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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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Some Social Relations of ‘Castles and Fortresses’

Some Social Relations of ‘Castles and Fortresses’

(p.64) 3 Some Social Relations of ‘Castles and Fortresses’
Castles in Medieval Society


Oxford University Press

It is because a far broader and looser sense of the castle operated in the medieval sphere, whether the period be early, middle, or late, that the social interactions of fortresses were so diffuse and pervasive. These elusive connotations, corrections, and resonances are explored in the present chapter. Although as a tool of analysis, even as a hypothesis, the modern construct of the castle carries with it too many false associations to continue to be useful, its dominance of the modern popular mind is not likely to change. Taking their tone from ecclesiastical denunciations of castles used against the Church, historians have supposed that the dukes of Normandy, and the kings of England, restrictively licensed castle-building on a systematic basis. The sometimes obsessive preoccupation of England and north-west France with earthworks as castles par excellence is not due to a different original ‘military’ culture, but to historical accident.

Keywords:   castles, medieval period, England, France, fortresses, social relations, castle-building, earthworks

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