CASTLES by Jasmine C

ROOMS IN A MEDIEVAL CASTLE

There were lots more rooms in the next style of Medieval Castle – many with specific names. Not all Medieval Castles had all of these rooms – this depended on the wealth of the owner and exactly when and in what style the castle had been constructed. A Description of some of the rooms which could be found in a Medieval Castle with facts and information are detailed as follows:

  • THE GREAT HALL

The Great Hall was intended for the main meeting and dining area and used by everyone who lived in the castle. The Great Hall was a large one-room structure with a loft ceiling which was located in the Inner Ward. At the end of the Great Hall was the Dais which was a raised platform for the high table where the highest ranking Lord and Nobles were seated. The Lord’s family at first slept at the extreme upper end of the hall located  beyond the dais. These sleeping quarters were only separated by a curtain or a screen. This sleeping arrangement quickly changed and private rooms were added to a castle called the Lord and Ladies Chamber. At the end of the Great Hall was the Dais which was a raised platform for the high table where the highest ranking Lord and Nobles were seated. In medieval England salt was expensive and only afforded by the higher Nobility. These Lords sat on the dais at the ‘high table’ and their commoner servants at lower trestle tables. The salt was placed in the centre of the high table and only those of the appropriate rank had access to it. Those less favoured on the lower tables were “beneath) the salt”.

  • THE LORDS & LADIES CHAMBER

The room in the castle called the Lords and Ladies Chamber, or the Great Chamber,  was intended for use as a bedroom and used by the lord and lady of the castle – it also afforded some privacy for the noble family of the castle. This type of chamber was  originally a partitioned room which was added to the end of the Great Hall. The Lords and Ladies chamber were subsequently situated on an upper floor when it was called the solar.

  • THE MINSTREL’S GALLERY

The room in the castle called the Minstrel’s Gallery was for the Lord’s musicians and situated on a raised gallery overlooking the Great Hall

  • THE THRONE ROOM

The Throne room was a later addition and was designed as a receiving room in a castle when the King or Queen was in residence

  • THE BATHROOM

The room in the castle called the wardrobe was extended and used by Lord of the castle as a bathroom. Bathing was usually conducted in wooden barrels but simply designed bathrooms were added in Medieval Castles for the Lords

  • THE KITCHEN

Kitchens were integrated into the Medieval castles – they included cooking ovens for baking and huge fireplaces for smoking and roasting food. They also had a water supply complete with a sink and drainage. The kitchens were built against the curtain wall, in the inner bailey and connected to rooms called the Buttery and the Bottlery

  • THE CHAPEL

The room in the castle called the Chapel was intended for prayer and used by all members of the castle household. The chapel was usually close to the Great hall.  The Chapel was often built two stories high, with the nave divided horizontally. The Lord’s family and dignitaries sat in the upper part and the servants occupied the lower part of the chapel

  • THE DUNGEON

The room in the castle called the Dungeon was intended for holding prisoners. The dungeon was usually found in and underground room of one of the towers

  • THE LACE OF ARMS

The room in the castle called the Place of Arms was a large area in a covered way, where troops could assemble.

  • THE GATEHOUSE

The room in the castle called the Gatehouse was a complex of towers, bridges, and barriers built to protect the main entrance of a castle

 PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN CASTLES
Kings

The king was the most important person in the Medieval Ages. In fact, he was the highest person according to the feudal system. The feudal system was a system where the peasants gave taxes to their lords and the lords gave taxes to their kings. Even though the king was a very important man he had to have a way to maintain his position. He did. A smart king would give gifts to his noblemen. A king also had to have a way to have a way to control his nobility. He had that to. He would lead his army into battles and waging successful wars. Kings vassals (lords) served loyalty, advice, and armed support to their kings. In return, the king gave them wealth and mini-kingdoms called fiefdoms. A vassal also had vassals of their own. Usually when a king says something, people listen. But he still needs a staff of officials to make sure his orders were carried out. William I of England ruled that way. He was even called William the Conqueror because he made sure that people followed his orders and got things done. A king’s position was not always secure. Over the years, some barons grew wealthy enough to rival the king, forcing him to grant favours. King John of England found himself in that position. To stay king, he had to make a speech of promises. Part of his speech was “no freeman shall be arrested except by the law of the land. We shall refuse justice to no one.”
Queens—-The job of the King or Duties of a Queen was to get married and give birth to a son normally known as an Heir. The Heir’s job was to get married and pass down the royal name like his parents. If he had two boys then the eldest would become Heir and take over the throne when his father and mother both die. If they had a daughter, she would become Queen (when her parents die), but when she marries, whoever she marries will become a prince not a king. But then when she gives birth to a boy, he becomes the Heir in line for the throne, so that when his parents die then he wwould become a king and it starts all over again.

Knights,

The knight was one of three types of fighting men during the Middle Ages: Knights, Foot Soldiers, and Archers. The medieval knight was the equivalent of the modern tank. He was covered in multiple layers of armour, and could plow through foot soldiers standing in his way. No single foot soldier or archer could stand up to any one knight. Knights were also generally the wealthiest of the three types of soldiers. This was for a good reason. It was terribly expensive to be a knight. The war horse alone could cost the equivalent of a small airplane. Armour, shields, and weapons were also very expensive. Becoming a knight was part of the feudal agreement. In return for military service, the knight received a fief. In the late middle ages, many prospective knights began to pay “shield money” to their lord so that they wouldn’t have to serve in the king’s army. The money was then used to create a professional army that was paid and supported by the king. These knights often fought more for pillaging than for army wages. When they captured a city, they were allowed to ransack it, stealing goods and valuables.

Jester

Medieval Jesters played a minor role in court life but certainly brightened up the entertainments. The history of court jesters dated back before the medieval era of the Medieval Ages, which they are most closely associated with. Medieval jesters were responsible for bringing a smile to the face of a monarch who was feeling angry or who was feeling unwell. The role of the medieval jester was to amuse his master, to excite him to laughter by sharp contrast, to prevent the over-oppression of state affairs, and, in harmony with a well-known physiological precept, by his liveliness at meals to assist his lord’s digestion.

There might also be a blacksmith and an armoury in the yard. The king and Queen don’t usually live in a castle. They would live in their own manor house. They would send a baron to take charge in a castle.

CLOTHING

Often, kings and queens would wear crowns and brightly colored silks. Their clothing was very expensive and only they had enough money to afford such beautiful things. Inside the coat was a woollen doublet. Holy orders, such as friars, wore cloaks with hoods and habits. On their clothes was a rope belt with wooden beads for counting prayers. Felt hats with stirrups and brown jackets were the daily wear of manor lords. Peasants’ daily wear was simple: straw hats that they made themselves, linen shirts that they made themselves, leather flasks, hoses (pants), and pewter badges or good luck charms. Their clothes were made of the same materials as commoners, wool or linen, or animal skins, but usually of better quality; and usually colour dyed; possibly with sewn patterns. A few medieval Europeans were able to afford silks imported from the orient; silk clothing was very expensive and usually reserved for special occasions.One, the richer one is the more fabric you will use in your clothing. A noble man may wear a calf length (or longer) tunic, a field worker’s may only come to mid-thigh. Women’s skirts may pool around their feet…fine for a woman who doesn’t have to work, though not so practical for one tending a garden. Depending in what part of the medieval period you are referring to you may also see very long impractical sleeves as well. Color and quality is important. Rich, dark colours, or colors that are harder to dye in large quantities (like red) are the kinds of things nobility would wear. The idea is that you have the wealth to spend that much dye on one garment to get it dark… Also, bright white (especially in linen) is a status symbol. A noble would wear white linen under things in a fine weave, but a very poor person may have to wear woolen ones. A rich or noble person would have a much nicer weave to the fabric that their clothes were made of, versus a coarser, cheaper weave for the poor. Silk would be reserved for the rich as well. When it comes to furs, a royal may wear ermine, a noble may wear squirrel (sometimes in a pattern) and the poor rabbit fur. Clothing is often lined with fur. Another thing that makes nobles and the wealthy stand out is jewelry. Rings, broaches, girdles, belt findings, etc. Rings especially were popular and often given as gifts. Nobles and wealthy folks also had more decorative elements to their clothing, embroidery, etc. Gold thread (real gold often wrapped around a silk thread) was very expensive.

ENTERTAINMENT

Entertainment for Rich People in the Medieval Ages Entertainment centred around the spectacles of jousting and feasts or banquets. The Medieval Period of the Medieval Ages was becoming more refined and elegant and the concept of courtly love was introduced and displayed at both tournaments and jousts. The sumptuous feasts and banquets also provided entertainment for rich people during the Medieval Ages. During the feast musicians would play and provide musical entertainment. After feasting entertainment might be provided by minstrels, troubadours, jesters, acrobats, fire-eaters and conjurers. The dance was also important as part of ‘courtly love’ entertainment. Knights were expected not only to fight but also to dance. The jesters were important entertainment, but not the only entertainment. In court, there were itinerant musicians, bards, poets, and story tellers. There were morality plays and other religious plays, and asthough the term simply meant secular. There were archery matches, and these were particularly important in England, where every serf was required to own a bow and keep in practice. This was what won some of the great battles of the Hundred Years’ War, but was also a fact that occasionally made the serfs rather too important for the king. The nobility entertained themselves with hunting and other sports. Jousting is well remembered, though possibly too much remembered. Some kings had libraries and liked to read, but there is probably more record of queens enjoying literature than of kings.

Games were played by the Upper classes and the Lower classes, by adults and children. Different types of Games and entertainment fell into a number of different categories including Card Games, Board Games, Dice Games, Sporting Games and Children’s games. Frequently, these games were played for money or honours, and therefore they are the ancestors of the modern day’s casino games such as craps, or roulette. The following board games were played and enjoyed as entertainment during the Middle Ages: Chess, Tables – Backgammon, Nine Men’s Morris, Alquerques – A classic period strategy game, an ancestor of Checkers ,Fox & Geese – a game of strategy, The Philosophers Game – a game of strategy and numbers, Shovelboard – the ancestor of shuffleboard, Knucklebones – Early game of, and Hazard – an ancestor of Craps.

Outdoor Entertainment in the Medieval Ages Outdoor Entertainment dice during the Medieval Ages centred around the Village Green and at local fairs and included a variety of Medieval Sports: Archery – Archery contests were especially popular, Bowls, Colf – the ancestor of Golf, Gameball – a simple football game, and Wrestling, these were just some of the many sports.

As the Medieval Ages developed, these became more secular, producing plays called manners plays.

WHAT DID PEOPLE EAT

Rich people would have eaten meat and fruit, but very rarely vegetables as these were considered to be peasant food. Peasants mostly ate vegetables and stews as they could not afford to eat meat. They also would have eaten bread and had access to alcohol. People ate meats, fish, shellfish, and vegetables that they grew in the Middle Ages. They ate vegetable soup and they drank ale which was a sort of beer bread and meat. Food in the castle was served in the great hall, a large room usually on the upper floor. There would be a high table in the centre, the Lord’s Table, upon which the nobles and important family would dine. Other tables, called trestle tables, would be placed lower than the Lord’s Table and seated with benches, not ornate chairs. Breakfast usually consisted of a small snack after morning mass. A cold hunk of bread and cheese was considered the medieval breakfast of champions. Dinner, served between 10 A.M. and noon, was the main meal of the day. A trumpeter or crier would announce the meal. When a guest entered the castle, the ladies would curtsey and take their seats. Dinner was served in order: first the clergy, then the nobles, then the lord and his family, and then the servants and peasants. Dinner began with a blessing from the chaplain, followed by a procession led from the unoccupied side of the Lord’s Table by the steward who oversaw the staff. Next came the panther who distributed bread and butter, the butler who poured the wine and other spirits, and the kitchen assistants who brought in the next course. Because of the fact that food was almost always brought in from outside kitchens up to a quarter of a mile away in the castle guard, people were used to and even developed a taste for lukewarm food. Dinner typically had two or three courses each. Food was a grand affair in the Medieval Ages for those who could afford it, and the number of courses and variety of foods. Table settings included a silver salt cellar, a nef (a gourd for holding pepper), and cups. The cups would be made of silver, pewter, wood, or horn, although it was considered fashionable to have the castle’s platware made of coconut shells, ostrich eggs, agate, or gourds. Interestingly enough spoons were provided, but guests were expeceted to dish out their own knives and forks. most people ate foods with their fingers. Plates as we know them today were nonexistent for a long period on the Middle Ages, instead, people would use trenchers ( the bottom side of a bowl of bread, the rest having been eaten with the meal ) were used as the plates. The plus to this was that you had even more food after the courses were done ,the minus was that the bottom side of your bread had touched the table (although medieval folk weren’t exactly the most hygienic.) In the long-standing English feudalistic society, only little room was provided on the pyramid for the nobles to eat. The everyday man couldn’t always treat himself to subtle delights of conflicts, nini sherini, or chicken and wine pie. While the upper class of England enjoyed a surfeit of meat at their disposal, the merchant and peasant class had to rely on vegetables and dark bread (less expensive to produce than white bread) as their main staple of food. While some scholars dismiss vegetables as an unimportant food staple because of their rarely being mentioned in vellums about cooking, vegetables were in fact a staple food. They were simply not mentioned mainly because knowing how to cook vegetables was considered common sense.
A peasant’s meal usually consisted of porridge, turnips, dark bread, and beer or ale. A salad might be added that would consist of parsley, borage, mint, rosemary, thyme and a vinegar dressing. It goes without saying that the peasants were usually lithe, healthy people, while the richly fed noble class bred the future generations of McDonald’s consumers. Villagers would eat supper at the castle, and would be entertained by travelling minstrels, acrobats, or storytellers. The hours after supper were the villager’s only leisure time. The clergy ate only one meal a day, due to a religious regard for the sin of gluttony. However, this law relaxed over the centuries. Meals in a monastery were almost always eaten in silence.

jasmine.c  😄


Medieval castle warfare and decline.

Castle under attack with a trebuchet and a working draw bridge!

    

 Front view

Top view

 Right side view

Left side view

Sieging

Siege was one of the many effective ways to take a castle, if done properly you could even do it without any of your army getting hurt. Siege worked by cutting off all supplies from the inhabitants of the castle, eventually starving them to surrender. Sometimes this process took months or even years depending on the amount of food stored within the castle. Sometimes if a relief army was on the way and you had to quickly take control of the area, then you could siege it as well as bombarding the castle slowly taking out its defences. Castles were often beside the sea or a river with a constant water supply, this posed a problem because food could easily be transported to the defenders. This could be fixed by placing iron studded logs across the river that will sink any passing ship. Like a modern day sea-mine, but for the wooden boats, the logs will also have to be protected. The sea though, is different to the river, for huge stretches of land you might need a navy to take out any foreign ships. There is no doubt siege is effective, it’s not a weapon but a tactic that can be equally dangerous.

What weapons were used in the middle ages?

There were hundreds of different weapons that armies could use, though some were expensive and could only be afforded by the rich, others were cheap but still posed big threats to the enemy.
Some weapons used by food soldiers include: Blades, Dagger, Knife, Long sword, Messer, Club, Flail, Mace, War Hammer, Polearm, Halberd, Lance, Military fork(the weaponized Pitchfork), Poleaxe, Spear.

There were others that were for those who specialised in ranged weapons: Bow, Longbow, Crossbow, Throwing axe, Throwing spear and Javelin.

They also used their medieval versions of tanks and artillery: battering rams, catapult, trebuchet, ballista, siege tower.

If I was to be a soldier with any weapons I wanted then I would have had a two bolt crossbow, a spear on back, a sword in pouch against waist, a dagger in pocket, and a Halberd.

Defensive tactics

Most of the defensive tactics of castles depended on its location, almost all the time did the terrain around the castle determine the survival or defeat of it.
1. Castles were always built on land containing a well or a spring – so lack of water was not usually a problem. It was essential for the inhabitants of a castle to have access to a well.
2. Many castles were built with direct access to the sea, or a river, so that fresh supplies could be delivered to the castle and the defenders could not be starved into submission.
3. Water was also required to douse any fires within the castle complex.
4. The inhabitants of Castles which were built inland ran the risk of being starved into submission.
5. The higher the land the castle was built upon the easier it was for defending a castle.
Also there were military tactics, like having a moat, filling the walls with thousands of archers and always having a ready army to keep off any that break in. If possible, when you know an attack is coming, turn the surrounding grounds into a hilly marsh land ( the rain will help a lot here )so when the enemy come their tents will sink and the siege weapons will collapse. Also have a relief army hidden from the enemy’s notice. So if in the circumstance that you know that you will never be able to defend such an overwhelming attack; you can do a surprise attack on their undefended back lines and win the fight!

Attacking tactics

There were many different types of attacks possible, but it almost always depended on the situation or goal. For commonly the attacking army will try to take it by force, often by using siege engines to break down the walls; Archers to shoot dead any defenders on the wall or in the castle or set fire to the insides; Use battering rams to destroy the gate and send the army in. Sometimes they undermined the corner by digging under it, removing its foundations and letting the moat do the rest. The collapsing corner of the wall will provide a pathway in. Then attempt to send the army through the hole and take them by surprise. Other ways included sending in spies when the army is far away and the defenders are letting in people like normal. Then when the attack is under way, the spies who are hidden among the scared people in the castle go do their job; perhaps ruining water supply; burning food warehouses or weaponry storerooms. Another way to take control of a castle is to capture its leader if possible and hold him captive until he surrenders. Castles always had a weakness; all around the world the castles had a weakness, the ‘gatehouse’! The gate house was where most of the soldiers, people, craftsmen and supplies entered. Most of the time the only thing stopping enemies coming in was the draw bridge and a heavy metal spiked portcullis. Sometimes the battering ram won or lost, but either way this was a major weak point, never will there be an attack without someone or something battling the gate house.

Why castle building came to an end

Technology always evolves as people are constantly looking for new weapons they can use to outsmart the enemy. Gunpowder was of Chinese invention, but they used it for fireworks and other “more peaceful” stuff. But when traders from Europe stole the recipe, they thought in a totally different way to the Chinese and said to themselves: “Now how can I use this magical explosive power to blow up my enemy?”

So cannons were invented, first they posed no threats to the castle as most of the time the cannon itself blew up dealing more damage to the attackers. But as the years progressed it eventually became strong enough to destroy the strongest of walls.
Guns slowly replaced swords in the 1600’s and castles became more like a sitting duck, not a fortified safe spot. Other tactics emerged that no longer needed so much protection and many were no longer needed as a result of peace among nations. Also nations began mobilising a more organised defensive force so people no longer needed to hide or run to live. So castles soon became private houses, storage houses, land marks or just ruins just sitting there as a reminder off the gruesome past of medieval warfare. But the good news is that castles did not fully disappear. Though they don’t look like the medieval castles we used them in WW2, and we use them as nuke-proof bunkers under mountains. So the influence of our fathers still live to this day, their back breaking work to fight for their country.

Bibliography

“Medieval Castles”, http://www.medieval-castle.com/

“Castle Warfare”, http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/attacking-a-castle-in-the-middle-ages.htm

Hinkler Books, “Castle Challenge”, Orpheus Books Ltd, 2007

By Shaun Virsu 8B


Castles

How has castle building improved during the years?

Just after William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings in 1066, castles started being built. They were very expensive to build and were first built out of wood.  Castle’s provided protection and although they were dark and cold, everyone wanted to live in it but it was very expensive so not everyone had the chance to. Forests were destroyed just to build parts of Castles and that single part would cost thousands of dollars.  From the 10th century, Castles were then built out of stone.

Why were castles necessary?

Castles were primarily used for protection and defense. Castles played a big role in the feudal system during the late A.D 900’s and 1000’s. During the Middle Ages, Europe split into small states and local conflicts were very common. So a castle would help the King or vassal defend the land where the castle stood. Castles provided noblemen’s families and servants a home. Castles became the symbol of control, wealth and power. They were a fortress, a home and a safe place for people to take refuge in during times of danger.

What was life for a servant like in castles?

Servants made up the majority of people living in the castle. They did most of  the jobs in a castle. They cooked, cleaned, repaired stuff, gathered food and washed clothes. They worked long hours from sunrise to sunset. The workers in the castle were to ensure that life for the knights and their families ran smoothly and well. Servants got a very low pay but they would get protection offered from the knight that owned the castle.  Some jobs in the castle were coveted. Jobs in the kitchen meant the servant could have more food to eat by eating the knight and his family’s leftovers. But the jobs directly serving the knight and his family were the most desired as they held the highest potential for preferential treatment.  There were many different types of servants and workers, which were: bakers, butlers, blacksmiths, armorers, acrobats, candle makers, artists, carpenters, chaplains, clerks, cooks, gardeners, herbalists and many more.

What was the most important room in the castle?

The chapel was the most important room of the castle. They were expected to pray four times a day: during rising, at noon, in the evening and before bed. Prayer times varied between 5 minutes to 30 minutes.  During the medieval times, the church was the head and the Pope was the most powerful man. The church made all the rules and everyone had to obey them.  Everyone had to practice Christianity and everyone had to be a Christian. The strict prayer requirements explains why the chapel was built in a castle. Chapels were primarily built and used for prayers.

What did the chapel look like?

Chapels were intended for prayer and any member of the household could have access to the chapel. The chapel was usually built two stories high. The upper part was for the lord and his family and the lower part was for servants. The chapel was the most elaborately furnished room in the castle, rich in ornaments, church plates and embroidered vestments. They had glazed windows and colorful furniture. The chapel was located near the Great Hall.

Diorama of a Chapel

Bibliography

http://www.castles.me.uk/castle-chapel.htm

http://www.castles.me.uk/medieval-occupations.htm

http://www.ehow.com/facts_7577472_daily-life-servants-medieval-castles.html

http://library.thinkquest.org/J002390/castles.html

http://www.castles.me.uk/medieval-castle-life.htm

by Jun En Chong


Castle Designs – Jeremy Law

What are castles made out of?

Medieval castles were commonly made out of stone wood and mortar. These materials were used to construct castles that were built to withstand many attacks. Castles that were made in the early medieval stage were built on hills. The castles consisted of high wooden fence until 1066. These castles were proved to burn to easily, so that stone would be used more often than wood.

How did a defensive castle design help defend from attacks?

Castles were shaped in a round structure this prevented weak corners which were easy to break through. A moat was a ditch dug around a castle commonly filled with water. This reduced the chance of enemies to tunnel their way into the castle and fires. Moats were filled with sharks or spikes to prevent enemies to swim towards the castles. A draw bridge was used to cross the moat it was raised when an attack was held against the castle. Loopholes were thin vertical windows that gave cover for defending archers to shoot their arrows. A gatehouse was used to stop enemies from easily coming in from the main entrance. Some gatehouses had murder holes which allowed defenders to shower attackers with boiling water, rocks and oil.

How did castle designs change over time?

The early designs of castle structures were the Motte and Bailey. These castles were made on top of hills surrounded by tall fences. This design was popular because it was made with materials that could be provided locally and did not cost a lot of money. Enemies had been equipped with better equipment which made Kings had to use more resources to build more fortified castles. Armies that had better equipment would attack the castle and the King decided to put more effort to make the castles defend the attack. Very quickly large stone fortresses were appearing all over Europe. This design is what we see in castles that are now tourist attractions. Round towers were more common because people had realised that square towers had weak points in the corners that were vulnerable to battering rams.

How did people build castles?

People used cranes and scaffolding to build castles. On a finished castle it is possible to see the anchor points of the scaffolding. The speed of the process of building a wall was built liked an open-topped box and was filled with rubble. Cranes worked by having two wheels were two people could stand and walk inside. A rope twisted around an axle joined the two wheels. The people  turning the wheels created power to lift heavy objects up to ten times their weight.

What are some important buildings in the castle?

The Keep : The keep was one fo the largest spaces behind the thick walls. It was a storage are which was used to keep food wine and grain incase of sieges. The great hall was a passageway that connected the keep to the King’s home.

The Barracks: The barracks were buildings were knights and their families lived in .

Bibliography

Castle Architecturehttp://www.medieval-castles.net/castle_architecture/index.htm

Defending a Castle in the Middle Ageshttp://www.middle-ages.org.uk/defending-a-castle-in-the-middle-ages.htm

Nash – T.M – The changing look of medieval castles over the centurieshttp://www.thefinertimes.com/Ancient-History/the-changing-look-of-medieval-castles-over-the-centuries.html

Development of Castles in the Middle Ageshttp://www.middle-ages.org.uk/development-of-castles-in-the-middle-ages.htm

The Medieval Cranehttp://www.360cities.net/image/the-medieval-crane-3#0.00,0.00,58.3