8A Castles – Kieran Leong

How were castles attacked and defended?

How castles were attacked:

In the early Middle Ages defending a castle have many factors such as the height of the castle and where it was positioned. The height of a castle came into play as the arrows fired from the castle would’ve gone a longer distance than the attackers. An example of position was when the castle was close to waters that allowed ships to get through would allow for backup food and resources during a siege. This made the siege pointless as it was supposed to make the inhabitants of the castle starve until they surrendered. There were also round towers to protect the weak points of the tower in the corners as the towers were square or rectangle. A keep was put in to play to protect the king and his relatives and was known as the most important building in the castle. There were often moats filled with water and a drawbridge that was able to be retracted to the keep and did not allow the attackers to invade.

How castles were defended:

The Motte and Bailey castles were made out of wood which made them very vulnerable to fire. The invaders would shoot fire-arrows into the castle to set it ablaze. This forced to inhabitants out right to the attackers which often killed them. Soon stone castles replaced the old Motte and Bailey castles as they were more fire resistant to the wooden castle. But there were innovations that helped invade the new stone castle. The battering ram was a tool made to destroy the castle doors and walls. Ladders were a way of getting up and over the walls but were easily stopped by the defenders simply pushing the ladders off the wall and so a new tool was built, the Belfry. This was an improved ladder or tower which gave cover to the invaders to climb up onto the walls. The castle was then piled up with dirt surrounding the walls not allowing the Belfry up as it was on wheels. The catapult was another invention that included weakening walls. This fired stones and anything heavy enough to deal an impact on the castle. Sieges were when the attackers surrounded the castle allowing no one to get in or out. This strategy lasted for months and they waited until the inhabitants submitted and gave out through scarce food and water.

Why and how did castles change over time?

The early Motte and Bailey castles were made of wooden palisades. This was effective of keeping out the invaders from the town inside the castle walls. But as time grew on the castle grew less effective and was actually helping the invaders as they shot fire arrows over the walls which easily caught of fire forcing out who ever lived inside the castle walls. Then stone castles were built soon later as the time went on as a newer, stronger defence for the inhabitants. This type of castle was built to the end of the age of castles.

What were Castle dungeons and Moats?

The castle dungeon was a dark place below the towers of the castle. This kept the prisoners for torture and was a cruel place for anyone to be in. Some of the ways are being whipped or starved to death.

Moats surrounding the castles were used to keep ladders or siege equipment away from the castle walls. This was a key point as the invaders had problems getting up to the walls. During the invasion the moat was often filled with traps to keep them from swimming across.

How did people entertain themselves in a castle?

There wasn’t much to do indoors in the castle but the main game that was played in the castle was chess. It was a strategy game that involved tactics and stimulated the mind. If the lords had a feast a jester would have joined in to attempt to entertain them and music was also a good option. Outside the castles there was hunting that went on.

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Captions: Overview of my diorama of the Motte and Bailey castle

The bridge crossed over the moat that prevented invaders from crossing over

The front gate was the point of attack, it was normally the weakest point of the castle walls






Humanities Alive History 1 – Maggy Saldais