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Knights Castles



                
   


Concentric Castle

Facts and interesting information about the History, Development and Architecture of Medieval Castles

The Medieval Concentric Castle
The Medieval Times encompass one of the most violent periods in the History of England are are epitomised by the castles of the Middle Ages. The development, architecture and building of these great fortresses changed as time progressed, influenced by important historical events such as the crusades and the technology of siege warfare. This page provides interesting and important information about the Concentric Castle.   

What is a Concentric Castle?
What exactly is a concentric castle? A Concentric Castle can be described as "a Castle within a Castle". A Concentric castle consists of lots of buildings, walls, towers and gatehouses in one massive castle complex which were built within in successive lines of defence.

When was the first Concentric Castle built?
Who built the first concentric castle? King Edward I (1239–1307). Who designed the first Concentric castle and who was the architect of the first concentric castle? King Edward I ( Longshanks ) employed the services of the best architect and builder of the Medieval period who was called
Master James of St George. When was the first concentric castle built?  King Edward I commissioned the building of four major concentric castles in Wales - Flint, Rhuddlan, Builth and Aberystwyth in 1278.

Information on the exterior of the Concentric Castle
The following details provide a description and information on the exterior of the concentric castle:

  • The concentric castle was dominated by a strong defence system
  • The Concentric castle always had access to fresh water within the castle
  • The Keep or Main Tower was built in a round or polygonal shape
  • Shaped stone was introduced and cut with precision enhancing the design and style of the concentric castle
  • Solid walls, built at different heights and levels, and pillars were introduced to hold greater weights. 
  • Several Gatehouses were added to the concentric castle
  • Height, pointed arches and wider window openings were a feature of the concentric castle
  • Moats surrounded the whole of the Concentric Castle
  • The concentric castle featured strong defence systems. These included the Drawbridge, the Barbican, the Portcullis, Gatehouse, Moat, Crenellations, Murder Holes and Death traps

Information on the Interior of the Concentric Castle
The following details provide a description and information on the interior of the Medieval concentric castle:

  • The builders of Medieval Concentric castles used improved tools such as the chisel, as opposed to axes, which led to more decorative designs and tracery skills
  • Plumbing improved and lead was often used for the gutters and there is also evidence of piped water in the Concentric castles of the Middle Ages
  • Wainscoting was introduced. Wainscoting  involved the erection of wooden panels which were used to line the walls of a room
  • Artists were employed to decorate the interiors of concentric castles - wall paintings covered the walls above the wainscoting
  • Concentric Castle interiors were highly colourful - gold paint was a luxurious item which was used in vast quantities
  • Fireplaces and Chimneys were introduced
  • Additional staircases were introduced to concentric castles
  • Windows were much bigger, due to the introduction of the pointed arch which could support greater weight, allowing the walls of concentric castles to be thinner with wider window openings
  • Panes of glass were added to concentric castle windows. The castle windows were often painted with armorial designs, which replaced the horn or wooden shutters of the Norman castles
  • Kitchens were integrated into concentric castles - they included cooking ovens for baking and huge fireplaces for smoking and roasting food
  • Concentric castles had their own fresh water supply. The kitchens were equipped with a sink and drainage
  • Cleanliness improved in Medieval Times and lavers ( stone basins used for washing ) were provided at the entrance of the dining hall
  • Bathing was usually conducted in wooden barrels but simply designed bathrooms were added to concentric Castles for the English Lords and royalty
  • There were many lavatories, called garderobes or privies included in the building of concentric Castles. The Privies were positioned as far away from the living chambers as practical and often had double doors added to reduce the smell. Shoots were provided for the discharge which often led to the castle moat
  • A limited number of Carpets and mats were introduced in the concentric castles which had beeen imported from the Holy Lands, but floors strewed with straw or rushes were still favoured.
 
     
 

Parts of Medieval Castles

Facts and interesting information about the History, Development and Architecture of Medieval Castles

Parts of Medieval Castles
History of England are are epitomised by the castles of the Middle Ages. The development, architecture and building of these great fortresses changed as time progressed, influenced by important historical events such as the crusades and the technology of siege warfare. This page provides interesting and important information about Parts of Medieval Castles. This section provides information about various parts of a castle with a short description of the purpose and function of various parts of castles including the Moat, Dungeon, Portcullis, Barbican, Gatehouse, Crenellations and Drawbridge
  

Parts of Medieval Castles
The following table describes the different parts of the Medieval Castles during the Medieval times and era. It also provides a description of what they were used for:

Parts of Castles

What the parts of the Castles were used for

Castle Moats

Facts: Castle Moats were used for defensive purposes. To prevent undermining of a castle. Moats were either filled with water or wooden stakes to create a difficult barrier for men and horses

Castle Dungeons

Facts: Castle Dungeons were intended for holding prisoners and in extreme cases for torturing them

Castle Murder Holes

Facts: Castle Murder Holes were used for defensive purposes. Murder Holes were holes in the ceilings of castle gateways, barbicans or passageways through which heavy missiles or dangerous substances could be thrown on enemy soldiers. The Missiles dropped from 'Murder Holes' included heavy stones, hot sand, molten lead, boiling water and boiling tar or pitch.

Castle Drawbridge

Facts: A Castle Drawbridge was used for defensive purposes. The drawbridge consisted of a wooden platform with one hinged side fixed to the castle wall and the other side raised by rope or chains. The purpose of a drawbridge was to allow, hinder or prevent easy entry into a Medieval castle

Castle Portcullis

Facts: The Castle Portcullis was used for defensive purposes. The Portcullis was a heavy grilled door that was suspended from the Barbican or gatehouse ceiling. The portcullis was meant to be lowered quickly in times of attack. Ropes could be rapidly slashed or a quick release catch was enabled. The portcullis would come crashing down blocking the entrance to the castle, the spikes impaling the enemy

Castle Crenellations

Facts: Castle Crenellations were used for defence and attack purposes. A crenellation was a rampart built around the top of a castle with regular gaps for firing arrows. The Crenellations provided a fighting platform and good vantage point from which soldiers launched arrows and also provided defenders with a solid defence to hide behind. Also called a battlement

Castle Gatehouse

Facts: The Castle Gatehouse were used for defence and attack purposes. A Castle Gatehouse was a fortified structure built over the gateway to a castle. The Gatehouse, or main entrance, would be heavily barred. The Castle Gatehouse might be defended by the barbican

Castle Machicolations

Facts: Castle Machicolations were used for defensive purposes. Machicolations were projecting parapets or platforms situated at the top of a castle wall, some spanned the whole of the battlements whilst other Machicolations protruded from the walls like balconies. The purpose of the full Machicolations was to provide clear access across the top of the battlements enabling the soldiers to quickly follow the attack point of the enemy. The balcony style Machicolations had holes in the floor for dropping various missiles on the enemy which were called Murder Holes or Meutrieres

Castle Battlement

Facts: Castle Battlements were used were used for defence and attack purposes. A Battlement was a rampart built around the top of a castle with regular gaps for firing arrows. The parts of the Battlement were called the Crenels which was the 2-3 feet wide gap and the Merlons which was the solid portion between two crenels. Alos called crenellations

Castle Loopholes

Facts: Castle Loopholes were used for defence and attack purposes. Castle Loopholes were narrow vertical windows from which castle defenders launched arrows from a sheltered position. Castle Loopholes were accessed from wide inside areas narrowing to long, narrow apertures. Castle Loopholes were different designs and sizes which accommodated the shape of different weapons such as the bow which was fired vertically or the crossbow which was fired horizontally

Castle Barbican

Facts: The Castle Barbican was used for defence and attack purposes. The Barbican was an exterior castle defence situated at the entrance of the castle which confined the enemy in a narrow passage . The Barbican was an exterior walled passage with multiple gates leading to the main entrance ( the Gatehouse) - the Barbican passage contained Murder Holes in the ceiling and arrow slits on either side of the barbican passage. Also called a Death Trap

Curtain Wall

Facts: The Castle Curtain Wall were used for defensive purposes. Curtain was an outer wall which surrounded the bailey ( Motte and Bailey castles ) or Medieval castle buildings. The curtain was was built for defence and varied in size from 6 - 20 feet thick, up to 45 feet high and up to 1,500 feet long

Castle Bastion

Facts: A Castle Bastion were used for defence and attack purposes. A Castle Bastion was a small tower, which was situated at the corners, the middle or at the end of the curtain wall. The purpose of a Castle Bastion was to cover 'dead ground' or the 'blind spots' in the castle curtain wall.

Castle Keep

Facts: A Castle Keep were used for defensive purposes for castle inhabitants. A Castle Keep was the tower which was built as the most protected part of the castle. The first keeps were square shaped and later keeps were designed in circular shapes to reduce the risk of attacks to vulnerable corners

Parts of Castles

What the parts of the Castles were used for

Parts of Medieval Castles
The Medieval Times website provides interesting facts, history and information about these great fortresses and castles of Medieval times including this section on Parts of Medieval Castles. The Medieval Times Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts about the fascinating subject of the lives of the people who lived during the historical period of the Middle Ages. The content of this article on Medieval life and times provides free educational details, facts and information for reference and research for schools, colleges and homework for history courses and history coursework.


  
          
 

Medieval Castle Life

Facts and interesting information about the History, Development and Architecture of Medieval Castles

Medieval Castle Life
England are are epitomised by the castles of the Middle Ages. The development, architecture and building of these great fortresses changed as time progressed, influenced by important historical events such as the crusades and the technology of siege warfare. This page provides interesting and important information about Medieval Castle Life during the Medieval times. For additional facts and information also see
Life in a Medieval Castle.   

Daily Medieval Castle Life
The Normans were the victors of the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The English population had been conquered and the strategy of building the vast network of Norman castles ensured that the Normans maintained control. Life for the Normans was good. Their successful invasion of England meant wealth for the Norman invaders. Lands were divided between Norman Lords and they built a new Life for themselves and their family in a new Norman Castle. The first castles were wooden but they were later converted into stone castles, or they built new stone castles from scratch. The Daily Life in the Castle Bailey was Busy with serfs and armed men following their duties. Norman castles were noisy with people shouting orders, making weapons etc and the noises made by livestock. They were also dirty as the Bailey was built on a mound of earth. Medieval Castle Life was also boring.

Medieval Castle Life in a Square Keep Castle
The Norman castles featured a square castle keep. The word 'Keep' means "that which keeps or protects - the strongest and securest part of a castle, often used as a place of residence by the lord of the castle". The word 'Keep' also means "To hold, not to let go of, to retain in one's power or possession". The  Norman square keep castle is thus explained. Medieval Castle Life depended on the rank of the people who inhabited the castle. The Lord or Knight of the Castle and usually his family would live in the most protected part of the castle - the Tower or the Keep.

Medieval Castle Life - Description of a Square Keep Castle
The following facts and information provide a description of a stone square keep castle built as part of a Motte and Bailey Castle

  • A Norman square keep castle which was made of stone was usually built on the ground of the Bailey - rather than on top of the mound
  • A square keep castle ranged from two to four storeys in height
  • A stone square keep Norman castle had thick strong walls which were often further strengthened by buttresses
  • Stone curtain walls were constructed anywhere between 20 and 40 feet high and 7 to 20 feet thick 
  • A stone square keep castle had a gateway to a staircase leading up to the first storey of the castle 
  • Each storey was divided by walls into separate rooms
  • Higher storeys were accessed by spiral staircases built at the corners of the stone square keep castle interior
  • The First Floor storey housed the Great Hall ( the Great Hall was optional and would only be built if the location was of significant political or military importance and semi-permanent occupation of the castle was envisioned ) 
  • A Garderobe was provided
  • The second storey housed the Knight's apartments
  • Windows were set in thick walls in the upper storeys
  • A Chapel was usually built into the Square Keep Norman Castle
  • The ground floor acted as a storeroom
  • The top floor of the castle keep often contained the kitchens and ovens. Should the Norman castle keep come under attack boiling water, burning oil, or hot sand could be conveniently prepared

Medieval Castle Life of a knight
Life in the Norman Castle was better for the Lord or Knight and his family than for anyone else. Like the Feudal system itself, life in a Norman castle was a pyramid shape with the Lord, or Knight, at the top of the pyramid - literally living the high life. The quality of life decreased according to the position or status of each inhabitant. The castle as a fortress it was also a residence for the knight and possibly his family - they all lived in the most secure part of the castle - the Tower. Life for a knight in the Tower would be noisy, dirty, busy and smoky - there was little privacy for any of the inhabitants. Servants would be expected to provide food for the Nobles and soldiers. A day in the life of a knight in a castle would follow the following routine:

  • A day in the life of a knight in a castle started early, at cock crow
  • A Knight would hear mass in the chapel or at a portable altar in the Great Hall
  • The first meal of the day was breakfast at about 8 o'clock
  • The Knight would then attend to business matters in relation to his land, or fief. He might even preside over judicial matters relating to his tenants
  • The next meal was at mid morning
  • A day in the life of a knight in a castle continued in the afternoon with weapons training, hunting or inspecting the manor
  • The evening supper would be served to the knight in the Hall - with occasional entertainment. The richer the Lord the better and more varied the entertainment

Medieval Castle Life - Daily Medieval Castle Life for the Soldiers or Men-at-Arms
The knight had loyal soldiers. The Soldiers were well paid and lived within the Bailey of the castle. The objective of the Norman castle occupants was to control the fief or manor. The Norman Castle was not used as a refuge or a retreat where men cowered behind walls - it was there to dominate the indigenous population. The Norman soldiers therefore spent a lot of their daily life patrolling the surrounding area and district. Norman foot soldiers could cover up to 30 miles in one day and horse soldiers could cover much wider areas. A day in  life of the soldier would have centred around the Bailey - patrolling and practising and improving their weapon skills. Their leisure time would have been spent resting, some gambling and praying.

Medieval Castle Life - Life of a serf
Servants had to provide meals and undertake menial tasks for their lord and his family. Many of the serfs who worked in the Norman castles were women. They worked in the kitchen and were expected to cook, clean and wait on the lord. Other occupations within the Motte and Bailey Norman castles were the Blacksmiths- to keep a supply of arrowheads, the Stable hands to help with the horses, kitchen staff and stable hands. The serfs in the Bailey were expected to ensure the life of the knight and his soldiers was as comfortable and orderly as possible. The Blacksmiths were expected to make the weapons and ensure that enough arrow heads were produced. The horses were extremely important to the Lord and Knights - the horses had to be fed, groomed and their stables kept clean.

Medieval Castle Life - the Food
The kitchen serfs and servants would be expected to feed the Knight and the soldiers. The Bailey would house small animals which would require slaughtering during the autumn as it was not economic or practical to feed animals during the winter. The meat was then preserved in salt. Bread was a mainstay of everyone's diet. Corn, grain, cabbage, ale or cider was obtained from the local area. The foodstuff all needed to be stored - enough was required to not only feed men on a day-to-day basis but also the withstand a siege situation in a Norman castle.

Medieval Castle Life
The Medieval Times website provides interesting facts, history and information about these great fortresses and castles of Medieval times including this section on Medieval Castle Life. The Medieval Times Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts about the fascinating subject of the lives of the people who lived during the historical period of the Middle Ages. The content of this article on Medieval life and times provides free educational details, facts and information for reference and research for schools, colleges and homework for history courses and history coursework.



   
 

Medieval Torture and Punishment

Facts and Information about the methods, devices and instruments of torture used during the Medieval times

Medieval Punishment and Torture
The Medieval period was violent and blood thirsty. In these barbarous times the cruel and pitiless feeling which induced legislators to increase the horrors of tortures and punishment which contributed to the aggravation of the fate of prisoners. Torture chambers and dungeons were included in many castles of the era. Law or custom did not prescribe any fixed rules for the treatment of prisoners who faced torture and punishment. Different types of torture and punishment were used depending on the victim's crime and social status. Torture as a form of punishment was seen as a totally legitimate means for justice to extract confessions, or obtain the names of accomplices or other information about the crime. Torture was a legitimate way to obtain testimonies and confessions from suspects for use in legal inquiries and trials during the Middle Ages. Facts and information about various forms of tortures, punishments executions can be accessed from the following links:

Information about Medieval Torture and Punishment

Instruments of Torture
Medieval Inquisition Torture
Execution Methods
Torture Devices
Hung, Drawn and Quartered
Burned at the Stake
Death by Quartering
Stretched on the Rack
Scavenger's Daughter
Scold's Bridle
The Boot

Dislocation
Branding

Brodequins
Ducking Stool
Women Stretched on the Rack
Death by Hanging
Balls Torture
Catherine Wheel
Pillory
The Stocks
Thumbscrews
Water Torture

 

Information about Medieval Torture and Punishment

Definition of Torture
The definition of torture is the deliberate, systematic, cruel and wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more torturers in an attempt to force another person to yield information, to make a confession, as part of a punishment or for any other reason. Torture devices or tools are used to inflict unbearable agony on a victim. The objectives of torture were to intimidate, deter, revenge or punish. Or as a tool or a method for the extraction of information or confessions.

Definition of Punishment
The definition of punishment is to impose or inflict something unpleasant or aversive on a person in response to disobedient or morally wrong behavior. Punishment means to impose a penalty for a wrong committed.

Medieval Torture Chambers and Dungeons
The torture chambers were located in the lower parts of castles. The entrances to many torture chambers were accessed through winding passages which served to muffle the agonising cries of torture victims from the normal inhabitants of the castle.  Torture chambers and dungeons were often very small some measured only eleven feet long by seven feet wide in which from ten to twenty prisoners were often incarcerated at the same time.

Medieval Torture was condemned in 866
The barbarous custom of punishment by torture was on several occasions condemned by the Church. As early as 866, we find, from Pope Nicholas V's letter to the Bulgarians, that their custom of torturing the accused was considered contrary to divine as well as to human law: "For," says he, "a confession should be voluntary, and not forced. By means of the torture, an innocent man may suffer to the utmost without making any avowal; and, in such a case, what a crime for the judge! Or the person may be subdued by pain, and may acknowledge himself guilty, although he be not so, which throws an equally great sin upon the judge." Despite this, and other pleas, the practise of torturing victims continued. Medieval Torture was a freely accepted form of punishment and was only abolished in England in 1640.


 
      
       
 


     
 

             
 

     
 

                     
 


















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