Castles In The Late Ten And Thirteenth Centuries

2097 words - 9 pages

Derived from the Latin word “castellum,” the word “castle” means fortified area. In early Europe, castles were located in Britain in 1066, some time after William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings . Each castle followed more or less the same kind of setup: firstly, a vast tower was located on top of a hill whenever possible to have the ability to view its surroundings clearly. This tower served as living quarters for the lord, his servants, and his family. Surrounding the tower was an outer wall with turrets that enclosed the main building. The outer wall was surrounded by kitchens, houses, buttery, stores, brew-houses, blacksmiths, barns, and frequently barracks for the guards of the castle. This left a gap which was often used as a courtyard, between the outer wall and the castle itself. Surrounding the outer wall was a moat, which was a large ditch filled with water to act as a barrier against intruding enemies. To enter, one had to use a drawbridge, which was lowered over the moat and built between two turret-like towers attached to the outer wall. Between the towers was a gate trimmed with spikes at the bottom used to not only shut the gate but also to harm any enemy that trespassed under it. Even though most castles had the same basic layout, they had different styles due to the involvement of different contractors. Castles from the late thirteenth century were superior from previous ones in late tenth century in terms of structure, their purpose and who used them.
Castles from the late tenth century were not as developed as those in the late thirteenth century in terms of architectural structure. Castles were built in strategic locations, such as high areas of land, in order to view incoming enemies. In some cases, castles were built on the edges of cliffs to view the surrounding areas easier. Deforestation, a method defenders used by chopping down trees around the castle’s perimeter, enabled guards to spot enemies hiding in the forest. Since most castles took years to construct, temporary buildings were used to accommodate the king, queen, or the lord and his respective family. In addition, fortresses called “timbers” were used. Timber castles were very different from ordinary ones, although most did contain a moat surrounding the enclosure. Wood was used in the construction, although it was not a good defensive mechanism, as it could easily be burnt to the ground. In the Bayeux Tapestry, which was commissioned be Bishop Odo in 1082, there is a section that depicts soldiers lighting their enemies’ wooden castle on fire with torches and them watching it burn to the ground. The Bayeux Tapestry was based on the Battle of Hastings and shows the destruction of a timber castle. For this reason, Timber castles fell out of use in the late twelfth to early thirteenth centuries. Instead, castles began to evolve by frequently being built out of a more steady and trustworthy material: stone. Stone castles ensured sturdier and safer...

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