Why did castles have towers?

Terms in and around a castle
(in alphabetical order)

Abortion or resignation

Was the toilet of the time. It was attached to the outer walls of the living rooms or towers in the form of a bay window, so that the urge then fell down (see, for example, Landeck castle ruins or Windeck castle ruins).

Section castle (= front tower castle)

Divided facility, which was strongly threatened from one side and had to be protected by a front tower, shield wall, etc.

Bailiff

Royal, imperial or episcopal servant who mostly came from the lower or middle nobility. He was often used by his masters as the administrator of his estates (including castles, villages, cities), collected tithe and taxes and secured important areas (rivers, borders and trade routes) with a small, defensive team. In return, the bailiff received (similar to his current counterpart - the civil servant), a tax-free salary and, with good, loyal service, corresponding privileges (see also feudal system).

Barbacane

Bridgehead-like fortification in front of the outer ditch or small kennel outside the curtain wall.

Barbacantor

This is the name given to a castle gate system with 2 gates connected by walls to form a closed room. If the enemy had penetrated through the first gate (or had been let in), one could work on him from the walls of the barbacane with hot pitch or stones (see e.g. Bickenbach castle ruins).

bastion

This was the name given to a circular tower, which usually had walls several meters thick and from whose cannon slots the muzzle flashes of the cannons could be discharged. Bastions were usually also somewhat in front. Due to the circular shape, you could shoot practically in all directions (see, for example, castle ruins Nanstein or castle ruins Lichtenberg / Thallichtenberg).

Building war

Also called the peasant uprising. In 1525 it became too much for the farmers and poor craftsmen. There was an uprising against the high nobility, which exempted the people more and more through taxes and duties. Led by Imperial Knights, such as E.g. Götz von Berlichingen stormed the farmers in the Rhineland-Palatinate, Hessian, Baden-Württemberg and Franconian areas around a hundred castles and burned them down.

Keep

The last refuge when the enemy broke all defensive barriers. The entrance was mostly on a high level, so that it could only be reached via a bridge or ladder. When everyone had reached the keep safely, the bridge was torn down or the ladder was pulled in, and the hope was that the enemy had no patience to wait and moved on.

Bering

A high stone wall that encloses the castle. Castles often had several rings.

Humpback ashlar technique

The way of giving a stone that was used to build the castle a particularly defensive shape. This technology reached its peak in the Staufer period. The stone was hewn square, but the outward-facing side was rounded in a belly shape. The principle: Heavy stone projectiles should have as little contact surface as possible so that the projectile ricochets off to the side.

Truce

Contractually stipulated procedure among the castle residents to avoid violent disputes.

Moat

A deep moat that surrounds the castle all around. He should stop the attackers. Usually this was filled with water (moated castles). And the rock that came out of the excavation was often used to build the castle. A double benefit.

Burgstall

A place where there used to be a castle, but today there are hardly any or no remains to be found.

Dirnitz

small living room or small independent residential building in the castle.

Donjon

Mighty residential tower that combines the functions of a palace and a keep. The access was usually a little higher and was made via a wooden staircase that could be torn down in the event of a siege (see, for example, the Wernerseck castle ruins).

Thirty Years' War

It was waged under the guise of a religious war between Protestants and Catholics. In fact, the real reason was to be found in the striving for power of the individual ruling houses in Europe. In principle it consisted of 5 wars
(Bohemian War, Palatinate War, Danish War, Swedish War and French War), which however overflowed into one another over time. In the end, all the great powers of Europe were involved. But none could win. The only winner was the plague, which could spread across weakened Europe.
For more detailed information, just click here.

Flanking tower

See defense tower

Front tower castle

see section castle

Ganerbeburg

The castle, divided into individual living areas by inheritance to several descendants (see e.g. Eltz Castle). It also happened that the individual parties were not related to one another, as one could sell or pledge one's inherited share in the castle at any time.

Neck ditch

Mostly only to be found at castles that are located on a mountain ridge or mountain ridge. 3 sides are protected by sloping terrain. The ridge is excavated in front of the castle (in profile it looks like a neck). This means that the last accessible page is also protected. The rock that came out of the excavation was very often used to build the castle. A double benefit (see Zwingenberg Castle)!

Emperor

Supreme ruler of a great empire. Secular and spiritual princes were subordinate to him. You can find a table of the emperors of the German-Roman Empire here.

capital

Support, pillar or support for beams or parapets, mediating component, at the same time a preferred decorative and ornamental support (similar to console, cantilever)

Casemates

Bunkers in which the guns were housed. Often long vaulted passages (see e.g. fortress Rosenberg) and mostly only to be found in fortress buildings.

Kemenaten

(from the Latin "cemenata / caminus" = fireplace and Old High German "cheminate" = a chamber with a fireplace). These were the sleeping quarters of the lord of the castle and his family. Mostly the only rooms in the castle that were heated (see, for example, Montfort castle ruins).

Core castle

The houses of the lords of the castle were located in the core or upper castle. It was the best protected part of the entire complex. The last refuge was usually in the immediate vicinity - the keep.

Console, corbel

Overlay protruding from the wall for balcony, bay window or parapet (similar to capital)

Elector Prince

The word cure is not related to the recovery cure we are familiar with, but comes from the word "Küren". Elector princes were sovereigns who elected (= elected) the king or emperor. There were 7 electoral princes in the German-Roman Empire: the King of Bohemia, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, the Duke of Saxony, the Market Count of Brandenburg (later alternately the Duke of Bavaria), as well as the Archbishops of Trier, Cologne and Mainz . Their power was often greater than that of the actual king or emperor they chose. The best example of this is Prince Elector and Archbishop Balduin von Trier, whose brother Heinrich VI. was elected emperor, but he was clearly the more powerful of the two.

Landsknechte

Mercenaries who took the place of men from the people in arms. This type of army recruitment was very strong in the 16th and 17th centuries. Century on. Most of them were very experienced in weapons, but only loyal as long as the wages were paid. If you cheated the mercenary troops over the same (and that happened quite often), the respective general could have a head and neck.

Fief, feudal lord, feudal lord

Under fiefs one understood offices, goods or rights that the feudal lord gave his feudal lord to use for a certain period of time. The feudal lord or vassal owed his liege lord military service, loyalty and obedience. The feudal lord pledged himself to protect his vassal. The fiefs were z. Some of them inherited over time and remained in the hands of one family for several generations.

Fiefdom

Feudalism, or feudalism, formed the basic structure of medieval society across Europe. The king gave fiefs to fiefdoms of the crown (crown vassals), these lent the fiefs on to lower vassals who were then obliged to serve them. In the German Empire, however, these sub-vassals were not obliged to the king, so that they were not under his sphere of influence. The crown vassals, electors or sovereigns gained great power, which led to the strengthening of the individual countries. A central state was therefore not enforceable in the German Empire since the late Middle Ages. To date there are 15 countries in Germany that have their origins z. T. can be traced back to early medieval tribal associations or high medieval sovereigns.

Problems between feudal lord and feudal lord

Was it mostly only when the feudal lord did not keep his obligations (e.g. refused to open the door or refused to be true to the flag) or the feudal lord overran his claims to power and thereby brought his feudal man into financial or political difficulties.

Why was it desirable to become a feudal lord and become dependent?

Feudal men mostly arose from the lower and middle nobility, who were endowed with only a few possessions and privileges. Therefore it seemed worthwhile to build a "vestes hus" (= castle, motte or bower) in order to give it to the fiefs. There were often two decisive reasons for this: On the one hand, the feudal lord (and thus his armed forces) could be sure of the protection of his liege-lord and, with skillful and loyal behavior, possibly marry into the higher nobility in order to expand property and privileges. On the other hand, he got money quickly and easily through the transfer of ownership, because there were usually no secure sources of income (customs, taxes, tithe, etc.), so that many nobles were often hopelessly in debt. In the latter case, you had no choice but to turn your own good into money.

Manhole

Small gate or passage in the castle gate through which a man could just pass.

Mantle wall

Particularly high bering, which protected the castle buildings, which were mostly attached to the wall, like a coat.

Stables

Used to accommodate horses, wagons and harness.

Wall tower

See defense tower

Ministerial

High official in the imperial or kingdom, who was also appointed lord of the castle for the administration of the imperial property.

moth

Artificial earthfill with enclosing walls and ditches, on which you then built your defensive house (wood or stone construction).

Oberburg

See main castle

Right of opening

If kings, emperors or sovereigns built castles and occupied them with loyal feudal people, they had to grant you the right to open the castle in return for the trust you had in us. This meant that the sovereign could freely dispose of the respective castle in the event of war and that the lord of the castle had to stand by his side armed with his knights and soldiers.

Hall

Corresponds to today's word palace and represents the living area of ​​the lord of the castle.

Curtain wall

See Bering

Knight

Armed rider, usually a noble vassal or a member of the lower nobility. In the 11th century these warriors became feeble and were able to acquire possessions. The greatest heyday of the knights was the time of the Crusades. Not only was the fight important, but also a code of honor associated with that stand. The most important virtues of a knight were bravery, loyalty to his liege lord, the protection of widows and orphans and the Christian way of life. In the 12th century, orders of knights were also created that imitated monastic ideals (Johanniter, German Order, Templar). Chivalry developed its own culture in Europe, which found expression in literature. After the 13th century the social decline of the knights began in competition with the rise of the urban bourgeoisie.

Shell tower (also called half-shell tower)

Defense tower open to the castle side.

Schanze, Sternschanze

Pointed or star-shaped trenches and embankments with an underlying casemate system, which should keep the enemy and especially his guns at the greatest possible distance in advance. Nowadays they are often no longer recognizable due to removal and filling.

Looping loop, key loop, eyeglass loop

Vertical, horizontal or round wall openings for shooting through with a bow, crossbow, rifle, mortar or cannon. The notches were placed in such a way that the entire forefield of the wall could be shot at from them. In order to get the necessary freedom of movement, the notches widened inwards.

Shield wall

You can find it at (almost) all castles. It is part of the Bering, only it towers above it in height and wall thickness. It was supposed to protect the important buildings in the castle (palas, chambers or fountain tower) from hostile large projectiles from the catapult (see e.g. Schönburg Castle).  

Tournelles

Small corner turrets, which in turn were attached to donjons, mountain peace or other residential towers at the corners for defense purposes (see castle ruins Nassau or Olbrück).

Truchsess (also called Seneschal)

One of the four court offices of the king or sovereign. As head of the court and kitchen master, the stewardess was certainly the most influential court official. This office of dignity could z. T. be passed on.

Tower castle

Castle, which mostly consisted of only one tower, which served both defensive and residential purposes.

Lower castle

It surrounds the main castle (often in the form of a second curtain wall) or is in front of or below it.

vassal

A feudal man who could belong to the lower, but also to the high nobility.

Outer bailey

See lower castle

Vorwerk

Fortifications in the form of a tower or walls were often built on the approach to the castle. This was then called Vorwerk. While the enemy still had to try to get past it, the castle crew could retreat into the castle in peace and prepare for the attack (see, for example, Wildenstein Castle). Sometimes these Vorwerk were so big that they could be considered a castle themselves (see e.g. Trifels Castle> Vorwerk Ruine Münz).

Wall

Filling of earth to prevent the attacker from moving heavy siege and fire equipment in front of the castle.

Defense tower (also called flanking or wall tower)

Tower that emerges from the Bering and that served to control the area in front of the castle. The flanks of the castle could be shot at from here. If it is open on the inside, one speaks of a shell or half-shell tower (see shell tower).

Battlements

Wall coronations with different profiles for defense purposes.

cistern

If the rock was too hard or the groundwater too deep, the rainwater was caught in cavities, similar to a well shaft. However, there was always the risk that contaminants could get into it. That is why the cistern was often built over with a roof and the water was collected via a gutter system and led into the cistern.

drawbridge

Wooden bridge, the moving part of which could be pulled in or up in the event of danger and thus served as an additional barrier to the castle gate.

Kennel

Enclosed area between the walls of a fortification that was used to hold off or delay enemy attacks. Most castles had several kennels or entire kennel systems.

This is only a small part of what there is to report on the subject of castles. If you are looking for more information, just have a look at http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burg pure!