Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bastions and Associated Works

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Bastions and Associated Works, the "trace italienne system" of fortifications, source : Geoffrey Parker, "The Military Revolution," page 11 ---- Traced by Marcus Audens


I. A. Corfis, and M. Wolfe, "The Medieval City Under Siege," Boydell Press, Rochester, N. Y., 1995.

Eric McGeer, "Byzantine Siege Warfare In Theory and Practice," --The Medieval City Under Siege--, pp 123 to 129.

al Rabadhah, Saudi Arabia

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Fortified structure with a complex. One of several fortified buildings at al-Rabadhah, Saudi Arabia, on the Darb al-Zubaydah pilgrim road between Iraq and Mecca, late 8th to early 10th centuries AD (after S. Ibn Abd al-Aziz al-Rashid).


D. Nicolle, "Saracen Strongholds AD 630 -- 1050," Fortress 76, (Osprey Pub.-2008), P. 48.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ukhaidir (Desert Castle)

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Southwest of Baghdad in the Iraqi desert stand the two "desert castles" of Atshan and Ukhaidir. The former might be Umayyad, but Ukhaidir is generally believed to have been built for the "Abbasid prince Isa Ibn Musa after he went into internal exile around AD 776. Ukhaidir is particularly interesting because it combines poor masonry with a very advanced design, and as such, was typical of many aspects of medieval eastern Islamic fortification. The large fortified enclosure is approximately 170 m along each side, the intact parts of the outer wall including the wallhead reaching 17 m. Round towers stand at each corner, with ten half-round towers and split or quarter-round towers flanking three of the gates. The outer surfaces of the walls are not flat, but have two pointed blind arches between each tower. The towers themselves are solid, but at the wallhead was a covered walkway that opened into a chamber at the summit of each tower, and had slits in the floor, which enabled a garrison to defend the foot of the wall.

The drawing is of the North side of the court of honor in Ukhaidir before the massive restoration of recent years. It led to the Main Gate which was itself set between massive rectangular towers. The drawing is based on an Iraqi Ministry of Tourism photograph.


David Nicolle, Adam Hook (illust.), "Saracen Strongholds AD 630 - 1050," Fortress 76, Osprey Pub. Oxford, UK, 2008, P. 30.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rumeli Hisari (Ottoman Fortification on the Bosphoros)

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Key for the Main Picture:

1. Saruca Tower;

2. Dag (Mountain) Gate;

3. Dizdaz (Sentries) Gate leading to the Barbican;

4. Halil Pasa Tower;

5. At the time of the sinking of the Venetian blockade-runner, the fortifications of the barbican were apparently not yet complete and the heavy guns were simply lined up along the shore;

6. The huge stone cannon ball that sank the Venetian blockade-runner was probably not the first shot, the guns fixed positions suggesting that they were fired in sequence;

7. The doomed Venetian ship was a three-masted merchant galley, not a speedy war galley;

8. The vessel would have tried to sail down the middle of the strait to keep as far as possible from the guns of both Ottoman Fortresses;

9. Su (Water) Tower;

10. Sel (Ravine) Gate was a minor entrance to the fortress.


D. Nicolle, "Ottoman Fortifications 1300-1710," Fortress 95, (Osprey Pub. -2010), P.47

Rumeli Hisari (Ottoman Fortification on the Bosphoros)

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Key for Saruca Pasa Tower and neighboring Mountain Gate:

1. Section A-B through the tower with the adjacent Mountain gate;

2. Section C-D through the Mountain Gate;

3. Plan of tower's ground floor chamber;

4. Plan of tower's upper chamber;

5. Plan of towers upper gallery and upper central tower.


David Nicolle, Adam Hook, (Illust.), "Ottoman Fortifications, 1300 -- 1710," Fortress 95, Osprey Pub., Oxford, UK, 2010, P. 47.

Rumeli Hisari (Ottoman Fortification on the Bosphoros)

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Unlike Anadolu Hisari, Runeli Hisari was designed to operate with the enlarged earlier fortress to close the Bosphoros with their massive new bronze cannon. These were sited close to the shore, almost at water level, so that their stone cannon balls skipped across the water like pebbles across a pond. Rumeli Hisari's first major action came on 10 November 1452, when it's guns opened fire on a pair of Venetian ships, which escaped. The Ottoman gunners adjusted their range and on 25 November they sank a large three-masted Venetian merchant galley that tried to run the blockade.

Key for the plan of Rumeli Hisari:

1. The Zaganos Tower;

2. Water Tower (Su Kulesi);

3. Saruca Pasa Tower;

4.Halil Pasa Tower;

5. Little Zaganos Pasa Tower (Kucuk ZaganosPasa Kulesi)

6. Ravine Gate (Sel Kapisi);

7. Mountain Gatee (Dag Kapisi);

8. Sentries Gate (Dizdaz Kapisi);

9. Barbican Gate (Hisarpece Kapisi);

10. Mosque;

11. Cistern;

12. Fountain;

13. Wells;

14. Barbican (Built sometime later);

15. Ground level Embrasures for heavy cannon.


D. Nicolle, "Ottoman Fortifications 1300-1710," Fortress 95, Osprey Pub., P. 47

Anadolu Hisari (Ottoman Fortification on the Bosphoros Strait)

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1. Central Keep;

2. Inner Court;

3. Inner enceinte;

4. Outer enceinte;

5. Mosque;

6. Western Gate;

7. Northern Gate;

8. North tower;

9. Northwestern Tower;

10. Western Tower;

11.Artillery Embrasures;

12. Barracks, Stables, and storage rooms built of mudbrick, and turf roofs.


D. Nicolle, "Ottoman Fortifications 1300-1710," Fortress 95, (Osprey Pub. - 2010), P. 11

Anadolu Hisari (Ottoman Fortification on the Bosphoros Strait)

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The small castle of Anadolu Hisari, built for Sultan Bayezid I between 1390 and 1395,
was not capable of closing the strait to enemy shipping. Instead, its primary function
was to secure the Asian side of a major crossing point, the Bosphoros being at its
narrowest here, and to dominate the mouth of a small river which could serve as a harbor.
A little over fifty years later Sultan Mehmet I surrounded Bayezid's simple castle with
a curtain wall and towers. Written evidence also indicates that most other structures
within the curtain were of very simple construction, though the mosque added by
Mehmet II might have been more substantial.

1. Central Keep; 2. Inner Court; 3. Inner enciente.


D. Nicolle, Adam Hook (illust.), "Ottoman Fortifications, 1300-1710," Fortress 95,
Osprey Pub., Oxford, UK, 2010, P.11