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 Norman castle building in England different from France?

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PaulRyckier
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PaulRyckier

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PostSubject: Norman castle building in England different from France?   Norman castle building in England different from France? EmptySat 04 Jan 2020, 23:18

Edited version from yesterday.

Sparked by a documentary about Ashford Castle in Ireland: the take over in 2013 by an American hotel chain, which saved the castle and going further with the existing personal doubled it even in a few years
https://www.ashfordcastle.com/about/history

As I am interested in medieval castles, I then had a look to this original Norman castle and the history of those castles.
I first found:
https://spartacus-educational.com/NORcastles.htm
There I found the first reference to the predecessor of the stone Norman castle:

Norman castle building in England different from France? 00williamC4

And further:
http://www.castlesandmanorhouses.com/types_04_norman.htm

By looking to the Norman castles in France I think that this was the original type: a mould with a wooden construction on top of it. And it seems to be this form that was invented in Norman France by the Normans. In fact the stone version, was only instead of the "motte" and Baley style: the "keep" or "donjon" and the baley, as the Tower in London. And in England they didn't exist. They had only before the Normans "boroughs" or "burhs" as defence.

Further looking for Norman castles in France I came on this site:
https://erenow.net/common/castle-a-history-of-the-buildings-that-shaped-medieval-britain/2.php
But looking for sources as I found it interesting, I found out via a forum discussion, that it seems to be an illegal copy from an "erenow" site from Ukraine, which makes copies from reknowed books..
And at the end found that it was the Second chapter of a book by Marc Morris: "Humble origins"
https://www.amazon.com/Castle-Marc-Morris/dp/0099558491
As I haven't still no free shortener, one can read it on Google books under the search: "castle building humble origins"

And there I think I had an answer to my question. And together with that I had an interesting and easy reading story en plus about the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Thank you Marc Morriss

And a last question: Is the "Gravenkasteel" in Ghent a Norman style castle?

PS: Is the Norman castle then the origin of all medieval castles?
PPS: Temperance, if you want to stay once in a real castle?
https://www.ashfordcastle.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiAjMHwBRAVEiwAzdLWGInHH2TLZz-k2WNwAFYUUgoWHa2LRY7fEYovKgluINEqzEjw2T3tdhoCIigQAvD_BwE
Some 300 Euro a night, roughly some 250 British Pounds. Perhaps less if you can share a twin with a friend?
PPPS: Temperance...and don't ask, why I especially mentioned you...

Kind regards, Paul.
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nordmann
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nordmann

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PostSubject: Re: Norman castle building in England different from France?   Norman castle building in England different from France? EmptyMon 06 Jan 2020, 08:27

Norman castle building in its early phase within Britain (and later Ireland) differed fundamentally from what had become the architectural norm in France in that it tended to be executed by newly ascendant warlords in particular areas who were putting a priority on taking over existing strongholds and strategically advantageous positions in the landscape as quickly as possible. The result was that existing burghs, which tended to be made of stone, were simply beefed up with extra walls and battlements. However a far more typical "castle", especially where none had existed before, was initially a wooden construction using ditches and ramparts that Julius Caesar himself might have been familiar with.

From the reign of William Rufus onwards in England and Wales, and especially under Edward, the first "mega-castles" started to appear. When built from scratch these tended to conform architecturally with Norman castles in France. However they show much more variation than in France in that they were often pimped up versions of existing fortification on particular sites. They also had an advantage over existing large French castles in that the new construction could more immediately incorporate defenses against the latest siege and assault weapons entering warfare.

In Ireland castle architecture under the Normans took a slightly different trajectory. The first wave of Norman warlords did much as they had done in England. However after a few generations many of these warlords' families had begun to become assimilated into Gaelic culture and politics to a degree that alarmed their relatives back in Britain. This led to a "second wave" of Normans (sent often by the English king Edward and some of his successors) who targeted their Norman counterparts and who, when they successfully ousted their predecessors, set about some rapid and quite impressive redevelopment of their own. Some of these redevelopments reflect the fact that they had, through warfare, seen their own traditional defences from an assailant's point of view, and introduced on that basis some rather unique innovations of their own based on this experience. In Ireland therefore one sees from this period a tendency to obliterate and completely replace the existing Norman structures with new ones (one sees this in Wales too for similar reasons), which led to what might be called a "typical Irish" Norman phase of architecture.

The whole thing was probably about to even itself out in terms of architecture throughout all the areas of Norman dominance when gunpowder arrived and changed the rules completely overnight for everybody.

The truth is therefore that one rarely if ever finds a "typical medieval castle" in these places, or anywhere in Europe for that matter. The basic requisites for a successful defence of an enclosed space  using the most logical materials and designs available to builders lend an air of uniformity of style to the castles that are lumped together as "medieval", but it is rarely one finds such a castle that hasn't also often incorporated some unique solutions to its own particular location and role in that area, which can range from particular topographical restrictions to its owners' level of participation in establishing a feudal economy and social structure within which the castle would also play a central administrative part.

In fact I would say that this level of investment in "feudalism" as a politico-economic standard is probably that which most dictated uniformity and divergence in terms of architecture in the early medieval period. One only has to take a "typical" French castle and a "typical" Irish one from the 12th and 13th centuries to see the essential differences this caused. Defensively they exhibit similar features of course, but their size, location, adornments and extent of ancillary building show two very different approaches being taken in both locations.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Norman castle building in England different from France?   Norman castle building in England different from France? EmptyMon 06 Jan 2020, 22:52

Thank you very much, nordmann for this essay. I just entered the place and will need to digest your information and to compare it with what I already found. But from what I read it seems quite promising.

Kind regards, Paul.
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