Nobody knows when the first castle was built, but the busiest time for castle building in Europe began about 1050 and lasted until the end of the Middle Ages. So many castles were built during this period that historians call it the Age of Castles. There were over 12,000 castles in Europe. The first castles looked more like forts than the castles in fairy tales. The earlier castles were called 'motte & baileys'. The mott was a high mound of earth with a wooden tower on it. Around the tower and going down the hillside was a wooden fence called a palisade. At the bottom, the palisade spread out to a wall around a town where people lived. Later on the wood was replaced by stone. As castles advanced the towers and walls got larger and developed until they looked like the huge, great,and impressive castles everyone thinks of.
A castle usually had two walls with the gates facing opposite direction so enemies would have to cross all the way around the inside of the first wall while being shot at the whole way. The first defense a castle had would be where it was built, since the fewer places an enemy can attack you from and the harder it is for them to get to house the easier it is to defend. Around the castle walls would be towers for archers. They were also impressive symbols of the power and wealth of their owners.The first thing that distinguished a castle was the moat or ditch. Most were filled with deep water to prevent enemies from coming in, but even those without water stopped intruders because the deep, steep walls prevented the enemy from entering. The only way to cross a moat was on the drawbridge. These wooden structures could be raised or lowered depending on whether or not the people in the castles wanted you to come in. Ropes or chains were attached to the end of the bridge and then rigged to a pulley so that guards were able to quickly raise it. Upon crossing the drawbridge, you would reach the curtain, or wall. This wall surrounding the castle was strong enough to survive a battering ram, a common weapon, and could be anywhere between 8 and 20 feet thick. That's as wide as the height of a 2-story building! A gatehouse was built into the curtain. Because enemy armies often came to this area, an iron grate was added that could be put down to block entrance, in addition to heavy wooden doors. Small holes, called murder holes, were added to the ceiling above the main entrance to pour boiling liquid down on entering enemies. Towers were also a part of the curtain. They allowed people to look about and keep watch outside the castles walls. In addition, at times they kept prisoners.
*Early halls were aisled like a church, with rows of wooden posts or stone pillars supporting the timber roof.The outer section was called the Outer Ward. In it were the castles shops and houses. The Inner Ward was were the armories, knight quarters, food supplies and wells in case of a siege. Another part of the Inner Ward was the Keep, which was a separate building where the king lived. It was designed to be defended if the rest of the castle was captured.One of the most important places in a castle was the Great Hall. It was were the meals were served, the entertainment was, and feasts were held. It was also were everyone would come to talk or meet friends. Inside the castles walls were many things. There was a kitchen where the cooks made meals. In times of peace, the castle would contain the owner's family and servants. The owner might frequently be absent, in which case, the castle would be occupied by only the caretaker and a few servant. Only the most important people of the castle had beds. In the 13th century the castle kitchen was still generally of timber, with a central hearth or several fireplaces where meat could be spitted or stewed in a cauldron. There might also be a fishpond, stocked with trout and pike. An indispensible feature of the castle of a great lord was the chapel where the lord and his family heard morning mass. In rectangular hall-keeps this was often in the forebuilding, sometimes at basement level, sometimes on the second floor.
***Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne
Knights and Castles
A Stepping Stone Book
*** Micheal Borenstain
The Castle Book
David Mckay co.inc. NYC 1977
*** Catherine Daly -Weir
Grosset & Dunlap New York 1998
*** Fiona Mac Donald A Medieval Castle
Peter Bedrick books New York 1992
* www.beaconlc.org/ctech/medieval/CASTLE.HTMhttp://kotn.ntu.ac.uk/castle ***http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/n/x/nxd10/castle/castles.htm
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*Example: People who were going on trial were locked in prison.
*Definition:the formal examination before a competent tribunal of the matter in issue in a civil or criminal cause in order to determine such issue
*Word: "Motte & Baileys"
*Example: The earlier castles were called ''motte & baileys''.
*Definition: a medieval Norman castle consisting of two connecting ditched stockaded mounds with the higher mounds surmounted by thekeep and the lower one containing barracks and other buildings.