The Trabuco, Or The Trebuchet; A Weapon By Any Other Name Would be Just As Devastating

Designed from inspirations drawn from the Catapult, the Trabuco was a noted, and exceptional siege weapon in the Middle Ages. There is some debate about how the prominent balance based antique artillery came about, however.

In 400 B.C. one of the first forms of the Trabuco was used in China to assist in pinning down Mongol invaders in an overthrown Chinese city. It is believed however that two Persian designers were brought in to assist in the construction of two further Trabucos. According to, writings from the Middle East before this time indicated that the technology and knowhow may have already existed in the area before the Trabuco’s use in China however, and may explain why the Persian engineers were brought in to assist in further development. Furthermore, the Chinese word for the Trabuco translates directly to the word used for Muslim.

However the Trabuco first came about, it had made its way to Europe where it adopted the moniker of the Trebuchet by 600 B.C. according to Variations were made on the weapon at this time, resulting in two different classes of the Trebuchet; the traction Trebuchet, which used man power to swing the weapon’s balancing arm, and the Counterweight Trebuchet, which employed a counterweight to activate the weapon’s balancing mechanism. The Counterweight Trabuco saw major use in the Crusades on both sides, and eventually made its way back to China through further Mongol conquests. The first record of the Counterweight Trabuco seeing use in combat was during the conquests of Saladin in the 12th century on

Throughout its time used in warfare, the Trabuco saw various use in a range of projectiles. Often times the weapon was used to launch boulders to collapse fortress walls, or to smash invading armies, however, during the crusades the Trebuchet saw use as a germ warfare device, as both sides launched the corpses of those infected with the plague into enemy camps in hopes of initiating an outbreak. The Spanish and Brazilians, from whence the weapon’s Trabuco namesake derives from, loaded the sling with various projectiles so that the Trabuco functioned akin to an early shotgun design.

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