The medieval period was quite an interesting time, from hygiene habits to medical practices. When we look at it from today, we find the habits of the people of the Middle Ages strange. But you can’t help wondering how people lived at that time. Besides the everyday habits of the Middle Ages, the warfare tactics of the time also included terrible practices. One of the strangest practices was undoubtedly the 16th century rocket cats. Let’s take a closer look at Rocket Cats and how they are used in battle.
The first name to come up with the idea for the rocket cat was artillery master Franz Helm, who lived in Cologne. Helm was in the army of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, which was fighting the Ottoman Empire. Later, Albert V of the Duchy of Bavaria, Louis X and IV. Served William. Helm wrote a treatise entitled “Bunch von den probierten Künsten” based on his long experience of war. Although this treatise was not published until 1625, it later became one of the most widely read books in Germanic countries. The book contained information on war tactics and army order. At the same time, some weapons of war were introduced. Weapons included sharp missile-like explosives and flaming tip ammunition. The most interesting “ammunition” were rockets.
It was unclear what the rocket cats were used for until Helm’s manuscript was reviewed by Mitch Fraas, director of special collections and research services at the University of Pennsylvania. Fraas translated the text and gave very interesting explanations of medieval warfare tactics.
Franz Helm prepared a chapter in his book entitled “To burn down a castle or a town which you could not otherwise take.” This chapter describes how to set fire to enemy positions by strapping a flaming ammunition to the back of a cat and releasing it: “Make a small bag like a fire arrow. If you want to take a city or a castle, find a cat there. Then tie the bag on the cat’s back, turn it on, let it shine well, then release the cat. So he runs to the nearest castle and tries to get among the people out of fear. Eventually, he ignites a piece of straw or rag and starts a fire.
Although this tactic of war by Franz Helm frightens us, the use of cats in war was linked to the religious attitudes of the time. Because in the Middle Ages, cats were associated with the devil and witchcraft. Consequently, they created insecurity and anxiety. This was especially true during the Protestant Reformation.
Were rocket cats really used in warfare?
It seems unlikely to know for sure if rocket cats were used in battles. Mitch Fraas, one of the most experienced soldiers of the time, thinks that if he addresses this subject in his book, cats may have been used in real wars.
Use of animals in wars
Today, Franz Helm is considered the first to have had the idea of rocket cats. But Helm wasn’t the first to consider using animals in combat. The idea goes back to legendary Hebrew heroes like Samson, who tied a torch to the tails of 300 foxes to burn the fields of the Philistines. On the other hand, the Chinese are known to use this tactic as well. In 1188, the Song dynasty set fire to the oxen to burn the bridges. A military manual from 1000 AD indicates that flaming ammunition was also placed on birds. The most famous example of this in history was experienced in the 10th century AD. Olga of kyiv placed burning embers on the backs of 6 birds in revenge on the village of Iskorosten. After releasing the birds, houses in the village began to catch fire. Olga from kyiv used this tactic all her life.
elephants and dogs
The use of animals in warfare is not unique to the Middle Ages. Animals have been used throughout history to bolster armies and intimidate the enemy. War elephants, for example, were an indispensable part of Indian armies in the 4th century. Apart from the Indian kingdoms, the Persians also started using elephants in wars. However, when elephants began to appear more frequently on battlefields, new tactics were developed for them. For example, if there were elephants in battle, the most unique form of defense was to use pigs. Because elephants were afraid of pigs and left the battlefield in no time. However, rhinos were also present on battlefields with humans to oppose war elephants.
On the other hand, dogs were on the battlefield just as much as cats and elephants. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and even World War II. During World War II, Allied countries used armored dogs. For example, the Russians trained dogs to carry bombs under German tanks and sent them to their deaths. Animals, which are considered humans’ closest friends in the modern world, have been the victims of many warfare tactics in history. Not only dogs, elephants, cats and rhinos, but also many animals, from bees and camels to hedgehogs and mice, sadly lost their lives on the battlefields.
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