During the Middle Ages and before the wave of guns, cannons, and gunpowder, most weapons were more of the physical strength type. From axes to war hammers, to bows and arrows. During this time there was also a war machine in particular, able to destroy a fort with one hit. It was called the Trabuco, a slingshot-like machine built to throw boulders at high speeds.
The Trabuco is believed to have been invented in China around the year 400BC and appeared in Europe around 600 AD according to tudo-sobre.estadao.com.br. Early models are believed to have had the ability to launch a 250-pound projectile at a distance of one-to-two hundred feet. By the time the machine appeared in Europe, it had increased in size and was able to throw a similar sized object 10 to 20 times farther and much, much harder. Although the preferred type of projectiles were huge rocks (or boulders), that wasn’t the only thing launched. Trabuco has also been recorded that disease infected dead bodies and bodily fluids were also used for and in occasions succeeded in infecting whole groups of people.
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The mechanics of the Trabuco were simple but effective. The machine consisted of an axle connected from the center at the very top of a frame. On the lower side of the axle was the weight, which would be used as the counterweight, attached to it were numerous ropes. On the top side of the axle was a projectile waiting to be launched. To operate the Trabuco, dozens of men pulled on the ropes, moving the counterweight against its will. When letting go of the ropes all at once, the counterweight itself would cause the axel to move at a high speed in a bouncing manner and launch the projectile, causing major destruction wherever it landed.