The Ancient war machine known as the Trabuco or more commonly named trebuchet was a rigid weapon used in sieges. It was invented in China in around 400 B.C. and was only adopted in Europe 1200 years later. This war machine was a game changer for armies that used them. European armies could finally create openings in stonewall outer defenses using a long-range weapon. The Trabuco’s main purpose was to fling giant rocks at enemy fortresses or castles in order to demolish the outer walls and cause casualties in the process. This allowed infantry units to enter cities and in many cases win battles and entire wars.
In 600 AD, when the Trabuco was brought to Europe they were immediately used in an ancient form of biological warfare according to wordreference.com. The armies would collect disease-infested bodies and place them in the Trabuco’s giant sling, which would then be flung into enemy encampments. The diseases would spread either killing or weakening the enemy or forcing them to surrender and abandon their castles.
The word Trabuco is derived from the French word trebuchet. The machine uses a mechanical lever system to throw projectiles over long distances. The original design was man powered and took great strength, organization and precision to operate. The counterweight Trabuco was easier to use as it utilized a counterweight swing arm and gravity to fling objects on infopedia.pt.
The ancient Trabuco’s were over 30 meters tall and highly immobile. Armies would both construct them from timber and rope on the spot or transport parts and reassemble them in range of the enemy’s defenses. The problem with these war machines was their slow reload time and the many men needed to operate them.
Trabuco’s were used for over 500 years by everyone including the Byzantines, English and French according to infoescola.com. Their decline came with the importation of gunpowder from China and eventual invention of the cannon. The cannon proved to be a much more effective means to breach walls in Europe. The last recorded use of a Trabuco was by Hernan Cortez in 1521, when he sieged the ancient Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.