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Crush'd : on his breast-plate falling, the vast force,
Lo! towards the levelled moat,
A * moving tower the men of Orleans wheel
* The following extract from the History of Edward III. by Joshua Barnes will convey a full idea of these moving towers. “ Now the Earl of Darby had layn before Reule more than nine weeks, in which time he had made two vast Belfroys or
Four stages elevate. Above was hung, Equalling the walls, a bridge; in the lower stage The ponderous battering-ram : a troop within Of t archers, thro' the opening, shot their shafts.
Bastilles of massy timber, with three stages or floors; each of the belfroys running on four huge wheels, bound about with thick hoops of iron; and the sides and other parts that any ways respected the town were covered with raw hides, thick laid, to defend the engines from fire and shot. In every one of these stages were placed an hundred archers, and between the two Bastilles, there were two hundred men with pickaxes and mattocks. From these six stages six hundred archers shot so fiercely all together, that no man could appear at his defence without a sufficient punishment: 50 that the Belfreys being brought upon wheels by the strength of men over a part of the ditch, which was purposely made plain and level by the faggots and earth and stones cast upon them, the two hundred pioneers plyed their work so well under the protection of these engines, that they made a considerable breach through the walls of the town.
of The archers and cross-bowmen from the upper stories in the moveable towers essayed to drive away the garrison from the parapets, and on a proper opportunity to let fall a bridge, by that means to enter the town. In the bottom story was often a large ram.
In the loftiest part was Conrade, so prepar'd
To aim the arrow at the distant foe.
But uprear in close conflict, front to front,
* Against the moveable tower there were many modes of defence. The chief was to break up the ground over which it was to pass, or by undermining it to overthrow it. Attempts were likewise made to set it on fire, to prevent which it was covered with raw hides, or coated over with alum.
Shot lightening thro' the sky. In vain it Hamed,
But nearer danger threats the invaders now,
The bridge * reclines. An universal shout
* These bridges are described by Rollin in the account of the moving towers which he gives from Vegetius. “ The moving towers are made of an assemblage of beams and strong planks, not unlike a house. To secure them against the fires thrown by the besieged, they are covered with raw hides, or with pieces of cloth made of hair. Their height is in proportion to their base. They are sometimes thirty feet square, and sometimes forty or fifty. They are higher than the walls. or even towers of the city. They are supported upon several wheels according to mechanic principles, by the means of which the machine is easily made to move, how great soever it niay be. The town is in great danger if this tower can approach the walls ; for it has stairs from one story to another, and includes different methods of attack. At bottom it has a ram to batter the wall, and on the middle story a drawbridge, made of two beams with rails of basket-work, which lets down easily upon the wall of a city, when within the reach of it. The besiegers pass upon this bridge, to make themselves masters of the wall. Upon the higher stories are soldiers armed with partisans and missive weapons, who keep a perpetual discharge upon the works. When affairs are in this posture, a place seldom held out long. For what can they hope who have nothing to confide in but the height of their ramparts, when they see others suddenly appear which command them?
The Towers or Belfreys of modern times rarely excecded three or four stages or stories.