History : Aug-Sep 2015
HUMAN SHIELDS FOR A SIEGE A WEAPON OF WAR Learning the techniques of siege warfare from the Chinese allowed Genghis Khan to attack the fortified cities that often held the key to dominating a region or toppling a king. But siege warfare was heavy work and required vast amounts of labor to build earthworks, siege towers, and catapults, while filling in moats and digging tunnels to undermine city walls. Solving this problem employed a method as simple as it was pitiless: They captured thousands of civilians from sur- rounding villages and forced them to work on the siege. Many were women and children, and when the time came to assault the walls, the Mongols often used these poor innocents as human shields. Ingeniously this had the advantage of both lowering Mongol casualties and giving the defenders the terrible dilemma of having to kill their fellow countrymen, sometimes relatives or friends, or allowing the Mongols to reach the walls and take the city.