Wagenburg

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Wagenburg

 

(from the German Wagen, “vehicle,” and Burg, “asylum” or “shelter”), a fortification constructed with carts from a military convoy, used in ancient times and in the Middle Ages in order to repulse enemy attacks.

In ancient times, the Wagenburg was often used by the Gauls, Germans, Huns, and others. The Wagenburg was further developed during the Middle Ages when troops on campaign were accompanied by numerous carts with supplies and weapons. The term Wagenburg came to be applied to moving as well as stationary arrangements of carts. It was widely employed by the Crusaders, the Swiss, and especially the Hussites, who repeatedly repulsed attacks by mounted knights with the aid of the Wagenburg. When under the threat of enemy attack, the carriages were arranged in the form of a carré (square), circle, or semicircle in the center of which were the people and horses. When possible, the Wagenburg was surrounded by a moat and other obstacles. For the defense of the Wagenburg infantry was deployed within; artillery, at the corners; and cavalry, on the outside. The Wagenburg, called guliaigorod, was used in Russia from the beginning of the 16th century. With the development of firearms (especially of artillery) the Wagenburg lost its importance.