Feudal castle in medieval Europe

Feudal castle in medieval Europe

At the end of IX c. in Europe, the construction of feudal castles begins. They were built not only by rich lords, but also by middle-class feudal lords. The massive construction of the castles was predetermined by constant invasions of enemies.

Usually the castle was built on a hill or on a high bank, from which the approaches to it were clearly visible. At first it was a very simple structure: a wooden two-story tower, called Donjon. On the top floor lived the feudal lord with his family. Downstairs there lived a military squad and servants, and also housed household premises, a kitchen, a barn with food and a weapons warehouse. In the case of the siege, the wooden tower was sheathed from the outside with animal skins to protect it from a fire.

Around the castle a tree was

poured, reinforced with a palisade with wooden towers. Before the shaft was a deep ditch full of water. Through the moat on the chains a bridge was tossed, which led to one of the fence towers with heavy oak gates bound with iron. In case of a threat, the bridge was raised, and it was almost impossible to get to the castle. A few steps from the gate in the direction of the courtyard were lifting grates. Even if someone managed to slip past the gate, the grill fell, and people were trapped.

In the XI century. Castles began to be built of stone and strengthened even more. Around the castle two or even three rows of high and powerful walls with corner towers were erected. In the walls were made loopholes – narrow holes for archery. The wooden donjon was replaced with stone. Its dark, cold and wet dungeons were used not only for economic needs, but also as a prison for criminals, prisoners and convicts. In the courtyard of the castle there were also stables for battle horses and stalls for cattle. The water was taken from a well dug in the same place. Under the walls of the castle, ordinary people settled in order to find refuge in him from the enemy if necessary.

A well-fortified castle, with enough supplies and drinking water, could easily withstand a long siege. To storm the castles, siege mechanisms were used –

rams and mobile towers. Often in the dungeon of the dungeon laid a secret passage that led beyond the castle. So the feudal lord could send a messenger asking for help, or he could save himself if the castle was seized.

However, the castle was not only a military fortification. He was also the seat of the seignior, the place of his permanent residence. Therefore, for centuries, castles have become more comfortable, cozy. They turned into a complex of buildings: a hall for receptions, a couple’s bedroom of feudal lords, rooms for different purposes, kitchens, cellars and storehouses for food, a chapel, etc. But the dungeon was always an object of special concern. He towered over the background of buildings and landscapes, demonstrating the strength and power of the seignior. He was depicted on the arms, the vaults of the castle or the chapel, on the flags and seals of the feudal lord.

In the castle, apart from the family of the lord, there were many servants and subordinates: heirs of vassals, trained in the art of war, knights, economists, guards.

When there was no war, and the feudal lord was at home, he could hunt in his possessions, fish, fence, fight with spears, play chess, watch juggler performances or fight bears, receive guests, talk with ladies, arrange solemn meetings of vassals and However, this did not always keep the feudal lords at home. At the first opportunity, they went to the king’s court or to distant wanderings. But they did not forget their land and proudly added the name of the castle to their name.

XIII century. Chronicler Lambert d’Ardo on the construction and arrangement of the stone dungeon

Baudouin, Earl of Guineas, built a round house of hewn stone in Gynes on a hill. He was so high, it seemed to stick to the sky. Baudouin foresaw that the upper part would be like a flat terrace with roofing on rafters… In this house he had rooms for formal receptions, living rooms, privacy rooms, corridors that made the house look like a maze of Daedalus. Further outside the house he built a chapel with stone walls and wooden rafters. He also built a stone wall along the outer defensive castle belt. At the entrance he built towers with throwing devices to fight off attacks.


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Feudal castle in medieval Europe