The Ballista also known as the bolt thrower was an important medieval siege weapon that was used to fire bolts or stones for long distances.
This was among those medieval siege weapons that were used in attack and siege of medieval castles. A quite sophisticated mechanism was used to operate the medieval ballista and it could be built in various sizes depending on the need.
The history of Ballista can be traced back to ancient Greek when it was built for Dionysius of Syracuse in 4th century BC. The Greeks made it using two weapons called oxybeles and gastraphetes.
Its shape, however, was relatively primitive compared to the medieval siege weapon. The use of Ballista is also found in ancient Rome where it was extensively used during battles. Subsequently it became an important medieval siege weapon.
The word Ballista is derived from the Greek word “Ballistes” which meant “to throw”. This was because of its purpose which was to throw large stones or missiles while attacking a fortification or a castle. During the early medieval times in England, ballista was also known as Ingenium which in Latin means “ingenious device”.
Ballista was a very effective medieval siege weapon and was primary used by the attacking army to throw large stones in order to damage the castle walls. However, it could also be used by the defending armies to throw various missiles on the attaching armies and kill the people. Defenders had an added advantage because they could place the ballista on the top of the castle walls and thus have better range. The attackers usually mounted it on a wagon for easier mobility.
The design of a medieval ballista was quite sophisticated with a variety of parts acting in conjunction. For instance, it had two torsion springs which were mounted in a frame and each connected with a throwing arm. The throwing arms were connected with a rope that adjusted them into the firing position. A winch was used to pull the bowstrings back. Thus for its time the ballista was a quite sophisticated medieval siege weapon.
The construction of ballista as a medieval siege weapon mainly made use of wood, human hair or animal sinew, and springs. Wood was used to build the main body and the two arms of the ballista while human hair or animal sinew was used to make the ropes.
One of the most important types of ballista, which was a supremely important medieval siege weapon, was called a springald. It was similar to a large crossbow and consisted of vertical springboard which was fixed to a timber frame at its lower end. The springboard served the function of a lever and the device was strong enough to launch missiles across hundreds of yards.
Ballista was a commonly used medieval siege weapon, although its use is also found among ancient Greeks and Romans. Compared to other medieval siege weapons, Ballista was a relatively sophisticated weapon and was used to throw large missiles across hundreds of yards. It could be used by invading as well as defending armies to injure the soldiers.
We hope you enjoyed the information in this article on the history of the ballista weapon how it was used and what they ballista was used for, you can find other articles on this website on similar siege weapons to the ballista by following the links at the bottom of this ballista siege weapon page.