As I said in my last write up Castles I am doing a follow up on siege attacks.
The most famous siege weapon is the ancient catapult. The catapult has survived the ages from the time of the Ancient Greek right up through the Medieval Times. It was now, however, the most common siege weapon used in the Castle Age.
By the time of the Castle Age far greater siege weapons had been developed, siege weapons of strength far surpassing that of the ancient catapult.
The mother of all siege weapons was the trebuchet (pronounced Tray'boo'shay). Invented by the French (known then as the Franks), the Trebuchet had incredible range and power. Many countries copied the Frankish design, though none could master it. The English (known then as the Britons) came incredibly close, but were still just off. The Frankish Trebuchet could fire over 500m metres away with a brilliant degree of accuracy (at least for the time considering it was made with crude wooden engineering, to modern standards). Trebuchets were so large they had to be disassembled and reassembled on the battle field.
The next in line was the Ballista, an invention which the Britons can proudly claim as their own. Essentially the Ballista was a giant (and I mean giant) crossbow on wheels. At first it was used as an extremely effective anti-infantry weapon. It was first loaded with logs and fired at the enemy, but soon the Britons invented giant metallic arrows which were not too sharp, but could take out three men standing by each other, or bowl over an entire group clustered in formation. The force of the arrow was enough to cause internal bleeding and broken bones, so it was extremely effective. Later the Britons refined it and made the arrow sharper, then doused it in kerosene like substances and used it to make short work of battering rams, catapults, trebuchets, mangonels, ships and anything else wooden.
Then comes the catapult and the adapted mangonel. catapults sat on a base and could not be dismantled, but because of the recoil produced when they fired could not be put on wheels. Therefore it had to be carted around on carts far slower than a trebuchet which could be carried on several carts. The Britons adaptation was the mangonel, essentially a weaker catapult on wheels.
The final siege weapon was the battering ram. It was a shelter on wheels, and hanging from the roof of the shelter was a spiked log. Later the point of the log was capped with iron to make it more effective for battering down walls and portculli.
Of course with all this weaponry the castle had a little trouble keeping its walls up, but it was still a hard battle for the attackers.