How Castles Were Secured in Medieval Times

You’ve either watched a movie or played a video game that deals with castles and how they are defended. Generally you think of a moat with alligators and archers on top of the towers, cannons, and knights on horses ready to defend the honor of the castle and its inhabitants. But is that really based in reality? Is that what people have done to protect themselves from outside forces?

Well, yes. But a little more refined.

How They Were Fortified

Castles were built with the intention of defending all who were inside. They weren’t made so that they could fight one small battle; they were constructed to fight battles and standoffs that could last weeks, and months. They were made to be impenetrable. First, you had the outside wall, which was called a curtain and went around the entire structure and it was thick, feet thick, and was able to protect them from missiles and battering rams (because that’s what they used during those times). Some even had two separate walls, called concentric walls, which gave even more than just one wall of protection.

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Not only did many of them have these walls, they also really did have moats. But…they weren’t with fresh water that you could swim across in and still feel clean. Sanitation wasn’t exactly the top priority when it came to the moat and they were generally filled with toilet waste, which honestly would keep most people from attempting to wade through it (but then again, we are talking about times where things were just in general dirty, so they might not have even smelled the putrid moat for what it really was). The moat also served its purpose of holding off an army long enough to gather the troops and be able to keep them at bay from the walls and then get them in a cattle chute via the bridge. The moats even had their own traps in them as well from sharpened spikes to alligators.

Castles are also built in areas in which they can see the entire surrounding land, a 360 degree view of potential invaders. – It’s like the ultimate home security! And that was an advantage. If they were built on level ground, in the middle of a forest, they would be at a significant disadvantage for surprise attacks. But with their locations, they could see everything from their towers which meant that they could be prepared in the event of an attack. They also fortified the gate entrance because a castle can’t be protected if they leave the door open. Some had up to 15 different obstacles to trap and kill the invaders, and that’ s just as the door.

Castles were built to protect the king and queen, and sometimes the entire village, so they had to be strong and well thought out. And it’s not like they could go out and hire locksmith services to assist them. That wasn’t a question. These massive places were built to keep all those who inhabited the walls safe from intruders, and they did a great job in general. While advances in technology have benefited communities and society, castles still remain some of the most fortified buildings and communities in the nation.

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