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Re: Medieval Siege Equipment

Basically, the seige engines of medieval times were improvements on the 
ram or on the simple stone-caster.  The ram is easy to describe: a log, 
light enough to be carried by a group of men and heavy enough to deliver 
an effective blow against a wall or reinforced door.  Improvements were 
to cover the striking end with metal and to add a rolling shed over the 
top to keep archers from picking off the wielders of the ram.

The stone-throwers were a little more complicated.  Simple catapults were 
-- like the very first such engines, from classical Greece -- just monster 
bows on a fixed mount.  The more elaborate torsion catapult that was used 
in Hellenistic/Roman times was way beyond medieval manufacturing skills.  
These could throw either heavy darts or -- by putting a cupshaped 
receptacle in the center of the "bowstring" -- simple stones.

A more useful device was the trebuchet family, in which a long beam was 
balanced off-center by using a heavy weight, sort of like this: u--- --X
Immediate advantage was that these could be carried by a marching   ^   
army as the metal bearings and release mechanism, with the beam made of a 
tree cut down at the scene of action.  They could lob as much as half a 
ton easily.  (Modern imitations have tossed small automobiles.)  Less 
impressive ones could be improvised by cheaping it out: using men hauling 
a rope, say, instead of a weight, to flip the charge into the target.  A 
very small one, often used on shipboard because it was so light, had no 
counterweight at all, but used a springy plank -- think of it as working 
like half a bow.

Another seige technique was mining _under_ the walls instead of bashing 
through them, or using a "moving tower" -- which was just what it sounds 
like -- to bring a force of archers close enough to shoot down on the 
walls, after which a storming party swarmed up scaling ladders inside the 
tower and rushed over the wall, they hoped.  Medieval engineers built 
inner walls and multiple towers on walls to help in confining such 

Check out Lynn Montrose's "War Through the Ages" for pictures of all this 

|---------Master Vuong Manh, C.P., Storvik, Atlantia---------|
|Now, let's stop and think: how would Bugs Bunny handle this?|