Siege and blockade, what is the difference?

afrasiab

Member
Arabic
I read the following sentence:
It had been under a blockade since the spring of 1394; after the Battle of Nicopolis this became a siege.

So, what is the difference between them?
 
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  • Matthew_Verge

    New Member
    English - Canada
    A blockade means that the attacking party is stopping anything or anybody from entering the city. A siege means the attacking party is now physically attacking the city, and trying to gain access.

    The goal of a blockade is usually economic, or to demoralise the inhabitants of a city, and possibly to starve them. The siege would involve catapaults, digging under walls, and possibly (in this period) the use of cannon.
     

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    A blockade means that the attacking party is stopping anything or anybody from entering the city. A siege means the attacking party is now physically attacking the city, and trying to gain access.

    The goal of a blockade is usually economic, or to demoralise the inhabitants of a city, and possibly to starve them. The siege would involve catapaults, digging under walls, and possibly (in this period) the use of cannon.
    I´m not a native speaker but isn´t a siege about blocking all ways in and out of a city as well?
    A siege can come to an end by either starvation or storming the city.

    I think siege refers mainly to land warfare while blockade is used to describe the "siege" from the seaside.

    Does that make sense? :)
     

    Matthew_Verge

    New Member
    English - Canada
    A blockade can be either land or sea; it is, however, more usually at sea. In the case of Nicopolis, the Crusaders blockaded the town from land and sea.

    And yes, you are entirely correct, this can be considered a siege as well.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    There is an essential difference between a siege and a blockade. The purpose of a blockade is solely to prevent the movement of people and goods. The purpose of a siege is to force the surrender of the people in the place that is being besieged. Thus, some years ago Rhodesia was blockaded by the Royal Navy as part of the sanctions against that country. It was never the intention that Rhodesia should surrender to an occupying military force. Rhodesia was not besieged. A siege must include a blockade, but a blockade is not, of itself, a siege.

    Frank78. It does not matter whether it is by land or sea, an inland city or country can be blockaded and a coastal town can be besieged. Historical examples include the sieges of Carthage and Troy. (Strictly speaking, only a town or building can be besieged, not a country)

    Afrasiab, that difference is explained in my dictionary.
     
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    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    blockade
    The shutting up of a place, blocking of a harbour, line of coast, frontier, etc., by hostile forces or ships, so as to stop ingress and egress, and prevent the entrance of provisions and ammunition, in order to compel a surrender from hunger or want, without a regular attack.

    seige
    The action, on the part of an army, of investing a town, castle, etc., in order to cut off all outside communication and in the end to reduce or take it; an investment, beleaguering.

    OED defiinitions.

    There is not a great deal of difference, but I agree with the general view that seige emphasises the military aspects, blockade the economic aspects.
     
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