Medieval castle history extends back to early medieval times, although during these times castle building was rather rudimentary. Castles built during these times were mainly fortifications without any proper structure and made use of old Roman fortifications. This medieval castle history took a turn in the middle medieval times that started with the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. After this, medieval castles began to be constructed with elaborate designs and stone was used instead of wood.
Early medieval times are times in medieval castle history when castles lacked several crucial features. For instance, during the early medieval times, castles lacked towers and arrow-slits and there was usually only one central keep. These castles made rich use of wood instead of stone which made them vulnerable to fire and attack by heavy weapons. During this time the breakdown of the Carolingian Empire fragmented Europe and various local lords constructed rudimentary castles for their protection.
Medieval castle history takes a dramatic turn after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. After the conquest, William the Conqueror ordered the construction of castles throughout England in order to protect his rule. These castles were called Motte and Bailey castles and made heavy use of stone which made them stronger and relatively immune to fire. Other important features of these castles included a castle keep, curtain walls, gatehouse, arrow-slits and elaborate defence mechanism, moat, and others.
History of castle design can also be traced back to the early medieval times, although attention to aesthetics began to be paid during the middle and late medieval times. It was during this later medieval period that grand castles began to be constructed with special emphasis on design as the appearance and size of the castle reflected the power and prestige of the owner. Concentric Castles, which had inner and outer walls and became famous during the late medieval times, are very important in medieval castle history with respect to design and architecture.
Medieval castle history includes several castle types from early to late medieval times. Medieval castle history begins with simple fortifications that did not follow any set design. This was followed by Motte and Bailey castles in the middle medieval times. Motte was a mound of earth where a castle keep was situated and Bailey was a separate piece of land usually connected to the Motte with a bridge. Another famous medieval castle type that became popular during the late medieval times was a concentric castle which had multiple layers of walls for added protection.
After the medieval times, castles became less popular and the nobility increasingly began to prefer country houses over castles. These were times when the political situation of Europe was becoming relatively stable and thus there was hardly any need of constructing castles. Older castles were hard to defend in the face of gun powder and new technologies of warfare. Thus while medieval castle history did not end with the medieval times, its decline had started because of the political and scientific changes.
Medieval castle history begins with the early medieval times although castles with elaborate designs were only constructed during the middle and late medieval times. During this era, more attention was also paid to the aesthetics as castle size and design became the status symbol. The trend of building new castles began to decline by the end of the medieval times due to political changes and new warfare technologies.