The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
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Castles in Medieval Society

Fortresses in England, France, and Ireland in the Central Middle Ages
Charles L. H. Coulson

"The vast majority of castles in England, Wales, Ireland, and France have virtually no `military history' of sieges or physical conflict across the whole panorama of more than five centuries'. This is quite a sobering thought. But surely castles were built just in case there was an attack and the fact that few were involved in conflict makes no difference? Charles Coulson challenges our perceptions about what a castle was, why they were built and how they functioned. Through a wealth of textual material (with full or long excerpts given) he argues that castles were a different, albeit significant, residence of the aristocracy who had a penchant for crenellation and castellation. Yes they had a defensive function, but Coulson outlines the `social realities' of castles and castle-building, and of those who inhabited them - nobility and gentry, widows and heiresses, prelates and clergy, peasants and townspeople all played a role in the life of the medieval castle."

A highly scholarly, challenging and difficult text. The content is worth the struggle with the style and extensive footnotes. Charles Coulson is the person who has lead the change in the view of castles away from being 'the fortified residences of a lord' into being a complex symbol of dominion. A major paradigm shift from looking at castles from a mainly military utilitarian perspective into considering them as psychological and sociological instruments to impose and confirm concepts of dominion and lordship.

Published by Oxford University Press (2003; Oxford)
ISBN: 0-19-820824-3

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Last updated on Friday, March 10, 2017