1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Trébuchet

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TRÉBUCHET, a medieval siege engine, employed either to batter masonry or to throw projectiles over walls. It was developed from the post-classical Roman onager (wild ass), which derived its name from the kicking action of the machine. It consisted of a frame placed on the ground to which a vertical frame of solid timber was rigidly fixed at its front end; through the vertical frame ran an axle, which had a single stout spoke. On the extremity of the spoke was a cup to receive the projectile. In action the spoke was forced down, against the tension of twisted ropes or other springs, by a windlass, and then suddenly released. The spoke thus kicked the crosspiece of the vertical frame, and the projectile at its extreme end was shot forward. In the trébuchet the means of propulsion was a counter-weight. The axle which was near the top of a high strutted vertical frame served as the bridge of a balance, the shorter arm of which carried the counter-weight and the longer arm the carrier for the shot. An alternative name for the trébuchet is the mangonel (margonneau).