Springalds versus Ballistae – What is the Mechanical Difference?

This is not a historical lesson with dates and events, but a mechanical lesson to explain the physical differences between these two magnificent ancient artillery weapons.

Springalds and ballistae are both “catapults” that loose either spear-like bolts, Greek fire or round stones. The major difference between them is in how they hold the power necessary to launch these projectiles. I would like to start by clarifying the definition of the word “catapult” because many people confound that word with “mangonel.” A catapult is any stationary device that uses built-up tension to fire or, in more accurate terms, loose or shoot a projectile. Like ballistae and springalds, a mangonel is a certain kind of catapult. So do not picture a mangonel every time you hear the word catapult like I did for many years 🙂

Springalds (also known as espringals)

ballista compared with espringal

how do springalds operate

Like many arbalests or heavy crossbows, springalds use devices known windlasses to build-up tension in skeins, bow arms and draw cords. However, springalds have inward-facing bow arms and ballistae have outward-facing bow arms. A springald, at first glance, may look odd because they are not as common in movies and video games as ballistae are. Some springalds look very similar to ballistae (their only difference being in which direction the bow arms face) but other springalds, like the example below, look like bizarre wooden cages.

the difference between a ballista and a springald or espringal

Whatever the design, a springald can always be differentiated from a ballista by gandering at the bow arms. Ballistae have outward-facing bow arms that are always facing outwards even when they are not bearing tension; they simply look like over-sized crossbows on mounts. Springalds, on the other hand, when they are not bearing tension, have smaller arms that face forwards and they do not face inwards until accumulated tension bends them towards the operator using the cranequin. It is easy to see how these rectangular springalds on wheels would be better for besieging whereas the mounted ones that look like ballistae would be better for defending because they could be permanently installed atop turrets and bastions.

Ballistae

ballista vs springald

We’ve already done a sufficient comparison for there is not much difference between these two famed weapons of ancient war, but it may be good to cap off what we’ve learned by briefly comparing a ballista to an arbalest. An arbalest is either a cranequin crossbow or a windlass crossbow. Below I will show a picture of a cranequin crossbow so you can see just how similar it is to a ballista and also how different it is from a springald.

similarities between crossbows and ballistae and springalds

See how the bow arms of the crossbow and ballista face outwards while the springald has bow arms that face forwards until tension brings them inwards? If you see the difference, you now know what separates a springald from a ballista! Yay! Now let’s do a little test: what type of catapult is the bolt thrower in the scene of the Greek siege at the top of this article? Is it a springald or a ballista?

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Free Short Story (Knights without Honor hits Kindle March 16!)

To celebrate my excitement for the release of Book Two of Arcanum of the Dolmen Troll, I want to share a brief snippet of the book with you all! This snippet stands as a complete story and I promise no major plot will be spoiled by reading it. Thanks so much for all your support! Click here to check out the book.

Now here we go. I hope you enjoy!

A MOTHER DUCK’S webbed feet flapped up an arrow-riddled bogside. The light of the moon and stars made the mud of the bogside look blue, and the bog itself was a pit of blackness. A score of screaming horsemen completed a circuit around the bog and the mother duck pronked back down the slope in fright. She flapped her wings and quacked desperately. A train of yellow ducklings answered her from the middle of the bog, chirping and chirping as they kicked and kicked through the blackness towards the bogside. Looming high above the ducks, a crooked siege tower filled with men was groaning and creaking, taking volley after volley of arrows and bolts from distant castle walls. Yelps of cessation filled the night with a palpable misery.

A dying man fell from the top of the tower and splashed in the bog water beside the train of ducklings. In the throes of the splash, the teensy chirplings were yellow petals tossing in a rapid river. The man’s screams turned into bubbles as he drowned in his armor. The ducklings kicked and kicked away from his flailing arms, swirling in waves of madness.

On the bogside, the mother duck craned her head to show her babies a nervous eye and quacked. The screaming cavalry completed another circuit and their galloping hooves kicked up a splash of mud that pushed the mother duck into the bog. Soon she was floundering with her ducklings, quacking at their chirps in the waves. She bit one of her babies by the scruff of the neck and used her wings to gather others. As she quacked at a few who had been tossed far away by the splash, she caught eye of a passing sparkle.

One of the horsemen racing around the bog was brandishing a sword above his head. The sword shimmered in the moonlight and made the hen tilt her head for a better look. It was a momentary flash—a spark of determination. The man on the horse was wearing a black hauberk, and the twenty horsemen at his rear were clad in blackened plate. The silvery chanfrons on the heads of their horses gleamed brightly like wraiths. The chanfrons turned blue and white and blue again in the moonlight, and would turn red every time they passed the siege tower. Moments ago, shieldmen and engineers had been trying to unstuck one of the siege tower’s wheels from the mud, but the screaming wraiths had cut them all down. Now the foot of the siege tower was ablaze and the wraiths were throwing up jeers and japes at the men dying inside.

The rider in the black hauberk made another spark of determination as he galloped under the crooked tower. Dirty men were up in the wooden arrow slits, shaking their shields in anger at the circuiting wraiths below. But no matter how angrily they shook their shields, none of them were mad enough to jump down to the wraith’s level, not unless they wanted to get hewed. From the castle on the other side of the warground, arrows arced over the sky and bolts hissed long and true. Some shafts cracked or glanced off the wooden tower. Others hissed through loopholes and hit marks.

The rider in the black hauberk was determined not to quit until the tower was down. After each circuit around the bog, the tower’s groans became louder, the flames higher, and the mother duck and her chirplings were lost in the middle of it all. One man inside the tower knew he would die soon, and so he observed the ducks with love, placing his mind far away into a much more beautiful place. An arrow thudded against the wall by his head, but he didn’t flinch a bit as he stared down through a gap in the wood. He smiled at the mother duck as an image of home lingered in his mind. A bolt hissed through the gap and made his head jerk back. Mind-muddled, he got trampled by the dozens of desperate men swaying about in the crooked tower.

Every time the mother duck felt like she was close to gathering all her babies, another body would fall from the tower and scatter them all again. As the rider in the black hauberk showed yet another spark of determination, the mother duck made hers. Hope glistened in her watery eyes. She quacked and kicked and gathered her chicks all over again. She would not give up until her babies were safe.

One angered man in the tower had had enough. He crawled through a crevice in the wood and leaped down into the mud.

The fire at the foot of the wooden tower was roaring now, and so the surface of the bog was illumed with hundreds of snaking yellow streaks. The light was dancing off the wetness, glistening and splashing around the angered man’s boots as he trudged up the muddy slope. He swung his sword at a passing horseman. It bounced harmlessly off the rider’s greave. Anger rising, the man swung at the next rider. At that moment he too created his own spark of determination as his sword flashed in the firelight.

The approaching rider saw the flash and directed his stallion with a push of his knee towards it.

The angered swordsman was thrown by the horse’s shoulder. He went rolling back down the muddy slope and lost his sword before he splashed in the bog water. His spark of determination had been bright, but now it was gradually extinguishing for he refused to get back up. He decided to lie there and stare at the moon. He listened to the chirplings. They suddenly sounded so close. If he lied there in the water and pretended to be dead, he could walk away in the morning. That was his hope, until a sudden loud snap heralded his doom. His eyes opened wide to see the siege tower tilting. It was falling right towards him. In another life he would’ve tried to swim away, he promised himself, but not in this one.

The siege tower smacked the bog’s surface, devoured the loser and created an eruption of muddy water. The ejecta filled the air for a time, then came back down in flapping heaps as the tower settled into its new place. The tower was creaking and groaning like a capsized wreck and all the while men were spewing up out of the loopholes. Swords and axes hacked away to make new exits, and one by one men crawled from the wreck to gawp at the stars with faces raped by madness. One by one they came and one by one arrows and bolts from the commanding castle put them down again. Arrows thudded into them relentlessly and many slipped off the side of the wreck to die in the bog. A few who made it to the bogside were cut down by the circuiting wraiths. Soon the last dying man’s screams were quelled by the end of a broken lance.

The victor in the black hauberk remounted, then led his wraiths away. When their galloping hooves were far, quacks and chirps began to dominate the atmosphere. The chirps were frantic and the quacks were distressed at first, but after a time they collected and quieted and settled. The ducklings were safe with their mother again, waddling up out of the bog. Within a cozy tussock at the top of the slope, the chicks nestled under their mother’s wings and closed their eyes to sleep. Somewhere yonder, another battle was beginning. That was sure. But here by the bog, everything was peaceful.

The End

There we go! That was just a brief taste of what Knights without Honor has in store. For those of you who prefer hardcover books, I’ll be creating box sets once I finish Book Three of Arcanum of the Dolmen Troll in mid-2017! Thanks again for all your love and support!

The Perfect Day

I didn’t know or care what a perfect day was until I unintentionally experienced one. It was a day off. Like most days away from my fake job, I rose from bed to do my real job. I made coffee and picked up a book.

I read some of Bernard Cornwell’s Harlequin, specifically the last battle at Crécy. I love how Bernard somehow teaches history through light reading. During lunch, I watched my favorite YouTuber’s daily video. It was coincidentally a historical evaluation of the Battle of Crécy. How strange?

After lunch, I began writing to reach my daily word count. I wrote about a battle between a hairy monster and a serried shield wall. It was the first time I had shaped such a scene. The monster’s long arms crashed against the shields like poleaxes. After sliding my keyboard away for the day, I made dinner and watched a few more historical YouTube videos.

As the sun was lowering behind the horizon, I put my keyboard back in place to play some video games. In other words, I strapped on my shield, flourished my blade and ran into battle. It was bloody chaos. But I ruled the night and slaughtered my enemies. After many long battles, I unstrapped my shield and pushed my keyboard away.

It had been a long day. I capped it off by watching a documentary in bed. It was a doc’ about the Norman conquest. Seeing a theme yet? When the flick ended, I closed my eyes and realized what I had done. It was beautiful.

The perfect day.

GUAR versus GAUR

The other day I added guar to my Book of Words. Then I thought, wait … am I getting guar mixed up with gaur? It’s like that time I got auger mixed up with augur. That was a few days ago, and now this is my attempt to never get guar mixed up with gaur again!

GUAR

Popular for its seeds (peas) which can be reformed into a gum known as “guar gum” (oft used in processed foods as a binder or thickener) a guar is a drought-resistant plant of the pea family, native to the dry climes of Africa and Asia. The word guar can refer to a single plant, or it can be used as a plural noun to refer to the seeds. An example: “From one guar I got a whole bowl of guar.” Indeed, guar can also refer to the various refined forms, such as guar flower or guar gum. So next time someone tells you the soccer ball is off behind the guar somewhere, hopefully you’ll remember this boring blog post you read.

guar-vs-gaur

GAUR

Native to Malaysia and India, a gaur (pronounced gower) is a bulky wild ox. Like the word bison (which is an ox native to North America and Europe), gaur can be used as a singular noun or as a plural, albeit saying gaurs to mean plural is also acceptable. So next time you’re in India and you see a wild ox, you’ll know what to call it. But for the almighty’s sake, you better not get it mixed up with guar!

the-difference-between-guar-and-gaur

Thinking of becoming nocturnal? Here are a few pros and cons plus some things to consider.

As an introvert author in Victoria BC Canada, being nocturnal was GRAND at first. There’s a 24/7 grocery store a twenty-minute walk from my abode. My smile was huge when I strutted down the busiest road in my neighborhood one faithful night. There was not a single person to be seen. It may be because I like to think more than I speak but damn was it ever nice not to have loud cars zipping around chaotically as I performed my thang down the serene sidewalk, thinking too much for my own good.

If you consider walking a form of meditation, then you probably already know how great walking at night can be. My city doesn’t have what you could call a prominent nightlife, especially on Tuesdays. When it comes to nighttime traffic, obviously Downtown Victoria, Esquimalt and James Bay are different stories compared to Gorden Head and Oak Bay. That’s exactly why being nocturnal could be interesting for an extrovert as well. No matter which jungle or forest you live in, there should always be something to do. But if your forest is full of crickets, wanting someone to talk to can drag you back into daytime life. And that’s when we stop talking about things that can be interesting.

Notice how I said at first in the very first sentence of this mediocre blog post.

I did that because I was a noobie to the nocturnal life about six months ago and now it’s catching up quick, Billy Boy. If you want to be nocturnal, you have to BE nocturnal or else you’ll become one of those sleepy, grumpy people (hopefully not, this was a joke with a hint of truth is all). During my half-year experimentation extravaganza, I fell into all sorts of slips and cycles of sleep and the drear no sleep at all.

My favorite part was when I WAS nocturnal. I hadn’t seen the sun in weeks. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

That was at first. Ah, it was wonderful. I was writing the ending to Knights of the Dawn on Halloween night. That whole week I had gained a ritual of a routine. I would stir out of bed to become the raccoon the neighbors hear in their sleep. With Lord Spywater and his epic last stand against Lord Highcross spiraling through my head, I took long walks in a pitch-black soccer field. The air was so dark all around me that I could open my eyes and envision everything I was to write happening live before my eyes like virtual reality. I pictured the mist skirting the destriers’ hocks as the knights led the wains of death down the road. I looked to the midnight firmament and descried Lord Spywater’s raven swooping down from a bright blue dawn. That bloody book Knights of the Dawn would not have been the same if I hadn’t taken those eldritch midnight walks, I tell ya.

At first it was wonderful. Now as I write this I’ve been up for more than twenty-four hours and I don’t know why I’m writing this. I’m hungry but I’m too tired and lazy to go to the store, plus I don’t want to deal with all those noisy, chaotic cars. Take from this what you will. I’m going to bed.

 

A List of Synonyms for “Horse” with their Unique Definitions

  1. Palfrey – a compliable horse for casual riding, especially by women.
  2. Mule, hinny – the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, usually sterile and used as a beast of burden.
  3. Dray horse, draft horse, cart horse, sled horse – a burly and formidable horse for pulling drays, carts, buggies, sleds, etc.
  4. Rounsey, rouncey – an all-purpose horse, able to be trained for war if needed.
  5. Courser – a swift or spirited horse, in any application.
  6. Destrier – a medieval knight’s horse for battles or tourneys.
  7. Warhorse – a big, mighty horse trained for war, whether it be modern or historical.
  8. Mount, steed – a horse being ridden or is available for riding.
  9. Remount – a fresh horse to replace one that is no longer usable.
  10. Charger – a swift warhorse or cavalry horse.
  11. Cob – a brawny, short-legged horse, typically for riding.
  12. Pony, hobby – a small stocky horse, especially one of several specific breeds, like the Pottok for example.
  13. Nag, plug, rocinante – a horse that is old or in poor health.
  14. Colt – an uncastrated male horse under four years of age.
  15. Stallion, stud – any uncastrated male horse.
  16. Gelding – a castrated male horse.
  17. Mare – a female horse, especially one available for breeding.
  18. Bronco – a wild or half-tamed horse.
  19. Stepper – a horse with a quick, beautiful gait, such as a trained marching horse.
  20. Filly – a female horse under four years of age.
  21. Foal – any young or baby horse.
  22. Yearling – any horse that is only one or two years old.
  23. Garron – a sturdy horse for working, typically small.
  24. Mustang – a wild horse.
  25. Suckling – an unweaned horse.
  26. Weanling – a newly weaned horse.
  27. Equine – any animal of the horse family, such as a donkey.
  28. Workhorse – could be any hired or draft horse, but typically refers to a farm horse.
  29. Racehorse – a horse raised for professional racing.
  30. Packhorse – a horse with panniers, or any horse that is not ridden but used to carry loads, usually led in a line or tied behind the riding horse.
  31. Sumpter – any animal used as a beast of burden, including horses.
  32. Hackney – a horse with a high-stepping trot, typically a trained riding horse or carriage horse.
  33. Padnag, pad, ambler – a horse that moves along at an ambling pace.
  34. Grey, gray – any white or gray horse. For example, “Jon saddled the gray then spurred off.”
  35. Sorrel – a horse with a brownish-red coat or a sorrel coat.
  36. Caballine – an adjective meaning: of or related to a horses or horses.
  37. Genet, Jennet – a type of small Spanish horse; also, a female donkey.

I use this list as a helpful reference during writing and research. I will be updating it whenever I feel the need, so please let me know if I missed synonyms or think something should be changed or improved. Thanks!

mêlée

Vermiform and Silver Lining: Eveland’s Word and Wisdom of the Week

Due to my hectic schedule, I’ve decided to change my ‘Word of the Night’ service into a ‘Word and Wisdom of the Week’ service. Building a vocabulary goes hand in hand with collecting worldly wisdom, so I’m sure this service will benefit anyone who’s willing to follow.

WORD

This week’s word is vermiform. Vermiform is an adjective which means ‘having the semblance of a worm.’ For example, the vermiform sea monster wriggled onto shore.

WISDOM

This week’s wisdom is a gentle reminder to always see the silver lining. Some people always look for faults in things, commenting on what’s ugly and wrong. These tend to be the least happy of people. Others who train their minds to observe the good in things are more prone to smile when something goes amiss.

A few years ago, during what my friends would call my spiritual phase, I got really good at seeing the silver lining. I’ve since gone back to my old ways, and now I have to train myself all over again. I believe learning to see the good, even when the bad seems too burdensome, can not only improve your mental mood but increase your overall health as well.

Happy daydreaming.

P.S. If you’re a lover of blogs, my friend has started up a great news/motivational blog called The Canadian Spire. Check it out 🙂 http://thecanadianspire.com