Craft in the City

Trabuco A Breakthrough Medieval Siege Weapon

When we think of the Medieval Times, the first thing that comes to most minds are the beautiful structures that were built. Some castles, cathedrals, and government buildings still stand today. But why are some castles in ruin? How did these structures of thick stone collapse? To most surprise, the answer does not resemble anything close to modern weaponry. The blame can be mostly pointed at the Trabuco, a type of medieval catapult that terrorized long-forgotten kingdoms.

According to, the crusades were a bloody time and as defenses got stronger so did the weapons made to take them down. Walls of stone were becoming unbreachable as they grew thicker and taller. To get into the walls of a castle, many men had to sacrifice themselves to climb the walls before any troops could make it into the castle. Susceptible to arrows and fire too many of the men needed to siege parished. How could anyone get into a structure so fortified? Finally, the Trabuco was invented. The Trabuco was born from principles of a sling, where energy can be conserved to fire a projectile. Later the Chinese invented a traction bolt which conserved more mechanical energy through the pulling of two strings.


With the idea of the lever and this method of storing mechanical energy, weapon makers could now hurdle stones that could break stone walls. Sometimes stone was not the only projectile, stories of human remains being hurdled are humanities first signs of using biological weapons. This breakthrough in weapon technology caught on as successful military campaigns heavily relied on the Trabuco.

Over time, the Trabuco lost its popularity when gunpowder came about. Cannons became the primary weapon to attack any fortified structure and the Trabuco was an abandoned idea. But remnants of these terrifying weapons impact can be found and attributed to the ruin castles that are scattered across Eurasia.

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