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What was needed to build the castle?
What was needed to build the castle?

“What does it cost us to build a house?”, Or how to build a fortification worthy of a feudal lord? Let's talk about the intricacies of building castles and talk about what mistakes should be avoided by those who decide to take this serious step.

Imagine that you are a feudal lord whose lands are constantly raided by very unfriendly colleagues. In order to protect yourself and your property, you decide to build a reliable fortress, which will serve you and your retinue both as a home and a defensive point in case of complications in relations with envious neighbors. But the castle is not a barn or a bathhouse, you cannot easily build it!

How to build fortress walls correctly? What factors should be considered during a siege? How is a barbican different from a donjon? Let's start from the very basics.

What is a castle

LockIs a complex of buildings that combine defensive-fortification and residential tasks. Unlike walled polis, castles are not public buildings, but belong to the feudal lord and are intended for himself, his family and retinue, as well as the overlords who visit him.

Often a castle is confused with a fortress, but you, as a future king, should distinguish between them: if a fortress is just a piece of land with various buildings, surrounded by a wall (for example, the famous Danish Viking fortresses, one of which was recently dug up by archaeologists), then the castle is it is a single building in which towers, walls, bridges, residential and other structures are combined into a single architectural ensemble.


The larger the castle, the higher the prestige of its owner. The fortress courtyard, the area inside the castle walls, can be densely built up: there are dwelling houses for servants, and barracks, and storage facilities and, of course, their own churches. At the same time, the beauty of the castle itself and the height of its walls do not always indicate its defensive qualities. History knows examples when squat and very poor-looking castles became a real bone in the throat of eminent conquerors.

Choosing a plot for construction

It would seem, what difference does it make where to build your fortress? Thick walls, high towers, a deep moat - and no armies are afraid. But let's remember that the castle is not just a fortification unit, but also a dwelling and a potential center of the future city. In order for your castle to meet all the necessary requirements, you should take into account a number of important features of the area:

Relief… The first thing you should pay attention to when choosing a site for construction is the nature of the surrounding area. The ideal point will be a high hill or any other hill on which it is physically possible to build a complex of defensive structures. Height is extremely important for a variety of reasons. First, the higher your castle, the harder it will be for a potential enemy to reach it. Steep slopes are impassable obstacles for cavalry and siege weapons, and in some cases for heavily armored infantry.

Even if the attackers somehow miraculously climb the mountain steeps, it will not be difficult to throw them off. An ideal option would be a high hill, which can be climbed along a single narrow serpentine: such a road, additionally protected by rings of fortress walls and several sections of gates, will become even for a huge army a hardest test: for every meter traveled under a hail of arrows and stones and hot oil, the enemy will pay with the lives of their fighters.


Resources… Another important factor is access to clean spring or well water, as well as the logistical connection of the castle with the surrounding buildings, if any.Oddly enough, the most popular tactic for taking a fortress is not an assault, which in itself is a very risky endeavor, but a long siege.

Your castle can turn from a reliable fortress into a real crypt: if your army is isolated from access to food and drinking water for a long time, expect starvation, mass decay and, in extreme conditions, even outbreaks of cannibalism. The castle is a construction of the Middle Ages, before the invention of canning food for at least a couple of centuries. If the territory allows you, set up a garden or vegetable garden inside the castle walls: lean rutabaga porridge and roast rats feeding in the castle warehouses may at some point become the only source of calories.


Water is not only a drinking resource, but can also act as an alternative transport route. The castle, standing on a hill near the river, always has access to running water, which will serve both as additional protection from raids (it is much more difficult to storm the fortifications by swimming than on dry land), and as a retreat in case of emergency. Remember, the castle is your prestige, but personal safety comes first!

The availability of sources will also be important. building materials at least in relative proximity to the construction site. If the forest is still rafting down the river at the very least (although these are additional risks), then dragging blocks from distant quarries for the construction of fortress walls is not only thankless, but also extremely costly. And you still need to throw up feasts and drinking parties on some shishi - otherwise the vassals will laugh and go to a more generous lord.

Life hacks for every day

But what if there are no suitable heights on your lands, but you still want a castle? Bulk hills will come to the rescue: if fortresses were often surrounded by an earthen rampart (a man-made embankment that makes it difficult to approach the walls), then for the sake of the castle it would not be a sin to force farm laborers and slaves to fill in a full-fledged hill, mixing the soil with peat, gravel and limestone. So that all this earth does not creep away from the rains and under the weight of stone buildings - coat the hill with several layers of clay, or even better - overlay it with wooden flooring. Even such a primitive reinforcement will make the structure many times more reliable.


The earth can not only fill up, but also dig. Next time we will talk in detail about each type of defensive element of the castle, but the good old moat is a great way to protect the site even at the stage of development. If you manage to drain river or ground water into it, then congratulations: now you have not only additional protection, but also a source of fresh water.

If not, do not worry: the moat itself is an extremely difficult obstacle, and it will take a lot of time for the enemy to fill it up. As a last resort, you can poke sharp stakes into it in order to drop the presumptuous warriors on them during the assault.


This concludes our story. Next time, we will analyze in detail what structures the castle consists of and how best to design it, based on their terrain features. And remember: the castle is a universal dwelling for all occasions, so you should approach its construction, thinking over every little thing.

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