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The Trabuco And Its Use In Siege Warfare

One of the hardest aspects of ancient warfare was trying to destroy a city. Most generals had to rely on many soldiers to overrun an enemy’s territory. Enemy’s that hid behind walls were almost impossible to defeat. Siege weapons such as the trabuco were necessary for leveling cities that had walled protection. This presentation of the trabuco will explain why it was such an important weapon for ancient warfare.

The word trabuco comes from the Portuguese language according to This word is translated into trebuchet in English. Both pronunciations can be used interchangeably since they have the same meaning. The trabuco was invented around 400 B.C. by the Chinese. Many empires and kingdoms were slow to adopt this technology into their armies.

Ancient armies used different siege weapons to tackle fortified structures. They utilized the battering ram, siege tower, ballista, and the catapult. When the trebuchet was added to an army’s arsenal of siege weapons it made them a more effective fighting force. The trabuco was best used for artillery attacks against the enemy.


Armies would hurl different types of projectiles from close ranges or far away. The weapon was best suited for long distance use. A group of trebuchets could be used to randomly project huge rocks, fiery pitch and even dead diseased animals at the enemy. Sometimes armies would load the unit with thousands of sharp pieces of metal or stones and launch them into the air over enemy positions. The darts would then scatter over an area within a city causing massive damage to the people and structures below.

The trebuchet was primarily used to beat down an enemy’s walls. These heavy projectile weapons could hurl large stones that would smash through thick defensive wall causing them to crumble. Many walled cities were well fortified during ancient times. According to, ancient engineers built them to specifically keep out enemy invaders.

A well-trained artillery unit utilizing the trabuco could effectively breach a city’s wall. Normally, it would take days or weeks for an artillery unit to accomplish this feat. Sometimes, it could even take years to overrun a city, if the area was well defended. Ultimately, the trabuco was a necessary instrument of war that helped armies to capture cities and to win kingdoms.

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