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Castles in Medieval SocietyFortresses in England, France, and Ireland in the Central Middle Ages$
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Charles L. H. Coulson

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208242

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208242.001.0001

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A Fresh Look at Early Castles

A Fresh Look at Early Castles

(p.15) 1 A Fresh Look at Early Castles
Castles in Medieval Society


Oxford University Press

To speak of ‘fortresses and society’ is, indeed, a truism. As soon as wealth for survival was accumulated, notably harvested grain and domesticated animals, demarcation and defence were required. For appreciating how natural fortresses were to normal ancient and medieval societies (and how various) a long perspective is essential. This chapter offers a revised perspective on castles during the medieval period by looking at the aesthetic, artistic, symbolic, and demonstrative elements in the design of fortresses rather than their presumed purpose as forms of local defence. It discusses fortresses in transition in medieval England and France; the response of the Carolingian Empire to the impact of internal disintegration and external attacks by the Norsemen penetrating far up the fine navigable river systems (particularly the Somme, Seine, and Loire); and the emergence of fortresses as a form of social reconstruction.

Keywords:   castles, fortresses, defence, medieval period, England, France, social reconstruction, Carolingian Empire

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