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8-08-2015, 13:50

PREFACE

The castle was far more than a walled and turreted fortress; it was an instrument of social control and the symbol of power, authority, and wealth. This book, Medieval Castles, combines interpretive essays and original documents in English translation in order to examine the role of the castle in society as well as its use in war. We begin with an overview of the military and social systems operating in the Middle Ages, and we place castles and other fortified places into an appropriate context. Four chapters examine different aspects of the castle. Chapter 1, “The Great Tower,” describes the early “motte and bailey” castles and the development of masonry towers and walls in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Chapter 2, “The Castle as Fortress,” considers the military aspects of castles, including siege warfare and the architectural response to attack and defense, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Chapter 3, “The Castle as Headquarters,” explores castles and citadels as local and regional government and economic centers in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Chapter 4, “The Castle as Symbol and Palace,” looks at the symbolic role of architecture and at castles as elite residences and settings for public display. A concluding interpretive chapter looks at the impact of gunpowder on castles as well as our continuing fascination with the castle as a romantic fantasy of an idealized world. Each chapter also describes specific castles and explores the ways in which they met the needs and expectations of their owners. A selection of original documents in English translation affords the reader a chance to see castles from the point of view of the people who lived in and near them. Since references to castles in primary documents are usually brief, sometimes no more than a name and place, I have in- cluded many short passages. I have organized the documents thematically: early references and descriptions, construction, sieges, tales of trickery, daring escapes, the action of heroic men and women, life in and outside the castle, and a few rare descriptions of the life of ordinary people. In selecting authors who are good story tellers and who give us lively accounts of the world, I have focused on castles in today’s British Isles and France. A separate volume in this series on the Crusades includes other regions. Brief biographies are provided for men and women mentioned in the text—owners and builders of the castles, and the writers whose works provide us with information and insight into this fascinating period. The book concludes with a glossary and bibliography. The glossary includes specialized terms used in the discussion of castle architecture. The bibliography contains only recent books in English, in consideration of the needs of today’s students and the holdings of high school and public libraries. The many books on castles written in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and books in foreign languages are not included. Finally, the illustrations need a brief explanation. By their very nature castles had a short life. Their owners and builders expected them to be attacked, their walls to be leveled, their towers to be battered down, their courtyard buildings to be wrecked and burned. Castles standing today either have been rebuilt to satisfy the fancy of modern owners or have been left as romantic ruins. Consequently we cannot see these buildings as they once existed and were meant to be seen. To illustrate this book, I have included early photographs of a few castles from the Gramstorff Collection, Photographic Archive, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; my own photographs; and photographs taken by my sister and niece, some as recently as 2004. The Gramstorff photographs show the castles before modern restoration and rebuilding and without the parking lots, shopping centers, and amusement parks which so often surround historic monuments in the twenty-first century. The Stokstad-Leider photographs give an idea of what one may expect to see today. Yes, we have tried to screen out the modern world, but we must ask our readers to approach their castle studies with open minds and active imaginations. I would like to thank librarians Susan Craig, Richard Clement, Sarah Goodwin-Thiel, and Richard Ring of the University of Kansas, photo archivists Ruth Philbrick and Andrea Gibbs of the National Gallery, Washington, DC, my research assistant Reed Anderson, high school conxxviii sultant Christina Clement, and those who have been patient with me, Karen and Anna Leider, Katherine Giele, Anta Montet White, Katherine Stannard, and Nancy Dinneen. A special thanks to Keith Dawson, who recaptured the pieces of text floating in cyberspace, the staff of the Spencer Research Library and the Murphy Library of Art and Architecture at the University of Kansas, and especially to series editor Jane Chance and Greenwood editor Michael Hermann.

 

 

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