerful city and a strong opponent of this vast country. The confrontation between Rome and Carthage became the basis of a series of wars known as the Punic Wars. The city itself remained untouched until the Third Punic War, when the Romans attacked directly on the enemy capital. The phrase of those times is known: “Carthage must be destroyed!”. Roman troops in the number of 80 thousand legionaries under the command of Publius Cornelius began the siege. In Carthage itself, there were more than 90,000 soldiers, as well as 400,000 citizens themselves. But the inhabitants sent a delegation to Rome, calling for peace and agreeing to almost all demands. But the Europeans put forward exorbitant demands, including the destruction of Carthage. The defender in a hurry order secretly began to prepare for the defense. The Romans were surprised when they found a ready enemy to fight – the first assault was repulsed with large losses for the attackers. Only two years later, when the command of besiegers took over Scipio Eimlian, the Romans moved to active action. The attackers entered the city in the spring of 146, another 6 days the battle raged inside Carthage. Survived only 55 thousand residents, all of them sold into slavery. Every building in the city was destroyed. There was a legend that the Romans also salted the land around Carthage, but this could hardly be true. Total siege claimed the lives of more than 460 thousand people.
Siege of Jerusalem, 70 AD
After the Jewish uprising in 66, the Romans decided to teach the local population once and for all. A 70,000-strong army was sent to Jerusalem under the command of Titus Flavius. Protect the ancient Jewish city gathered about 40 thousand people.In February, the Romans seized the four nearest cities and tried to enter into negotiations with the defenders. But the ambassador, the historian Josephus Flavius, was sent back home and even wounded with an arrow. Then the Romans resorted to a siege. The blockade lasted from March to September. Jerusalem was deprived of water and drink. The unhappy defenders were forced to eat already skins and drink sewage. Among the Jews there were cases of cannibalism. Josephus mentioned the case of the mother’s murder of a child in order to procure food. As a result, the Romans were able to destroy the wall with a secret night attack. Once inside the city, the attackers began to kill everyone in a row. Several ancient buildings were erased from the face of the earth, including the Second Temple. It was destroyed even against Titus’s orders. Few of the inhabitants “were lucky” to fall into slavery – the rest were simply killed right on the streets. It’s good that Josephus was able to get holy books from the Jerusalem temple, as well as 190 people hiding there. Historians of those times call the terrifying figures of the victims of the siege – Tacitus spoke about 600 thousand, and Joseph Flavius in general about a million. Blockade of Leningrad, 1941-1944.
This siege has become one of the longest in history and certainly the most terrible. It happened on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. The seizure of Leningrad was part of the “Barbarossa” plan for Germany’s war against the Soviet Union. With the onset of hostilities, the approaches to the city immediately began to strengthen. As a result, the German army, reinforced by the Finns, Italians and Spaniards, could not take Leningrad on the move. The city was surrounded, and on September 8, a blockade began, lasting 872 long days. The only way to communicate with the country was Lake Ladoga, shelled by the enemy’s artillery, aviation and navy. Leningrad faced severe winter, and most importantly – lack of food. Despite the food crisis, the army kept the defense, even attempting to break through the blockade. And in the winter, along the ice Ladoga, caravans with cargo were moving, taking away wounded, sick, old people and children in the opposite direction. This way was called “The Road of Life”. Complete liberation of the city from the blockade occurred only in the winter of 1944. Over the years of the blockade, up to 1.5 million people died, mostly civilians. Almost all of them were victims of hunger, not bombardment.