The Warwolf, or War Wolf or Ludgar (Loup de Guerre), is believed to be the largest trebuchet ever made. It was created in Scotland by order of King Edward Longshanks of England, during the siege of Stirling Castle, as part of the Scottish Wars of Independence.
Warwolf at Stirling
When disassembled, the weapon would fill 30 wagons (current measurements put it at about 300–400 feet). It took five master carpenters and forty-nine other labourers at least three months to complete.
A contemporary account of the siege states, "During this business the king had carpenters construct a fearful engine called the loup-de-guerre (sic., War wolf), and this when it threw, brought down the whole wall."
Even before construction could be completed, the sight of the giant engine so intimidated the Scots that they tried to surrender. Edward sent the truce party back inside the castle, declaring, "You don't deserve any grace, but must surrender to my will." Edward decided to carry on with the siege and witness for himself the power of the masterful weapon. The Warwolf accurately hurled missiles weighing as much as three hundred pounds and levelled a large section of the curtain wall.
The siege of Stirling Castle ten years later by the Scots was the immediate cause of the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, when Edward Longshanks's son Edward II of England came with an army two or three times the Scottish numbers, and lost.
In the original records
Some of the original parchment rolls of the accounts of King Edward survive. Two references to the War Wolf, in Latin read
Domino Alexandro le Convers, pro denariis per ipsum datis,..., carpentariis facientibus ingenium quod vocatur Lupus Guerre, et aliis operaris diversis operantibus, ... mensibus Maii et Junii anno presenti (1304), viio die Junii, .... 10 s.
Thome de Viridi Campo, valleto regine, de dono regis in recompensacionem laboris quem sustenit circa facturem Lupus Guerre quem rex fieri ordinavit pro insultu castri de Stryvelyn, ..... xl li.
The first means "To Master Alexander le Convers, for money paid by him to the carpenters making the engine called 'War Wolf', and other workers working (also on the engine), in May and June 1304, 10 shillings on 7 June 1304." The following record reads "To Thomas de Viridus Campus, the queen's valet, recompensed at the King's hand for his labours in the making of the 'War Wolf', which the King ordered to be made to slight Stirling Castle, £40."
Reginald the Janitor was paid wages for guarding its beams for forty nights in June and July 1304.
- Prestwich, Michael, Edward I, University of California, (1988), 502
- Battle of Bannockburn
- Bain, Joseph, ed., Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland, vol. 4, (1877), 476, 477.
- Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland in the PRO and British Library, vol. 5 supplementary, SRO (n.d.), p. 201, no. 472 (k).
- Bain, Joseph, ed., Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, vol. 4, HM Register House, Edinburgh, (1877)
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