Ruminations of a Taco-Obsessed Philly Native

Siege tactics where a military complex or even an entire city have long been a part of warfare, and even as current as the more recent Siege of Homs during the Syrian Civil War. However, it was much different during the Middle Ages when the weapons were more primitive. One of these siege weapons was the Trabuco that was used to help in destroying perimeter walls or launching projectiles over them. They served many armies well until the invention of gunpowder moved weapons into a different direction.

As with catapults, the Trabuco has to use a mechanism to transform potential energy into a kinetic energy, and that is the physics behind the weapon according to It is effectively taking the sling to a larger level with a counterweight being raised so that when it is released and falls towards the ground the arm will rotate and launch a projectile. A larger and heavier counterweight might be used so that heavier things can be launched towards the enemy.

Sometimes these Trabucos might be handled by a single man who could raise the counterweight on his own, but there were many varieties that utilized multiple men to achieve greater range or weight transfer. Various armies became quite adept at working the Trabuco so that they could launch boulders that weighed as much as 1500 kilos or more. However, the average was about 50-100 kilos for a range of about 300 meters. The men attacking Libson in 1147 were able two use two of the devices to send a projectile every 15 seconds according to At other times diseased human corpses would be used as the projectile with the hope that the people being attacked would be infected by contact. This was some of the earliest form of biological warfare that has been documented by historians.

Eventually, the cannon would take the place of the Trabuco because of the lessened effort that was required on the part of the men who handled them. But, in some instances, a shortage of gunpowder kept them relevant for some time still until the last documented military use was somewhere around 1521 on

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