Historically called the
ROOK / TOWER / TORRE / TURRET
SIEGE TOWER / BELFRY TOWER
CHARIOT / RUKH / RUK
WAR CARRIAGE on ELEPHANT
RECTOR / MARQUESS / WARDER
BOAT / SHIP
The Tower - Slider - Value 7 - moves along an unobstructed path any number of squares horizontally or vertically.
GREAT CHESS optional power.
The Tower may also retire his own Soldiers (Pawns) by moving to their square - and retiring them from the game.
The most controversial chess piece is the TOWER (ROOK) which was originally a CHARIOT (and still is in many parts of the world). In pre and early medieval times, the RUKH / RUK / ROK (ROOK) in Shatranj Chess, symbolized a Persian war chariot which was heavily armoured and carried a driver and at least one ranged-weapon bearer, such as an archer or spearman. At times the sides of the chariot were built to resemble fortified walls, giving the impression of small, mobile buildings, causing terror on the battlefield.
As the medieval era drew to a close, war chariots had disappeared, but siege and belfry towers were still in use. The first appearance in chess of the TOWER to replace the CHARIOT was possibly a representation of an Assyrian Seige Tower, or a poorly made chess piece of an armoured chariot which had lost it's horses and wheels in the translation. The piece assumed the name 'TOWER' in most parts of the world - and in some English speaking parts of the world - the name 'ROOK', the English spelling of RUKH.
A TOWER makes total sense in chess, if you see it as a movable BELFRY / BELFRIE TOWER, a tall fighting enclosure in which SOLDIERS dominated large distances on the battle field, raining down projectiles from high with impunity, while being moved around in straight lines on the battle field. BELFRY TOWERS appeared on chess boards around the 8th - 10th centuries. Siege and Belfry Towers ceased to exist on the battlefield by the mid 1500's.
In 1849, the Staunton Chess pieces appeared in England and the designers, Nathaniel Cook and John Jaques, used the 'CASTLE' theme for the TOWER instead of the more logical and historically correct BELFRY TOWER or the earlier CHARIOT (RUKH / RUK / ROK). The myopic public embraced the CASTLE theme, and the Staunton pieces, including the CASTLE / ROOK, became a standard in some parts of the Western world. However most parts of Europe and the Eurasian countries still use the TOWER description.
The TOWER clearly moves in the way a BELFRY TOWER would move, not a CASTLE. To my knowledge, nobody in the history of the world, has ever managed to move a castle around the countryside in the middle of a battle.
Cook and Jaques also curiously made their TOWER/CASTLE the smallest of the power pieces, when it is the most powerful piece apart from the QUEEN, and historically had been one of the larger pieces on the board. If Cook and Jaques were still with us, they would have a lot of explaining to do.
The ROOK - RUKH.
Is it a CHARIOT or BERSERKER or ELEPHANT or TOWER
Charlemagne Chariot Chess Piece 11th cent.
The Berserker Vikings. Rooks from the Lewis chessmen. NORWAY 12th cent.
In India the Rook has been represented by the elephant for hundreds of years.
A Belfry Tower was not use for assaulting walls. This type of tower could be used in a siege campaign where it was impossible to move a breaching tower against a castle wall due to terrain - as in the battle of Dover Castle 1216 or the Siege of Orléans 1428-29. At these battles belfry towers were used for providing elevated fire power into the besieged structure and cover fire for ground combatants and construction workers.
The RUKH's transformation from CHARIOT to TOWER
Chariot and warriors of the Assyrian army (detail), c. 645 BCE
Siege tower with battering ram in action. Assyrian army destroying the walls.
Iranian mythical hero Afrasiab in a Rukh (Chariot) in ivory from, about 7th/8th century,
Rook Chess Piece 8th–10th century. Western Islamic Lands. Ivory
Rook 9th–12th century Iran, Nishapur. Ivory carved.
Rook, Lower Rheir, Germany. 11th cent. Two warriors in a small fortified enclosure, War Wagon or Belfry Tower. This piece may or may not have had wheels. Was this the type of piece that lead to the castle theme?
Towers came in two types, the Siege or Breaching tower for delivering warriors to the top of fortifies walls, and the Belfry or Belfries towers which were used to elevate archers to a commanding position on the battlefield.
Roman non-movable Belfry towers positioned to give attackers the advantage of height above the city walls.
Medieval English Siege Tower.
A massive Breaching tower at the Siege of Lisbon in 1147
Dover Castle siege, 1216, French Belfry tower and earth works. Dover Castle was a vital strategic and communication lynch-pin in the empire of the Angevin kings of England. in 1216, the castle successfully resisted a major siege directed personally by Prince Louis of France during his near-successful invasion of England. He had some success breaching the walls, but was unable ultimately to take the castle. Artist Peter Dunn.
The Belfry tower was used during the battle as a shooting platform as apposed to a breaching platform.
A Belfry Tower was not use for assaulting walls. Belfry Towers were used for providing elevated fire power into the besieged structure and cover fire for ground combatants and construction workers.
In 1900, the British Chess Company issued the new improved Royal Chessmen. One of the distinguishing features of the latter was that they turned away from the customary approach of making the pieces linearly smaller starting from the king. The British Chess Company rather pursued the approach of aligning the size of the pieces with their playing value, which led to a clear enlargement of the rooks to signal their higher playing value compared to the knights and bishops.
In parts of the western world the Rook is depicted by a Tower or a tiny Castle.