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 The Castellation of Europe

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The Great LEO

The Great LEO

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The Castellation of Europe Empty
PostSubject: The Castellation of Europe   The Castellation of Europe EmptyThu Apr 15, 2010 5:13 am

[font:4e7d="]Beginning in the ninth century, local
strongmen began dotting the landscape of Europe with castles. These were first
of simple design and construction but evolved into stone strongholds. Many of
these belonged to kings or the vassals of kings, but the majority appear to
have been built out of self-interest by local nobles. They were justified by
barbarian threats, but the nobles employed them to establish local control.
This was possible because Europe had no strategic defenses and no strong
central authorities at the time.[/font]





[font:4e7d="]An example of the castellation of Europe
was the Poitou region of France. There were three castles there before Viking
raids began in the ninth century and 39 by the eleventh century. This pattern
was repeated across Europe. Castles could be built quickly. Until the
appearance of cannon, castle defenders had a great advantage over any
attackers.[/font]





[font:4e7d="]Widespread castle construction and the
maintenance of large bodies of soldiers for their defense resulted not in peace
and mutual defense against invaders but incessant warfare.[/font]





[font:4e7d="]<i>The Evolution of the
Castle<i>[/font]





[font:4e7d="]The earliest castles were of a type
called the "motte and bailey." The motte was a broad, leveled mound
of earth, typically 50 feet high. A large wooden tower was built atop the motte.
Below the motte was an enclosure within a wooden palisade called the bailey.
Here were placed storehouses, stock pens, and huts. Both the motte and bailey
were small islands surrounded by a water-filled ditch, excavated to construct
the motte. A bridge and steep narrow path connected the two parts of the
castle. At a time of danger, the defensive forces withdrew into the tower if
the bailey could not be held.[/font]





[font:4e7d="]In the eleventh century, stone began
replacing earth and wood in castle construction. The wooden tower atop the
motte was replaced with a round stone fortification called a shell keep. This
grew into a tower or keep. A curtain wall of stone enclosed the old bailey and
the keep, and was in turn surrounded by a ditch or moat. A single fortified
gate protected by a drawbridge and portcullis led into the castle. The
best-known example of a basic keep-type castle is the original Tower of London,
built by William the Conqueror. This large square structure stood by itself at
first and was whitewashed to draw attention. Later kings improved this castle
with the curtain walls and other improvements seen today.[/font]





[font:4e7d="]Castle design advanced when crusaders to
the East returned with news of the fortifications and siege engines they had
encountered in their travels. Concentric castles were designed that enclosed a
central keep within two or more rings of walls. Walls were strengthened first
with square towers and then with round towers. The angled corners on square
towers were easy to shear off, making the whole tower very vulnerable. Round
towers were more resistant to attack. Embattlements were added at the top of
walls and towers to make fighting from above more effective.[/font]





[font:4e7d="]Cannon appeared in Europe in the early
fourteenth century, but effective siege artillery was not used until the middle
fifteenth century. Castle designs changed in response to the power of cannon.
High perpendicular walls were replaced by low sloping walls. By the middle of
the fifteenth century castles were in decline because of the rising power of kings.
In the eleventh century William the Conqueror claimed ownership of all castles
in England to get them out of the hands of nobles. By the thirteenth century it
was necessary to ask a king's permission to build a castle or strengthen an
existing one. Kings worked to demilitarize castles to minimize their usefulness
to potential rebels.[/font]





[font:4e7d="]Castles were abandoned as living quarters
for nobles and fell into ruin. Fortified towns were increasingly important
because the wealth of the land had shifted to the cities.[/font]





[font:4e7d="]<i>Castle Construction<i>[/font]





[font:4e7d="]Construction of a castle might take less
than a year or up to 20 years to complete. For several centuries
castle-building was an important industry. Renowned master masons were in high
demand and gangs of castle builders moved from site to site. Towns wishing to
build cathedrals had to compete for skilled workers with lords wishing to build
castles.[/font]





[font:4e7d="]Construction of Beaumaris Castle in North
Wales began in 1295. The design was symmetrical, with no weak points. At the
height of its building, it required the effort of 30 blacksmiths, 400 masons,
and 2000 laborers. Laborers did most of the excavation, carrying, lifting,
well-digging, and stone-breaking. This particular castle was never completed.
The massive castle at Conway, built in Wales by Edward I of England, took 40
months to build.[/font]





[font:4e7d="]Castle walls were masonry shells filled
with stone rubble and flint mixed with mortar. Wall width ranged from 6 to 16
feet.[/font]
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