Medieval Castle Military

The medieval castle was primarily a fortified structure that usually housed the lord owning it and his family. The overall nature of the castle was military, so affairs related to military formed one of the most important aspects of life within the castle.

Since the lord of the castle was often required to appear with his men-at-arms whenever his overlord or the King summoned him, the lord had to keep a large body of troops and train them in military combat.

Medieval Castle Staff Military

Some of these directly served the lord in fighting, others were tasked with looking after the procurement and maintenance of horses, weapons, and other battlefield equipment.

Medieval Military List

Men at Arms – A professional Soldier, noble or Knight, fully armoured heavy cavalryman

Castle Guards threw rocks, hot oil, and other projectiles over the battlements at the top of castles onto the enemy below

Castle Battlement Entrance

Castle Guards (Gatekeepers) poured boiling oil through murders holes at the castles entrance etc

Bodiam Castle Gatehouse

Archers, Longbowmen, and Crossbowmen fired missiles from castle loops (slits) from the castle’s walls and gatehouse

Medieval Archers firing arrows at the enemy

Foot soldiers is a term for infantry soldiers on foot such as Archers and Pikemen

Foot soldiers protected the castle and the Lord, they fought with daggers, Pikes (spears) Bows, etc

A suprise Military Attack

Knights protecting a castle used lances, axes, and vicious morning star weapons

Castle Military *Support

Page Boy – young noble (aged 7 -8 approx) training to be knights assisted squires

Medieval Page

Squires – older nobles (aged 13 – 14 approx) assisted knights, training to become knights themselves

Medieval Squire Picture

Knights horses were called chargers and were usually a strong stocky horse called a “Destrier”

German Horse Armour

Supporting roles – Blacksmith, Armourer, Knife grinder, Herald, Heraldic officers, Standard Bearers, etc.

Blacksmith and Medieval Guild

Medieval Castle Military Outlook

During the early and high middle ages, the medieval castle was considered a military structure. As a result, most of the employees in the service of the castle were male men directly or indirectly related to military service.

A Medieval Castle Being Defended Under Siege

This also resulted in the lack of significant number of female workers in the castle, at least until the late medieval period.

In the late medieval period once the military aspect of the castle was rendered ineffective in the face of gunpowder weapons, the number of female workers began to increase.

Medieval Castle Knights and Esquires

The most important person related to military service in a medieval castle was the knight. Knights typically came from noble families and were employed by the lord who looked after their rigorous training and their battlefield experience.

Medieval Knights History

When the lord was required to fight at a battle, the knights directly served under him.

The knights were trained in battle on horseback but often fought dismounted contrary to popular beliefs, and in return for their service to the lord, were often given landholdings and other rewards.

Unlike most other workers in a medieval castle, the knight also had the prospect of rising in esteem and social standing over time if he proved his mettle in combat. In the castle, the knights were often accompanied by esquires who waited on them and were considered their apprentices.

White Knight on Horseback

Such esquires also came of noble or gentry families and had chances of rising in status over time.

Medieval Castle Gatekeepers

Apart from knights who directly participated in battlefield combat, the medieval castle also typically housed another body of troops. This body, called the gatekeepers, were of less noble origins and guarded different gates of the castle.

On such rare occasions when the castle came under attack or a siege was laid to it, the role of the gatekeepers was crucial as they formed a frontline defence against the attackers. For this purpose, the gatekeepers not only guarded the entrance but were also skilled in combat.

A Trebuchet Catapult Siege Attack on a Castle

Diminishing Significance of Military Aspect

Towards the late medieval period, the military significance of a castle took a backseat due to the invention of gunpowder weapons. As a result, castles stopped to serve as military structures.

Medieval Gunpowder Weapons

Medieval Gunpowder Weapons

The outlook of the medieval castle which had been military since the beginning of the medieval period also changed during this period. Due to this change, the number of military personnel typically employed by a castle began to decrease and the ratio of female workers rose.

Medieval Castle Military Fast Facts

  • Archers defenders of a medieval Castle would fire arrows from the Castle walls Battlements
  • Archers were also stationed in other parts of the Castle and would fire arrows from Castle Slits (loops)
  • Castle Arrow slits (Loops) were designed to protect the castles archers from enemy fire
Windsor Castle Arrow Slit

Inside View of Arrow Slit of Arrow Loop of Windsor Castle

  • A Crossbow/Longbow could be used by Archers from various Castle Loops (slits) around the Castle
  • Medieval foot soldiers were often stationed inside the Castle Gatehouse to defend the Castles Entrance
  • Castle guards would pour hot liquids and hurl stones through murder holes at the castles entrances

  • The knight was the most important military person in a medieval castle in both attack and defence
  • Castle Gatekeepers were very important castle personnel who protected the weak entrance points
  • Castle Gatekeepers protected later castles Gatehouse and entrance areas from attack
  • Gunpowder weapons brought an end to the medieval castles use as a fortification

Medieval knights rushed to the entrance of castle