Category Archives: Siege Weapon

Ancient Innovations: The Origins Of Trabuco

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Back in the Middle Ages, the trabuco was a common siege weapon that was most efficient for destroying fortified walls, no matter what type of masonry was used. The trabuco could accurately swing its arm and throw a solid projectile weighing approximately 308 pounds at very high speeds. The projectiles could reach their targets as far as 875 yards away. Over the decades, there were a few modifications made on the original mechanism that made the heavy artillery a force to be reckoned with.

The first recorded use of the trabuco was during the 4th century B.C. in ancient China according to The type of siege weapon they used was a four-footed traction trabuco. The traction trabuco was small and easily portable, it only needed one man to execute and maneuver it. This style lasted until the counterweight trabuco was invented during the time Kublai Khan pursued his conquest of the Song dynasty in 1268. The counterweight trabuco mechanisms were larger in size and used a counterweight to swing help swing the arm with an alarming force. The weapon overall took about twelve days to fully set it up to prepare for destruction. Descriptions of this modified weapon’s aftermath detailed how cities were left in nothing but rubble.


Large rocks were commonly used for projectiles and on certain rare occasions, manure and diseased bodies were used. The infected corpses were thrown over fortified city walls in hopes to infect the enemies. This gruesome warfare tactic lasted throughout the Middle Ages according to The counterweight trabuco soon made its way into the Middle East, mainly through the Persians and the Byzantines. The siege weapon was popular during the Crusades as well, it was used during the year 1191 for the Siege of Acre and the siege of Stirling Castle in 1304. When gunpowder became more prevalent, the use of trabucos became archaic during war and many opted for cannons instead.

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