trebuchets vs walls

HackneyedScribe

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
6,553
Counterweight and traction trebs coexisted in which for each counterweight treb, there are multiple traction trebs protecting the counterweight treb with suppressing fire.
 
Oct 2011
510
Croatia
The official definition of a trebuchet is a machine pulled by ropes and powered by gravity, there is no definition of a trebuchet which restricts it to the use of counterweights for these are counterweight trebuchet. Not all trebuchet are counterweight trebuchet nor does it mean those non-counterweight trebuchets are not trebuchets. No historian I know calls man powered trebuchets by another name. This discussion began when Picard mentioned Ballista as doing more damage to trebuchets in post 4 and considering he mentioned Byzantine trebuchets, the man powered trebuchet is clearly also in the discussion.
Actually, Byzantines are the ones who designed counterweight trebuchets to begin with, IIRC. That being said, I agree that man-pulled trebuchet could/should also be discussed.
 

janusdviveidis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2014
2,008
Lithuania
I don't understand why people think that trebuchet is slow to fire and difficult to build. There is bunch of videos where variety of nonprofessionals successfully build these machines. How many time you have seen someone building balista, that is able to throw a rock of similar size? There was one video online where bunch of very professional people worked really hard to build replica of Roman balista used in siege of Jerusalem. My impression was that it was 10 times more difficult to build in comparison with trebuchet and it cracked after couple of shots. My impression is that trebuchet is very easy to build and it fires at very similar rate, at least if you have enough people or animals to work it hard. Whole mechanism is less prone to breaking and much easier to build on site if wood is available.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Matthew Amt

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,575
Netherlands
I don't understand why people think that trebuchet is slow to fire and difficult to build. There is bunch of videos where variety of nonprofessionals successfully build these machines. How many time you have seen someone building balista, that is able to throw a rock of similar size? There was one video online where bunch of very professional people worked really hard to build replica of Roman balista used in siege of Jerusalem. My impression was that it was 10 times more difficult to build in comparison with trebuchet and it cracked after couple of shots. My impression is that trebuchet is very easy to build and it fires at very similar rate, at least if you have enough people or animals to work it hard. Whole mechanism is less prone to breaking and much easier to build on site if wood is available.
It is easy once you know the measurements.

Even gramps can do it.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,575
Netherlands
Easy to build trebuchet, try to build balista that can trow 70 kg rock.
Well apparently only Archimedes succeeded in building one that could do that. The torsion combined with the arms do not really allow for big weights.
On the other hand once you have the design of the thing right there is not much that can go wrong. With a trebuchet there 100 ways of messing it up once you have the design right, The rope can be too short, the counterweight too heavy, the arm proportion can be wrong, the stone not round enough etc. I have to look it up but I think with mythbusters they had set up a mini trebuchet within half an hour, but then had to spend hours to get it too function properly (not shooting in the ground or straight up and the likes)
 

janusdviveidis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2014
2,008
Lithuania
Well apparently only Archimedes succeeded in building one that could do that. The torsion combined with the arms do not really allow for big weights.
On the other hand once you have the design of the thing right there is not much that can go wrong. With a trebuchet there 100 ways of messing it up once you have the design right, The rope can be too short, the counterweight too heavy, the arm proportion can be wrong, the stone not round enough etc. I have to look it up but I think with mythbusters they had set up a mini trebuchet within half an hour, but then had to spend hours to get it too function properly (not shooting in the ground or straight up and the likes)
Largest type of Roman balista was able to shoot stones at least 3 talents, 78 kg. But to replicate such machine is very difficult, strain on various parts is enormous. With trebuchet you can experiment, build small model and experiment until you get right dimensions, then scale it up. With balista if you made some mistake it will most likely simply explode killing crew. My overall impression is that group of average carpenters can build trebuchet from the scratch if they have seen how it is done, to build balista of similar power you need people who have Roman equivalent of masters degree in engineering.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Matthew Amt

Zip

Jan 2018
636
Comancheria
I assume siege engineers had a body of empirical knowledge that made trebuchet building and use a routine task.
 
Mar 2018
890
UK
The official definition of a trebuchet is a machine pulled by ropes and powered by gravity, there is no definition of a trebuchet which restricts it to the use of counterweights for these are counterweight trebuchet. Not all trebuchet are counterweight trebuchet nor does it mean those non-counterweight trebuchets are not trebuchets. No historian I know calls man powered trebuchets by another name. This discussion began when Picard mentioned Ballista as doing more damage to trebuchets in post 4 and considering he mentioned Byzantine trebuchets, the man powered trebuchet is clearly also in the discussion.
Ok, fair enough. They are such different weapons however that it's best to consider them separately, or at least to make it clear which one is being referred to in a discussion.