liens evitement

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Brick, a defensive weapon

Cité épiscopale d’Albi

The Berbie palace is a building with a military purpose.

The fortress of the Berbie palace could be considered archaic, even in its own time, if we failed to take into account the material with which it is built: brick.

Common clay, kneaded, shaped and fired; brick is not associated with the same nobility granted to stone but the missiles launched by catapults could blast holes in stone walls while the elasticity of brick walls allowed them to absorb the shock.

Under attack, the violent shocks that may be received are not transmitted to the rest of the wall. The bricks at the point of impact may be crushed but the wall is not undermined.

The thickness of the Berbie palace’s walls guarantee additional stability and also a defence against sapping, a technique to breach the walls of fortresses by digging underneath them and undermining the foundations.

In an attack of this sort brick would rapidly wear down the attackers tools. In the case of walls built entirely in brick throughout their thickness (sometimes up to seven metres in the Berbie palace), the sappers’ task was formidable.

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