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Unformatted text preview: Sheet1 Page 1 Medieval Castles In 1494 the armies of the French king, Charles VIII, invaded Italy to capture the kingdom of Naples. They swept t the country and bombarded and destroyed many castles. This invasion signaled the end of the castle as a strong defense. For centuries it had been the dominant fortification in Western Europe for the defense of kings, nobility, townspeople. Ancient cities were often walled to keep out invaders, and within the walls there was usually a citad strongly built fortification occupying the highest or militarily most advantageous position. A castle is much like suc walled city and its citadel contracted into a smaller space. Castles were basically fortified locations. The word itself comes from the Latin castellum. Up to the 6th century fortifications were primarily communities in which most of the population lived. But in the middle of the 6th century armies of the Byzantine Empire began to build strong forts as defensive positions. For the next few centuries this building was confined to the Byzantine Empire, but later hordes of Islamic warriors who swept out of Arabia to co the Middle East, North Africa, and much Byzantine territory also started building such forts. Western Europe, in the depths of the Dark Ages from the 5th through the 9th century, had no such works. But lat 9th century, as local lords and kings began to consolidate power, castle building began probably in France. Once castle building spread rapidly to other areas. But it was not until the 12th and 13th centuries, after the Crusaders from their wars against Islam in Palestine, that castles as imposing as those of the Byzantine or Islamic empires w constructed in Europe. Many of the stone castles of the late Middle Ages still stand. Some are tourist attractions, various states of repair, along the Rhine River from Mainz to Cologne in Germany, dotted about the French coun or perched on hilltops in Spain. The original French castles had been built on open plains. Later ones, however, w situated on rocky crags, at river forks, or in some position where advancing enemies would find approach extrem difficult, if not impossible. The fortifications became more elaborate with time, with considerable attention paid to difficult, if not impossible....
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- Spring '08