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Castles of the Middle Ages

Many castles of the Middle Ages are still popular and famous today. Castles from the Middle Ages, or medieval period, benefited a great deal from advancements in technology and stonework that took place during that time period.

Castles of the Middle Ages

These castles served as homes to royalty and nobility, but they also served as more sinister things as well, like places to lock up and torture prisoners. Still, despite the complex and perhaps somewhat sinister history, many castles built in the Middle Ages remain beautiful tourist destinations and testaments to the power of what people in the past could build.

Some of the more famous castles of the Middle Ages include:

  • Alcazar Castle - Segovia, Spain
  • Bojnice Castle - Slovakia
  • Burg Hohenwerfen - Salzburg, Austria
  • Castle De Haar - Holland
  • Chateau de Blois - Loire Valley in France
  • Diosgyor Castle - Hungary
  • Dracula's Castle, officially Bran Castle - Romania
  • Ekenas Castle - Sweden
  • Fort La Latte - France
  • Gripsholm Castle - Sodermanland, Sweden
  • Hohensalzburg Castle - Salzburg, Austria
  • Hunyad Castle - Romania
  • Karlstejn Castle - Czechoslovakia
  • Kronborg Castle - near Elsinore, Zealand
  • Kyrenia Castle - Northern Cyprus
  • Malbork Castle - Poland
  • Moorish Castle - Gibraltar
  • Muiden Castle - Holland
  • Pernstejn Castle - Moravia
  • Schonbrunn Palace - Vienna, Austria

These are just a few examples of some of the castles built during the time period. It is important to note many other famous buildings were either built or improved upon during the Middle Ages, as well; for example, the Tower of London is perhaps one of the most famous and well-known icons built upon and enlarged during the time period.

The Building of Medieval Castles

The Middle Ages, or medieval times as they are sometimes called, lasted for a wide span of time. During this time, the construction and style of Middle Ages castles, as well as other buildings constructed during this time, changed. Some of the styles that can be found on castles from this period include motte and bailey, Romanesque, concentric, gothic, and Tudor.

  • Motte and Bailey: The earliest castles were motte and bailey. They were made from timber frames and palisades, were relatively weak, and were highly flammable. Romanesque Castles: These are characteristic of the gigantic stone walled castles made by the Normans. Most of these castles also contained architectural details such as towers.
  • Concentric: The distinctive feature of concentric castles is that at least one wall was inside a lower outer wall primarily used for defense. This style was ushered in by Edward I in the end of the 1200s.
  • The Plantagenets favored Gothic style castles and this style of architecture was most commonly built from 1200 to 1500. These structures were also constructed of stone, but generally had to be very large to support the Gothic arch.
  • Tudors were the first castles in which comfort began to be more important than defense. Once Tudors became the popular style of castle, separate, coastal forts were built to serve the purposes of defense.

Who Lived in Castles?

Castles served many functions, during medieval times including serving as a place to house prisoners in towers and narrow prison cells. However, they were also homes for the people who lived in them. While of course kings and queens lived in castles, other nobles – such as Lords- lived in castles (although some Lords actually lived in what were often called "manors" at the time). These Lords and Ladies had daily routines involving mundane tasks in these great homes, such as doing business (for the men) or working on needle point (for the ladies), and at times they would entertain guests with banquets there as well. In addition, Lords who lived on large manors often had peasants farming the land surrounding the manor as part of the feudal system.