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A Brief History Of The Trabuco 1

Also known as a trebuchet, a Trabuco is a weapon used in sieges during the Middle Ages. This weapon, useful in battles, and originated in China in 300 BC, derived from an ancient weapon pitch called a sling or fundíbulo, commonly known as a slingshot. A sling consisted of a folded belt in which an object, such as a rock, is placed in the center and launched.

In the invention of the Trabuco, a piece of wood as added to the sling to provide a better lever. With the use of a traction bolt, several people can use this new weapon by pulling strings attached to a shorter arm of a bar containing a sling over an extended arm enabling to throw the projectile at a greater distance.

The use of the Trabuco spread westward by the Avars and adopted by the Byzantines in the eastern Mediterranean and Europe in the 6th century AD according to This weapon, also known to be used by the French in Europe at that time. Revisions made to the Trabuco to make it more useful with the reduction of people power by including a substantial pivoting or fixed counterbalance weight. This revision of the original became widely used throughout Europe during the Middle Ages.


The use of the projectiles in a Trabuco varied during battles in the Middle Ages and were proven deadly. The traditional method of large stones knocked down the walls of a city, fortress or castle. Wooden poles and darts on fire would burn buildings and cause panic in the inhabitants of the castle or town. Other projectiles that used by the Trabuco caused discomfort and disease inside the doomed castle or town include such things as feces, dead bodies of animals or people, body parts, any rotting matter, burning tar or sand, and sharp darts, poles or burning sand.

With the invention and use of gunpowder, the use of the Trabuco dwindled. The last known use of the weapon was during the siege of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán in 1521 by a Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés. The method of limited gunpowder as a projectile was unsuccessful and led to the destruction of the Trabuco.

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