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Sieges are a common part of almost any war. We have already talked about the longest sieges in history, and today we will talk about those that did not last so long, but cost the lives of a huge number of people on both sides of the fortifications.
Siege of Sigetvara, 1566 The siege of a small Hungarian fortress became a very significant event for medieval Europe. Cardinal Richelieu generally believed that it was this battle that saved civilization. Sigetvar was the eastern fortress of the Habsburg Empire. It was here that the Turkish troops approached under the leadership of the old Sultan Suleiman I. The Croatian governor Nikola Zrini was able to send only 2300 soldiers, mainly from his own army, to a huge army of conquerors. The defenders of the fortress refused to surrender, despite the fact that the enemy was much more - almost one hundred thousand people. Zrini understood that his fortress was in fact the last obstacle for the enemy on the way to Vienna. The governor even refused the offer to become the head of the province in case of going over to the side of the Turks. The siege of the fortress began on August 6 and lasted until September 8. By that time, only about 300 soldiers remained, as well as their family members. Then Zrini ordered the soldiers to kill their wives and children so that they would not be captured and experience all his horrors. The men complied with the order and continued to fight as long as they had enough strength. The Ottomans who broke into the fortress destroyed the survivors. Only now Suleiman did not have time to see victory, having died from the consequences of dysentery the day before. This battle cost the Ottomans about 30 thousand soldiers. The Turks realized that they no longer had enough strength for a campaign of conquest and returned home. And although the siege was successful - the defenders, deprived of the support of Vienna, could not defend the fortress, the Croats had a great influence on the history of Christianity. If it were not for the brave warriors of Sigetvara, then most of Europe could have been under Muslim influence.
Siege of Nuremberg, 1632 That siege cost the lives of about 40-50 thousand people. During those years, Nuremberg was one of the greatest Protestant cities in the world. Who would have thought that it would be the site of a massacre during the Thirty Years' War? In 1632 the city was occupied by the troops of the Swedish king Gustav Adolf. Nuremberg was besieged by the army of the Holy Roman Empire under the command of Albrecht von Wallenstein. And although the Swedes had 150 thousand soldiers, which is 30 thousand more than the enemy, they forgot to arrange food supplies to the city. Wallenstein immediately blocked all trade routes, laying siege to Nuremberg. Only now the imperial army also lost supplies, as a result, both sides suffered from hunger, disease, including typhus. After 80 days of siege, Adolf tried to fight off in the Battle of the Old Fortress. When this maneuver failed, the Swede simply fled the city. He realized that the army would sooner or later surrender due to hunger. And so it happened, and most of the victims died not in battles, but from disease. The hitherto neutral Nuremberg itself was ruined - trade routes bypassed it, the city was paying debts. This led to the decline already in the XVII-XVIII centuries of the once prosperous city.
Siege of Kiev, 1240. The defense of Kiev in 1240 became one of the main events of the Mongol invasion of Russia in the middle of the 13th century. Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Europe and the capital of the Slavic state at that time. Hordes of Mongols came here, wanting, in addition to Russia, to seize Poland and Hungary in the future. The conquerors were headed by Batu, the grandson of Genghis Khan. First of all, he sent ambassadors to the city, ordering them to surrender. But the one who led the defense of the thousandth prince Daniil Galitsky, Dmitr, refused to surrender. Moreover, the ambassadors were executed, which angered the Mongols. The siege began on September 5, and on November 28, the Mongols took decisive action, starting to bombard the walls with catapults. The decisive assault began on December 5, when the walls of Kiev were destroyed in several places. The Khan's army rushed into the city, staging a massacre. Many civilians took refuge in the Tithe Church, which was already about three hundred years old, but the building was set on fire. Having collapsed, it buried many townspeople. Of the 50 thousand Kievites, only two thousand survived, including Dmitr. The khan saved his life, as a sign of respect for courage. Having destroyed the city, the Mongols went further, leaving behind ruins. Six years later, Archbishop Giovanni da Plano Carpini visited Kiev, who noted that the previously large and populous city had practically ceased to exist. Fortunately, Kiev was able to revive.
Siege of Ostend, 1601-1604. 120 thousand people became victims of the defense of the Belgian city, a quarter of them were civilians. Ostend has become the site of one of the longest sieges in history, as well as the bloodiest battle in the Eighty Years War. Shortly before the siege, the city was fortified, making it an excellent place to defend the combined forces of the Netherlands and England under the leadership of Duke Francis Veer. And the Spaniards were opposed under the command of Archduke Albrecht. The siege began on July 5, 1601 and lasted for three years. The defenders had about 50 thousand people, while the Spaniards had about 80 thousand, mostly infantrymen. In 1603, Ambrosio Spinola took command of the Spaniards, who dubbed the siege "a long deadly carnival." By that time, the parties, seeing the hopelessness of the siege, began to try to solve the case with the help of traitors. But the attempt to organize a riot inside Ostend failed. Vir himself was accused by the Spaniards of false negotiations, which he refused at the last moment. In 1604, the Spaniards were able to break through the external defenses, the remnants of the Dutch and British capitulated. It is said that when Albrecht's wife, Isabella, entered the destroyed city, she burst into tears at the sight of the destroyed and bloodshed city. After the fall of Ostend, the parties concluded a 12-year truce.
Siege of Baghdad, 1258. And again the siege was carried out by the Mongols. This time the city was surrounded by another grandson of Genghis Khan, Khulugu Khan. Then Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. This Islamic state was located on the territory of modern Iraq. True, the capital itself has lost its former greatness. Nevertheless, educated and wealthy people lived in Baghdad. Hulug dreamed of destroying one of the largest and most important Islamic cities. More than one hundred thousand Mongols laid siege to Baghdad after the Caliph al-Mustasim refused to open the gates. Moreover, the head of state not only failed to strengthen the walls of his capital, but also threatened the attackers. And the Shiite Muslims offended by him also went over to the side of the enemy. The battle began on January 29th and ended on February 10th. The Mongols not only repulsed the attacks of the Caliph army, but also lured them into a trap, flooding them with water from destroyed dams. On February 5, the Mongols captured part of the walls and the city was doomed. Hulegu gave Baghdad to his wines for a week of plunder. A senseless massacre began, the Mongols burned houses, libraries, palaces, age-old buildings. Al-Mustasim himself was wrapped in a carpet and trampled to death by horses. The Mongols destroyed the House of Wisdom - an invaluable repository of manuscripts on many sciences, the intellectual center of civilization. Almost all of the books were thrown into the river, making the Tiger black with ink. Witnesses said that it was possible to wade across the river on a horse, so it was filled with manuscripts. The number of victims is about one hundred thousand according to the most conservative estimates, and up to a million - according to Arab sources.
Defense of Sevastopol, 1854-1855. Military operations near Sevastopol became the basis of the Crimean War. The Russian army opposed the combined forces of the British, French and Turks. The siege was one of the first examples of trench warfare. For 11 months, both sides tried to survive and win. When the Russian troops realized that they would not be able to defeat the enemy in open battle, they took the army to Sevastopol and dug in on defensive positions. The battle thundered without ceasing. The Russian army suffered damage from artillery shelling, but changed and restored its defensive structures at night. Unfortunately for both sides it was a very tough winter. Many soldiers succumbed to concomitant diseases - cholera and dysentery. Most of all, this influenced the French, whose contract soldiers almost all remained in the Crimean land. Despite the fact that the defense of the fortress was carried out successfully, the Russians were eventually forced to retreat. On September 9, 1855, the Allies entered Sevastopol, which marked the end of the war. The siege greatly depleted the forces of the parties - more than 230 thousand soldiers were killed in total. The heroic defense became a pretext for immortalization in the form of poems, paintings, panoramas. For example, Lord Tennyson's poem Attack of the Light Brigade is dedicated to exactly those events.
Siege of Tenochtitlan, 1521 The fall of this city marked the fall of the Aztec empire under the pressure of the Spanish conquistadors. At the beginning of 1521, Hernán Cortez captured all the significant Aztec cities around him, launching a siege of Tenochtitlan. At the heart of the troops of the conquistadors were other Indians allied to them. An army of 200 thousand people even had guns. There were one and a half times more defenders. But this did not frighten Cortez, who sought to seize the rich lands and treasures of the Aztecs. The Spaniards, realizing that it would not be possible to capture the city head-on, decided to destroy the water supply. This led to problems with drinking water in the city, a smallpox epidemic began there. So the defense was weakened. Realizing that he would not be able to fight for every house in the city, Cortez began bombarding Tenochtitlan with cannons. The cavalry completed the rout - the Indians were horrified at the sight of horses. The siege itself lasted only three months, about 220 thousand people became victims, half of them were civilians. Cortez plundered the city, destroying all buildings. A new city, Mexico City, was founded on the ruins of the Aztec capital.
Battle of Carthage, 149-146 BC During the existence of the Roman Empire, Carthage was a powerful city and a strong enemy of this huge country. The confrontation between Rome and Carthage became the basis of a whole series of wars known as the Punic. The city itself remained intact until the Third Punic War, when the Romans attacked directly the enemy capital. The phrase of those times is known: "Carthage must be destroyed!" Roman troops in the amount of 80 thousand legionnaires under the command of Publius Cornelius began a siege. In Carthage itself, more than 90 thousand soldiers gathered, as well as 400 thousand citizens themselves. But the inhabitants sent a delegation to Rome, calling for peace and agreeing to almost all demands. But the Europeans put forward exorbitant demands, including the destruction of Carthage. The defender hastily began to secretly prepare for the defense. The Romans were surprised when they found an enemy ready to fight - the first assault was repulsed with heavy losses for the attackers. Only two years later, when Scipio Eimlian took over command of the besiegers, the Romans began active operations. The attackers entered the city in the spring of 146, for another 6 days the battle raged inside Carthage. Only 55 thousand inhabitants survived, all of them were sold into slavery. Every building in the city was destroyed. There was a legend that the Romans also salted the land around Carthage, but this could hardly be true. In total, the siege claimed the lives of more than 460 thousand people.
Siege of Jerusalem, 70 AD After the Jewish uprising in 66, the Romans decided to teach the local population a lesson once and for all. An army of 70,000 was sent to Jerusalem under the command of Titus Flavius. About 40 thousand people gathered to defend the ancient Jewish city. In February, the Romans captured four nearby cities and tried to negotiate with the defenders. But the ambassador, the historian Flavius Josephus, was sent home and was even wounded by an arrow. Then the Romans resorted to a siege. The blockade lasted from March to September. Jerusalem was deprived of water and drink. The unfortunate defenders were forced to feed on skins and drink sewage. Cases of cannibalism have been reported among Jews. Josephus Flavius mentioned the case of the murder of a child by a mother for the purpose of obtaining food. In the end, the Romans were able to destroy the wall with a stealthy night attack. Once inside the city, the attackers began to kill everyone. Several ancient buildings have been razed to the ground, including the Second Temple. It was destroyed even against the orders of Titus. Few of the residents were "lucky" to get into slavery - the rest were simply killed right on the streets. It is good that Josephus Flavius was able to get the holy books out of the Jerusalem temple, as well as 190 people hiding there. Historians of those times call the terrifying numbers of victims of the siege - Tacitus spoke about 600 thousand, and Josephus in general about a million.
Blockade of Leningrad, 1941-1944. This siege became one of the longest in history and certainly the most terrible. It happened on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. The capture of Leningrad was part of the "Barbarossa" plan for Germany's war against the Soviet Union. With the outbreak of hostilities, the approaches to the city immediately began to strengthen. As a result, the German army, reinforced by the Finns, Italians and Spaniards, was unable to take Leningrad on the move. The city was surrounded and on September 8 the blockade began, which lasted 872 long days. The only way of communication with the country was Lake Ladoga, which was shelled by enemy artillery, aviation and the fleet. Leningrad faced a harsh winter, and most importantly, a lack of food. Despite the food crisis, the army remained on the defensive, even attempting to break the blockade. And in winter, caravans with cargo marched across the ice of Ladoga, taking away the wounded, sick, old people and children in the opposite direction. This path was named "The Road of Life". The complete liberation of the city from the blockade took place only in the winter of 1944. During the years of the blockade, up to one and a half million people died, mostly civilians. Almost all of them were victims of starvation, not bombing.