Castle Book

The Medieval Period  

READER QUESTIONS

When did the medieval period start?

The medieval period lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Roman Empire and merged with the Renaissance and age of discovery. The Chronicles of Nadine is written between 700 and 800AD.   In this page we answer some questions that our readers typically have about this time period.

CASTLES

castle is a type of fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble.

 

Were medieval castles cold?

Medieval castles were made of stone, which while a strong  and defensive material, had very basic building qualities. They could only support small window structures. 

A typical castle would have dark rooms that were constantly cold.  The inhabitants would have to rely on fires to keep them warm.


How were castles built ?

Castle construction was very expensive.  It required carpenters, masons, diggers, quarrymen and blacksmiths.  Larger castles could sometimes employ up to 3000 people in its construction. A castle took on average two to ten years to build. Stone, clay soil and oak trees that are found near the site were used. To split stones for the walls, quarrymen "read" the rock face to see the lines where it will fracture. They then drive a line of holes into the stone and then pound corners into the holes, which made shock waves go through the stone and break it.

Castle: Revised and in Full Color




A 1978 Caldecott Honor Book




The word itself conjures up mystery, romance, intrigue, and grandeur. What could be more perfect for an author/illustrator who has continually stripped away the mystique of architectural structures that have long fascinated modern man? 



With typical zest and wry sense of humor punctuating his drawings, David Macaulay traces the step-by-step planning and construction of both castle and town.


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The Medieval Fortress: 


The castles of the Medieval world continue to interest readers, both as architectural wonders and because of their dramatic role in world history. 


The general public is largely unaware of just how many castles survive today or over how wide an area of Europe and the Middle East they are to be found.Fortifications specialist J.E. and H.W. Kaufmann and technical artist Robert Jurga (authors of the acclaimed Fortress Europe: European Fortifications of World War II ) have once again combined European sources and personal observations to present a unique portrait of military architecture. 


They reveal how the medieval fortress combined both Roman and barbarian features, with some influences from as far away as China.


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DK Eyewitness Books


 

Be an eyewitness to the exciting world of the medieval castle, from the dramatic methods used to defend and attack castles to what life was really like for the people living inside its mighty battlements


Kim's Foot Note: I love the DK Range of books. When I used to work with the incentive industry I would recommend DK above any other book to get a real experience of the area.


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How were medieval tapestries made?

We think of tapestries as done by needle point but in history it was a weft faced textile woven by hand on a loom.  Long strips of plain  thread would be stretched vertically onto the loom.  The weaver would pass coloured thread creating the pattern.  A large image was traced and placed behind the loom and the weaver would trace the image onto the bare warps.

The quality of the tapestry depended on four things, The quality of the cartoon from which is was copied. The skill of the weaver in translating the design onto the weave. The number of warps per centimetre. And finally the quality of the materials used.

 

DAILY LIFE

 Were medieval towns dirty?

 

Medieval towns tended to grow around areas where people could easily meet, such as crossroads or rivers. Towns needed more water than villages, so a nearby water supply was vital. Rivers would provide the water used for washing and drinking and they were used for the disposal of sewage or it was thrown into the streets.

 

Rats were very common in towns. Towns might use pigs to eat what rubbish there was. Because people knew little about health and hygiene, disease was common. Life expectancy could be short. Life for a poor person in a town or city was described as “nasty, brutal and short”. 

How was wine made in medieval times?

Medieval wine makers lacked the technology we now take for granted. 


Although there was a process of making wine from dried grapes, it was only practiced in later years.


 Most wine makers had to make the wine from grapes that had just been picked. Once the grapes were picked, it was advisable to crush them immediately — unless one was producing wine made from dried grapes through techniques which, although popular today, did not exist in the Middle Ages. 



We often think of the scenes in movies where the locals merrily dance around barefoot on grapes But this was not the only way to press grapes. 


The Romans invented technology using mechanical pressure to crush the grapes into juice. But this technology was taken further.


A medieval wine press used a basket made of wood stave. If you are wondering what a stave was. it was a vertical wooden post or plank in a building or other structure used side by side to make a barrel, bucket or some other container.


These were secured by metal rings and a heavy disc pressed down forcing the juice between the staves and into a container. I personally prefer this method because I can’t quite get all those smelly feet visions out of my head when I think abut the movie depicted grape crushing methods. 


The juice was stored in barrels and caskets. As there were no preservatives wine could not be aged in the way that we are now accustomed to. Many of the vines that were present in the middles ages in Europe were actually planted by the Romans. 


 This tells us something about the importance of wine in Roman culture. But wine was not just reserved for merriment, it was an essential part of communion for Christian communities.


In the second book of the Chronicles of Nadine series, The Fire Within the Storm, Nicolous gets gifted a manor that has a neglected vineyard.

Wine Making 

During lock down many people experimented with making their own alcoholic beverages. 


But true wine making is an art. 


One that some authors share to all those who have always dreamed of making their own wines.

Home Built Winery

This book gives you the full experience. It gives a feel for those who want to relieve some earlier wine makers’' experiences. 


 If your passion is for DIY, you are going to love this book. Click on the image to buy it.

Game of Thrones Cookbook

Ever wonder what it’s like to attend a feast at Winterfell?


This is  a great book for Medieval cooking fans.


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What was feudalism and how did is affect the life of a Lord?

Feudalism flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. It was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour. Although the Chronicles of Nadine takes place around 800 AD, we used a range of medieval concepts that spanned across many centuries to create a world for the series.Under the feudal system, there were different groups with varying degrees of power and status.


A king or queen owned all the land, which they broke up and gave out in exchange for military service. The Lord or knight who received the land was called a vassal and was legally obligated to provide services in exchange for that land. 


In the Chronicles of Nadine, Nadine’s father, Nicolaus received Land from Lord Logan and had to resume his Knightly services.Knight service was military duties performed in exchange for the lands. 


A King or Lord might require the military service for wars or expeditions or for riding and escorting services or guarding the castle. 


What complicated things in the Chronicles of Nadine was that Lord Logan’s lands fell within the Northern Kingdom. His service was to King Radolf. This meant that Lord Logan, and all the knights who served under him, were honour bound to serve King Radolf.Lord Logan married King Radolf’s betrothed after had escaped the Northern Kingdom and sort sanctuary in Lord Logan’s territory. She did it under a false identity and lived in medieval bliss until Nadine dropped a dagger in the tunnels that belonged to Lady Christine’s mother. This lead to King Radolf discovering the location of Lady Christine.


Treason an act of disloyalty to the crown and including attempts to murder the monarch or act against the monarch. In 1351, to be hung, drawn and quartered became a statutory penalty for treason. Lord Logan had lived in peace with King Radolf. But his love for Christine would lead to a war that would result in him leading an army in an attempt to regain Lady Christine’s birthright. This uprising would constitute a direct attack against the King and be a treasonable offence. However, King Radolf’s reputation for abusing women was well known and his advisors advised against a direct attack against Lord Logan because of a woman. He wanted Lady Christine back but did not want to appear to have a personal vendetta. The church still had the power to excommunicate a King and by doing so could make lead to other nobles rising up against the King.

The Coming of Neo-Feudalism

The new class structure resembles that of Medieval times. 

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Economic and Social History of Medieval Europe

Henri Pirenne's reputation today rests on three contributions to European history.


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Heart of Europe: A History of the Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Empire lasted a thousand years, far longer than ancient Rome. Yet this formidable dominion never inspired the awe of its predecessor.


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