War machines

There was a great quantity of machines of attack. Some were drove by counterweights like the assay balances, the mangonel. Others by the tension of ropes, nerves, branches, springs of wood or steel, like the caables, maleveisines, pierrieres. Some others, by their own weight and the impulse of arms, like the rams.

baliste

trébuchet

mangonneau

baliste

the assay balance

mangonel

arbalète à tour

bélier

the crossbow (with turn)

ram (covered ram)


The baliste (caable, pierrière)

baliste

The stones are launched by the force of the rod (A) which lower end passes through a bundle of ropes, twisted by keys (B), cog wheels (C), and stopped by pawls.

To increase the speed of movements, springs made out of wood and nerves surrounded by ropes in the shape of arc (D), forced the rod to come to strike violently the cross piece (E).

The rod was brought back to horizontal thanks to the winch (F) and a man pulled out the rope (H) to shoot.

One would regulate the force of the shooting adding more or less furs inside of the cross piece (E) and on the rod.

Hooks (G) were used to fix the carriage in place, by Popes related to stakes inserted in the ground.

Four men could lower the rod white operating the winch.

This machine could send large stones up to 250 meters! Weighing more than 4 tons; it was entirely transported dismounted on the spot of fight.

 

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The assay balance = trébuchet

trébuchet

The principle of operation is simple to understand. Let's study the above diagram. It was a very heavy machine to transport and of great dimension (the rod could reach 12 meters length). The projectile was placed in a leather pouch at the end of the rod (like a sling). These counter weigh machines were of use until the moment when the fire artillery replaced all the machines of jet of the Middle Ages.

This machine could sent canon balls of 100 Kg up to 200 meters. Its handling required 60 people. Weighing more than 7 tons, it was entirely transported dismounted on the spot of fight. One finds traces of these machines at the time of the siege of Montségur in 1243.

 

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The mangonel = mangonneau

mangonneau

The shooting of the mangonel could be regulated much more easier than the one of the assay balance, because first it covered a larger arc but also because it was possible to accelerate its movement (less important inertia). Here is, to better understand its operations, how the sling was to be attached so that one of its branches could leave at the right time the machine, so that the projectile could escape from the pouch :

 

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The crossbow (with turn) = arbalète à tour

arbalète à tour

The armies of the Middle Ages had a terrible machine with which were launched darts of big length, iron bars reddened with fire, arrows furnished with oakum and Greek fire in the shape of rockets : the crossbow (with turn).

The advantage, compared to the machine already seen, is the adjustable aiming without moving the machine in its totality. The shooting could be regulated from top to bottom. The lateral adjustment was done, easily, by moving the machine very easily thanks to its wheels.

Some of these machines could launch darts of more then 5 meters length, at a distance from at least 50 meters, with the aim of breaking machines, pales ... These machines were those which spread the most unrest in the army and more particularly in the cavalry.

 

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The ram (covered ram) = bélier couvert

bélier couvert

The ram consisted of a long beam armed with an iron head at its front part. It was suspended, horizontally balanced, by cables or chains, and was driven by ropes fixed at the rear of it. Through a coming and going movement of this piece of wood, we could struck the facings of the walls, which could be finally dislocated until they collapsed.

Men were sheltered under a roof. The machine was posed on wheels.

Be sieged people tried to beak the ram with beams, which were dropped on its head, at the moment when it struck the wall. They could also seize this head using a double iron jaw, which was called : wolf or she-wolf.

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