trebuchets vs walls

Mar 2018
896
UK
I don't understand why people think that trebuchet is slow to fire and difficult to build.
It's probably worth considering that the skill of military engineers in 300BC-100AD was probably far greater than in 1000AD. If only because classical armies were so much larger and generally more professional, that they could have the requisite body of expertise. That is less so the case in feudal levies, and the warrior aristocracy didn't care about machinery as much as personal martial prowess.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,730
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.
What time period are you talking about? Firstly since it was actually relatively rarely done for long periods of history and trebuchets weren't present at many sieges (we can read between the lines when the records we do have remark with surprise on trebuchets or just take it in stride as a normal thing in a siege). I don't know of any surveys of the records of historical sieges that count the times trebuchets were present vs when they weren't but from my own years or reading I wouldn't call trebuchets common even when they were well known.

Slapping together a trebuchet when you have the materials, the knowledge the time, the money, and a tactical reason in many sieges those things did not come all together. Making a trebuchet that could hit accurately and repeatedly is actually more difficult than you seem to think when engineers using computer models take a couple days to do it and only manage 1 shot every 15-20 minutes. Smaller trebuchets could fire more quickly but also with less effect. Where did you get your impression from- there are tons of videos on youtube of trebuchets but most are of the smaller variety. The difficulty scales with the size as materials become more difficult to manage and the projectile being thrown is also more of an issue.
 

janusdviveidis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2014
2,009
Lithuania
What time period are you talking about? Firstly since it was actually relatively rarely done for long periods of history and trebuchets weren't present at many sieges (we can read between the lines when the records we do have remark with surprise on trebuchets or just take it in stride as a normal thing in a siege). I don't know of any surveys of the records of historical sieges that count the times trebuchets were present vs when they weren't but from my own years or reading I wouldn't call trebuchets common even when they were well known.

Slapping together a trebuchet when you have the materials, the knowledge the time, the money, and a tactical reason in many sieges those things did not come all together. Making a trebuchet that could hit accurately and repeatedly is actually more difficult than you seem to think when engineers using computer models take a couple days to do it and only manage 1 shot every 15-20 minutes. Smaller trebuchets could fire more quickly but also with less effect. Where did you get your impression from- there are tons of videos on youtube of trebuchets but most are of the smaller variety. The difficulty scales with the size as materials become more difficult to manage and the projectile being thrown is also more of an issue.
I do not consider 15-20 minutes very slow, balista would take very similar amount of time, early canon probably would be even slower. Most time would be spent getting range until first successful shot, after that as far as I understand it would shoot spot on if you use stones of same weight. If you have little experience and build giant trebuchet too far from the wall, well then you are screwed. Still, moving balista of similar power would be just as difficult.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,590
Netherlands
I do not consider 15-20 minutes very slow, balista would take very similar amount of time, early canon probably would be even slower. Most time would be spent getting range until first successful shot, after that as far as I understand it would shoot spot on if you use stones of same weight. If you have little experience and build giant trebuchet too far from the wall, well then you are screwed. Still, moving balista of similar power would be just as difficult.
It would indeed take at least 15 minutes, assuming a treadwheel was used. One of the main problems is that the stone or ball that you are firing needs to be same weight and also similar size/shape. So even if you can fire 100 shots a day, you will rarely reach that as you are quickly out of ammo. One of the stories of Richard's crusade is that for his siege he had stones made and shipped to him.