Dates Back to: 11th Century BC

The Springal or Espringal was a mechanical artillery device used for throwing large bolts.

There is a diagram of a springal in an 11th-century  Byzantine manuscript. In Western Europe, springals became popular during the 12th and early 13th centuries. 

Because springals used a torsion device with twisted skeins of silk or sinew to power two bow-arms, springals were also known as “skein-bows”. Rectangular springals on wheels were better for besieging fortifications, while moujnted ones were used for defending castles as they could aim down from turrets and bastions. 

Medieval Weapons: Springald.

Medieval Springals

The medieval springal was constructed similarly to the Greek or Roman ballista, with the difference springals had inward swinging arms (and ballistae have outward-facing bow arms). These smaller arms faced forward when not bearing tension. When tension accumulates, they bend towards the operator using the windlass.

There is a large model of a springal at the Tower of London. The only full-size reproduction (8 feet long and capable of hurling a 2.4 kg bolt over 55 meters) can be found in the Royal Armouries Museum at Fort Nelson, Portsmouth.

Depictions of Springals

A decoration from the foot of a page of The Romance of Alexander, MS Bodlein 264 (circa 1338-44)
A decoration from the foot of a page of The Romance of Alexander, MS Bodlein 264 (circa 1338-44).
Torsion springald in Roberto Valturio's De Re Militari (1472)
Torsion springald in Roberto Valturio's De Re Militari (1472)

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