How The Trabuco Changed Siege Warfare In The Middle Ages

The Trabuco was considered the ultimate war machine during the Middle Ages. It could hurl massive stones which could bring down ramparts and kill anyone standing on or even near them. It was much better than what had come before as it could deliver a much bigger payload from a farther distance away. As such it was the biggest leap forward in war technology during this era.

The Trabuco, like other catapults, uses stored energy to deliver its payload. Workers would pull down the arm, fill the basket with projectiles, and then when the arm was released a counterweight would violently cause the side with the basket to shoot up and fling its payload of stone or other projectiles. This counterweight made the Trabuco different from the catapults that came before it and gave it an incredible firing range.


Because of the Trabuco, moats became irrelevant. Trabuco’s could stay well out of the range of regular catapults as well as enemy arrows. They basically changed how castles were built as the current castle walls at the time presented no challenge for a Trabuco according to Castles had to be built with much thicker walls which could better withstand what this weapon could deliver.

Army’s across Europe began to use the Trabuco and it became the gold standard of sieging a town or castle. Not only was it extremely powerful but it was also relatively easy to build, maintain, and operate. This weapon took a crew of about 80 people to operate who were organized into teams. It was actually first created in China and made its way to Europe later on. The Wu Jing Dynasty there had measured the reach of their Trabuco’s and recorded that it could fling a 140-pound rock up to 260 feet according to It could also fire up to five shots per minute because of how the teams coordinated their activities.

The Trabuco was used up until the eleventh century which is when it was finally retired. Even more refined war machines had been built and before long soldiers were using cannons which used gunpowder. It was gunpowder which finally ended the castle era.

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