The Functions Of A Medieval Castle

1639 words - 7 pages

The building of a castle was a monumental task; it required many laborers and took many years to complete. When a lord had decided to build a castle, he would hire a Master Builder to design and build the castle. He would choose a design for the castle. The castle was meant to be the fortress of the lord so it had to be strong. Castles had many different types of defense to protect the Lord and his family. The many types of defense that castles had meant that those attacking had to develop ever more strategic and powerful ways to attack the castle.
When the King or Lord had decided to build his castle, he would hire a Master Builder to design the castle and to hire the laborers for the building of the castle. Construction of the new stone castles took more than five years and more than one thousand workers (Jarrow 19). First castle builders choose a location with a military advantage (Jarrow 11). They used many different natural land formations to their advantage. Many of the castles in Spain, Italy, Germany, France, and Wales were built on steep hills and rocky out cropping that were nearly impossible to climb (Jarrow 19). Building the castles on the large hills gave the defenders a clear view of advancing attackers as Jarrow describes in his book:
Some castles where built in swamps or marshes or surrounded by water. The wet soft ground meant that attackers could not use heavy artillery pieces to attack the castle. Castles that were built on islands could only be attacked if the attackers had boats to take them to the islands (12).
This means that castles built in wet areas were often very well protected even if they could not see advancing attackers at a long distance.
Second, the Master builder and Lord had to choose a design. Castle design was dependent on when and where they were built (Jarrow 13). Early castles were built using wood. The wooden castles could be finished in only a few weeks. The wooden castle were a Motte and Bailey design these had the keep built on a large steep mound (motte) with a moat. The Bailey was positioned next to the moat and was a sort of courtyard. It was also protected by wooden Palisades (walls) and a moat (14-15). The wood would eventually rot and have to be replaced. The wood could also be burned during attacks (16). Later they began to build castles using stone. These stone castles took many years to complete (13). In the beginning only the keeps were changed to stone and kept the same square layout (18). Eventually it was found that the square corners were a weak spot in the design and changed to a rounded profile (Jarrow 29). Later the wooden walls were changed to stone. The new curtain walls were much larger. They were often between fifteen and thirty-five feet tall, and six to nine feet thick. Though some were built much larger (19).
Third, the castle was also the home of lords, nobles, and kings. This is why castles had to be built strong enough to with stand days of constant...

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