Book Review: English Castles 1200-1300


English Castles 1200-1300English Castles 1200-1300 (Fortress) The 13th Century is probably the most interesting period of time in the development of medieval castles as fortresses. It was a period of much activity and it is often considered to be the zenith of the whole castle development history. The end of this century was when William Wallace lived (of Braveheart fame) who was executed in 1301 which pretty much denoted the end of the whole period.

During this time there weren’t a whole lot of new castles built. Rather, many of the existing wooden, and motte and bailey castles were upgraded, rebuilt, restored and reinforced. Often upgraded from wood to stone and with sophisticated improvements such as gatehouses, concentric rings of defense, the barbican, circular towers and moats. It was during this time that these improvements in defense were created and instituted into castles.

It is also during this time that the role of the fortress changed from a fortification against attack to a place where royalty and others actually lived. This period saw the development of living quarters, gardens and other things that made it a place that could also be comfortably lived in during times of peace.

What’s in the book

This is a small book with only 64 pages but it is very informative and chock full of wonderful information about castles and castle building during this period of time. It has a lot of wonderful pictures and quite a few amazing illustrations that show castle development and castle floor plans. There is also a wonderful list at the end of the book that describes the castles of the period that are still standing (or partially standing) today. With information about where they are if you want to visit them.

Castle development was a very expensive and time consuming affair and it is something that the rich and powerful kings, lords and dukes undertook at great expense and the book also takes a look at this aspect of the process . There is a lot of information about the powerful leaders of the time and how they went about consolidating their power and building their castles. And although this part of the history of castles is not particularly interesting to me it was a very important part of the process and it determined a lot of what actually happened during the century.

If you are a big fan of medieval castles this book is a must have. It covers all of the aspects of the development of the fortress during the most important century of their timeline. It covers finances, architecture, the major figures and all of the major castles of the time. It takes a look at how the castles was changed and upgraded for peace, for war and for living arrangements.


About the Author: Christopher Gravett is a former senior curator at the Royal Armouries, Tower of London, and a recognized authority on the arms, armour and warfare of the medieval world.

There is also an interesting link inside the book that you might want to check out: The Fortress Study Group

The book is available on English Castles 1200-1300 (Fortress)

















































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