An Encyclopedia of Great Sieges from Ancient Times to the Present

by Paul K. Davis


In a cycle repeated throughout history, people have congregated in walled cities for mutual protection, and then attackers, lured by the wealth behind the city walls, have laid siege. This fascinating volume examines the most important sieges in world history from the earliest times to the present.

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November 2001


Pages 376
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Military History/General
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    Hardcover: £67.00/73,00€/A$112.00

Besieged examines the most important sieges in history—the actions and motivations of attackers and defenders along with conditions inside and outside the city walls.

From Joshua's assault on Jericho in the 15th century B.C. to the Russian attack on the Chechen capital of Grozny at the end of the 20th century, siege warfare has been a recurring theme in the human story. Again and again, engineers have built supposedly impregnable fortifications, only to see them overrun by an ingenious enemy.

In Besieged, military historian Paul F. Davis analyzes the most crucial sieges in world history, such as the siege of Leningrad, which weakened the Nazi forces in World War II, and that of the Alamo, which culminated in independence for Texas. He also describes important sieges unfamiliar to most readers, such as that of Arcot, where a British victory halted the French takeover of southern India. In engaging, accessible language, Davis tracks the invention of new technologies, analyzes innovative tactics, and tells the human story of conditions both inside and outside the city walls.


  • Examines 100 great sieges, from Jericho in 1405 B.C. to Grozny in 1997
  • Establishes the historical background of each siege, describes the siege itself in both military and human terms, and analyzes the results
  • Provides more than 75 maps as well as tactical diagrams, archival photographs, and artworks
  • Includes a glossary explaining unfamiliar military terms, from abatis to zig-zags


  • Examines the 100 most important sieges of the last three millennia—their history, their human toll, and their results
  • Surveys technical and tactical innovations siege by siege, from Greek fire to the medieval weapon called the mangonel
Author Info

Paul K. Davis, PhD, is a history instructor at the University of Texas, San Antonio, TX and at St. Mary's University, San Antonio, TX. He received his degree in war studies from Kings College, University of London.

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