European Castles: Similarities And Differences

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Today, people think of castles as luxurious and romantic places, when in reality their main purpose was for protection and military use. There were many similarities and differences in European castles. Differences may include the location of castles, defense mechanisms, and styles. Though castles differed from each other, most shared some common traits. Castles were typically built on hills, mountains, or islands so they have a good vantage points to see if the enemy was approaching (Newman). Another place they were built was near a fresh water source, so water was available inside the castle. This was important to withstanding a siege, because they were stuck inside and needed water to survive. Water near the castle also meant that they…show more content…
The Motte and Bailey, was made of wood rather than stone. The downside of this wooden design was the castle was flammable. To make it seem that the castle was made of wood, the wood was covered up by a white or grey plaster. Because it looked like a stone castle it seemed more intimidating to the enemy, because it was harder to invade than a wooden castle. The motte was the safest part of the castle, because it was surrounded by one or more sets of walls and was located in the innermost bailey. The lord and his family, and sometimes even the knights, sleeping living quarters were in this section. The size of the motte varied between 50 to 120 feet high and 50 to 300 feet in diameter. Walls were one of the main defenses of. The number of walls depended on the number of baileys, for every bailey there was a wall surrounding it. Often a ditch surrounding the outskirts of the castle was filled with water or wooden stakes, delayed the enemies. The enemies would either have to find a way to avoid the wooden stakes or swim across. These ditches were early forms of moats. Because they had a moat, often a draw bridge that could be put down during peace was included so that everyone in the castle could have easy access in and out. During a siege the drawbridge would be removed or put up. Eventually these castles were changed to stone, because many were being burned down. When the…show more content…
Concentric castles were a style of castles from the Welsh, since the castle so big they were often times they are referred to as “a castle within a castle” (Alchin). Concentric castles contained multiple walls and gatehouses, and also consisted of many buildings within the walls. The first concentric castle was built in 1278 by King Edward I of England and architect Master James of Saint James. At this time in the Middle Ages better tools were invented allowing more detail and larger castles than before. One example of a better tool is a chisel, which craftsmen used to carve out large and strong arches. Some evidence of piped water can be found in these castles. This meant that bathrooms with working plumbing, and kitchens with working sinks and drains may have been in concentric castles. The interior may look to be more of what people expect when the topic of castles comes up. They were more luxurious then previous styles of castles. Larger windows allowed light into the usually dark castles. Some of the floors were covered in carpets, but most were still covered in straw. The carpets were made with wool from the Holy Land. Artists were hired to paint the inside walls making the castle seem brighter and it added color to the stone walls. Some new design tactics in concentric castles were round keeps, which eliminated weak spots so it was harder to break into. An inner high wall was introduced to further protect the keep.

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