Trebuchets were used to throw stones--or dead animals--with great accuracy. A trebuchet was capable of launching 200lb. projectiles towards virtually anything. We can define a trebuchet as "the atom bomb of its time." Earlier trebuchets could only fire small stones or even cows. As time passed and as trebuchets were improved (Leonardo Da Vinci dramatically improved them) they were able to launch huge projectiles towards a castle's walls.
Many persons were needed to operate a trebuchet. Trial-and-error was the method used to destroy a wall. When a certain point of a castle was targeted, the trebuchet was so accurate that it could remain firing almost invariantly at that same spot; making them very effective.
With trebuchets, invading armies could fire cows and other dead animals from a relatively large distance. The only downside of trebuchets was their enormous size. In earlier medieval times, it was very hard to transport such gigantic machinery. As they were improved, new methods to arm them were discovered.
Trebuchets started to appear as early as in the XIV century, but their use got more widespread in the XV century.
Stone was normally gathered from the surrounding mountains. To carry such a huge projectile usually involved horses and dozens of soldiers.
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