Castles did not just appear, but rather evolved over a long time. The
first castles were nothing more than wooden forts. But by the 15th century
they had evolved into magnificent works of art.
Castles have been around since before history was recorded. The first
forms of castles were for protection, and evolved from the structures that
fortified many Roman cities. This form of castle evolved into the
Motte-and-bailey castle, which consisted of a wooden citadel placed atop a
motte (hill), and a larger courtyard below, both were enclosed by a wooden
fortification, and usually surrounded by a moat.
The Motte-and-bailey lasted untill near the end of the 10th century
when the Normans introduced stone to the original castles, and improved on
their defensive capabilities. During this time period (10th-12th century)
there were many wars between lords in the feudal system, and the castle
became a prominent part of the manor.
In the 12th century, the crusades introduced a new type of castle,
which reflected the infleunce of the Byzantine fortifications. One of the
major improvements over the old design was the introduction of towers to
the outside walls. No longer were the walls in a rectangular form as was
prominent between the 10th and 12th centuries. Lords began to make their
castles more complex, and add a new aspect, comfort.
Between the 14th, and 16th century castles lost their importance. Partly
because of the formation of monarchy, and centralized government. But also
because of the development of gunpowder which made the fortifications
impractical. Many castles were remodeled to form more practical living
quarters. Some castles were unable to be remodled, and were sold simpley
for the value of the building materials.
Many castles still exist today. They serve as tourist attractions.
Some are even still inhabited, and have been converted for use as a
chateau. The tower of London is an example of the later Motte-and-bailey
castle. It now serves as a tourist attraction. One of the few castles in
the U.S. is the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Flardia. It was
built by the Spaniards between 1672 and 1760. It had walls 30 feet high
and 15 feet wide it is the largest surviving castle in the U.S. .
Academic American Encyclopedia
Britanica Junior Encyclopedia
Merit Student Encyclopedia