Tuesday, November 09, 2010


A trebuchet, a kind of catapult, which was demonstrated at last weekend's Fire Festival in New Haven, Missouri. I also uploaded a longer clip, which can be found here. They are hurling pumpkins into the Missouri River.

In modern French, the noun trébuchet is a bird trap or a small precision laboratory or assay balance, while the verb trébucher means ‘to stumble’ or ‘to trip’; these definitions don't seem too helpful. However, my modern English dictionary states that trébucher means ‘to overthrow’ in Medieval French.

Early variants of this device date back to China before Christ, and was widely used in the Byzantine Empire and during the Muslim conquests, as well as by the Viking invaders.  The most highly-developed form, called the counterweight trebuchet, as seen in the video, may have been developed under the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus, who introduced it at the Siege of Nicea during the Crusades.

This type of siege engine remained in use until the invention of artillery.

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