The Trabuco Counterbalances Fortifications In Ancient Warfare

The Trabuco was a game changer, a siege weapon capable of knocking down walls. Fortifications were key to protection back in those times. A retreating army could take shelter and hold position for quite some time. The only way to advance forward would be to target a weak spot, most notably the wooden door leading into the keep, and that would always be a prime defense point. Not anymore.

Siege weapons could knock down the surrounding walls, allowing an army to penetrate at any point along the standing fortifications. Romans developed the catapult to do this, but history always sees an innovation finding its replacement in a better design. It would be the fate of the catapult, and eventually the Trabuco. Eventually it would be replaced by the advent of firearms in the Sixteenth Century.


The origins of the weapon date back to 400 BC China according to Chinese armies used it to destroy fortifications, as well as spread disease by hurling dead bodies. The breech weapon’s simple design, fewer working parts, extended range, heft, and accuracy made it superior to the Roman catapult. Through trade the Trabuco was eventually brought to the middle east, where the Arabs improved its design. They added an extra weight to improve range. It would remain in use hear, becoming very affective during the Crusades. This is where Europe would first get a taste of the Trabuco. Not wanting to be outdone, Europeans would begin designing their own Trabucos to countermand the ones in use by the Arabs. Richard the Lionheart would have two massive Trabucos constructed to aid his invasion of Acre. In Europe the weapon would transcend from a barrier breaker into a weapon of mass destruction. Europeans would add a counterbalance they called a blunderbuss to the weapon; the counterbalance would allow for heavier objects. Three hundred years after its development the Trabuco would be able to launch projectiles weighing 2000 pounds.

Learn more about Trabuco: