Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Differences Between a Trebuchet and a Catapult

Trebuchet vs Catapult

In films filled with Medieval scenes, we often see tools being used by warriors to prevent the advancement of their enemies or used to destroy walls and even sturdy fortifications. We are talking about that large, heavy-looking tool that hurls stones and even handmade explosives. What is that called? Is it a trebuchet or is it a catapult? Let’s find out.

A trebuchet is actually a type of catapult. And a catapult is any device that throws an object which can be rocks or explosives. Catapults were popular weapons during the Medieval times; hence, catapults are also referred to as Medieval siege weapons. If a trebuchet is a type of catapult, it also throws objects, too, but they are structured differently.

The Medieval weapon, trebuchet, is also called a counterweight trebuchet or a counterpoise trebuchet. A trebuchet has existed since the Middle Ages. During the 12th century, the trebuchet became known in the Mediterranean area where Christians and Muslims lived. A trebuchet was a very powerful catapult that would fling projectiles which weighed 140 kilograms. Its flinging ability can send the projectiles into high speeds. It is thought that trebuchets were the most powerful and useful catapults that ever existed during the Middle Ages. The trebuchet’s sling was often geared with stones as ammunition, but later on, the people learned that they could also replace the stones with dart-like, sharp, wooden poles. The use of trebuchets during that time was very popular until the arrival of the new weapon, which was gunpowder. The use of trebuchets then became outdated.

In order for the trebuchet to work, it depended on the energy produced by a raised counterweight. After absorbing all of the sufficient energy, it can then throw a projectile. A trebuchet has a long beam which is attached to an axle. At the tip of the long beam, the counterweight is attached with the sling. Generally, a trebuchet has three major characteristics: A) It is powered only by gravity. B) Its force is able to equal 4 to 6 times of the counterweight arm’s length. C) It uses a sling which acts as the secondary fulcrum. These three major characteristics of a trebuchet enable it to speed up its projectile.

On the other hand, a catapult is the general term for a tool or device that is used to throw objects in a projectile motion covering a great distance. A catapult was extremely useful during ancient times. It was commonly used in wars and invasions. The term “catapult” is originally from the Latin word, “catapulta” which means “to toss or hurl.” There are several types of catapults, and this includes the trebuchet. Among the other types of catapults are: ballistas,  springalds,  mangonels,  onagers, and the couillards.

The use of catapults and trebuchets became obsolete during this modern age. However, models of catapults are still being built for the sake of history. Others use the catapults for fun. In some places, they allow a person to be catapulted into the air. It has turned into a sport instead of using them for warfare. It is also used in schools to study about motion and projectile.

Summary:

  1. A trebuchet is actually a type of catapult, and a catapult is any device that throws an object which can be rocks or explosives.
  2. Catapults were popular weapons during the Medieval times; hence, catapults were also referred to as Medieval siege weapons.
  3. The Medieval weapon, trebuchet, is also called a counterweight trebuchet or a counterpoise trebuchet.

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