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12th Century
13th Century

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The imagery presented here is that of "Castles".


The castle of the mediæval period was the period-equivalent of a fort, albeit very large, serving both offensive and defensive functions.  The construction of a castle or keep was undertaken for two primary reasons.  First, if the controlling monarchy wished to take possession of territory not already under his direct control, he would decree the construction of a castle in that area.   Second, if territory already under the monarchy's control were invaded or were threatened with invasion, then he would also decree the construction of a castle in that area.  

The construction of a castle was an undertaking of dozens of years, occasionally taking 100 or many more years to complete.  Under "emergency" conditions, however, a castle could be started and completed comparatively quickly, in as little as a decade. 

Castles were constructed primarily as a defensive stronghold.  Common practice was to locate a castle or keep upon a hill, bluff or other high point, forcing an attacking horde to climb uphill on often steep inclines.  This practice slowed down an attacking force, thereby making the defenders' task all the easier.  

Castles were also quite commonly encircled by a large ditch or trench called a moat or mote, often filled with water, which almost always eventually became stagnant and infested with parasites.  Motes were commonly filled with dangerous objects such as broken glass or twisted scrap metal intended to kill the unfortunate enemy who fell into it. 

Castles were designed for military purposes.  There were not intended to be palaces of luxury.  They were cold, drafty, and had very few decorations or comfortable furniture.  Warmth was provided by fires lit in several hearths throughout the structure.  Tapestries were hung on the walls as a method of stopping drafts...their esthetic qualities were secondary benefits.   Glass for windows was uncommon at the time, so due to the handing tapestries, castles were quite often dimly lit in the interior. 

Images of 12th century castles

Click for images of 12th century castles.

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