Castles Facts for Kids

  • A castle is a strong building that was often the home of a king or lord in medieval times and afterward.
  • Castles were built in many places, including Japan, India, and other countries.
  • The castle rose rapidly in western Europe beginning in the 9th century onwards.
  • The leader’s fortress was often built on a high mound encircled by a ditch and topped with a stronghold.

Parts of the Castle

Castles were built for various purposes, including defending homes from intruders, conquering hostile regions, and housing royalty and nobles. A new castle’s site was usually on a high hill. Keep reading to learn more castles facts.

Castles were usually surrounded from all sides by walls that could be thick or thin. They often changed and differed at different points in the castle. Some fortifications were known as concentric castles for additional defensive protection, which featured two castle walls on the inside and outside of the main wall.

The top of a castle’s main walls was equipped with small defensive walls known as battlements. They usually had gaps (known as crenels) and topping off stones (known as merlons).

The castle’s walls were defended with moats. Moats were made of water. Moats stopped enemies from attacking the castle. Usually, castles had at least one drawbridge on the inside that could be drawn back or raised from the inner side to prevent people from crossing the moats.

A castle’s entrances might be protected by a portcullis, typically constructed of strong timber and iron for added durability. Castle towers helped the castle staff see who was coming. Guards sat there to look for enemies or people that were not welcome.

Castles had turrets to look for people. The turrets were not in the main part of the castle, like big towers. Turrets were added to castles, but they didn’t go inside.

The barbican was frequently built in front of the gate. It was a walled-off outpost before it. One of the castle components that served as the first line of defense was the barbican. The connection between a barbican and the castle walls had a walled road. The road was called the neck because it connected the two areas. It was also called the “death trap” because it trapped invaders, making them easy to shoot.

Arrow slits allowed a castle archer to shoot his arrows accurately from the castle’s walls while protecting him from enemy fire. The castle’s machicolation made a platform that stuck out from the walls. This allowed for holes to be built in the castle’s curtain walls which protected it from attacks.

The keep, or donjon, was the primary feature of the castle and served as a refuge for the whole garrison when the outer defenses had collapsed. It was, therefore, the most heavily protected and well-protected area of the fortifications. Keeps were built up to 40 meters high. They were used to show how strong the local lord is besides being a place to retreat.

In addition to the keep, the inner bailey or courtyard might include several other structures such as granaries, workshops, buttery for wine storage, secondary housing, and perhaps a space for hunting dogs and birds.

The living quarters were built near the front gates. The castle’s living quarters would include the lord, his family, and their guests.

There was a hall and a chapel in there. It was where meals were eaten, and entertainment events took place. The Lord sat on the throne, which emphasized his power over everyone else.

The stables housed the family’s horses, whereas a portion was used to store hunting equipment and falcons. Horses were used for knights, messengers, and transporting supplies. A cart with two or four wheels was used to carry things inside the castle. A big part of the castle was the kitchen. It had many servants, like a head cook.

Castles had dungeons. Dungeons were dark, damp places where enemies were held prisoners and sometimes tortured. The oubliette was a type of medieval torture chamber. It was an underground dungeon with no possibility of escape and drove people insane.

The latrines of a castle were built out of the wall, and the waste fell into the moat outside. Toilets had a bench with a hole to sit on. There were a few toilets with their doors, while others were simply placed in a niche. Triangular urinals were put in some walls so that defenders would not have to leave their position.

At the end of the Middle Ages, kings built big castles with strong defenses. The invention of gunpowder made those defenses not so good anymore.

The military and domestic buildings were completely separated from the Renaissance onwards. The military chateau was transformed into a fort under monarchical authority. The monarch’s castle became an unfortified palace, mansion, or manor house.

Castle Staff

The lifestyles of the nobility and aristocracy were extremely luxurious in comparison to that of the general public. As a result, castles required a large number of personnel as employees for a variety of occupations. For example, helped individual culinary staff, cleaning staff, security personnel, maintenance workers, etc.

Depending on the size of the castle and its residents, castle workers had varying responsibilities. Large castles might contain hundreds of people.

Most people who worked at a castle were paid by the day. They had to leave if their lord was gone.

More skilled workers like the chaplain, the steward or general manager, and the marshal will be paid by the year. They might get money and land for loyal service.

The men-at-arms were the ones who defended the castle. They had to obey the marshal and follow him. Sometimes they went outside of the castle grounds to fight with people, too.

Squires who were training to be knights would learn their trade at the castle. They might have practiced jousting or swordsmanship. Squires also guarded the entrance of the castle and patrolled for sentries.

Some knights were stationed at a castle. The lord of the castle paid their salary.

The lady of the castle was in charge of the daily needs of the castle. The steward or seneschal took care of things like supplies and logistics for staff.

Because the position of steward required great responsibility, it was not a simple task. The steward was also in charge of all financial and legal issues regarding the castle’s domains.

The steward was the person who helps the lord. The steward watched for any problems that might happen. Sometimes, the steward could take over and run things if the lord was away for a long time, like during a war.

The marshal was in charge of stables, carriages, and military forces. The grooms at a castle had to take care of the horses, including those that belonged to guests and their servants. A staff of accountants would have aided the marshal in his responsibilities of monitoring everything.

Some blacksmiths and carpenters helped out the people at the castle. The blacksmiths made things like horseshoes, shivs, and shears. The carpenters made furniture for the castle.

Messengers delivered messages, receipts, and goods across the castle’s estates when they were in danger. They got special robes and shoes for free. But there are also risks like being made to eat a letter or getting beaten up.

Most castles had their chapel. The lord’s family could use it. The priest was called the chaplain. He gave religious services and also wrote letters for the lord, using his seal on them too.

A chamberlain looked after the lord’s room and the clothes in the castle, like the knights’ uniforms. Some castles had a separate person in charge of clothing, who stored it in wooden boxes.

A castle would have a laundry lady and her group of helpers. They would wash the clothes, sheets, towels, and tablecloths in a wooden trough with wood ashes and caustic soda. She might also wash the lady’s hair.

Some servants would tidy the rooms, prepare the fires, and empty chamberpots. The bigger castles needed a doctor or dentist to live there.

Minstrels worked for the castle permanently and sang and played the lute as well as percussion instruments like drums and bells. They recited popular heroic deeds and improbable love stories.

Famous Castles

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the famous castles and can be found in the village of Hohenschwangau in Germany.

Castles tell stories about the area they are in. They have high towers and halls, which show how successful their rulers have been. Those same halls also show when things didn’t go so well in the lives of the people who lived there. Castles are also important because they teach us about architecture.

Some of the best-known castles that are still standing today include:

  1. The Louvre Museum in Paris, France
  2. The Forbidden City in Beijing, China
  3. The Palais de Versailles in Versailles, France
  4. The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia
  5. The Alhambra in Granada, Spain
  6. Kumamoto Castle in Kumamoto, Japan
  7. Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany
  8. Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland
  9. Windsor Castle in Windsor, England
  10. Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy

Read more about The Middle Ages


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