How Norman Castles Changed During The Middle Ages

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Castles first came to England in 1066 when William, Duke of Normandy, won the battle of Hastings. The Normans needed castles because they had taken control of England by force and were hated by many English people. The Normans had to protect themselves from English rebellions and they needed to keep power over and show strength to the English people. William made sure that castles were built all over England in major towns. The first castles were built very quickly and were very simple, but during the reign of William and throughout the rest of the Middle Ages (1066-1500) the design of castles changed. In this essay I will talk about how much castles changed during the Middle Ages and the reasons for this.

Motte &
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Better living conditions for the Norman barons with bedrooms, kitchens, a chapel and toilets (Garderobes).

Square Keep castles had lots of strengths: They were a show of power against the English and really difficult to attack because of their thick stone walls and height. They also gave better living conditions. They did still have weaknesses though: They were expensive, took a long time to build, they could not be moved and they could still be attacked by enemies by:
Setting really hot fires under the corners (weak points) until they collapsed.
Using battering rams.
Starving out the Normans by not letting food in.
Tunneling and mining under the castle walls.
Using archers and catapults to fire arrows and rocks over the castle walls.
The corners were blind spots – an attacker could hide behind corners.

These problems led to a change of design towards the end of the 12th Century once Edward I became king. Under his reign the design of round stone castles and keeps began. The round castle keep meant that there was nowhere the enemy could not be seen and took away the weaknesses of having corners.

Concentric Castles (1239 – 1400)
Concentric castles were a castle within a castle idea and were built to be as difficult to attack as possible. Castles were very important as there were still lots of wars in England with many people fighting for power.
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