A catapult is a war siege machine used to throw projectiles at great distances, without the use of any explosive comparable on this point to other siege engines in use during Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Any castle siege or even battles in open fields would not go without a catapult.
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Unlike the trebuchet, the ballista is a so-called “spring” gear. Its operation is based on various mechanisms using the action of two levers on torsion springs, consisting of several bundles of twisted fibers. Early versions threw heavy arrows or spherical projectiles, like stones of different sizes.
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Just a few centuries ago, when you wanted to “sack another city/kingdom”, you had to do it through a siege. If you don’t know what a siege is, it’s basically when you get an army, and some massive tools, to mow down the city defenses of an opponent, before taking it over.
Those war techniques have obviously been rendered useless through the existence of missiles and airplane bombing. Nevertheless, we’re not discussing this for the sake of “war practicality”. Our focus here is on understanding history warfare, and how it evolved into what it is now.
Continue reading Your guide to medieval siege weapons