A 'stylised' traction trebuchet and crew redrawn from a miniature and published in the 19th century.
Historic Traction Trebuchet Illustrations
Part 5

This is one of a series of pages of Medieval and Renaissance illustrations of traction trebuchets. To avoid problems with historical interpretation (& copyright!) as much as possible, I have chosen to use pictures which seem to be plausibly contemporary with the devices being illustrated. Where ever possible the original source is cited. I have also tried to avoid what seem to be obvious fantasy pieces. .

No. 17 - Tower-top Trebuchet (II)

This is a section of a diagram in The Elegant Book of Trebuchets (held in the Topkapi Museum, Istanbul).

Although another "stylised" drawing, it still shows a stable base of crossed timbers (here represented by the X), an upright support (here, unusually, as a closely-spaced pair of timbers) and a wider frame mounted on top which holds the axle. The axle appears only as an almost invisible thin line (just below the elegant curls at the top of the frame), but the wide beam-end timber (or weight) which carries the pull ropes is obvious. The ropes themselves are drawn as radiating lines.

The drawing from which this is taken appears intended to show the various types of trebuchets used. For a view of the whole picture Click here.
(Scientific American, July 1995, "The Trebuchet")

No. 18 - Framed Machines

These two pictures are included as a "mystery" machine. Both appear to be made with a square framework, both have a beam of some sort.

The first (left) is another section of the Elegant Book of Trebuchets illustration shown above. The other (right) is from an Iranian dish (approx 13th Century). In both cases the motive power is not obvious.

Although I have chosen to place them in this traction trebuchet section, the left image might also be a fixed-weight trebuchet, and the right machine could be a torsion or tension powered weapon.

Information about either of these pictures is welcome.


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Russell Miners
This page was last edited Jan 2000