The Trabuco – A Medieval Weapon Of Mass Destruction

Back in the middle ages, the world was a different place. Wars were a lot more common than what we see these days, and the way they were fought was a lot different. There were no machine guns, no bombs, and no missiles. In a world of crossbows, swords, and pikes; there was also a machine of mass destruction. This machine was the Trabuco, a large weapon used to destroy enemy forts and provide a long throw for projectiles to reach over the barriers and strike the enemy with great force.

The war machine

The Trabuco first appeared in China around the year 400 BC and eventually made its way to Europe where it appeared around the year 600 AD according to As it evolved, this war machine reached the ability to throw 300-pound projectiles with a reach well over 2,000 feet. Its uses were many and it was all destruction, in every possible way.

The heavy projectiles were capable of knocking down a building where an enemy took cover or easily destroy a wall to provide an entrance. When the machine was not used as an impact weapon, it was used as a biological weapon according to It has been recorded that infected corpses and carcasses were sometimes launched with the intent to infect enemies.


The mechanism

Weapons were very basic during the middle ages, but war machines were beginning to be invented and the Trabuco was a very powerful one. The smallest and early models were fairly small and able to be operated by a single person. As the Trabuco evolved, it increased in size and eventually became gigantic— needing dozens of men to operate a single one. The mechanics were very similar to what is seen in a catapult.

The Trabuco’s structure consisted of a huge frame with a balanced axle that connected in the middle at the very top of the structure. It was engineered to be able to turn gravitational energy into kinetic energy through balance. On one side, the axle held the weight and sat low due to gravity. The other side of the axle sat high up and was connected to anywhere from 7-20 ropes, each rope being handled by two men. When the ropes were pulled by the warriors, the heavy projectile balanced over to the other side; when the ropes were released the axle accelerated to the opposite side, launching the item thousands of feet at a very high speed.

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