A castle, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is "a massive edifice, generally of the medieval period, fortified against attack with strong walls, battlements, towers, and frequently a moat." Because the structures above are referred to as castles, yet they appear to be as structurally equipped for combat as a fruit pastille. It's because they weren't used for fighting that they were given this name.
Castles were primarily used for defense against attacks from without or intruders who had entered the land through an unguarded gate or window. They served as safe houses for people during times of war and protection for those who could not protect themselves. Although some castles were built for royal residence, most were built by wealthy individuals or small kingdoms.
The first true castles appeared around 1100 in Europe. They were built from stone when wood was available only at the expense of its durability. Over time, builders improved upon the design of castles, adding higher walls, more complex defenses, and larger gates until they reached their modern form.
During the late 11th century and early 12th century, nearly every noble family in Europe constructed their own castle. They were built as refuges for anyone accused of treason or murder. The innocent victim could flee into the safety of the castle walls where he would be protected by his lord until his case could be heard by a judge.
The term "castle" comes from the old English word "castel," which means "settlement."
Castles were first built in Europe by the Romans. They were used as military fortifications and showplaces for their builders' skills. Over time, the castles became more sophisticated and included large numbers of rooms for housing soldiers and servants, as well as public spaces for trade and entertainment.
In the 11th century, an advanced type of castle called a "fearn" or "donjon" came into use. These castles were large structures with multiple floors inside a single tower. They were designed so that only the lord of the castle could enter the lower floor through the main gate, while all others had to enter from the top.
During the 12th century, war machines called "catapults" and "ballistae" were introduced into European warfare. These weapons were used for attacking fortified positions such as castles. They remain popular today in sports like archery and football (soccer).
After the invention of gunpowder, castles began to be used as prisons, mental hospitals, and other forms of confinement. They also served as meeting places and offices where government officials conducted business.
A castle is a type of stronghold. It may also have a dwelling, and many castles were the homes of various lords and nobles, but a castle does not have to be a habitation, since many were built to be forts defending militarily interesting locations. A mansion is a huge and lavish home. Not all castles are large or luxurious, but most are at least comfortable.
Castles first appeared in Europe around AD 100 for the sole purpose of defense against invasion. They were built from earthworks (now known as "defenses") with some form of shelter inside them to protect people from the elements. The best-known example is the White Castle in England which was built about AD 1020. These early castles were mostly made of wood so they could be destroyed easily if needed. But by the late 11th century, stone was used instead. There were several reasons why stones became important: it was easier to build with than wood, harder to destroy, and more weather resistant.
The shape of a castle varies but usually has an area that is protected by walls with an entryway into this area. Inside the entryway there might be just enough space for one person to stand up straight. Beyond that is the living room where guards would watch for invaders. Farther on is another area with rooms for eating and sleeping. At the end of this section is a door leading outside. Usually there is only one door because criminals wouldn't want multiple ways out.
From the 11th century CE, rulers built medieval castles to demonstrate their wealth and power to the local populace, to provide a place of defense and safe retreat in the event of an attack, to defend strategically important sites such as river crossings, passages through hills, mountains, and borders, and to serve as a place of habitation for soldiers.
Castles were also used to store valuables such as gold and jewels that could not be kept at home. In fact, some castles were built specifically to store treasure. The security afforded by castles helped merchants transport valuable goods over long distances in times before roads and railways were developed. Traveling salesmen used the protection provided by castles to display and sell their products.
Finally, castles served as political centers where kings or other leaders held court and administered justice. They often included large chambers where judges sat with a jury to hear cases. These courts could rule on disputes between individuals or groups within the kingdom, including issues involving crime and punishment.
King Henry VIII established several new kingdoms after breaking away from Rome with his support from parliament. He wanted to have control over government policy so he could get what they called "the divorce" from his wife, Catherine of Aragon. This marriage had produced no children and so when King Henry VIII died without an heir the whole system of governance changed because there was no king to hold office then next. England went through a period of civil wars as different factions tried to establish themselves as leader.