In his book “Compendio della Fortificatione”, Giulio Emilio Alberghetti presents to the Senate of Venice, a variaty of fortifications. At the time of writing the book, Venice was at war with the ottoman empire. Therefore such a book was desperately needed. He writes about the art of defending and the newest tactics of how to build fortifications, focusing mainly on efficience and having the upper hand, when it comes to fighting an attacking enemy.
A major part in defending a fort successfully is how the fort itself is built. Not just the material and the stability of the wall, but how you place the walls strategically, as in how they face the enemy. Therefore the Geometry of the floorplan is of great importance.
In order to best explain Alberghettis tactics and fortification-geometry I will pose a simple thought experiment: building the perfect fort.
Imagine a completely round fort. Standing in front of it as an attacker, no matter on which side or how far away, you will always be able to see half the fort. Also the attacker can freely choose the direction of which he attacks. The defender looking out the window on the other hand, can only see his own little wallsection, but not what is happening on his left or right, since he cant see around the wall. Obviously that is a huge disadvantage because he can only fight what is right in front of him. After studying this example you will probably find that a round fort is not the way to go.
The next step would be to introduce corners to your fort, let’s say four. Now the attacker has to decide between four sides. He is limited in his choice. Also the defender now has an overview over a whole wall. As you can tell we are getting closer to perfection.
What Alberghetti now does, is he manipulates the geometry of the corners and walls in many different ways. Jagged walls and corners that would stand out in a way that many walls would actually face each other at an angle. Now the attackers have to decide between hundrets of wallelements that are all defended by the surrounding walls facing it. The defenders can now defend there own wall, but also help defend the walls next to them.
As you can see when it comes to war tactics, geometry is an essential part of it. An interesting fact is that Alberghetti, having studied this subject for a long time, still didn’t get to one best solution, but a selection of possibilities. So maybe the perfect fort doesn’t exist and probably never will.
geometry, war-strategy, defending