Trabuco were an advanced form of a catapult. It uses a counterweight to power a swinging arm which then throws a projectile. It was first designed in Ancient China and slowly spread westward. It is thought by many that it was the Avars who did much of this spreading because they were a nomadic people who continuously moved west away from China. In Europe they were first used by the Byzantine Empire around 590 AD.
The first Trabuco are known as Traction Trabuco. This first version didn’t have a counterweight and instead was powered by men pulling on a long length of rope. They were used to topple fortifications such as walls and castles. They were also fired at troops. During the Battle of Caishi in 1161 Trabuco were loaded with payloads consisting of sulfur and lime which were fired at ships when they came within range.
The next version of the Trabuco was called the Hand Trabuco. One person could operate these devices. This one was created by Nikephoros II Phokas of Byzantine around the year 965 BC according to pt.wiktionary.org. He had several of them which were used to disrupt any formations making it easier for his men to defeat their enemies.
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The Counterweight Trabuco was invented by a military researcher who worked for Saladin, the military genius who founded the Ayyubid dynasty in the area of Egypt and Syria. This device was far more powerful because it relied on a one-ton counterweight to provide thrust rather than on manpower. This was first used in 1097 during the Siege of Nicaea. It could throw much larger payloads than earlier version at a farther distance.
Among the battles that saw the use of the Counterweight Trabuco were the Siege Of Acre in 1189-1191 according to pt.bab.la. At this battle the forces of Saladin were arrayed against the forces of England and France. Phillip II of France gave names to two of his Trabuco during this fight. Once was called “Bad Neighbor” and the other one was called “God’s Stone-Thrower”.
When these type of Trabuco were first invented they could throw a stone weighing around 1750 pounds. The range was a little under 1000′. Most stones weighed more around 110-220 pounds, though. Later versions could launch a stone weighing as much as 3300 pounds. They could be fired very rapidly. In 1147 during the Siege of Lisbon, for instance, their two Trabuco could be fired every 15 seconds.