Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Europe Incastellated: Medieval Archaeology

  • Robert Liddiard
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1708


The castle is perhaps the signature building of the European Middle Ages. Whether surviving as earthworks, ruined masonry or, in a minority of cases, still inhabited, castles are a testament par excellence to the ambition and achievements of the landed aristocracy that ruled Europe from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries. The castle’s origins, longevity, and decline were intimately bound up with the European system of social relations and landholding conventionally defined as feudalism. In the popular imagination, the castle is associated primarily with its military function, but equal weight should also be given to its more domestic aspects and role as a residence. The subject has seen considerable revision in the past two decades, and debate has chiefly focused on the martial character of the castle, with a strong tendency to emphasize the role of the castle as an icon of lordship and as a visual projection of seigniorial power, as much as a tool of war.



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Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Liddiard
    • 1
  1. 1.School of HistoryUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK