Monthly Archives: October 2013

Three Welsh castles

Caerphilly Castle has been somewhat restored and its moat re-flooded. Not all, but some of its wooden parts have been rebuilt. Wooden bridge and wooden hoarding (rooftop for archers) can be seen in this video. Caerphilly is different from the … Continue reading

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Meditation On Harlech Castle

We should not love a castle, but we do; we place ourselves within its keep, not where we’d really stand. For thousands, not a few, the parapets were meant to strip you bare. Sweet the rhyme and full of grace, … Continue reading

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Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle, on the western seacoast of Wales, is the Platonic ideal of a castle. It’s that castle you think of when you hear the word. It’s the castle that toy companies copy, the castle 11 year olds try to … Continue reading

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Rhuddlan Castle

Rhuddlan was the home of the Prince of Wales at one time, that is, the independent ruler of Wales, not the titled son of the British king. Its location guards an approach to the mountain heartland of Wales. There have … Continue reading

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Mont Orgueil: defending the Channel

It isn’t hard to see why they sited the castle on this rock. The site is a textbook case of what the Crusaders had learned about engineering. The castle is almost impossible to approach from any angle with land-based siege … Continue reading

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Chateau de Tancarville

The castle was built at the estuary of the Seine River, where it narrows into a river rather than a bay inlet. One side fronted the river, elevated by a cliff. The defenses were focused on the other sides. This … Continue reading

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European 13th century wars and castles

The main “front” in the Middle Ages was always considered to be the Holy Land, but by the mid 1200s, the Christian kingdoms there were a lost cause. By 1300, they had no more holdings in the Middle East, apart … Continue reading

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Crusader renovations

The First Crusade set up Christian kingdoms: the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Principalities (i.e. ruled by a Prince) of Cilicia and Antioch, and the Counties (i.e. ruled by a Count) of Edessa and Tripoli. The most famous Crusader castle ruin … Continue reading

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Strategic siting

The first rule for defending against siege tactics was to choose a sophisticated building site. Miners dug tunnels under castle walls and then lit fires in the tunnels so that the intense heat weakened the wall’s foundation. If the wall … Continue reading

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“Modern” warfare

The century of the First Crusade was, to its time, like the first World War to ours. To put it another way, Northern Europe was a “developing nation” while the Near East was modern. The history of medieval Europe is … Continue reading

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