Nursery Rhymes

Medieval Catapults

Medieval life and Times

Definition of a Medieval Catapults
The Medieval Catapults was a weapon used during siege warfare. Medieval Catapults were devices for hurling stones or other objects.

Origin of the Medieval Catapults
The word 'Catapult' comes from the two Greek words "kata" and "pultos".

"Kata" means downward and "pultos" refers to a small circular shield which was carried in battle. Katapultos was then taken to mean "shield piercer". 

Description of Medieval Catapults
The siege weapons used the Medieval times included different types of Medieval Catapults. These massive Medieval Catapults were an invaluable Medieval siege attack weapons. Any machine that hurls an object can be considered a catapult, but the term is generally understood to mean the medieval weapon. The designs of many Medieval Catapults worked by a central lever mounted in counterpoise, similar to a see-saw movement.

Types ofMedieval Catapults
The different types of Medieval Catapults used in Medieval Times included:

  • The Ballista - The Ballista was similar to a Giant Crossbow and worked by using tension
  • The Trebuchet - The massive Trebuchet consisted of a lever and a sling and was capable of hurling stones weighing 200 pounds with a range of up to about 300 yards
  • The Mangonel - Missiles were launched from a bowl-shaped bucket at the end of the one giant arm of the Mangonel
  • The Springald - A type of Ballista
  • The Onager - A type of Mangonel

King Edward I ordered his chief engineer, Master James of St. George, to begin work on a new, more massive engine called Warwolf, a version of the trebuchet. The Warwolf is generally thought of as the most powerful and most famous of the trebuchets in history.

Medieval Catapults History
The Medieval Catapults history dates back to antiquity. Various types of Medieval Catapults were used by the Chinese, Greeks and Romans. The Medieval Catapults reached Europe during the Medieval era and were used extensively by the French. Medieval Catapults history notes that the weapons were introduced to England in 1216 during the Siege of Dover - as were many other types of siege weapons. 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 Catapults against the walls and men of Dover Castle. The constable of Dover castle was Hugh de Burgh - he refused to surrender. The Medieval Medieval Catapults used during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages were the Mangonel, the ballista and the mighty trebuchet. The Mangonel complimented the other available siege weapons. The Mangonel was not as accurate as the Ballista but it was able to throw missiles further than a Trebuchet. Missiles were thrown in an overhead arc as opposed to the straight trajectory of the dart throwing Ballista.

Medieval Medieval Catapults - The Ballistas
The Ballista design was similar to a giant crossbow and worked by using tension. The Ballistas were designed to aim huge wooden, iron clad, darts or arrows which were powered by twisted skeins of rope, hair, or sinew - the ballista design was based on a huge dart-throwing machine. The Ballistas loosed heavy bolts, darts and spears along a flat trajectory. The word 'Ballista' is derived from the Greek word 'Ballistes' meaning to throw. The ballista - one type of the Medieval Medieval Catapults of the Middle Ages. For detailed information and facts about the Ballista type of Medieval catapult please click the following link:


Medieval Ballista Medieval Catapults - the Springald
The ballista was designed as a giant catapult. One type of 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.

Medieval Medieval Catapults - The Mangonels
Mangonels fired heavy projectiles from a bowl-shaped bucket at the end of its arm. The Mangonel was used for aiming various missiles at castles, fortresses and cities. This type of catapult was easy to construct and wheels were added to the design to ensure manoeuvrability. The Mangonels were capable of firing projectiles up to 1,300 feet. For detailed information and facts about the Mangonel type of Medieval catapult please click the following link:


Medieval Medieval Catapults - The Onager
The Mangonel is also referred to as the Onager. Missiles from the Onager Medieval Catapults were originally thrown from a sling - the sling was later changed for a bowl-shaped bucket. The word Onager refers to a type of donkey, whose kicking motion and force were paralleled in the Mangonel and derives from the Greek word 'onagros' which means a wild ass.

Medieval Medieval Catapults - The Trebuchets
The Medieval Medieval Catapults used during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages were the Mangonel, the ballista and the mighty trebuchet. Missiles thrown from the Trebuchet Medieval Catapults were deadly. The Trebuchet is generally associated with throwing stones. A Trebuchet could release up to 2000 stones in one day! Should the supply diminish sharp wooden poles and darts would be used. Fire caused havoc in a besieged castle or city and a variety of fire missiles, including firebrands and deadly Greek Fire were thrown. The Traction Trebuchet Medieval Catapults used people as a power source. The Counterpoise Trebuchet Medieval Catapults replaced the people power with a weight on the short end. For detailed information and facts about the Trebuchet type of Medieval catapult please click the following link:


Building Medieval Catapults
Building a  Medieval Catapults required considerable design and building skills. Siege weapons, such as the Medieval Catapults, 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 Catapults.

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