Trabucos: The Ultimate Ancient War Machine

If anyone were to think of Trabucos these days they probably think of taking a pumpkin and launching it across a football field to its short, doomed existence. But, believe it or not, the Trabuco was the premier war machine in ancient warfare.

One of the first recorded uses of the Trabuco was in 400 BC in China according to The Chinese military were the first to use the machine and they invented the traction bolt. The traction bolt is a more complex edition to what was essentially a slingshot. Depending on the size of the Trabuco built, it would take 15 to 25 men to work the pull ropes. The effectiveness of this new weapon could not be denied as other countries armies began to make their own copies of the Trabuco. By 600 AD the Trabuco was being utilized in Europe and did not fall in popularity until gunpowder and cannons were gaining widespread utilization according to


Trabucos were so effective because they would convert potential energy, like a rock lying in a sling, into kinetic energy, energy that is active such as the rock in flight. Some of the energy is used in the friction of causing the rocks flight. When the Trabucos were big enough, the damage caused when a flying rock was very substantial to free standing structures. Some armies would fling other objects, such as dieased corpses into the opposing army. Today, Trabucos are used more for physics classes as much smaller versions conviegh the principle of energy conversion well to students.

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How The Trabuco Changed Warfare

If you were to think of warfare in the Middle Ages, the long sieges on castles often come to mind. The Trabuco was the weapon of choice for warriors in the Middle Ages who wished to bring sieges to an end quickly. As an adaption of the catapult, the Trabuco was more sophisticated and better able to throw items that were larger and heavier.

The Trabuco was first used by the Chinese as early as 400 B.C. according to They were also the first to not only use the Trabuco as a tool to throw heavy objects such as rocks, but they created biological warfare when they utilized the Trabuco to throw bodies of people who had died from infectious diseases into the cities they were attacking. Around 1,000 years later, in 600 A.D, Europeans began using the Trabuco in their wars, first by the Vikings and later even adopted by the French and British in their Crusades according to

The name Trabuco is derived from the Spanish/Catalonian word trabuc which means catapult. The original form of this weapon was the traction Trabuco, but soon adaptations were made and the balancing Trabuco was created. This weapon could sling items up to 140 pounds as far as 80 meters. As a weapon, the Trabuco was useful not only in throwing items over castle walls but in breaking down the walls of the castle as well. Seeing a Trabuco coming up on a fortified city was sure to strike fear into the hearts of those trapped inside.

Although weaponry has advanced immensely in the 1,000 years since the Middle Ages, it is easy to see that the Trabuco was a useful tool before the advent of guns and other modern weapons. The ability to end sieges and claim lands gave rulers such as Richard the Lionheart of England access to spoils of war and new lands. In more than one war, the Trabuco changed the course of history.