Monthly Archives: October 2013

Hall life

When you look at these early 12th century square (or rounded-off) keeps with modern eyes, you find it hard to believe that it could serve as a family’s home. Most of the space was used for storage, since the keep … Continue reading

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Early post-Crusade towers

The Crusades sponsored a constant flow of people between northern Europe and the Middle East. By 1150, the keeps and towers built in Europe were influenced by what knights and masons had seen in the Levant. Byzantine towers, like the … Continue reading

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The Black Tower of Constantinople

When the Norman, French and German Crusaders began to explore the existing fortifications in the Middle East, they found things they had never seen before. The Byzantine Empire had built forts that the Saracens now held. Although they were not … Continue reading

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Castles in the Holy Land

Although Normans began to build castles in order to hold onto their English land–and then later to fight off their French cousins from seizing their Norman land–castles didn’t really come into their own until the Normans became the backbone of … Continue reading

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The White Tower of London

The first exemplar of Norman stone fortifications, the White Tower of London was begun soon after the Conquest. Here you can watch a movie that shows a guided tour about the White Tower. Much of the fortress known as the … Continue reading

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Life in an early tower castle

Early castles were designed to withstand short sieges, with the understanding that help from a more powerful overlord would be on its way. They were not designed to handle the type of physical assaults that later castles suffered. An attack … Continue reading

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Motte and Bailey

The first Norman castles were forts in which the invading Norman lords took up personal residence. The earliest design, made of earth and timber, set the pattern that all castles followed after: the motte and bailey. The motte was the … Continue reading

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History of castles: 1066

Walled fortresses are nothing new in history. The key distinction between a town and a city in ancient times was whether it had a fortified wall around it. Many cities were walled, with protected gates and fighting posts at stations … Continue reading

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The demographic bust centuries

I want to make an argument that may not be provable. I’m aware of what evidence there is, and isn’t, for it; I’m aware of how much work it would entail to actually track this down and provide solid evidence … Continue reading

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Post-plague modern values

Although I’ve had difficulty keeping up the momentum of this long series on the medieval plague’s effect, I’m going to wrap it up with a short series on why I believe that we have lived in the plague’s world for … Continue reading

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