trebuchets vs walls

Dec 2012
446
How exactly effective were trebuchets against walls? From various records only the most largest and powerful like the "Warwolf" ones could knock down walls and even then it was a relatively small and thin wall. How many times are there in recorded history of a trebuchet actually knocking a hole in the wall for soldiers to breach?
 
Sep 2019
129
Turkey
Actually it's more efective on peoples more than walls . İf you think of a siege you must break the resistance of the mans in the castle . Diseases occur , starving begins and these force'em to counter attack outside the castle . İt's always easier to beat somoene on the batllefield more than on a siege .
 
Dec 2012
446
Yes, that's why there doesn't seem to be a lot of records were trebuchets actually knocked down walls except for the most weakest and thinnest like w/ warwolf in sterling castle.
 
Oct 2011
518
Croatia
How exactly effective were trebuchets against walls? From various records only the most largest and powerful like the "Warwolf" ones could knock down walls and even then it was a relatively small and thin wall. How many times are there in recorded history of a trebuchet actually knocking a hole in the wall for soldiers to breach?
This is from my notes about ballistae, although take it with reserve as I did not write down the source:
"Stone-throwing ballista can throw 60 lbs (19,7 kg) stone over 400 meters, can be trusted to kill a man at 100 meters; walls have to be 5 meters thick to withstand an impact at 150 meters."

Now, trebuchet will actually be quite disadvantaged compared to ballista thanks to the fact that it is gravity-lever-powered, as opposed to being torsion-powered. However, large trebuchets do appear to have been capable of destroying at least thinner walls. Byzantine Roman Helepolis may have been a counterweight trebuchet:

And according to sources, it was capable of taking down city walls:
""in thirteen days the walls were cast down by the operation of the helepoleis" (12.5,65.6-7). "
"Alexios employed helepoleis to destroy the walls of Kastoria.35 To drive the Arabs away from the coastline he positioned helepoleis on ships.36 The Byzantine general Dalassenos employed helepoleis on ships to demolish fortifications on land. 37 Anna many times records the regular use of helepoleis in sieges.38 "
Especially counterweight trebuchets were feared:
"John then surrounded Kastamon with machines hurling rocks heavy enough to break up its foundations, hurling them like hail (8.60-64). After taking that city, he deployed his stone-throwing engines like a veritable wall around Gangra (75-79, 120-124). "
"In 1165 four large Byzantine trebuchets launched huge stones against the Hungarian city of ZevgminonY Andronikos Komnenos, after personally adjusting the sling, the winch, and the beam, (J(pEv80vTlv,a'tpoq>aAov, AUYov, fired stones which hit with such violence that they brought down a section of the wall between two towers."
"Not long afterward, however, his boasting was justified at Prusa, where his helepoleis repeatedly struck one section of the wall until it crumbled (287.35-39). "

Byzantine trebuchets could also be quite large:
"An Armenian account of the Seljuq siege of Mantzikert in 1054 describes a huge trebuchet, originally built for Basil II, called a baban, which weighed some 2,000 kilograms and had a pulling crew of 400 men and which could fire stones weighing up to 200 kilograms. 29 "
"An Arab source speaks of one huge trebuchet transported in 100 carts pulled by 1,200 men, with a composite beam of eight spars and launching stone-shot of 96 kilograms.3o "

Keep in mind however that many walls may have been of dry stone, baked brick or even dried brick construction.

These also may prove of interest:
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,904
Blachernai
The Peterson book is excellent, although it's unlikely to help answer this question. The standard narrative is that the big wall-destroying artillery only came around a couple hundred years after that book ends.

"An Armenian account of the Seljuq siege of Mantzikert in 1054 describes a huge trebuchet, originally built for Basil II, called a baban, which weighed some 2,000 kilograms and had a pulling crew of 400 men and which could fire stones weighing up to 200 kilograms. 29 "
I understood that baban is the Armenian writer Aristakes relating what the Turks called their siege engine. Does anyone know anything more about the term?
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,730
first time i heard that a trebuchet was "disadvantaged " to a ballista in terms of damage done
I think that is almost entirely due to firing rate. Trebuchet capable of knocking down walls would only get a few shots per day while most torsion ballista could fire quite a bit more frequently so vs wood/brick walls might actually be better. For reinforced stone walls with rubble/wood beams bracing inside and of reasonable thickness even a trebuchet would have problems but such walls entirely protecting large settlements are actually very rare as it is extremely expensive to build and maintain and constricts the growth of the settlement.
 

Davidius

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
5,008
Pillium
I think that is almost entirely due to firing rate. Trebuchet capable of knocking down walls would only get a few shots per day.
Dozens of shots per day, at least.


 
Mar 2018
896
UK
I don't think frequency is the most important factor in destroying a wall. Much better to deliver 60kN at once then delivering 1kN a few hundred times. Do we have reliable figures for the momentum on impact of a counter-weight trebuchet compared to a ballista?
 
Dec 2012
446
I think that is almost entirely due to firing rate. Trebuchet capable of knocking down walls would only get a few shots per day while most torsion ballista could fire quite a bit more frequently so vs wood/brick walls might actually be better. For reinforced stone walls with rubble/wood beams bracing inside and of reasonable thickness even a trebuchet would have problems but such walls entirely protecting large settlements are actually very rare as it is extremely expensive to build and maintain and constricts the growth of the settlement.
I think that would mostly apply to counter weight trebuchets and not the traction ones