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8-08-2015, 16:40

A Prolii c and Vigorous Builder

The death of their king, along with the loss of numerous nobles and well-trained warriors, demoralized the Saxons. h is greatly aided William and his plan to gain the throne he felt was rightfully his. Moving northward from the coast, he methodically orchestrated his conquest, relatively quickly turning England into a Norman-controlled nation. Together, the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest that followed marked a turning point, not only in England’s history, but also in the development of medieval warfare. In large part this was because the conqueror, William, perfected the use of one of the chief defensive and of ensive military devices of that era in Europe—the castle. He did not invent castles—various versions of these structures existed in the Middle East and elsewhere in ancient times. However, William was the i rst European ruler to demonstrate the military ef ectiveness of the widespread use of castles, especially the stone variety. William was a prolii c and vigorous castle builder. Almost immediately after securing England’s southern region late in 1066, he set gangs of laborers to work erecting castles across the captured countryside. Called motte and baileys, these were small and crude by later standards, yet they were extremely successful in maintaining military control of the conquered regions. Each of these structures consisted of two principal parts. h e i rst, the motte, was a mound of earth averaging from 30 to 60 feet (9 to 18 m) high. Builders erected a wooden tower atop the mound and surrounded it with a sturdy wooden stockade fence. h e fence ran down the hillside and widened into a protected enclosure, the bailey, at ground level. “Capable of quick construction of plentiful materials by largely unskilled labor,” military historian Archer Jones remarks, a motte and bailey “of ered a powerful defense against attackers who had little experience in sieges. h us, these crude castles provided a base for operations, dominated the country around them, and provided a place of refuge for the conquerors in time of trouble.”5