How Trabuco Design Advanced Over The Centuries

The Trabuco was a fascinating siege machine which changed the face of war once it was adopted by armies in the Middle Ages. Prior to the time the Trabuco made an appearance on the field of battle the main siege weapon in use was the catapult. A catapult works by getting the energy they need to fling things forward by gravity. The early Trabuco worked the same way but they were far larger, more accurate, and could throw much bigger stones and other projectiles. The Trabuco also has a sling while a catapult just has something resembling a large wooden spoon. The sling magnifies the power of gravity.

These first Trabuco were called Traction Trabuco. Teams of men would pull on a rope which swung the arm forward, launching the projectiles. This was upgraded about 500 years later when the Counterweight Trabuco was unveiled. Instead of relying on human muscle it used a giant counterweight which added immensely more power than what people could deliver. Both Christian and Muslim armies made use of this device according to While the original Trabuco had first appeared in China and then made its way to Europe, the Counterweight Trabuco went the other way.


Trabuco could be up to 100 feet tall or even more. The primary material used to construct them was wood which was tied together using leather, rope, metal, or whatever was on hand at times. Most Trabuco were immobile and so had to be built where they were to be used. The armies only carried the vital parts of a Trabuco that they wouldn’t be able to construct where they were needed.

In order to raise the counterweight of a Trabuco a few methods were employed. Some used treadwheels while other designs used winches. These devices were aided by block and tackle so that the counterweight couldn’t slip down while it was being raised up. The one drawback to a Counterweight Trabuco, as opposed to a Traction Trabuco, is that the former one took longer to fire another round according to This wasn’t that big of a deal in a long siege battle, though, and since they could deliver projectiles ten times as large it was a worthy tradeoff.


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