Trabuco (or in trebuchet in French) is a siege weapon that was used prolifically in the middle ages. If the enemy had built a wall, this was the weapon you would want at your side. Designed for crushing masonry — or shooting over it — the Trabuco was a powerful Spanish tool against well-defended areas.
Originating in China, the schematics for the Trabuco made their way to France and Spain via Persian engineers. These powerful and destructive tools were used extensively during the reign of Charles VII of France and Louis IX of France according to wordreference.com. Both of them adapting the design to fit larger and more complex purposes. Louis XI of France used 24 Trabucos to overtake Damietta on the Nile River (also known as the Seventh Crusade). Charles VII ordered a trabuco capable of shooting over 800kg of stone — that’s over 1,700 lbs. — and, not only did it work, it served as a deterrent to neighboring forces.
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Taking over 12 days to set-up, these compound machines were capable of great destructive force. Using its mechanical advantage, these 100 ft tall structures could propel boulders weighing almost a ton. Trabucos were man-powered, requiring many men to raise a heavy box attached to the end of a pole. Once built, the only real way to adjust its trajectory was to coordinate the slings release time, as the rest of the parts were heavy, complex, and difficult to adjust. This made trabucos not only a powerful tool but also a difficult one to use. The last known recorded use of the trabuco was during the siege on the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan by Hernan Cortes. The trabucos were destroyed by their own boulders. Needless to say, the attack was unsuccessful.
Gunpowder eventually left these machines obsolescent, as cannons were far more precise, required less manpower, cheaper, more powerful, and less bulky. The history of the trabuco is not forgotten, however, as many countries were laid to rubble while being sieged by these mighty wooden beasts. In fact, in more recent news, these old means made a comeback. In 2013 during the Syrian Civil war reports of a giant wooden machine launching explosives at government troops came out according to sinonimos.com.br. As it turns out, the Syrian rebels had re-purposed a trabuco and were using it in the town center. Maybe these lethal siege weapons are just too interesting to die out.
Learn more about Trabuco: http://www.infoescola.com/curiosidades/trabuco/