The Trabuco is a military siege weapon that saw wide use throughout antiquity, the middle ages, and part of the Renaissance. Its main use was to hurl projectiles at the gates, castles, walls, and other structures of enemy combatants, or to fling projectiles over enemy walls into their camps.
Trabuco is similar to the catapult in use but differs in design in that it uses a counterweight to generate the force and momentum necessary to hurl projectiles, whereas catapults rely on the amount of tension built up in the device. The Trabuco was popular throughout the known world during the middle ages including Muslim and Christian kingdoms but finds its roots in antiquity in the 5th century BCE China according to infoescola.com.
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The basic design of the Trabuco involves the transference of potential energy into kinetic energy by way of gravity and the use of a fulcrum. The weapon has a base that incorporates to parallel beams that a perpendicular beam is affixed in between. This third beam is attached to its center and has a basket or flat surface on one side and a counterweight on the other. The height of the beam and the mass of the counterweight will directly dictate of much energy is generated on the other end and how heavy the projectile can be and how far it can travel. Commonly used projectiles of the period would have been stones, dirt, shrapnel, and anything else that could cause injury. On rare occasions, such as the attack of Caffa in the fourteenth century CE, human corpses that had succumb to the black plague were flung into the city as a form of biological warfare according to sinonimos.com.br. Once the counterweight is set free, gravitational force will pull it down causing the plank to spin around on the fulcrum flinging the projectile toward its target.
The history of the Trabuco is rooted in China and as the technology advanced it wa adopted by other cultures to the west. By the twelfth century, it was widely used throughout the known world with accounts coming from both Muslim and Christian sources. During the fifteenth century gunpowder became widely available and the advent of the cannon saw the demise of the Trabuco completely by the seventeenth century.