Cheval de Frise

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Cheval de Frise

CHEVAL DE FRISE. A portable obstacle used to stop cavalry, form road blocks, close gaps in fortifications, and so on, it was formed of large beams traversed by pointed spikes. A submarine version, whose invention was attributed to Benjamin Franklin and which differed considerably in design, consisted of a heavy timber frame bristling with iron-tipped spikes; sunk on the bottom of a river, it could rip the hull of a vessel. Franklin's obstacles were used in the Delaware below Philadelphia and in the Hudson below West Point. Usually employed in the plural, the term "chevaux de frise" means "horses of Friesland," the province in North Holland where they first were employed, apparently during the Dutch War for Independence of 1568–1648.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Onions, C. T., ed. Oxford Universal Dictionary on Historical Principles. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955.