Saturday, July 20, 2013

How to Make Bird Missiles, 13th century

Them's fightin' birds!
Luttrell Psalter, BL Add. 42130 f.17v (14th c.)
"Another kind of fire for burning enemies wherever they are. Take petroleum, black petroleum, liquid pitch, and oil of sulphur. Put all these in a pottery jar buried in horse manure for fifteen days. Take it out and smear with it crows which can be flown against the tents of the enemy. When the sun rises and before the heat has melted it the mixture will inflame. But we advise that it should be used before sunrise or after sunset." 
Marcus Graecus, Liber ignium ad comburendos hostes ("Book of Fires for Burning Enemies"!, 13th c.)
Revealed: the origins and operational tactics of Angry Birds. The text does not explain how you get the crows to fly against enemy tents, but my guess is you put them in a little avian catapult and aim it with your finger. 


  1. My guess is that the crows fall out of the sky pretty quickly after fleeing the rough handling necessary to cover them in noxious goo. The trick is judging the distance you need to hit your target and hope the racket of greased crows thrashing all over the tent tops doesn't wake the enemy within.

  2. Genghis Khan used this method to attack a walled city in China in the early 1200s. He used birds and cats, set their tails on fire (or tied burning rags, more likely, as I've also read) and the animals fled toward the city which was then set ablaze after which Kahn's army attacked.