1. Battle Castle: Malbork 360

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    Location: Poland The build: Malbork Castle was forged by the Teutonic Knights, a powerful order of German crusaders, in the 13th century. Historically known as Marienburg, it is the greatest fortification built by medieval knights during the Baltic Crusades, a mission to convert pagans to Christianity in Prussia and Lithuania. Believed to be the largest brick castle in the world, its unusual building blocks make its design stunning, both visually and militarily. Part of a network of castles with the same basic blueprint that stretch across modern-day Poland, its ingenious moat system, stand-alone tower and lofty High Castle place it among the Teutonic Order’s most incredible military –and architectural – achievements. The siege: The castle was besieged by the combined forces of King Jagiello of Poland and Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania in 1410, shortly after the celebrated Battle of Tannenberg, fought by the knights’ Grand Master. The attackers brought an arsenal of siege weapons, including the trebuchet and light artillery. Inside Malbork, a united garrison, led by Heinrich von Plauen, fought for both their God and their lives with crossbows and heavy cannon. The outcome of this campaign would challenge the gains of the Polish crown and define the future of the Teutonic Knights.

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    • Battle Castle: Conwy 360

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      Location: Wales The build: Conwy was built by King Edward I of England in the late 13th century in Snowdonia, northern Wales. Part of the famous “Iron Ring” of fortifications, it was designed by Edward’s top military architect, Master James of St. George, to suppress Welsh rebellions against English rule. A striking example of Edward’s distinct vision, this fortification is strategically positioned on the River Conwy. Its deadly entrance, lofty crenellated towers, and cleverly-designed river gate are statements to its determined King and enduring domination. The siege: This stronghold was attacked by the Madog ap Llywelyn after he launched a campaign against the English in 1294. The leader, calling himself Prince of Wales, was armed with the powerful longbow. His army targeted several castles including Harlech – which was besieged - and Caernarfon – where the town and castle were sacked. Edward was present in the castle during the siege of Conwy and the outcome of the uprising would not only decide the destiny of England’s holdings in Wales – it would also inspire the King to attempt to perfect castle engineering by raising the mighty Beaumaris.

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      • Battle Castle: Dover 360

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        LOCATION: England THE BUILD: Dover Castle was commissioned by King Henry II in the late 12th century as a mighty fortification to guard the region of Kent, situated at the shortest crossing between Britain and the Continent. Executed by the King’s finest engineer, Maurice, it cost more to build than any of Henry’s other projects. After the King’s death, his sons Richard, and then John, continued construction on the stronghold until it became the first concentric castle in Western Europe. Its magnificent square keep, intimidating forebuilding and innovatively-shaped towers live up to its reputation as the key to England. THE SIEGE: This castle was besieged by Prince Louis of France in the early 13th century. Son of Philip II, Louis came to England to attempt to usurp King John during the First Barons’ War. He seized several fortifications and marched into London. Then he turned his sword on Dover. Prince Louis’ siege machines -like the perrier -faced several layers of defences, including a palisade, before he could even hope to storm the castle and attack its garrison, led by Hubert de Burgh. This vicious fight challenged Dover’s military power, and its outcome would determine the fate of the English crown.

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        • Battle Castle: Malaga 360

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          LOCATION: Spain THE BUILD: Malaga was transformed into a military stronghold by Muslim leader Yusuf I and his successors in the 14th century. Situated in Granada in modern-day Spain, the city’s defences were built to protect its key port against Christians from Aragon and Castile during the Reconquista. Designed to guard a kingdom against annihilation, the city boasts not one, but two fortifications: Gibralfaro Castle – or Castillo de Gibralfaro – and the Alcazaba of Malaga. Its unprecedented military passageway, vast underground chamber system and brilliant watchtower network are testament to its role as the eye of an empire. THE SIEGE: The castle was attacked by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1487 as part of a massive offensive against the city. Commanded by the King’s elite soldier, the Marquis of Cadiz, and defended by Hamet el Zegri, a Muslim warrior fuelled by the desire for revenge, the stronghold was hammered by powerful “lombard” cannons – a weapon that would change the nature of warfare forever. The city and its citizens were also targeted, and for months, the battle raged on. This sustained onslaught would prove to be the bloodiest siege of this centuries-old conflict. And its outcome would change the future of Europe.

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          • Battle Castle: Chateau Gaillard 360

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            LOCATION: France THE BUILD: Chateau Gaillard was constructed by King Richard I in the late 12th century. Otherwise known as “Richard the Lionheart”, this legendary English ruler engineered the castle to counter French attempts on England’s holdings in continental Europe. His castle builders turned this vision into an unparalleled stronghold in less than two years. Perched high above the River Seine, its knife-like keep, arced-stone wall and multiple baileys speak to its military purpose and its King’s fiery character. THE SIEGE: This castle was attacked by Richard’s archenemy, Philip II of France. Bolstered by medieval weapons like the mangonel Phillip Augustus led an army through Normandy in 1203, arriving at Chateau Gaillard in the latter part of the year. He attacked a river fort and the adjacent town of Petit Andely, before even reaching Chateau Gaillard. The gruesome battle went on through the winter, claiming many lives and intensifying the historical struggle between English and French.

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            • Battle Castle: Crac des Chevaliers 360

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              LOCATION: Syria THE BUILD: Crac des Chevaliers was built by an elite order of Christian warrior monks in the 12th and 13th centuries. Called the Knights Hospitaller, these men designed the castle to dominate a key pass in what is now Syria and guard against Muslim attacks during the Crusades. Strategically positioned on a mountain spur, its steeply-sloped walls, hidden moat and deadly ramp entrance make it the crown jewel of Crusader castles. THE SIEGE: This castle was besieged by Baybars, a Mamluk Sultan who rose from slavery to usurp a king. Armed with siege engines like the counterweight trebuchet, Baybars campaigned against the Christians in the latter part of the 13th century, determined to push them out of the Holy Land forever. In 1271, he came up against Crac des Chevaliers, challenging the castle - and its defenders - to a battle that would shift the balance of power in the Middle East.

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              • Protective Shed

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                Cats are protective sheds used to shield engineering and sapper during a combat operation, such as undermining walls or filling up moats. Their simple and inexpensive construction means cats can be built on-site. Several sheds can be joined together to form of a long passageway to lead the attackers directly to their target. The roofs of the protective sheds can be covered in hides and sandbags to make them more resistant to fire. Cats are sometimes referred to as sows. Protective shed information based on Siege Studio protective shed explored by Host Dan Snow in Battle Castle: Crac des Chevaliers and provided by Bartek Styszyński, who appears in the show.

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                • Perrier

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                  Like the trebuchet, the perrier works on the principle of counterpoise, with a stone missile propelled from a sling. In this case, the arm is swung by human muscle-power rather than by a heavy counterweight. Counterpoise engines were first developed 5,000 years ago in China. Their use spread to the west during the Crusader wars of the 12th century. Perriers are lighter and more easily transportable than other stone-throwing engines and were thus useful to attackers and defenders alike. Perrier weight, range, and projectile weight can vary greatly. Perriers are also sometimes referred to as traction trebuchets. Figures and naming convention based on Caerphilly Castle perrier fired by host Dan Snow in Battle Castle: Dover. Siege engine is a replica designed for longevity and educational purposes, so range and projectile weight are lower than medieval siege engines. Statistics provided by Peter Humphries, former interpretation manager for Cadw.

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                  • Mangonel

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                    The mangonel is a class of medieval siege engine that hurls stones and other missiles by means of its single arm. Power is obtained by torsion from a large skein of twisted rope, or sinew. Relative to other medieval war machines, they are cumbersome and the size of their missiles is limited. Mangonel weight, range, and projectile weight can vary greatly. Term is sometimes also used to describe a traction trebuchet. Figures and naming convention based on Caerphilly Castle mangonel fired by host Dan Snow in Battle Castle: Gaillard. Siege engine is a replica designed for longevity and educational purposes, so range and projectile weight are lower than medieval siege engines. Statistics provided by Peter Humphries, former interpretation manager for Cadw.

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