Category Archives: Castles

The Orders of Knights, 1209 forward

In 1190, some German merchants set up a field hospital at the siege of Acre. The hospital soon became an Augustinian monastery, then a military order like the Templars. It was called the Order of the Brothers of the German … Continue reading

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Medieval traveling lives: masons

This fits into the Medieval Cycle of Life series, after the traveling minstrel. Today’s “Masonic Lodge” has no direct connection to the actual Freemasons of the Middle Ages, but some of the traits and tropes we associate with them, like … Continue reading

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Early medieval ladies

This post is a follow-up to an earlier one about the lives of castle ladies. Prior to 1100, medieval ladies didn’t have castles, they had halls. There was one key difference that completely shaped the lady’s life. That is, instead … Continue reading

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Locking things up

Very few people needed really serious security in the Middle Ages; those who did lived in castles or kept their valuables in guarded places. Most people needed moderate deterrence to guard things of moderate value. For these situations, the common … Continue reading

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The Sieges of Antioch, 1098

Antioch had been the regional capital of Roman Palestine. It was a walled city, with the Orontes River dividing it into two parts connected by bridges. Each bridge had a tower and could be defended; there was also a separate … Continue reading

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Christmas in a castle

As you remember from the castle series, there were no true castles in Charlemagne’s time. As soon as you’re in a stone castle with a keep, maybe a round tower, and a gatehouse, the year is at least 1100 and … Continue reading

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15th century castles and chateaux

If you do an internet search of “castles for sale,” you’ll always find an array of beautiful stone houses, mostly in France. Most of them are “chateaux,” that is, the word “castle” updated into modern French. As the word changed, … Continue reading

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Gunpowder and castles

I’ve made some references to the changing nature of warfare in the 14th and 15th centuries, which it’s worth spelling out in more detail. Gunpowder changed the nature of war by changing siege strategy; whole cities could be besieged and … Continue reading

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15th century castle kitchens

By the 1400s, castles were more and more residential and less and less military. When the government needed a real fortress, the king now built a compact stone fort with very thick walls and artillery stations. The castle residences could … Continue reading

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Bodiam Castle

Near the end of the Hundred Years War, England was losing badly. We know from the modern map that England lost all of its continental possessions except for the Channel Islands. Calais was part of the British Empire until 1558, … Continue reading

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