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Castles Essay

By Guneri Tugcu In 1494 the armies of the French king, Charles VIII, invaded
Italy to capture the kingdom of Naples. They swept through the country and
bombarded and destroyed many castles. This invasion signaled the end of the
castle as a stronghold of defense. For centuries it had been the dominant
fortification in Western Europe for the defense of kings, nobility, and
townspeople. Ancient cities were often walled to keep out invaders, and within
the walls there was usually a citadel, a strongly built fortification occupying
the highest or militarily most advantageous position. A castle is much like such
a walled city and its citadel contracted into a smaller space. Castles were
basically fortified locations. The word itself comes from the Latin castellum.

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Up to the 6th century fortifications were primarily communities in which most of
the population lived. But in the middle of the 6th century, the armies of the
Byzantine Empire began to build strong forts as defensive positions. For the
next few centuries this castle building was confined to the Byzantine Empire,
but later hordes of Islamic warriors who swept out of Arabia to conquer the
Middle East, North Africa, and much Byzantine territory also started building
such forts. Western Europe, in the depths of the Dark Ages from the 5th through
the 9th century, had no such works. But late in the 9th century, as local lords
and kings began to consolidate power, castle building began probably in France.

Once begun, castle building spread rapidly to other areas. But it was not until
the 12th and 13th centuries, after the Crusaders returned from their wars
against Islam in Palestine, that castles as imposing as those of the Byzantine
or Islamic empires were constructed in Europe. Many of the stone castles of the
late Middle Ages still stand. Some are tourist attractions, in various states of
repair, along the Rhine River from Mainz to Cologne in Germany, dotted about the
French countryside, or perched on hilltops in Spain. The original French castles
had been built on open plains. Later ones, however, were situated on rocky
crags, at river forks, or in some position where advancing enemies would find
approach extremely difficult, if not impossible. The fortifications became more
elaborate with time, with considerable attention paid to making the living
quarters more comfortable. A typical castle was usually guarded on the outskirts
by a surrounding heavy wooden fence of sharp-pointed stakes called a barbican .

It was intended to prevent surprise attacks by delaying the advance of
assailants and giving those within the castle compound time to prepare to resist
and attack. Inside the barbican stretched the lists, or wards: strips of land
that encircled the castle. The lists served as a road in time of peace and as a
trap in war; once within the barbican the enemy was in the range of arrows shot
from the castle walls. In peacetime the lists also served as an exercise ground
for horses and occasionally as tournament grounds. Between the lists and the
towering outer walls of the castle itself was the moat, usually filled with
water. Across it stretched a drawbridge, which was raised every night. At the
castle end of the drawbridge was the portcullis, a large sliding door made of
wooden or iron grillwork hung over the entryway. It moved up and down in grooves
and was raised every day and lowered at night. In times of danger it blocked the
way to the heavy oak gates that served as doors to the castle compound. These
gates were so large that they were rarely opened except on ceremonial occasions.

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A smaller door was built into one of them to provide easy entrance and exit for
those who lived in the castle . A person known as the chief porter was charged
with the responsibility of making sure that only friends passed through. The
outer walls of most castles were massively thick, sometimes as much as 15 feet.

At intervals were high towers, each a small fort in itself with provisions to
withstand a long siege. When an attack was expected, wooden balconies were hung
over the outer edges of the wall. During an attack, large stones were thrown or
boiling oil poured from the balconies onto anyone trying to climb the wall. The
wall and the towers had hundreds of narrow openings through which defenders
could shoot arrows and other missiles. Inside the walls was the bailey, or
courtyard. At intervals around the bailey were the stables, a carpentry shop,
the shop of

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Castles Essay
Artscolumbia
Artscolumbia
By Guneri Tugcu In 1494 the armies of the French king, Charles VIII, invaded
Italy to capture the kingdom of Naples. They swept through the country and
bombarded and destroyed many castles. This invasion signaled the end of the
castle as a stronghold of defense. For centuries it had been the dominant
fortification in Western Europe for the defense of kings, nobility, and
townspeople. Ancient cities were often walled to keep out invaders, and within
the walls there was usuall
2018-12-27 03:07:59
Castles Essay
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