Sample Essay

Discuss in-depth the building of a castle. Include a drawing or diagram or detailed picture and make sure to label at least 10 key architectural features. Discuss its purpose in medieval society and how would an enemy defeat the castle? (1 ½ pages)

Castle in essence is a Latin word that means “fortress”. In the medieval age they were constructed of earth and timber and mostly positioned in hill, referred to as a motte. Structures considered as castles today trace back AD 900 and 1400 where they were built of stone.

To construct a castle, it is incumbent that the castle building material is chalked out. Unlike medieval times, if castles are to be constructed today, they would be constructed using bricks instead of stones. A foot square of brick instead of stone could be the standard size. Likewise other essentials would be mortar, metals for plumbing and roofing – brass, gold and pewter being the most popular ones. A ditch would have to be dug before anything in a motte. Height of the motte should be between 10 – 100 feet while basal diameters at 250 feet.  The motte would be supporting by a tower at the top which would be pointed in shape instead of dome shaped. The Lord of the Castle is to stay in the tower.  Similarly, various fortresses, gatehouse and walls will have to be constructed to support the castle. Pointed arch would be incorporated for it can support more weight while thin walls allowing broader window openings would be another key architectural feature. To distribute the weight of the castle, additional platforms may be built.  Designs can be more intricate and elaborate by inculcating the use of sharp precision tools such as chisels and diamond based cutters. Hammer beam roofs to deflect light and fan vaulting would be other key features that would be incorporated to enhance its effectiveness and beauty.

Castles have been a part of Medieval European history ever since the time of the Normans. The knights of that time were fascinated by the fortresses in the Byzantine Empire. Driving their influence from there, they henceforth went ahead and revolutionalized the concept of castle in medieval Europe. The famous Motte and Bailey castles were a direct result of this kind of influence.

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