Tag Archives: medieval warfare

When and where was the trebuchet invented?

When and where was the trebuchet invented?


Like many premodern technologies, it is not known when or where the first trebuchet appeared. Unlike ancient artillery, which relied on torsion (twisting) to supply ballistic force, medieval trebuchets utilised a simpler lever action to propel projectiles. Like a seesaw, once one side of the lever was forcefully brought to the ground, by pulling on ropes (traction trebuchets) or a weight (counterweight trebuchets), a projectile – most commonly a stone – was released from a sling attached to the other side. 

Medieval horse armour

Medieval horse armour

Such investments needed to be protected, and it is unsurprising that there should be a development in horse armour that parallels that of armour for the knight. It was by no means a total innovation; the late Roman army had used horses wholly covered in mail or lamellar armour for the catapbracti (literally ‘completely enclosed’) or klibanophoroi (meaning ‘camp oven’; a humorous reference to how quickly these fully armoured men and horses would heat up!), both of which were adopted from their Sassanid Persian neighbours who spanned the Middle East between second and seventh centuries. Whilst such armour continued to be used in small numbers in the Byzantine Empire, this practice had died out in Western Europe long before.