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The Trabucos: Simple, Yet Effective, Ancient Weapon

A Trabuco was a military weapon invented in China near 400 BC. Eventually, the weapons were brought to Europe and were used during The Crusades. Similar to a catapult, a Trabuco, also known as a Balancing Trabuco, was utilized for destroying defensive city walls, or launching various projectiles over defensive barriers into the targeted fortress.

The Trabuco could launch up to 140 kilo projectiles at impressively high speeds, as far as 800 meters in distance from the launch point according to This allowed devastating attacks to take place with surprising accuracy, while allowing the attacking army to keep a safer distance from enemy arrows.

Trabucos were likely among the first weapons used in biological warfare. Dead bodies infected with contagious diseases were often launched into enemy territory in order to contaminate the intended victims.


While very effective, the Trabucos was actually a simple mechanism and relatively easy to construct. It consisted of an enormous arm connected to a base unit. Attached to one end of the arm was a sling which was used for loading material to be launched at enemy targets. The other end of the arm featured a counter weight. When the counter weight was released the device used the simple energy of gravity to force the weighted end to the ground, causing the arm to rapidly shift the sling upward, thereby launching the projectile. The larger the counter weight on the Trabucos, the heavier the pay load that could be delivered upon launching, making it more deadly. Over time various alterations were made to the original design, making it more effective and powerful.

According to Trabucos remained a popular weapon of choice until the advent of more effective armaments, such as the invention of gun powder by the Chinese in the 9th century. While no longer used in modern warfare, the Trabucos still holds a place in the imaginary wars of online video games.

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