Castle styles evolved over hundreds of years to incorporate a moat, turrets, and complicated wall systems. The motte-and-bailey, stone keep, and concentric castles were the three principal styles of castles utilized in the Middle Ages. As military technology improved, so too did the design of castles. The state-of-the-art castle of the 13th century had all of the modern amenities such as water supply, drainage, and even gas lights!
The first permanent buildings on site where now stands the motte were constructed around AD 1000 for the Norman lord who owned them. These simple earthen mounds could be used for defense or for raising crops. Over time, the mounds were expanded and surrounded with walls made of packed earth and timber frames. This type of castle is called a "motte-and-bailey" because the base area around the mound was protected by an earthen bank and ditch, while the rest of the land was open pasture.
As soldiers became better armed and armored, the need for strong defenses increased. This led to the development of the stone keep which was built into the top of a high hill or mountain. Because these towers were hard to attack from the outside, they usually lacked any kind of defensive system except for maybe a wooden fence around their perimeter.
Castle designs have evolved over time. This is due to technological advancements as well as changes in the function and purpose of castles across time. The early castles were merely earthen mounds, and medieval castle designs expanded on these fundamentals by including ditches in the Motte and Bailey style. As technology advanced, so too did the design of castles. Modern skyscrapers use similar construction techniques as medieval castles, demonstrating that even though we may think of castles as old-fashioned, they are capable of incorporating new features.
In the late 13th century, military engineers began to apply the principles of hydrostatics to fortress design. They realized that if they could find a way to make sure water would always pool in one place, then it would be easy to build a wall that would keep out enemies while allowing water to flow through for irrigation or else drain away from the castle into moats or other such features. By the early 14th century, most European castles used some form of hydraulic engineering to provide water for defense or irrigation. These advances led to the first true modern castles with stone walls and wooden roofs.
As time went on, more sophisticated weapons became available which required better defenses. This is why medieval castles often included large areas where people could hide or otherwise avoid combat (i.e., baileys). If an attacker managed to reach the battlements, then at least some of the defenders would still be able to fight back.
The majority of castles changed because attackers discovered new means to break into them. To keep these invaders out, castle defenses had to evolve. In addition, the hefty castle atop the Motte might be collapsed, which was advantageous. Then, in 1277, individuals began to construct "concentric fortresses." These smaller versions of a castle could be built quickly on top of an existing motte-and-bailey structure. They were easier to build and maintain than true castles, so they were preferred by less wealthy nobles.
Concentric forts provide evidence of this evolution in defense technology. As siege weapons improved, it became necessary to adapt defensive strategies accordingly. No longer could castles stand alone as the only line of defense between a town and its surroundings. Instead, they had to be part of a coordinated military effort against invading forces.
During the 14th century, new types of weaponry emerged that required castles to change again. The trebuchet, a large catapult, could hurl heavy objects (like rocks) with great force. It was used to destroy towers on nearby castles or even entire walls if the situation called for it. The need to protect yourself from these new threats caused the castle to expand yet again. Now there were larger areas inside the fortress where people could live and defend themselves in case of attack.
As you can see, castles evolved through trial and error.
The Motte and Bailey Castles were the earliest of them, but they quickly grew too weak. A stronger form of defense was needed. The invention of gunpowder led to the need for better shields for soldiers and armor for horses. These innovations brought about the Tower Castle, which was armed with both guns and arrows.
During the 11th century, knights became more important in war. They demanded larger and better-defended castles. At first, these new castles looked like Towered Bailey Castles with added towers and walls. But by the late 11th century, we start to see true castles emerge- large complexes with multiple courtyards, great halls, towers, and even drawbridges!
In Europe, most castles were built by governments who wanted safe places for their leaders to live while they fought wars. After many attacks on cities across France, King Charles VIII (1468-1477) ordered the construction of a huge complex called Chateau d'Anet. It included a great hall with columns and arches, living quarters, a chapel, and a dungeon. The purpose of all this space was to protect people from harm while they waited for troops to move into place outside the castle walls.
Check out hundreds of castles from all over the world here. 1. Medieval castle Motte-and-Bailey Stone Keep 2, Square Stone Keep 3, Square Stone Keep 4 5. Round Stone Keep Keep Shells Concentric Castle 7. Victorian Castle The Royal Palace is number nine. Related: What Is the Difference Between a Palace, a Castle, and a Manor House?
The best way to understand how medieval people lived their lives was by looking at what remains of their physical environment-their castles.
Medieval people built their castles for self-defense and as places to hold court. They were also used as prisons and as places of execution. In fact, executions were such a common occurrence within the walls of a castle that they have left an imprint on the landscape with the construction of many early modern era cities across Europe.
People began building true fortresses toward the end of the 11th century when King Henry I decided that defending his kingdom required more than just a strong army; he needed a powerful military fortress system too. These new types of buildings were designed specifically to protect a king or queen during times of war and chaos. They would serve as royal residences while the monarch was away from home fighting wars or acting as commander in chief of the army.
These fortified palace complexes were built using wood and stone, but mostly made up of thick layers of stone cut to fit together perfectly.