Ian's Land of Castles Castle with Peasants

Why were castles made? What did castles look like on the outside? On the inside? What was castle life like? What did they use for defenses? What kind of beliefs did medieval people have?
My favorite books are listed and there are some great drawings kids have sent to me! 
This is a game I made (with help from my mom).  If you want to play this, be prepared for long downloads!  I was inspired by the computer game Myst and did all the artwork myself.

Castle Links: 

This site was created by Ian Burns, at age 8 (ndarling@psu.edu) in 1997. It's been revised since! Please write!
This page had been accessed 131,401 times from April 28th, 1997 - January 28, 2001. It has been visited  times since.

Why were castles made? 

Castles were originally made to protect people from enemies. People lived around the castles in towns. Castles were also made to help kings gain and control more territory (the barons of the castles were working for the king of the country they belonged to). The earlier castles were called 'mott & baileys'. The mott was a high mound of earth with a wooden tower on it. Around the tower and going down the hillside was a wooden fence called a palisade. At the bottom, the palisade spread out to a wall around a town where people lived. Later on, the wood was replaced by stone. As castles advanced the towers and walls got larger and developed until they looked like the huge and impressive castles everyone thinks of.

What did castles look like on the outside? 

When a castle was newly built, it was very white because it was covered with whitewash (whitewash is a white paint made of lime and water). Every castles design was different, depending on the area around it and what it's purpose was. The walls were over ten feet thick and toped with crenelations The main entrance was through the gate, but their were many much smaller gates around the castle used to come or go without being easily noticed or for extra traffic. There were also lots of windows, but the ones near the ground were extremely thin to keep people from climbing through them. windows higher up could be bigger, since it would be hard to get up that high and the windows were barred.


What did castles look like on the inside? 

An important thing to remember is that castles weren't just designed to be defended. They were also designed to be lived in and that was a major concern designing them. One of the most important places in a castle was the Great Hall. It was were the meals were served, the entertainment was, and feasts were held. It was also were everyone would come to talk or meet friends A castle usually had two walls with the gates facing opposite direction so enemies would have to cross all the way around the inside of the first wall while being shot at the whole way. The outer section was called the Outer Ward. In it were the castles shops and houses. The Inner Ward was were the armories, knight quarters, food supplies and wells in case of a siege. Another part of the Inner Ward was the Keep, which was a separate building where the king lived. It was designed to be defended if the rest of the castle was captured.



Castle Life 

In medieval society everything revolved around the church. People believed that kings were king because god made them king, and the church had as much (if not more, depending on the politics) power as the king. Medieval Society was called the feudal system. The king and church had about power, and where at the top of society. Below them where the land owners and knights. Then there were people who had some business like being a blacksmith or shoemaker. Finally at the bottom were the peasants. They were stuck on the land they were born on, and had to give a large chunk of everything they produced to the king and the owner of the land they worked on (so they could pay their taxes to their baron and the king, so they could pay their taxes to the king). Medieval society was a pyramid based on numbers of people and it was almost impossible to go up to a higher level. In castles the castles baron (it's leader appointed by the king) would keep things running. The people in the towns payed taxes to the castles baron. If the castle was attacked the town wall would be the first defence. Everyone not manning the wall would retreat into the castle. Then the outer wall would be defended, then if that was taken the inner wall, then the keep. During peacetime the fields around the castle were farmed and used to hold livestock.



The first defence a castle had would be were it was built, since the fewer places an enemy can attack you from and the harder it is for them to get to hou the easier it is to defend. The problem is that if they couldn't get to it neither can anyone else (including the people to build it. If a castle was under attack the first thing the defenders would do is to defend the town wall, since in a way it was a third wall for the castle. If the town was taken everyone retreated to the castle. Around the castle walls would be towers for archers

To see pictures of medieval weapons, click here


In the time of castles, people believed that the world was flat and that if you sailed too far, you would fall off the edge. And they believed that the earth was the center of the galaxy. They didn't know about germs, either, and they thought that something else caused diseases (though I'm not sure what). They believed in witches and dragons and goblins. They believed in wizards and alchemy (turning things like lead into gold). They believed in spontaneous generation - that the way you got mice and rats was by leaving rags in corners. They were very religious. The center of medieval life was the church. This is their idea about the world:

Medieval people believed that the king was the leader because of divine right (because God made him king). Barons and lords reported to the king and knights were loyal to their masters. To become a knight, you trained as a page. In the beginning of chivalry (the rules for becoming a knight), anyone could become a page - even a serf. The serfs were peasants who were tied to the land they were born on. Whoever controlled the land, controlled the serfs. Whatever they did - like raising crops or being a blacksmith - part of it belonged to their master. 


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