Castles- Amazing Buildings

Olivia Bradley, Writer

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Castles have been built for thousands of years, but many of them are still surviving in today’s modern society. The Castle generally was once the residence of the King or Lord of the territory in which it stands. Strongholds designed with the same functionality have been built throughout the world, including in Japan, India, and other countries. The word castle is sometimes applied to prehistoric earthworks, such as Maiden Castle in England, and is also applied  to princely mansions or country seats.

In western Europe the castle developed rapidly from the 9th century. Fortifications built in France in the 10th century often included a high mound encircled by a ditch and surmounted by the leader’s particular stronghold, as in the castles at Blois and Saumur. Later, one or more baileys or wards (grounds between encircling walls) were enclosed at the foot of the mound. During the 11th century this type of private fortress, known as the “motte, mound and bailey” castle, spread throughout western Europe.

The thickness of castle walls varied according to the natural strength of the sites they occupied, often diverging greatly at different points of the site. The defense of the enceinte, or outer wall, of the castle was generally by means of one or more lines of moats, which were crossed in front of the gateways by drawbridges. The gateway was often protected by a barbican (a walled outwork in front of the gate and the passage through the gateway was defended by portcullises, doors, and machicolations). Portcullises were generally made of oak, were plated and shod with iron, and were moved up and down in stone grooves, clearing or blocking the passage.

Development in the use of firearms was so rapid during the 15th and 16th centuries as to require a radical change in military architecture. French troops marched through Italy in 1494 and, with their guns, reduced castle after castle with rapidly. The age of the medieval castle had ended, and the era of modern military castles opened. The design of the new forts constructed all over Europe made it to where the whole building could be concentrated in one compact block. Its low walls could then be defended all around by artillery, the guns being mounted on bastions and redans.