Medieval Castles developed mainly by the need of fortification from other nobles and because it was a great way to defend and capture territory. During the Middle Ages, Europe was in a state of turmoil. Nobles were conquering other nobles to gain territory and power. No government was establish, so rich and powerful nobles had to develop some manner to protect themselves and their families from dangers. So, “The significance of the medieval castle is in fact that it was not just a fortress, it was the home of a family. ” Castles were built for a defensive position with many parts that help accomplish this task.
One important aspect of a castle is location. Many choose hills or rocky steep cliffs to better defend enemies, because the hill acts as a natural boundary and is more difficult to attack. It also blocks out one side of the castle from invasion. After the location is picked, the construction begins. Many of the early castles used the motte and bailey designed. This was a simple lay out that later developed into a more sophisticated building. This design required two ditches, one larger than the other, and also, circular.
The inner ditch is than surrounded by a wooden wall, this is called the bailey. Inside the bailey would be a large mound, which is called the motte. On top of the mound laid the keep, where the lord and his family lived and also this became the last line of defense during an attack. This design allow the only way to enter the wooden wall is by crossing the ditches with a bridge.. This type of castle had its advantages and disadvantages. A advantage is that it could be build fairly easily and quickly. It also included adequate protection by its ditch and wall.
However, the wooden buildings and walls could be burned down effortlessly and it can be knocked down easily. As time went by, castles were improved. Castles started to be made out of stone instead of wood. Wooden walls were replaced by stone walls, because stone last longer and was much stronger. The stone walls also had crenels at top, which were gaps in the walls that the guards could see through. Merlons, which were gaps between the stones contain loopholes, which allow archers to shoot through for defense. The keep was also made out of stone. The motte was filled with water and dug deeper.
This was some improvements, but soon a new castle design took place. Concentric castles was introduce and it became the basic castle. This kind of castle allowed “all the defenses [to] have a common center so that the castle is equally able to withstand an attack from any direction. ” This means that the castle could defend itself from whichever side the enemy attacks from. The basic design is that instead of a rectangular castle the castle became more circular. This allow guards to watch over more territory. Concentric castles also have two walls, one higher than the other.
This allow more line of defenses and the higher wall allowed archers to shoot over the lower wall.. The gateways which lead outside the walls also started to contain potcullis, a heavy wooden iron grating with spikes at the bottom. The keep also was replaced by round towers. This design took about ten years to built, but it was a great fortress. If a lord was to give up its land the castle had to be taken over first. “Castles in themselves cannot prevent an invading army marching where it pleases, but if conquest is to be permanent the castles must eventually be taken.
In that period of time, Middle Ages, nobles fought constantly with each other over land and power, but to truly control other nobles territory the castle must be taken. If the castle is not taken, than the lord still has power over that domain. Castles was not only used to guard lords, but it was used for attacking other castles. Castles was a great way of capturing land, this quote describes in better detail “The king won the castle of Aumale and garrisoned it with his knights. From this base they attacked the land, harrying and burning.
After this they seized more castles and garrisoned them with knights. ” This shows that castles were great for offense as well as defense. Medieval castles go side by side with European history. The design and use of these master pieces shows an extreme period of dishonesty. Lords and families trapped inside castle walls to stay a live. Knights standing guard twenty four hours a day. This fortress, became an home, but also a prison to many. However, during the middle ages, “The key to power was to control as many castles as possible. “