In ancient times the trebuchet which was like a catapult, was a very efficient weapon of war. It worked on a system of weights and counterbalance weights. It was first invented as a traction trebuchet in China about 300 B.C. The traction trebuchet used a large group of men to pull down on ropes to propel the objects to be thrown. When the traction trebuchet came to Europe about 500 A.D they exchanged the large group of men that pulled the ropes with a large pivoting counterbalance weight. The trebuchet was a very important medieval attack weapon. It is thought to have been perfected in France. It is known that the French used this weapon extensively when trying to capture a castle. The trebuchet was a very effective siege machine because it could fling large stones at the thick castle walls and do a lot of damage to them. They didn’t need many men to work the counterweights and could keep up an attack for a long.
The ratio of weight and counterweight was a highly kept strategic military secret. The actual length and size of the two arms used in the ancient trebuchet are not known. No medieval trebuchets have survived so there are no examples of the actual shape or dimensions of the beam or the ratio of the long and short arms involved.
Since the trebuchet is a counterbalance weapon it took fewer men to operate it than the old catapults. The trebuchet was mostly made out of wood and consisted of a lever, a sling and an axle. The lever consisted of a long arm and a short arm. The short arm had a very large amount of force applied to it in the form of a heavy pivoting box. The large heavy box called a ballast box was a counterweight that was filled with stones, sand or earth. This box was attached to the short end of the lever or beam called the short arm. The long arm had the heavy load of the projectiles on it. This load, held in a leather pouch, consisted of the rocks or large stones that were to be thrown at the targets,...