SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: motte and bailey, motte-and-bailey castle CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: An elevated mound of earth, part of the motte-and-bailey castle, which was crowned with a timber palisade and surrounded by a defensive ditch that also separated the motte from a palisaded outer compound, called the bailey. Access to the motte was by means of an elevated bridge across the ditch from the bailey. This structure appeared in the 10th and 11th centuries between the Rhine and Loire rivers and eventually spread to most of western Europe. The motte was usually made of earth, but sometimes of stone. Attached to it may be one or more baileys, which are enclosures surrounded by ramparts or stone walls. Motte should not be confused with moat; the latter was a ditch. The motte was formed from the soil originally dug from the ditch. It was the mound on which the wooden castle of the motte and bailey was built in early Norman times. Motte-and-bailey was the type of wooden castle first erected by Norman conquerors and it was an expedient, quickly erected, medieval fortification. Several classic examples of motte and bailey castles are illustrated in the Bayeaux tapestry, with wooden towers and palisades on top of the motte.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A medieval embroidery depicting the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, which is considered a remarkable work of art and important as a source for 11th-century history. It consists of a roll of unbleached linen worked in colored worsted with illustrations and is about 70 m long and 50 cm deep. The work was probably commissioned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, a half-brother of William the Conquerer, and took about two years to complete. It was likely finished no later than 1092. The tapestry depicts the events leading up to the invasion of England by William Duke of Normandy and the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, when the English King Harold was defeated and killed. Though not proven, the tapestry appears to have been designed and embroidered in England. The themes are enacted much like that of a feudal drama or chanson de geste. The technical detail and iconography of the Bayeux Tapestry are of great importance. For instance, the 33 buildings depicted offer a look at the contemporary churches, castles, towers and motte and bailey castles. The battle scenes give details on the infantry and cavalry formations, Norman armor and weapons, and the clothing and hairstyles of the time. The invasion fleet is 'Viking double enders' (clinker-built long boats, propelled by oars and a single mast). The tapestry was discovered" in the nave of Bayeux Cathedral in France by French antiquarian and scholar Bernard de Montfaucon who published the earliest complete reproduction of it in 1730. It narrowly escaped destruction during the French Revolution was exhibited in Paris at Napoleon's wish in 1803-04 and thereafter kept in the Bayeux public library."
CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: A medieval European structure, generally the residence of a king or a lord of the territory. The word 'castle' is derived from Latin 'castellum', a fortified camp, and there are various linguistic forms, including chateau, castello, castrum, and burg. These medieval strongholds developed rapidly from the 9th century. The word is sometimes applied to prehistoricearthworks, such as Maiden Castle, England. Castles developed with the feudal system which installed a societal classification in which land and other privileges were granted in return for military service. Castle architecture had three essential elements: a tower (keep or donjon), residence for the noble, and a fortified enclosure wall. The first late Carolingian types were likely modeled on the fortified homesteads of the Slavs, and in the 10th century the manor or principal house was then set up on a raised mound within the enclosure. This motte and bailey" type was introduced to France in the 11th century. The Normans then it to the British Isles and southern Italy and also built stone keeps within their enclosures. Later 12th-century castles in France and England have large stone walls gateways modeled on Arabic and Byzantine forts and massive circular central keeps. Multiple walls with strengthened gateways are an invention of the mid-13th century. The introduction of the cannon and other firearms in the 15th and 16th centuries made castles vulnerable to attack. Castle architecture was revised with low walls which could be defended all around by artillery the guns mounted on bastions and redans."
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: Vikings, or Norsemen, who settled in France; the population of the duchy of Normandy in northern France, a mixed race descending from the Franks and 10th-century Norse settlers of Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. In AD 1066, their leader, William of Normandy, conquered England, then Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The Normans also conquered Sicily and southern Italy in a volatile period that began in 1063. These military feats were consolidated by the strength of the Norman feudal aristocracy and their skill in erecting strong, expedient fortifications ranging from motte and bailey earthworks to substantial stone castles. The Normans were also the main force behind the Crusades, which began in the 11th century AD. They promoted the French language and French culture, and the Romanesquestyle of architecture. By 1200 the Norman conquerors had been absorbed into the countries they ruled, but many of their institutions lasted into the late Middle Ages. Despite their eventual conversion to Christianity, their adoption of the French language, and their abandonment of sea-roving for Frankish cavalry warfare in the decades following their settlement in Normandy, the Normans retained many of the traits of their piratical Viking ancestors. They were restless, reckless, and loved fighting; they extended the practice of centralized authoritarian rule, feudalism, cavalry warfare, and religious reform.
CATEGORY: structure DEFINITION: A type of small ringfort found in Ireland and southwest Wales. The fort, rarely more than 60 meters in diameter, was enclosed by a bank with an outer ditch. Rath is generally used to describe a fort with earthen banks, while a stone-built fort is described as a cashel. The oldest forts belong to the late Iron Age/Roman period of 1st century BC-4th century AD in Wales and in Ireland they are from the 5th-10th centuries AD. Some of these raths were re-used by the Normans as the foundations for small motte and bailey castles, while others continued to be occupied until the post-medieval period.