Castles

Castles remind us of a time that was full of adventure
and romance. Castles remind us of a time in history in which
there was a lack of government and order. Although there
was not mass confusion and anarchy, there was less order.
Castles were the basis of feudalism. Castles can be seen as a
manifestation of feudal society. Feudalism started with the
rise of castles and ended with their end. The castle set the
tone as the only homestead that nobility would live in during
this time. Castles were influenced by and influenced many
medieval cathedrals in Europe. Although castles served
many purposes, their primary purpose was military. At that
time, people were not protected by merely shutting and
locking a regular wooden door. They needed the protection
of castles and their knights. The lords and constables of
castles needed serfs to work the land to make revenue in
order to pay rent to the more important nobles. Given the
following evidence, it is relatively obvious why castles and
castle building played an instrumental role in the development
of Western Europe. Castles are unique to a time in history
known as medieval times. The word medieval in our times is
an insult to anything as is the word feudal. Through the haze
and ruins, one can imagine dungeons, chivalrous knights, and
mighty Lords who ruled the land and protected the common
peasant from barbarians and other invaders. The rise of
castles marked the rise of feudalism. This was all started by
the crusades. The majority of the knights and nobles went to
liberate the holy land from the Muslims. The Crusades
influenced castle builders back in Europe. Ideas were
gathered from Muslim and Byzantine fortifications. Because
of the lack of protection in Europe, a castle\'s strength
needed to be increased because of the ever-present threat of
a Muslim invasion. The end of Feudalism also marked the
end of the middle ages and hence the end of the great castle
era. Castles integrated the combination of residence and
fortress. The first castle dates back to King Sargon II of
Khorsabad in ancient Egypt. He erected a grand palace for
himself to protect him and his subjects. The first recorded
references to castles was the Edict of Pistes by Charles the
Bald, king of the West Franks. "We will and expressly
command that whoever at this time has made castles and
fortifications and enclosures without our out permission shall
have them demolished by the First of August" (Brown
Architecture of Castles 13). Other castle laws were the
Norman Institutions handed down by William the Conqueror
after he took over England. One law says that no one shall
raise castles in Normandy without the Duke\'s license. An
ideal castle site was one that had natural obstacles for
defense such as steep hillsides and water. Castles that were
built on rocks or islands were especially effective. An
example of this is Bodiam in Sussex which was the home of
Sir Edward Dalyngrigge in 1385. A moat offered good
protection, but building on a lake or river offered better
protection. The site should not be too remote. It should have
water and building material readily available nearby. A site
should have a good climate, good pasture, and ample fertile
land. If a castle had all these things, it would increase its
chances of surviving a siege. A large majority of early castles
followed the motte and bailey design. These designs utilized
earth and timber. A motte and bailey design is a design
where the keep is on a hill or motte behind the bailey which
is the open area of the castle similar to a town square. A
bridge usually connected the motte to the bailey. The motte
was a great mound of earth or rock. Sometimes it was
artificial, but the majority of the time it was authentic. At its
base there was a deep trench that resembled a moat. This
was used as defense. Surrounding the motte was a wall of
timber. The motte also contained the keep which is where
the lord of the manor and his family lived. The keep was the
innermost part of the castle. It was the last defense against
attack. The keep has also been referred to as the donjon.
This is where the French got the word dungeon meaning the
jail or place to hold prisoners. Surrounding the entire
premises was a wooden fence that was at least ten feet in
height. These wooden stakes were then implanted in the
ground for support. The fence sometimes stood upon posts
to allow men to get through. During a siege, the perimeter
would be covered with wet animal skins to curb