This book has focused on the human and social aspects of castle-building in England, France, and Ireland during the medieval period, to reconcile the civilized with the violent aspects of medieval society, as they are perceived today. Writing about the glories of late-medieval architecture, Wim Swaan saw the problem as summed up by Johan Huizinga's remark that medieval life ‘bore the mixed smell of blood and roses’. Perhaps the main contribution to knowledge to be made by studying castles and fortresses in proper breadth is to shed some light on the aspirations and adversities of noblemen and ladies, ecclesiastics, townspeople, and of the great rural majority, and on their civilized achievements, institutional as well as architectural, in the western European middle ages.
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