Medieval Castles – An Essay


Castles remind us of a time that was stuffed with journey and romance. Castles remind us of a time in historical past during which there was a scarcity of presidency and order. Though there was not mass confusion and anarchy, there was much less order. Castles have been the premise of feudalism. Castles will be seen as a manifestation of feudal society. Feudalism began with the rise of castles and ended with their finish. The citadel set the tone as the one homestead that the Aristocracy would stay in throughout this time. Castles have been influenced by and influenced many medieval cathedrals in Europe. Though castles served many functions, their main function was navy. At the moment, folks weren’t protected by merely shutting and locking an everyday wood door. They wanted the safety of castles and their knights. The lords and constables of castles wanted serfs to work the land to make income with a purpose to pay lease to the extra necessary nobles. Given the next proof, it’s comparatively apparent why castles and chateau constructing performed an instrumental function within the growth of Western Europe.

Castles are distinctive to a time in historical past referred to as medieval occasions. The phrase medieval in our occasions is an insult to something as is the phrase feudal. Via the haze and ruins, one can think about dungeons, chivalrous knights, and mighty Lords who dominated the land and guarded the widespread peasant from barbarians and different invaders. The rise of castles marked the rise of feudalism. This was all began by the crusades. Nearly all of the knights and nobles went to liberate the holy land from the Muslims. The Crusades influenced citadel builders again in Europe. Concepts have been gathered from Muslim and Byzantine fortifications. Due to the shortage of safety in Europe, a citadel’s power wanted to be elevated due to the ever-present risk of a Muslim invasion. The top of Feudalism additionally marked the top of the center ages and therefore the top of the nice citadel period.

Castles built-in the mix of residence and fortress. The primary citadel dates again to King Sargon II of Khorsabad in historical Egypt. He erected a grand palace for himself to guard him and his topics. The primary recorded references to castles was the Edict of Pistes by Charles the Bald, king of the West Franks. “We are going to and expressly command that whoever at the moment has made castles and fortifications and enclosures with out our out permission shall have them demolished by the First of August” (Brown Structure of Castles 13). Different citadel legal guidelines have been the Norman Establishments handed down by William the Conqueror after he took over England. One regulation says that nobody shall increase castles in Normandy with out the Duke’s license.

An excellent citadel web site was one which had pure obstacles for protection resembling steep hillsides and water. Castles that have been constructed on rocks or islands have been particularly efficient. An instance of that is Bodiam in Sussex which was the house of Sir Edward Dalyngrigge in 1385. A moat provided good safety, however constructing on a lake or river provided higher safety. The positioning shouldn’t be too distant. It ought to have water and constructing materials available close by. A web site ought to have a great local weather, good pasture, and ample fertile land. If a citadel had all this stuff, it will improve its probabilities of surviving a siege.

A big majority of early castles adopted the motte and bailey design. These designs utilized earth and timber. A motte and bailey design is a design the place the maintain is on a hill or motte behind the bailey which is the open space of the citadel much like a city sq.. A bridge often related the motte to the bailey. The motte was a terrific mound of earth or rock. Generally it was synthetic, however the majority of the time it was genuine. At its base there was a deep trench that resembled a moat. This was used as protection. Surrounding the motte was a wall of timber. The motte additionally contained the maintain which is the place the lord of the manor and his household lived. The maintain was the innermost a part of the citadel. It was the final protection in opposition to assault. The maintain has additionally been known as the donjon. That is the place the French received the phrase dungeon that means the jail or place to carry prisoners. Surrounding the whole premises was a wood fence that was no less than ten ft in top. These wood stakes have been then implanted within the floor for assist. The fence generally stood upon posts to permit males to get by. Throughout a siege, the perimeter can be coated with moist animal skins to curb the specter of arson. Most motte and bailey castles have been constructed earlier than William the Conqueror’s conquest in 1066.

Walter the Archdeacon wrote a biography of John, bishop of Therouanne about 1130. In it he describes Merchem Citadel close to Dixmude: “There was, close to the porch of the church, a fortress which we could name a citadel… exceedingly excessive, constructed after the customized of that land by the lord of the city a few years earlier than. For it’s the behavior of the magnates and nobles of these elements… to boost a mound of earth as excessive as they will and encompass it with a ditch as broad as doable. The highest of this mound they utterly enclose with a palisade of hewn logs sure shut collectively like a wall, with towers set in its circuit as far as the positioning permits. In the midst of the house inside the palisade they construct a residence, or, dominating every little thing, maintain” (Brown Structure of Castles 21)

Citadel designers noticed a necessity for enchancment as a result of wooden and earth weren’t robust and weren’t efficient safety in opposition to fireplace. There was additionally a necessity for larger, grander castles as a result of noble guests didn’t journey alone so a citadel must have sufficient room for the occasional customer and his or her group. The architects who designed castles have been referred to as grasp masons. They noticed that stone can be a more practical constructing materials. Though it was chilly and onerous to work with, it offered the a lot wanted safety in opposition to fireplace. These newer castles are referred to as enclosure castles. Like motte and dailey designs, enclosures castles had a wall defending the perimeter of the manor. Nonetheless these castles weren’t constructed upon hills or mottes. The maintain of the citadel was integrated into the wall surrounding the property. These castles nonetheless had a bailey. With this new type of castles got here a brand new development materials. Stone turned the one materials to construct one’s citadel out of as a result of it made castles a lot stronger in opposition to assault. The tower of London is an instance of a masonry citadel. The best stone for castles was the advantageous limestone of Caen in Normandy. This limestone was smooth when first quarried, however regularly turned onerous because it was uncovered to air. To insulate in opposition to the chilly stone partitions of castles, the ladies made tapestries for the partitions. The tapestries nearly at all times contained a narrative regarding the citadel. Some of the well-known tapestries is the Bayeux Tapestry. It depicts the Norman knights earlier than Hastings in 1066. Since they have been now utilizing stone, citadel builders have been capable of combine defenses into the castles.

Castles wanted to have defenses. They weren’t made impregnable. They have been made in order that it will take an unlimited quantity of artillery and cash to take the citadel. They have been made in order that it will take a considerable amount of time to take a citadel. The citadel of Newcastle at Tyne was removed from impregnable in 1173, nevertheless it was robust sufficient to make an ill-prepared Scottish King William suppose twice a few siege: “Nicely sees the king of Scotland that he won’t ever full the conquest of Newcastle on Tyne with out navy engines” (Ibid 80). Some defenses utilized by castles have been machiolations. Machiolations have been projecting battlements to guard in opposition to arrows and different weapons. They have been on the prime of the wall surrounding the citadel. Arrowslits or arrow loops have been slits that have been reduce into stone to permit sharpshooters a spot to shoot. They have been angled in order that the sharpshooter was shielded from oncoming projectiles. One other protection used was Greek fireplace. This was an incendiary system that was used in opposition to wood assault machines. The components of Greek fireplace are a thriller. It’s thought that it contained among the following parts: crude oil, refined oil, naphtha, pitch, resin, sulfur, quicklime, and bitumen. This lethal combination was placed on an arrow after which shot onto one of many attacking machines and it gave explosive outcomes. Greek fireplace was most likely developed within the seventh century by the Byzantines for naval warfare. Greek fireplace was a morale builder for the defenders throughout a siege. The Lord of Joinville described Greek fireplace as “This Greek fireplace was suck that seen from the entrance because it darted in direction of us it appeared as giant as a vessel of verjuice, and the tail of the fireplace that streamed behind it was so long as the shaft of a terrific lance. The noise it made in coming was like that of a thunderbolt falling from the skies; it appeared like a dragon flying by the air. The sunshine this big, flaming mass shed throughout it was so vibrant that you might see proper by the camp as clearly as if it have been day. 3 times that night time the enemy slung Greek fireplace at us from their petraries, and 3 times they shot it from their arbalestres a tour” (Ibid 88).

Weapons have been used in opposition to castles throughout a siege included the trebuchet, mangonel, belfry, ballista, ram, and bore. The trebuchet was a giant machine that flung artillery like a catapult. The mangonel was much like the trebuchet however smaller and extra maneuverable. Its power was based mostly on the tautness of the hemp, rope, or tightly twisted animal sinew. Artillery utilized by these weapons embrace rocks, fireballs, and lifeless animals to unfold illness. The belfry was a cellular tower which was constructed increased than the citadel partitions with a purpose to scale them throughout siege. The ballista was primarily a big crossbow that hurled rocks and different giant boulders. The ram was a tool that did what its title says. It was used to knock the portcullis or gate down. The bore was a tool utilized by the attackers throughout a tactic referred to as mining. They mined from their camps to the citadel partitions. They’d arrange a assist then begin a hearth to interrupt down the citadel partitions. The defenders of the citadel additionally used this tactic to counter the attackers siege. They’d watch the moat to see the vibrations attributable to the attackers shovels. Then they might begin a counter mine. This was the simplest tactic utilized in a siege nevertheless it was essentially the most harmful. It was darkish, had contaminated or little air and there was at all times a risk that the tunnel would collapse or be caved in by the citadel’s garrison.

Castles weren’t simply fortresses but additionally residences of the the Aristocracy. It’s this stability of navy and residential qualities which make a citadel so totally different from different fortifications. Castles had all the perfect furnishings and colours. That they had chapels as a result of Europe was a Christian continent. They often had a couple of. On the citadel property have been issues like gardens, parks, vineyards, dovecotes, fishponds, mills, and stables. Citadel weren’t as primitive as we predict them to be. That they had among the conveniences that we’ve at present. That they had a type of a rest room. It was a rest room fabricated from stone. Individuals who wished to make use of it needed to carry some materials to guard themselves from the chilly stone. The waste would ultimately drain to a river by the use of an underground pool. These cesspits would usually must be cleaned out by dung farmers.

Not all castles have been extravagant fortresses that housed kings and all his topics. Many castles have been simply constructed for the lord, his household and some servants. Different castles that weren’t properly protected or had no risk of assault have been referred to as fortified manors. The design of a citadel was taken very critically by the lords. There may be reference to Aubree, spouse of the Depend of Bayeux, executing on the spot, Lanfred, her grasp mason after he accomplished her citadel. She did this as a result of she was so happy with it that she did not need him to construct one prefer it for anybody else.

Castles have been the premise of feudalism. They managed the land and all inside it. A citadel was a lord’s response to a mounted cavalry cost. Castles have been efficient facilities of navy energy and territorial lordship whether or not or not the king or prince was there. Castles are an necessary half to historical past. They’re phenomenal constructions that also affect fashionable homes at present.

by Michael Cooper