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The European Bricola and the Fall of the Song


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#1 Tibet Libre

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 07:11 PM

I think it is worth to point at a new piece of research which has previously escaped the attention of scholars: Unlike previously thought, the Mongols did not use Muslim catapults to bring the Song to their knees, but recently introduced military technology from Latin Europe. In other words, the so-called Muslim catapult of Chinese historiography (hui hui pao) which the Mongols used at their sieges of the Song fortresses Fancheng and Xiangyang in the 1270s was actually the European bricola! The bricola is the heaviest counterweight trebuchet and distinguished by other types by its single pole stand and two counterweights instead of one.

The whole story is interesting because it shows the rapid diffusion of military technology in the wake of the Mongol conquests - it took actually less than 30 years for the European bricola to make its way from Germany and southern Italy (1242) to China (1271).

The credit goes to the scholar Paul Chevedden who brought this new fact to light by a close study of Arab and Chinese sources.


In the Latin West, a pole-framed machine was introduced that had a bifurcated beam with two counterweights suspended from its fork arms. Its pivoting shaft and paired counterweights earned it its name, the bricola, or the "Two-Testicle" machine (Fig. 6), from the combination of the prefix bi-, "having two," and the Latin coleus, meaning testicle (Fr. bricole, It. briccola, Oc. bricola, Catal. brigola, Cast. brigola, late L. bric[c]ola, Gk. praikoula orprekoula). In 1242 Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen send bricolas to the Levant, and soon thereafter (post 1250) the Mamluks incorporated this versatile piece of artillery into their siege arsenal, calling it the 'Frankish or 'European" trebuchet (manjaniq ifranji or manjaniqfiranji).

Muslim engineers employed by the Mongols brought the bricola to China, where it was designated the "Muslim" trebuchet (hui-hui pao). Batteries of bricolas (sing. manjaniq firanji) rained destruction on the cities of Fancheng (1272) and Xiangyang (1273), on the Han River in northwest Hubei province, and broke the power of the Song Empire (960–1279). On the high seas, the bricola was mounted on the poops of ships and was used to bombard coastal cities and fortresses.


On the Muslim engineers who brought the bricola to China and the role these machines played in forcing the surrenders of Fancheng in 1272 and Xiangyang in 1273: Both [the Moslem historian]Rashid al-Din (1247?–1318) and Chinese historian Zheng Sixiao (1206–83) provide details on the heavy artillery used at the sieges of Fancheng and Xiangyang (modern-day Xiangfan). Rashid al-Din identifies the most powerful pieces of artillery as "European" trebuchets (sing. manjaniq firangi), or bricolas (Jami‘ al-Tavarikh, 1:651; Successors of Genghis Khan, 290), and Zheng, who calls the machines "Muslim" trebuchets (hui-hui pao), indicates that, "in the case of the largest ones, the wooden framework stood above a hole in the ground" (quoted in Needham and Yates, Science and Civilisation in China, 5:6:221).

Since the bricola was the only counterweight piece of artillery that had a framework capable of being mounted in a hole in the ground and was commonly set up in this fashion, there is little doubt that Zheng is referring here to the bricola. The stone-shot launched by these machines weighed 150 jin, or 94.5 kilograms (208 lb) (Moule, Quinsai, 76), and Zheng states that, "the projectiles were several feet in diameter, and when they fell to the earth they made a hole three of four feet deep. When [the artillerists] wanted to hurl them to a great range, they added weight [to the counterpoise] and set it further back [on the arm]; when they needed only a shorter distance, they set it forward, nearer [the fulcrum]" (Needham and Yates, Science and Civilisation in China, 5:6:221).


SOURCE: Paul E. Chevedden, “Black Camels and Blazing Bolts: The Bolt-Projecting Trebuchet in the Mamluk Army,” Mamluk Studies Review Vol. 8/1, 2004, pp.232-233

DOWNLOAD as PDF: http://www.deremilit...udiesreview.htm

The addendum shows contemporary various drawings of the European bricola which are very helpful to understand his comments above.

#2 Mei Houwang

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 07:20 PM

You have already went over this twice in the all empires forum. This was Omnipotence's reply


I have stated this before on another thread. The bricola could not possibly be the HuiHuiPao simply b/c the bricola have 2 counterweights while the HuiHuiPao has one. There is a possibility that the HuiHuiPao might be closely related to the bricola, but that's as far as it can get.



#3 Tibet Libre

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 08:31 PM

This was Omnipotence's reply


???

Read the excerpt. The number of counterweights is irrelevant. What's important is the shape of the frame. The similarity between the description of Zheng Sixiao of the heaviest catapults employed by the Mongols and the shape of the Bricola is nothing less but striking. Apart from the fact that Rashid al-Din identified the heaviest trebuchets at the sieges of Fancheng and Xiangyang as "European (Frankish) trebuchets" anyway.

#4 Mei Houwang

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 09:00 PM

I have seen pictures of both the bricola and the HuiHui pao. First of all, counterweights mean a lot. Second of all, the shape of the frame are different as well. The HuiHui Pao, since it has only one counterweight, has a beam that is angled such that the counterweight swings through the trebuchet when released. The bricola, on the other hand, does not allow this and its counterweight swings to the sides of the beams(which does not have an empty space like the huihuipao). Seriously, if they look like different trebuchets, and function like different trebuchets, then they are different trebuchets.

Apart from the fact that Rashid al-Din identified the heaviest trebuchets at the sieges of Fancheng and Xiangyang as "European (Frankish)



Interesting, I would like to see where you got this from. However, I would like to remind you that Rashid al-Din was not the engineers(Ismail and Ala al-Din) at Xiangyang, but a comrade traveling with Marco Polo(who termed that it was HE who helped the Mongols in the siege of XiangYang by inventing Frankish trebuchets, obviously false). This is not to mention the fact that Rashid's illustrations of the siege in his history book clearly shows counterweight trebuchets that differ in style than the bricolas.

Edited by Anthrophobia, 25 October 2006 - 09:20 PM.


#5 Tibet Libre

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 09:45 PM

Interesting, I would like to see where you got this from.


...From the source above...?


However, I would like to remind you that Rashid al-Din was not the engineers(Ismail and Ala al-Din) at Xiangyang, but a comrade traveling with Marco Polo(who termed that it was HE who helped the Mongols in the siege of XiangYang by inventing Frankish trebuchets, obviously false).


I can't find evidence that al-Din ever travelled with Marco Polo. Hence, he should not connected easily with Polo's fairy tales.

Rashīd ad-Dīn's history covers a vast field even outside the Muslim world. His sources of information for Mongolia and China were high officials of the Mongol empire and the Mongol records, for India a Buddhist from Kashmir, for the popes and emperors a Catholic monk. There are important chapters describing the social and economic conditions of the Islāmic countries under Ghāzān (1295–1304) and the reforms introduced by this ruler on the advice of the author himself. Rashīd ad-Dīn uses a great number of Mongol and Turkish terms, but his style is lucid and matter-of-fact.

Rashīd ad-Dīn.Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 26, 2006, from Encyclopædia Britannica 2006 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD



This is not to mention the fact that Rashid's illustrations of the siege in his history book clearly shows counterweight trebuchets that differ in style than the bricolas.


Can you post them?

#6 Tibet Libre

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 09:56 PM

I have seen pictures of both the bricola and the HuiHui pao. First of all, counterweights mean a lot. Second of all, the shape of the frame are different as well.


Can you post them?

Anyway, note that Zheng says that, "in the case of the largest ones, the wooden framework stood above a hole in the ground" (quoted in Needham and Yates, Science and Civilisation in China, 5:6:221). The pictures you saw of the hui hui pao could have been all kinds of hybrid or the counterweight trebuchet, neither of which the Chinese previously knew. That, however, does not contradict Chevedden's evidence that the LARGEST of those trebuchets was actually the European bricola.

#7 Mei Houwang

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 09:58 PM

...From the source above...?

Duh, but I want to read more. The "source above" says it's from Rashid al-din, but I want to know where he got that from. Need more sentences from Rashid, since a "European mangonel" does not equate to a bricola in the first place.


I can't find evidence that al-Din ever travelled with Marco Polo. Hence, he should not connected easily with Polo's fairy tales.


My bad, I meant Marco Polo supposedly copied a lot from Rashid's writings(in which the latter himself admited that he never traveled to China).


Can you post them?

LiangJieMing have pictures of Rashid's works here. They are the ones with color. As one can see, the Hui Hui Pao is indeed different from the bricola.

http://authors.histo...sh16062006.html

Anyway, note that Zheng says that, "in the case of the largest ones, the wooden framework stood above a hole in the ground" (quoted in Needham and Yates, Science and Civilisation in China, 5:6:221). The pictures you saw of the hui hui pao could have been all kinds of hybrid or the counterweight trebuchet, neither of which the Chinese previously knew. That, however, does not contradict Chevedden's evidence that the LARGEST of those trebuchets was actually the European bricola.


First, what makes you think the pictures are hybrids(such a huge difference would obviously make it a completely different trebuchet than a mere hybrid). And second, what makes you think the largest trebuchets depicted are European? All Chevedden said is that it stood inside a hole. Very European chauvinist.

Edited by Anthrophobia, 25 October 2006 - 10:17 PM.


#8 Tibet Libre

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 10:23 PM

Duh, but I want to read more. The "source above" says it's from Rashid al-din, but I want to know where he got that from.


Jami‘ al-Tavarikh, 1:651; Successors of Genghis Khan, 290

First, what makes you think the pictures are hybrids.


I did not think that.

And second, what makes you think the largest trebuchets depicted are European?


I did not say that.

All Chevedden said is that it stood inside a hole.


Which is already very much, since only the Bricola fits this description..


Very European chauvanist.


Why so?

#9 Mei Houwang

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 10:33 PM

Jami‘ al-Tavarikh, 1:651; Successors of Genghis Khan, 290

I'm talking about sentences, not that.

I did not think that.


You stated this: The pictures you saw of the hui hui pao could have been all kinds of hybrid or the counterweight trebuchet, neither of which the Chinese previously knew. That, however, does not contradict Chevedden's evidence that the LARGEST of those trebuchets was actually the European bricola.

And second, what makes you think the largest trebuchets depicted are European?

OK, fine, you stated that Chevedden stated that the largest trebuchets are the European bricola. What's the difference?

Which is already very much, since only the Bricola fits this description..


Because the trebuchet is in a hole, only the bricola can fit that description... I believe Omnipotence in AE already posted on that in which it's common sense that any trebuchet can fit in a hole as long as the hole is "big enough".

Why so?


Because pictorial evidence states otherwise, not to mention that his only evidence is that the trebuchet are within a hole, and somehow claimed that this just HAS to be a bricola. That's just a Red Herring to me.

#10 Tibet Libre

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 10:52 PM

I'm talking about sentences, not that.


That's a primary source.


You stated this: The pictures you saw of the hui hui pao could have been all kinds of hybrid or the counterweight trebuchet, neither of which the Chinese previously knew. That, however, does not contradict Chevedden's evidence that the LARGEST of those trebuchets was actually the European bricola.


It is possible that the Chinese designated all kinds of catapults which they did not know as hui hui pao. That is they used hui hui pao as a generic term. Hence, the presence of various trebs in the pics does not prove the absence of a bricola at the siege.


OK, fine, you stated that Chevedden stated that the largest trebuchets are the European bricola. What's the difference?


Wrong. I stated that Chevedden stated that Rashid al-Din stated that the Mongols used European trebuchets at the sieges of the twin fortress.

Because the trebuchet is in a hole, only the bricola can fit that description... I believe Omnipotence in AE already posted on that in which it's common sense that any trebuchet can fit in a hole as long as the hole is "big enough".


I don't think that you, who blames Chevedden as European chauvinistic for pointing out that the Bricola stood inside a hole, are in any position to propagate common sense.

That's just a Red Herring to me.


It actually does not matter whether you recognize it or not. All that matters is evidence to the contrary and yours was pretty slim.

#11 Mei Houwang

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 10:58 PM

That's a primary source.

Lol, I know that. But what does that have to do with my statement you replied to? I want "sentences" on the primary source.

It is possible that the Chinese designated all kinds of catapults which they did not know as hui hui pao. That is they used hui hui pao as a generic term. Hence, the presence of various trebs in the pics does not prove the absence of a bricola at the siege.



It is shown as a counterweight trebuchet. No signs of the bricola. Of course, there COULD be sings of the bricola, but so far no evidence exists.


Wrong. I stated that Chevedden stated that Rashid al-Din stated that the Mongols used European trebuchets at the sieges of the twin fortress.

European trebuchets is pretty broad. What proof is there that this has to be a bricola?

I don't think that you, who blames Chevedden as European chauvinistic for pointing out that the Bricola stood inside a hole, are in any position to propagate common sense.


I am in perfect position, because Chevedden uses evidences that have nothing to do with the point to make up facts. If you don't like that idea, then attack the idea. What are you attacking me for?

It actually does not matter whether you recognize it or not. All that matters is evidence to the contrary and yours was pretty slim.


On the contrary, I don't need evidence to prove that something weren't there. You do, for you are trying to prove that something is there. Because it is you that is arguing for the existence of the bricola in the siege of XiangYang, and so far the only evidence is that the trebuchet is in a hole. That's "slim" evidence.

#12 shurite7

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 12:27 AM

I would like to point a couple of things.

I wrote an article about the siege of Xiangyang and Fan ch'eng. During my research I was not able to find any depictions of the hui hui pao. None, even after contacting various professor's and Lieng, as well as a gentleman in Switzerland (who has done quite a bit of studying on trebuchets), no one has a picture of the hui hui pao, only limited descriptions.

There are a couple of sources, for example Osprey Publishing & Lieng's book, that give a modern depiction of the hui hui pao. I have no idea where Osprey came up with theirs. I can't remember where Lieng came up with his. Maybe he will let us know, however, I believe Lieng's is the closest.

Here is what I think it looked like, or better yet, what is may have looked liked. There are various depictions of counter weight trebuchets used by the Il-khans. One example of this is Rashid al-din's literature. Another nice picture is on the cover of a book on the Mongols by J.J. Saunders. Next, the 2 gentlemen who were sent to China, at the request of Khublai, came from the Il-khans territory. There names are mentioned above. Putting 2 and 2 together the most probable answer as to what the hui hui pao looked like would be the depictions of trebuchets used by the Il-khans. Granted there may have been some slight changes made, but probably not a whole lot. I have been in touch with Lieng regarding this and I believe he has a similar opinion.

Therefore the comment made above that a picture of the hui hui pao has been seen is not accurate. No one has a depiction, at least none that is public. If there is a picture please prove me wrong and post it. Many would like to see it.

Chris
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#13 Liang Jieming

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 12:56 AM

So far as I can determine, no picture exists. Don't know where osprey got it's picture from. Neither do I know where the Beijing Military museum got the design for its model from but it's been reproduced all over the place ever since. I know the Beijing Military museum is not always accurate. Anyone who's followed my discussions on the sangong chuangzi nu and the model of it at the museum will know that no illustrations exists as far as I know, to match the configuration shown in the museum replica which from an engineering angle, wouldn't work efficiently.

Shurite is right. The best guess would be the depictions from middle eastern sources of mongol sieges there. They two middle easterners who were brought up to build catapults at xiangyang would have built middle eastern catapult designs.

#14 Yun

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 01:55 AM

Don't know where osprey got it's picture from.


Stephen Turnbull made it clear in his caption for the plate:

"As pictorial sources for these machines in China are almost non-existent, an attempt has been made to reconstruct their likely appearance using contemporary descriptions of machines at the siege of Xiangyang, a Song dynasty drawing of a mobile counterweight trebuchet, and several existing drawings of Mongol trebuchets in the Middle East and Central Asia, most of which agree surprisingly well on the main features. As the Muslims were the recognized expertsd in trebuchet manufacture in the thirteenth century it has also seemed reasonable to take details from the reliable near-contemporary European sources which have provided the basis for successful modern reconstructions of full-sized weapons."
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#15 Liang Jieming

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 02:47 AM

That's true. But you have any idea where the Beijing Military Museum got it's ideas on the hui hui pao from?




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