Sunday, March 28, 2010

Medieval Castles


What is a castle?

A castle is a fortified home where a king or nobleman lived with his family and his army of soldiers, and it usually had a whole community. The medieval castles were mostly built from 1000 AD – 1500 AD.

Why were castles built?

During the medieval time there was no central authority so the nobles built castles as a command center for them to use to control their territory.

Castle Community

There were a lot of people in the castle community. Here is a list of people who may have lived in the castle.

· The noblemen and their families lived inside a round tower in the castle called a keep.

· Knights – men who fight for the lord.

· Squires – knight’s helpers.

· Men at Arms – foot soldiers.

· Skilled workers

· Servants

· Scullions - kitchen helpers.

· Servers

· Cooks

· Garrison- the castle guards.

Designing a Castle

Before building a castle, you need to choose a good location and create a plan.

A good location for a castle is one with natural defenses like rivers and boulders that help when trying to survive attacks.

A castle plan should include super big food rooms and wells to help survive sieges. It should also include defense designs.

Building a Castle

To build a castle, you need workers such as: quarrymen, carpenters, blacksmiths, and diggers. The carpenters start with making a wooden fence around the castle site. This fence is called a palisade. The diggers then dig a well in the most protected interior of the castle. Next, the diggers dig a moat around the exterior of the castle. During all this, the quarrymen are digging up sand stone. While all this happens people are farming the land, and paying a tax to the castle lord. That tax money is used to pay to build the castle. Workers go on to build the walls and gate house. Later, when the exterior protection is complete, they finish the interior living spaces.

Sieges and Warfare

Sometimes when people wanted to take over more territory they would attack the current owner’s base of command which in medieval times was usually a castle. They would surround a castle in a way that made it impossible for the people in the castle to get new supplies or help. This was called a siege.

A siege could go on for a long period of time as the attackers tried to either destroy the inhabitant’s walls or starve them out.

Siege attacks might include:

· Digging a tunnel under the castle walls, temporarily putting up supports, and then burning the supports to make the castle walls fall.

· Building movable towers that could be used to get over the walls.

· Using catapults to throw heavy stones, burning material, and other dangerous items over the wall.

Defense Designs

When castles were under siege, the people did not just sit there. They used different weapons and strategies to try to get the attackers to leave. In addition to stone walls, here are a few other castle defense mechanisms:

clip_image001Crenellations- holes for archers to shoot from.

clip_image002Machicolations-a hole in front of the gate to pour bad stuff on people like hot oil.

Moat – a ditch filled with water that surrounds the castle.

clip_image003Portcullis - iron grills that cover the door.

Books about Castles:

Castle (0046442329200): David Macaulay: Books

ISBN: 0395329205
ISBN-13: 9780395329207

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