Famous Castle Sieges

Most medieval castle sieges were prolonged and could take up many months to reach a decisive turn.

Also, see our Famous Siege List

The attackers would try to ensure that the targeted castle was well surrounded and no goods such as food and supplies went into the castle for its inhabitants.

A Trebuchet Catapult Siege Attack on a Castle

The attackers also tried to look for any defense loopholes and attacked the castle structure in order to breach a fissure in it.

The castle inhabitants, on the other hand, strove to ensure that they had ample supplies and that the enemies were kept at a distance from the castle structure.

Every entrance to the castle was fortified and well-guarded.


Castle Barbican Portcullis

Famous Castle Sieges

Siege of Kenilworth Castle *1266

The siege of Kenilworth castle took place in 1266 as part of the Second Barons’ War in England. 

It came about after King Henry III’s forces killed the rebellious Simon de Montfort. Kenilworth castle has sued for Montfort’s causes and after his death, the castle was asked to surrender the garrison.

Medieval King Henry III

King Henry III

The castle inhabitants refused to do so, probably because of the excellent fortifications of its structure. The siege began in June and a huge number of soldiers were deployed by the royal forces.

The siege was successful only because the castle ran out of food supplies and the inhabitants were being ravaged by diseases, they surrendered in December.

Model of Kenilworth Castle

The siege of Kenilworth castle took place in 1266 as part of the Second Barons’ War in England.

Siege of Chateau Gaillard *1203

The siege of Chateau Gaillard took place in the early 13th century. The castle was originally held by Anglo-Normans who lay in King Philip II’s way as he attempted a French control of Normandy. The siege began in August 1203.

Chateau Gaillard

Since Gaillard castle was a critically important position for control of Normandy, Philip laid siege to it and defeated two attempts by Anglo-Saxons to relieve the siege externally.

First Philip’s forces were able to gain control of the outer bailey and by March 1204 the inner bailey had also fallen bringing about the complete surrender of the castle.

motte bailey wooden castles

Siege of Edinburgh Castle *1571

The siege of Edinburgh castle came about in the 16th century when Scotland was divided between those loyal to the absent ‘Queen of Scots – Mary’, and those loyal to the recently deceased king and the regency.

The Edinburgh Castle - Probably the best Castle in Scotland

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle was held by a lieutenant loyal to the king’s party at the start of the conflict but soon, the castle switched sides and owed allegiance to the absent queen. The king’s party marched on the castle and laid siege in May 1571. The siege continued, in one way or the other.

Famous Castle Sieges

Famous Castle Sieges

After numerous conflicts, fierce fighting, and interventions by Elizabeth I of England, the siege came to an end in May 1573 with the surrender of the castle.

Siege of Rochester Castle *1088

After the death of William the Conqueror, William Rufus assumed the English throne. During his reign, Bishop Odo rebelled and supported William’s elder brother, Robert, for the throne.

King William The Conqueror Medieval KIngs

Rochester castle was under the control of Odo and became one of the nerve centers of the rebellion. The King marched on the castle in 1088.  The siege was laid and two huge siege castles were built to ensure the isolation of the castle from the city.

Medieval Castle Keep Rochester Castle Castle Keep

Rochester Castle Castle Keep

Before soon, the garrison had to surrender due to rampant diseases, effectively denting the strength of the rebellion.

Rochester Castle Medieval Castle History Norman Castle

Siege of Harlech Castle *1468

Harlech castle was among the last strongholds of the Lancastrian faction during the Wars of the Roses. It became the center of the Lancastrian fighting against the Yorkists and was at the center of many notable developments.

Wars of the Roses

Wars of the Roses

Lancastrians launched attacks from the castle until 1468. As the Tudors ascended to the throne on the crest of the conflict between houses, William Herbert was sent by Edward IV to send an army to lay siege to the castle.

Medieval Castle Parts Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle

The siege lasted a month and ended with the surrender of the castle.

Harlech Castle Concentric Castles

Harlech Castle

Siege of Scarborough Castle *1645

The siege of the Scarborough Castle came about during the English Civil War in the 17th century. 

The castle was originally held by the royalist forces and the Roundhead forces, under the command of Oliver Cromwell, laid siege to the castle in February 1645.

Scarborough Castle

Scarborough Castle

It lasted a long time, with the sieging forces heavily bombarding the castle to dent its fortifications. During the five months of the siege, the castle was heavily damaged and ultimately surrendered to the Cromwellian troops.

A Trebuchet Catapult Siege Attack on a Castle

Siege of Cahir Castle *1599

Cahir Castle was one of the most notable points of military activity during the Nine Years War that took place in the 16th century as part of a conflict between the Irish rebels and the Earl of Essex.

The castle was held by the rebel forces in 1599 when the forces loyal to the Earl marched on it. Attempts were first made to persuade the defenders to give up the castle without any fighting. This having failed, a siege was laid on the castle.

Siege of Cahir Castle *1599

Siege of Cahir Castle *1599

As part of the siege, trenches were dug around it, and cannons were positioned at some distance from the castle to bombard it. Due to the consistent bombardment from these cannons, the walls of the castle were soon breached.

Medieval Gunpowder Weapons

Medieval Gunpowder Weapons

The breach was enough to let royal forces enter and seize control of the fortification. It was one of the shortest sieges in military history, lasting a mere four days.

Although the Earl of Essex attempted to hail this as a result of effective strategy, Queen Elizabeth I regarded it as a minor victory over an insignificant enemy.

Siege of Inabayama Castle *1567

Although nothing to do with medieval Europe a notable medieval siege took place in Japan! The siege of Inabayama castle came about as part of Oda Nobunaga’s efforts to assert his control over the Mino Province of Japan.


Inabayama castle stood as one of the final hurdles before Oda Nobunaga’s forces before could complete his conquest of the Mino province. It was the stronghold of the Saito clan and their allies.

Nobunaga’s forces laid siege to the castle on 13th September 1567 and came to an end by 27 September with the surrender of the castle. This was a decisive victory that consolidated the gains of Nobunaga’s campaigns.