Ancient Weapon Of War: The Trabuco

The Trabuco was one of the most destructive siege weapons seen in the middle ages. The weapon was originally developed and built in ancient China during the time of the mongol invasions. Chinese commander Qiang Shen is thought to have independently developed a traction Trabuco which was used to entrap invaders in two separate cities which had been captured.

According to, historical records show that the Chinese armies then enlisted two Persian designers to help develop further traction Trabucos. This may indicate that middle eastern engineers were in fact the first to develop the traction Trabuco as we know it and were further employed to assist further nations in developing their own weapons.


In their ongoing development, Trabucos have essentially existed in two forms, the traction Trabuco, and the later counterweight Trabuco. The traction Trabuco functioned by way of simple sling operation. The traction Trabuco would be loaded and then quickly pulled down by the sling at the other end to fire it’s contents. This type of Trabuco left China by way of the Avars, a nomadic Russian people, who spread it west to Europe and the Mediterranean where the traction Trabuco inspired the development of the counterweight Trabuco according to The first clear record of a counterweight Trabuco being used comes from Islamic scholar Mardi Al-Tarsusi.

The counterweight Trabuco functions in a similar manner to the traction Trabuco with the one major difference existing in the form of the counterweight at the end of the weapon, which is operated by a lever in order to fire the Trabuco’s payload. This development allowed the counterweight Trabuco much further distance, and much simpler operation, resulting in its thorough use in warfare throughout the world during the medieval ages. The counterweight Trabuco saw major use in Europe during rivalry battles between kingdoms, where the weapon adopted the name Trebuchet.

The Trabuco would also see also wide scale deployment during the crusades, when it would be used in some junctures as a source of germ warfare, as seen in loading the weapon with corpses of those inflicted with the plague. By the rise of the age of gunpowder, however, Trabucos of any type had all but vanished from the battlefield. In modern times, some protesters and rebels have made use of the weapon as it requires relatively simple construction and can launch projectiles long distances.

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