Slinging in the Balearic Islands


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Balearic Slingers

Our history

The Balearic Slinging Federation was founded in 1984 with the aim of paying a well-deserved tribute to our ancestors, the Balearic slingers. Due to their skills in the use of the sling, not only did the slingers defend our islands from foreign invasions, but they also made them renowned all over the world many years before they became a top-rated tourist destination.
The first reference to the Balearic slingers dates back to 406 BC and it refers to their participation in the Greco – Punic Wars, in which the armies of both the Greek Empire and the Carthaginian Empire fought one against the other in Sicily.

Many years before 654 BC, the ships of one of these powerful Empires, the Carthaginians – a maritime trading empire- reached the largest Pityusic island and founded the city of Ebusus. Not satisfied with it, they also tried to conquer the islands surrounding that one – Majorca and Minorca – but they could not reach their goal at first since they were attacked with stones thrown in a very precise and accurate way by the slingers who were protecting their islands from the coast. For this reason, the Carthaginian named these islands the Balearic Islands because in their language it meant “the islands of the stone throwers”

During a period of approximately four hundred years, between the 4th and 1st century B.C, the Balearic made their main professional career out of slinging and many have been the slingers’ participations in different wars and battles around the Mediterranean.

Foners Balearics
Foners Balearics
The most important moment is set during the Second Punic War (219-202 B.C), when the troops of the legendary Carthaginian General Hannibal battled against the Romans to gain greater control of the sea routes in the Mare Nostrum. It is said that the action of the Balearic slingers was determining, and thanks to them, important victories were won in the battles of Trebbia, Ticinus, Lake Trasimene and the fortress of Cannae, all of them in Roman territory. As a result of the Balearic Slingers’ achievements in these battles, thoroughly documented by the historians, whenever there were mentions about slingers, those were only for the Balearic ones, leaving the rest apart. It may be remembered that there were slingers everywhere, but there is no doubt, ours, the Balearics, were the best. They were given great prestige and they made a name in their own right in History.

Another point in time when the Balearic slingers’ participation was decisive took place when the Roman fleet reached our islands with the idea of conquering them The slingers, placed on the coast, loaded their slings with stones and threw them in stone storms which hit the fleet and damaged their ships. The Romans, surprised by this, desisted and turned round to head back towards Rome. Two years later, in 123 BC, the Roman fleet led by the General Quintus Caecilius Metellus returned, and this time they were successful and managed to disembark. They had covered their ships with animal hide tightened so as to minimize the destructive impacts of the stones hurled by the slingers. The Romanization of the Balearic Islands started in 123 BC.

The slingers became part of the Roman army and took part in some of the Gallic Wars battles under the Consul Julius Caesar orders, as it is documented by himself. Our slingers participated in the battle of Bibrax which was fought in 57 BC. This is considered to be their last documented battle.

Years passed and more prestigious, precise and powerful, as well as more destructive weapons appeared which relegated the slings to a secondary place. The sling turned into a tool for shepherds used to control their livestock, and this is how it has come down to us. The folklorist Bartomeu Enseñat said that the shepherds are the legitimate heirs of the sling.

Nowadays, in the Balearic Islands, slinging is considered a native sport, recognized as such in the Law of Sports of the Balearic Islands 17th October 2006.

Foner Balearic