Design A Trebuchet Make History Come Alive

If you’re in the market to design your own trebuchet, paying homage to the great medieval siege weapon, your quest should begin in your own mind.

First thing is first when you set out to design a trebuchet, decide upon the size model you’d like to create. Examples of trebuchets can be found on the Internet, in books and even in the movies. You can design a trebuchet as a full-size replica or you can choose a less time-consuming and space-taking model that would fit on a tabletop.

Believed to have been created by the French, trebuchets made their mark on history for their sheer force. They were feared for the ability to loft much heavier projectiles than their earlier catapult brothers and were very effective in battle, easily crushing fortified walls.

To design a trebuchet in true to medieval form, you must keep in mind the basic components of the siege weapon.

Trebuchets gained their force from the gravity of a heavy weight, and not from tightly twisted cords used in earlier catapults such as the ballista and mangonel.

During the history of trebuchets, there are many accounts that point to this type of middle age catapult being a preferred siege class weapon. To design a trebuchet that resembles an earlier, man-powered model, a long wooden arm is needed to rest on a pivot point, which acts as a large lever. A projectile is placed on one end and people are needed to pull on ropes attached to the other end to essentially swing the arm around and hurl the projectile.

For you to design a trebuchet of more advanced mechanics, a counterweight is needed to replace muscles to provide the energy. In these versions, people still play a role by pulling down against the counterweight, loading the missile and releasing the arm.

As you design a trebuchet for yourself either for re-enactment use or as a tabletop novelty, remember these particular weapons dominated the siege engine scene, taking top billing over earlier, less accurate, catapults. Whether you choose to design a trebuchet of full size, it’s interesting to note that some models of this great machine have been recorded to have the ability to launch extremely heavy objects that readily broke down fortifications if their aim was true.

If a medieval builder were to design a trebuchet, they likely would have tried to mirror some of the larger models recorded in history that were said to have had arms of roughly 50 feet in length and counterpoises of 20 tons. These were able to launch objects of up to 300 pounds an estimated 300 yards.

To learn more about how you can design a trebuchet, decide first on the size you’re interested in. Then turn to local a local library or the Internet for assistance.

Search engines such as Google or Yahoo can help immensely if you want to design a trebuchet of any size. Web sites such as offer ready made blueprints and other sites can provide you with software to help you design a trebuchet for yourself following the basic athematical principles behind the great weapons.