How Trabuco Have Changed Over The Centuries

Published on Author RM2000

A Trabuco is a siege engine which has a swinging arm that can throw a projectile through the air. They were in use from the 4th century BC until the end of the 1400s when they largely fell out of use due to the invention of gunpowder. During their time they were improved upon a number of times, mostly by engineers in the west. They were first invented in China and first seen in the west in the middle of the 6th century AD when the Byzantine army incorporated their use.


The first Trabuco used manpower to fling a rock, usually at a fortification an army needed to bring down. This was greatly improved upon when the Counterweight Trabuco was created. These used a counterweight instead of manpower which vastly upped the weight of projectiles that could be flung. These Trabuco essentially made fortifications obsolete. These were first used in 1199 during a siege in Italy according to Before long they were being used in Germany and England as well. It is possible they were invented as early as 1165 as Niketas Choniates, a Byzantine historian, referred to a Trabuco as having a windlass. A windlass would only be useful if this Trabuco were a Counterweight Trabuco.

Trabuco are almost exclusively used for recreation and education today. They are used in historical re-enactments and at fairs, such as in Sussex County, Deleware, where contestants see how far their Trabuco can throw a pumpkin. There are two recent incidents of them being used in battle, though. Rebels in the Syrian civil war used them in 2013 to launch explosives at Syrian government troops. They were also used in 2014 in Ukraine according to pt.bab.l. In the Hrushevskoho street riots some rioters built one which they used to hurl molotov cocktails and other projectiles at the police.

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