You might notice a lot of castles when travelling through Europe, and probably asked yourself why the Medieval castles were built?\n\n\n\nImage by Cari R. from Pixabay\n\n\n\nThe Medieval Castles were built in the Middle Ages as a home of the kings and nobles, to show power and wealth. Also, castles were a strategic place of retreat and defence against unwanted intruders and during local battles or between countries.\n\n\n\nThere is much more to find out about the history, evolution, and features of Medieval Castles.\n\n\n\n\nBook a trip to your favourite castle\n\n\n\n\nHistory of Medieval Castles \n\n\n\nPeople built the castles for many purposes; of course, the principal one remains the military but also represents the power, wealth, administrative and many domestic attributions.\n\n\n\nOur ancestors built the first-ever fortification much earlier than the Middle Ages originated in Indus Valley, Egypt and China where massive walls protected the settlement.\n\n\n\nIn Europe, the number of castles started to rise significantly in the 9th-10th century when in the result of Magyars, Muslims and Viking\u2019s invasion where Kings, nobles and locals needed defence.\n\n\n\nThe most common location is the high rise of the hill, where the builders took into consideration the critical factors like their own water and food supply, also the number of people it can hold for an extended period in case of a siege.\n\n\n\nFirst-ever castles were built from wooden materials gradually evolving over the years into stone made thick walls.\n\n\n\nBuilding a castle back in the day was a costly and time-consuming campaign that required many years and loads of skilled people to finish.\n\n\n\nIn many cases, the building of the castle could not even start without the king\u2019s permission.\n\n\n\nTowards the end of the Middle Ages, the military importance of the castle started to drop as a result of weapons evolution. \n\n\n\nWith new, more powerful artillery cannons, even the mightiest castles could not stand longer than a few hours of the attack.\n\n\n\nTypes of castles\n\n\n\nIf you are a frequent traveller or love historical movies, you\u2019ve probably noticed not all the castles are the same;\n\n\n\nThere are different types of castles;\n\n\n\nMotte and Bailey Castle The Rectangular Keep Castle The Shell Keep 13 century Castle The Concentric Castle\n\n\n\nMotte and Bailey Castle\n\n\n\nThis type of castle was predominant at the beginning of the castle age.\n\n\n\nThe Motte is a small hill where the jeep is located and the Bailey it\u2019s a courtyard surrounded by a deep, circular ditch, the soil after the digging has been used for raising the hill.\n\n\n\nThe Rectangular Keep Castle \n\n\n\nAlso known as donjon or dungeon are most frequently seen and still-standing nowadays.\n\n\n\nThey were built out of stones, as tall as possible and with useful improvements on the Motte and Bailey.\n\n\n\nThe Shell Keep 13th Century\n\n\n\nAfter many years of exploitation, the Master masons (Architects In Middle Ages ) realised the wood structure was weak for an extended period.\n\n\n\nThey improved the Motte and Bailey into the stone structure, with a circular or semicircular shape of the whole site.\n\n\n\nThe Concentric Castle\n\n\n\nConcentric Castle was a more sophisticated and strategically built castle during the 13th and 14th centuries.\n\n\n\nCombination of shell keep and rectangular keep with more lines of defence; including moats, towers and turrets.\n\n\n\nFeatures the Medieval Castle.\n\n\n\nAs you admire the castle today it doesn\u2019t seem like a sophisticated building, but back in the day even the smaller ones had all the defensive features needed against the attack;\n\n\n\nKeep Bailey Curtain wall & towers MoatBarbicanFortified gatehouse \n\n\n\nKeep of Medieval Castle \n\n\n\nIs a fortified structure inside of the castle, usually the main building made out of a stone with thick walls used as a last resort of defence.\n\n\n\nExample of Keep, Picture by Mario Sanchez Prada on Flirckr.com\n\n\n\nEmerged from Normandy and Anjou in the 10th century first Keeps were made from timber, and formed the vital part of Motte and Bailey.\n\n\n\nThe design of the keep later spread to Italy, \n\n\n\nSicily, England and Wales and in 1170 in Ireland.\n\n\n\nThese Rectangular or circular Norman keeps held considerable political and military importance and could take rulers to build them up to a decade.\n\n\n\nDuring the 12th century, you could see the new designs coming up in the construction of castles.\n\n\n\nIn the 14th century was a rebirth of building keeps, in a new fashion with taller roofs and much bigger halls as a new trend among the wealthy nobles.\n\n\n\nLater in the 15th century, it could not resist the might of the quickly improving artillery, and gradually, the castles came out of the use or have been destroyed during the civil wars.\n\n\n\nBailey \n\n\n\nBailey is an enclosed courtyard surrounded by a curtain wall, often overlooked by the Motte.\n\n\n\nExample of the bailey, Picture by Vince on Flickr.com\n\n\n\nA castle could have multiple Baileys depending on the number of vassals and technology, and the strategy of defence.\n\n\n\nThe Bailey also hosted several buildings like; shops, workshops, accommodation for the soldiers and on some bigger castles, even a church.\n\n\n\nCurtain Wall & Towers \n\n\n\nA curtain wall & tower is a thick defensive structure made out of stone that usually surrounds the Bailey of the Castle or a small medieval town.\n\n\n\nExample of Curtain Wall and Towers, Picture by Egor Dubrovsky on Flirckr.com\n\n\n\nThere is much evidence of curtain walls being built in the early 5th century across Europe during the Roman Empire.\n\n\n\nDepending on the castles the walls varied in thickness averages around 2-3m.\n\n\n\nThe builders raised the curtain wall at a considerable height and with a moat in front, so it made it difficult for an assault.\n\n\n\nThrough the years the towers have been added to improve the angle the archers can shoot, and made it harder for an enemy to climb on the walls.\n\n\n\nMoat \n\n\n\nMoat is a deep, broad ditch filled with water or dry, surrounding the castle at the bottom of the curtain wall used as the primary line of defence.\n\n\n\nExample of the Moat of a castle, Picture by thecrypt on Flirckr.com\n\n\n\nThrough the years as the castles developed and became more sophisticated, the moats enlarged too and a more significant size moat.\n\n\n\nMoats were deep enough so none of the soldiers, siege tower or other war equipment could get any closer to the curtain wall.\n\n\n\nCurious about moats? There is a whole article about the history and development of castle moats in our blog section. \n\n\n\nBarbican\n\n\n\nBarbican is a fortified outpost or gateway, such as an outer defence structure situated at the gate of a castle or a medieval city. \n\n\n\nWith Barbican built outside the castle and connected with a protected bridge called \u201cneck,\u201d the archers could stop slow down a direct attack on the gates or weak points of the castle.\n\n\n\nWhit the improvement of the siege tactics and artillery the Barbicans lost their importance in the 15th century. However, there are many barbicans built during the 16th century.\n\n\n\nFortified gatehouse\n\n\n\nIt's a fortified structure designed to protect the entrance of the castle or medieval town, which was the weakest point during the siege.\n\n\n\nExample of Fortified Gate House of castle Picture by Hugh Llewelyn on Flirckr.com\n\n\n\nOut of all the features of a castle, the gatehouse probably suffered the most modifications during the Middle Ages.\n\n\n\nBeing vital access for the owners and the main target for the enemy, the architects transformed them into a deadly trap for many brave soldiers.\n\n\n\nMost impregnable gatehouse has multiple stages of defence;\n\n\n\nbarbicans(which developed into twin towers), drawbridges, wooden thick doors.portcullis (sliding metal doors from the ceiling )murder holes ( high above, small in size openings to throw stones and deadly liquids.\n\n\n\nIn a few words, a defence feature made a hard time for any army that tried to pretend for the castle throne.\n\n\n\nSummary\n\n\n\nLiving in the Middle Age era every kingdom trying to acquire new land, therefore building a castle was crucial. That\u2019s why there are so many castles left behind in our history.\n\n\n\nWe hope you have enjoyed the article, thanks for stopping by and don\u2019t forget to check out our blog section for many more interesting articles.\n\n\n\nRelated articles \n\n\n\nWhich country has the most castles?\n\n\n\nThe country with the most castles in the world is Germany. It is estimated that there are about 25,000 castles in this country! However, the exact figure is still yet to be disclosed by the European Castle Institute.\n\n\n\nWhat is the Oldest Standing Castle in the World?\n\n\n\nFormerly the oldest standing castle was in Aleppo, northern Syria, built around 3000BC. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nFind out more\n\n\n\n\nLists o top castles around the world.