Medieval Castles

Topics: Fortification, Castle, Motte-and-bailey Pages: 9 (2765 words) Published: March 26, 2011
▪ Introduction to castles
▪ Types of castles
▪ Construction of Castles
▪ Castles under Siege
▪ Life in the Medieval Castle
▪ Tonbridge castle (history of Tonbridge castle)

Long before men built such imposing structures as Harlech Castle, they constructed other simpler fortifications. In fact, men have always built some kind of fortification to protect themselves, their families, and their tribes against danger, whether from animals or from other men. The caveman's cave could be used for defense. In prehistoric times, as scientists can tell from ruins they have discovered, men used hills or ledges, and piles of earth and stone to make fortified places to defend themselves against their enemies. Usually they did not live in such places, but only gathered there when danger threatened.

Castles were part of medieval society since the 9th century. The exact date in which the first castles began to emerge is not yet precise. Historians have numbered back to almost one thousand years to when the first castles had been built. The first castles were made in the 9th and 10th centuries, for protection and a place for housing soldiers. These earlier castles were made of earth and timber surrounded by a ditch. From the 11th to the 12th centuries the Motte and Bailey castle began to appear and soon became very popular. Many castles have strange shapes because the castle was designed to accommodate the terrain, and to catch attackers in crossfire. Stone castles had first appeared in the late 10th century, but only consisted of the donjon (keep) which was almost 3 metres thick. Not until the mid 13th century did Stone castles have surrounding walls.

Motte and Bailey.

The Motte and Bailey was one of the simplest castles in Medieval Europe. The Bailey, also know as the courtyard, consisted of many structures. The chapel, Barn, Stables, Hall and Kitchen were few of the many structures know to be built in the courtyard. The Chapel was a place were mass would have been held for people to go and pray. The Stables and Barn located in the bailey usually held all the farm animals such as cows and chickens and even goats. The Stables were located next to the barn, but the horses were kept separately from the rest of the barnyard animals. The main Hall was where celebrations and festivals were held. Almost everyone who stayed in the Motte and Bailey castle would eat hear. The separate kitchen in the bailey was where food was made. It tended to be separate to the Hall because it needed to be big in order to make large meals for all the soldiers. The Motte was made of earth and was almost 10 metres high. On top of the Motte a Donjon (Keep) was built. This keep usually housed everyone in the castle including the servants. The entire complex was surrounded by a small wooden wall, and a ditch was dug out on the outside of the wall and filled with water.

Stone Castles.

Stone castles began to emerge in the mid 13th century with stone walls and strong fortified keeps. These new types of castles excelled in their military training for elite fighting units in any faction. Strong swordsmen and swift cavalrymen would be trained in places such as stone castles. The pioneering stone castles shared many similarities as the Motte and Bailey. Similar to the Motte and Bailey, a ditch was cut out around the outside of the castle and was filled with water. In many cases this moat would be much bigger then the moat surrounding the Motte and Bailey. The improvement of fortifications and military training in the stone castle was the main difference between it and the Motte and Bailey. The fortifications of stone castles enabled a garrisoned smaller army to fight off much larger armies. The Bailey (also know as the courtyard) was split up into two sections, the lower and the main Bailey. In almost every castle made there was always a well, which allowed the occupants to have a constant supply of...
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