A castle (from Latin castellum) is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble. This is distinct from a palace, which is not fortified; from a fortress, which was not always a residence for nobility; and from a fortified settlement, which was a public defence – though there are many similarities among these types of construction. Usage of the term has varied over time and has been applied to structures as diverse as hill forts and country houses. Over the approximately 900 years that castles were built they took on a great many forms with many different features, although some, such as curtain walls and arrowslits, were commonplace.
A European innovation, castles originated in the 9th and 10th centuries, after the fall of the Carolingian Empire resulted in its territory being divided among individual lords and princes. These nobles built castles to control the area immediately surrounding them, and were both offensive and defensive structures; they provided a base from which raids could be launched as well as protection from enemies. Although their military origins are often emphasised in castle studies, the structures also served as centres of administration and symbols of power. Urban castles were used to control the local populace and important travel routes, and rural castles were often situated near features that were integral to life in the community, such as mills and fertile land.
Many castles were originally built from earth and timber, but had their defences replaced later by stone. Early castles often exploited natural defences, and lacked features such as towers and arrowslits and relied on a central keep. In the late 12th and early 13th centuries, a scientific approach to castle defence emerged. This led to the proliferation of towers, with an emphasis on flanking fire. Many new castles were polygonal or relied on concentric defence – several stages of defence within each other that could all function at the same time to maximise the castle's firepower. These changes in defence have been attributed to a mixture of castle technology from the Crusades, such as concentric fortification, and inspiration from earlier defences such as Roman forts. Not all the elements of castle architecture were military in nature, and devices such as moats evolved from their original purpose of defence into symbols of power. Some grand castles had long winding approaches intended to impress and dominate their landscape.
Although gunpowder was introduced to Europe in the 14th century, it did not significantly affect castle building until the 15th century, when artillery became powerful enough to break through stone walls. While castles continued to be built well into the 16th century, new techniques to deal with improved cannon fire made them uncomfortable and undesirable places to live. As a result, true castles went into decline and were replaced by artillery forts with no role in civil administration, and country houses that were indefensible. From the 18th century onwards, there was a renewed interest in castles with the construction of mock castles, part of a romantic revival of Gothic architecture, but they had no military purpose.
Other articles related to "castle, castles":
... Castle Howe, Kendal’s undisputed first castle, lies on the hill side overlooking the town ... are sandwiched between Gillinggate and Beast Banks Kendal Castle, to the east of the earthworks, probably built while Castle Howe was still being used Friends' Meeting House, home of the Quaker Tapestry The ...
... and Medieval warfare As a static structure, castles could often be avoided ... Garrisons were expensive and as a result often small unless the castle was important ... also meant that in peace time garrisons were smaller, and small castles were manned by perhaps a couple of watchmen and gate-guards ...
... to Bartholomäus and Anna Maria Freiin von Rauber, who did not only live at their Medija Castle in Izlake but also had a town residence in Ljubljana at the Old Square ... in 1672, Valvasor acquired the Bogenšperk Castle near Litija, where he arranged a writing, drawing and printing workshop ... of his books towards the end of his life, his debts forced him to sell Bogenšperk Castle, his vast library and his collection of prints ...
... Nobuhide took Nagoya Castle in 1525 (it was given to Nobunaga in 1542), and built Furuwatari Castle ... Oda Nobutomo held Kiyosu Castle, but he was besieged and killed in 1555 by his nephew Oda Nobunaga who operated from Nagoya Castle ...
... In the centre of Gemert stands a castle of which the oldest parts date back to the Late Middle Ages, although it has been rebuilt a couple of times ... It was founded by German knights who lived in the castle for several hundred years, however these days it is occupied by monks and nuns ... The predecessor of this castle was a motte-and-bailey located further to the west and was discovered in 1995 ...
Famous quotes containing the word castle:
“The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.”
—Alfred Tennyson (18091892)
“This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)
“If, in looking at the lives of princes, courtiers, men of rank and fashion, we must perforce depict them as idle, profligate, and criminal, we must make allowances for the rich mens failings, and recollect that we, too, were very likely indolent and voluptuous, had we no motive for work, a mortals natural taste for pleasure, and the daily temptation of a large income. What could a great peer, with a great castle and park, and a great fortune, do but be splendid and idle?”
—William Makepeace Thackeray (18111863)