History of Medieval Castles

 

The History of Medieval Castles
The Norman Invasion of 1066 heralded the Medieval period, or the Middle Ages. The Normans introduced the wooden Motte and Bailey castles which were immediately followed by the construction of stone castles and keeps such as the Tower of London. The Medieval Kings of England went on to build the magnificent Windsor Castle and Warwick Castle. The English King Edward I conquered Wales where he constructed massive fortifications such as Conwy Castle, Harlech Castle and Caernarvon Castle. These massive fortresses were called Concentric Castles. The history of Medieval castles moved on to the Gothic style of architecture and ended with the early Renaissance coastal forts and palaces of the Tudor dynasty ending in 1603.

 
 
 
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History of Medieval Castles

  • The Normans and the history of the Medieval Motte and Bailey Castles
  • The history of Medieval Stone Castle Keeps
  • The history of Medieval concentric castles
  • The history of the Gothic Medieval Castles
  • The importance of the Medieval Castle

History of Medieval Castles

The History of Medieval Castles
The history of Medieval castles is linked to several major factors:

  • The development of new technology and building methods
  • The development of Medieval warfare and new weapons
  • Social and cultural changes
  • Defensive and Offensive requirements
  • Symbolic or political reasons for a castle location

The History of Motte and Bailey Medieval Castles
The history of Motte and Bailey Medieval castles dates back to the Norman Invasion of England in 1066. Duke William of Normandy believed he had a good claim to the English throne. This was the period of Medieval history when knights were accustomed to going on crusades. Christianity was all important - life was dictated by a deeply religious fervour. The Norman Invasion was even sanctioned by the Pope as a Holy Crusade! History shows that Duke William was fully prepared for his invasion of England. The Normans had developed a wooden Motte and Bailey castle complex in Normandy. A huge mound of earth would be constructed conveniently leaving a ditch all around the perimeter. This huge mound, or Motte, was topped by a big wooden tower. The Tower housed the Lord of the land and his soldiers, livestock, supplies and servants were housed in a courtyard filled with wooden buildings which was called a Bailey. The Bailey was situated around the ditch of the Motte. These Motte and Bailey castles were quick to assemble and provided an excellent power base for the Lord of the land. How perfect to take this idea on the Medieval Norman Invasion of England! The Bayeux tapestry illustrates that William and the Normans took pre-built wooden castles with them on their invasion fleet! William invaded England, was victorious and became William the Conqueror. The history of the wooden medieval Motte and Bailey castles was a critical ploy which enabled the Normans to conquer England! The English had no castles! The Normans built almost 1000 wooden Motte and Bailey castles in less than 20 years! But these wooden Medieval castles were subject to being attacked and set on fire. History of the Medieval castles moved on to the wooden towers being built in stone - the Medieval Norman Stone Castle Keeps...

History of Norman Stone Medieval Square Castle Keeps
The history of the Norman Stone Castle Keeps provided a stronger power base for the Normans. These Medieval castles took longer to build than their wooden counterparts but were built to last! One of the most famous Medieval stone Keeps in the World is the White Tower which is situated in the Tower of London. The shape of these original Keeps was square. This proved to be a weakness as the corners of the Keep Towers were undermined causing the tower to crash. The corners were also pounded with a battering ram. The history of the Medieval castles moved on to the square stone Castle Keeps being changed to round castle towers...

History of Stone Medieval Round Castle Keeps
The history of the Medieval Castles moved on. Square towers were replaced with round towers. The walls were thicker and a drawbridge was introduced. Problem - the Motte (mound) on which the castles were built could not easily bear the weight of a solid stone tower. The history of the Medieval castles moved on to the introduction of Shell Castle Keeps ...

History of Norman Stone Medieval Round and Shell Castle Keeps
The history of the Medieval Castles moved on. The Medieval Shell castle keep was developed because the motte (mound) on which the castles were built could not bear the weight of a solid stone tower. The shell castle keep was created by building a stone wall which completely surrounded the upper part of the motte (mound), . These types of 'Shell' keeps were hollow and distributed the weight. The Medieval Shell castle keep walls were strengthened by the addition of wall towers and buttresses. Problem - the Castle Keep needed more defence! King Edward I intended to conquer Wales! He needed bigger castles and wanted fortified towns attached to the castles to provide a power and trading base for his English Invaders!  The history of the Medieval castles moved on to the introduction of Concentric Castles ...

History of Medieval Concentric Castles
The history of the Medieval Castles moved on. The Medieval Concentric castle was developed as a means to subjugate the Welsh. These castles were really massive! They consisted of lots of buildings, not just one Keep. The concentric castle walls surrounded the new towns that were built. The chain of Medieval Concentric castles enabled the English King to conquer Wales forever. Medieval Concentric Castles were also built to subjugate the Scots. King Edward I did not quite succeed but he was still given the title 'hammer of the Scots'. Problem - the concentric castles were really expensive to build. King Edward had effectively bankrupted England with his Concentric castles! The Plantagenet Kings who followed King Edward made good use of the castles he had built. The welsh had been conquered, the Scots were still troublesome but new castles built had a different look and purpose. And the Medieval architects and builders discovered the amazing strength and stability of using pointed arches. The history of the Medieval castles moved on to the introduction of Gothic Architecture and a new look for Medieval castles...

History of Medieval Gothic Castles
The history of the Medieval Castles moved on. The walls of Gothic castles could be thinner because the weight of the roof was supported by the arches rather than the walls. The use of the Gothic arch gave the builders tremendous flexibility. The arch could not only support greater weights but could also could span greater distances, allowing vaults to be taller and wider. Thinner walls had wider window openings which encouraged the use of stained glass and the magnificent Gothic Rose Windows. Medieval castles were becoming more comfortable! Problem! Time had moved on to the Tudor era and the English were very nervous of the possibility of another French or even Spanish Invasion. England needed more defence! The history of the Medieval castles moved on to the introduction of the Tudor Coastal Forts...

History of Medieval Tudor Coastal Forts
The history of the Medieval Castles moved on. Coastal Forts were built. England was safe from invasion! The next castles were required to be more luxurious - comfort was the key as opposed to defence. Palaces were built and the long history of Medieval Castles came to an end!

History of Medieval Castles

Medieval Castle History

  • What different rooms were there in the Medieval castles?
  • What entertainment was there for people who lived in the Medieval castles?
  • The interiors of Medieval castles?
  • What was the furniture like in Medieval Castles?
  • The History of Medieval Castles
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