Description and Medieval Ballista
One of the siege weapons used during the Medieval times included the Medieval Ballista.
The Medieval Ballista was an invaluable Medieval siege attack weapon. The
Medieval Ballista design was similar to a giant crossbow and worked by using
tension. The Medieval Ballista was designed to aim huge wooden, iron clad, darts
or arrows which were powered by twisted skeins of rope, hair, or sinew -
the Medieval Ballista design was based on a huge dart-throwing machine. The
Ballista loosed heavy bolts, darts and spears along a flat trajectory.
The force of the missiles launched from the Medieval Ballista was designed to
have great penetration and were capable of skewering several of the
enemy at one time!
Medieval Ballista History
Medieval Ballista history dates back to antiquity. The Medieval Ballista is believed to be
an ancient war engine which was invented by the Greeks (the Scorpion)
and modified by the Romans in 400BC. An interesting story related to
Medieval Ballista history refers to Greek and Roman Women who grew long hair as a
patriotic gesture in case new ballistae were required. The Medieval Ballista
reached Europe during the Medieval era and was used extensively by the
French. Medieval Ballista history notes that the weapon introduced to England in
1216 during the Siege of Dover - as were many other types of siege
engine. Louis the Dauphin of France crossed the Channel with a large
force and laid siege to Dover Castle making a violent and incessant
attack on the castle walls. He used the Medieval Ballista against the walls and
men of Dover Castle. The constable of Dover castle was Hugh de Burgh -
he refused to surrender.
Building and Design
of the Medieval Ballista
The Medieval Ballista was a highly accurate siege engine requiring expert
building and design skills. The Medieval Ballista was similar to a giant crossbow
and worked by using tension.
The two arms of
a Medieval Ballista were made of wood
attached to each arm were the springs of the Medieval Ballista
The ropes were
made of twisted strands of human hair or animal sinew
bow-arms of the Medieval Ballista were pulled back, they twisted the
was pulled back by a winch
Although the design and
building of the Medieval Ballista was highly accurate its range was less than
that of the massive Trebuchet. The missiles launched by the Medieval Ballista
were much lighter than the heavy trebuchet stones and could not gain the
high momentum of the heavier missiles.
- the Springald
The Medieval Ballista was designed as a giant catapult. One type of Medieval Ballista was a tension-driven
device called a springald. The springald closely resembled a crossbow in
function with a vertical springboard fixed at its lower end to a timber
frame. The springboard moved like a lever. Missiles thrown from the Medieval Ballista catapults were
deadly. The Medieval Ballista catapults were highly accurate and could release up
to 1000 missiles in one day! Medieval Ballista catapults could launch missiles
across hundreds of yards. Attackers were ingenious in their ideas for
launching Medieval Ballista catapult missiles which would cause as much distress
and discomfort inside the castle walls. Missiles launched from Medieval Ballista
catapults included the following:
Darts with iron
Building a Medieval Ballista
Building a Medieval Ballista required the design and building skills.
Siege weapons, such as the Medieval Ballista, were made to order! They were far
too cumbersome to move from one place to another. In a siege situation
the commander would assess the situation and the siege weapons design
requirements to break a siege. Engineers would instruct soldiers as to
the construction and building of siege weapons such as the Medieval Ballista.