A devastating siege weapon, launching up to a ton of solid stone at enemy walls, the Trabuco, or Trébuchet, once stormed the wars of the Middle Ages. From their invention in China in 400 A.D. to warring Europe in 600 A.D., these weapons were used for over a thousand years to bring catastrophe to enemy lines.
The machine operated much like a sling with an extended lever. A projectile is loaded into the sling and in more popular models a counterweight, employing the advantage of gravity, pulls the lever from its resting place, launching the projectile up and over. According to pt.wiktionary.org earliest renditions required a single person to operate, while later versions required not only a counterweight, making the Trabucos more difficult to maneuver, but also up to 45 men to handle the various ropes.
The manpower was worth it however. The devastation of the Trabuco urged Islamic scholar Mardi Al-Tarsusi to remark the machines were invented by unbelieving demons. Others through history on merriam-webster.com have said the machines launch destructive balls. The force of the giant sling could take down walls and structures in a single blow or send various projectiles over into enemy territory including horses, barrels, and even infected human bodies (alive and dead). Any army facing such an attack would be hard pressed to find a reliable defense. It is no wonder why most Trabucos in history had names such as “God’s Own Catapult,” “Bad Neighbor,” and “Warwolf.”
These massive machines only lost traction as a weapon with the emergence of gunpowder in the 14th and 15th centuries, and therefore cannons according to youtube.com. The last known use was in 1776 by the British in defense of the Strait of Gibraltar.
Today, Trabucos are used mostly for lessons on mechanics, students creating mini versions in classrooms to learn about potential and kinetic energy. Pumpkin throwing contests, namely the World Championship Punkin Chunkin, also employ these machines to carry about their competitions.
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