Page images
PDF
EPUB

LOOPHOLES FOR SHOOTING

371

2

3

may see that it is impossible to take aim through an immensely thick wall unless there is a downward splay to increase the field of vision. William the Breton tells us that Richard built windows for crossbows to his towers, and this is the first mention we have of them.

From this time defensive loopholes become common in castles, and take various fanciful forms, as well as the commoner ones of the circle, square, or triangle at the base of the loop. The cross loophole, which does not appear till the latter quarter of the 13th century, is explained by Viollet le Duc as an ingenious way of allowing three or four archers to fire in a volley. But up to the present time very little study has been given to this subject, and we must be content to leave the question for future observation to settle.?

The crossbowmen not only required splayed loopholes, but also niches, large enough to accommodate at least three men, so that a continuous discharge of darts (quarrells) might be kept up. Any defensive loop which really means work will have a niche like this behind it. These niches had the defect of seriously weakening the wall.

Another innovation introduced by Richard I. was

1 "Fenestris arcubalistaribus," Bouquet xvii., 75. The writer has never found a single defensive loophole in any of the keeps of Henry I. or Henry II. Köhler remarks that the loopholes up to this period do not seem to be intended for shooting (Entwickelung des Kriegswesen, iii., 409), and Clark has some similar observations.

Dictionnaire de l'Architecture, art. “Meurtrière." 3 Meyrick in his Ancient Armour quotes a charter of 1239, in which the French king grants a castle to the Count de Montfort on condition “quod non possumus habere in eodem archeriam nec arbalisteriam,” which Meyrick audaciously translates “any perpendicular loophole for archers, nor any cruciform loophole for crossbowmen." The quotation is unfortunately given by Sir R. Payne Gallwey without the Latin original. It is at any rate probable that the cruciform loophole was for archers; it does not appear till the time of the long-bow, which was improved and developed by Edward I., who made it the most formidable weapon of English warfare.

»

[ocr errors]

that of stone machicolations, or hurdicia.' Whether wooden galleries round the tops of walls, with holes for dropping down stones, boiling-water, or pitch on the heads of the besiegers had not been used from the earliest times, is regarded by Köhler as extremely doubtful. They were certainly used by the Romans, and may even be seen clearly figured on the Assyrian monuments. In the Bayeux Tapestry, the picture of Bayeux Castle shows the stockade on top of the motte crested with something extremely like hurdicia. Yet the writer has found no authentic mention of them before the end of the 12th century. The stone machicolations built by Richard round his keep of Chateau Gaillard are of an unusual type, which was only rarely imitated. But from this time wooden hurdicia became universal, to judge from the numerous orders for timber for hoarding castles and town walls in the Close Rolls of the first half of the 13th century. Towards the middle of the 13th century stone brackets for the support of wooden hurdicia began to be used; they may still be seen in the great keep of Coucy, which was begun

But machicolations entirely of stone, supported on double or triple rows of brackets, do not become common till the 14th century.

in 1230.

1 See Appendix H.
? Entwickelung des Kriegswesen, iii., 417.

3 In 1186, the Duke of Burgundy caused the towers and walls of his castle of Chatillon to be “hoarded” (hordiari). This duke had been a companion of Richard's on the third crusade. William le Breton, Philippides, line 600. Richard's hurdicia at Chateau Gaillard were two years earlier.

4 See Dieulafoy, Le Chateau Gaillard et l'Architecture Militaire au Treizième Siècle, p. 13.

6 The best French and German authorities are agreed about this. The holes in which the wooden beams supporting the hurdicia were placed may still be seen in many English castles, and so may the remains of the stone brackets. They would be good indications of date, were it not that hurdicia could so easily be added to a much older building.

INTRODUCTION OF ROUND KEEPS

373

The greatest architectural change witnessed at the end of the 12th century was the victory of the round keep over the square. Round towers were built by the Romans as mural towers, but the universal type of mediæval keep appears to have been the square or oblong, until towards the end of the 12th century." The polygonal keep was probably a transitional form ; we have seen that Henry II.'s polygonal keep at Orford was begun as early as 1165. Many experiments seem to have been made at the end of the 12th century, such as the addition of a stone prow to the weakest side of a keep, to enable it better to resist showers of missiles. Richard I.'s keep at Chateau Gaillard is a round keep with a solid prow of this kind. Five-sided keeps are said to be not uncommon on the left bank of the Rhine and in Nassau ; this type was simply the addition of a prow to a square keep. The only English instance known to the writer is that of Mitford, Northumberland, but this is merely a five-sided keep, the prow is not solid, as at Chateau Gaillard. The castle of Étampes, whose plan is a quatrefoil, is assigned by French archæologists to this period of experiment. But the round keep was eventually the type preferred. Philip II. thought it necessary to add a round keep to the castle of Gisors, after he had taken it from John, and he adopted the round keep for all his new castles, of which the Louvre was one.

Along with the round keep, ground entrances became | Köhler gives the reign of Frederic Barbarossa (1155-1191) as the time of the first appearance of the round keep in Germany.

2 In spite of this, I cannot feel satisfied that the keep of Étampes is of so early a date. The decorative features appear early, but the second and third storeys are both vaulted, which is a late sign. The keep called Clifford's Tower at York, built by Henry III. 1245 to 1259, is on the same plan as Étampes.

3 This keep has been long destroyed.

2

[ocr errors]

common.' Viollet le Duc states that when the French soldiers broke into the inner ward at Chateau Gaillard the defenders had no time to escape into the keep by the narrow stair which led to the first floor, and consequently this proud tower was surrendered without a blow; and that this event so impressed on Philip's mind the danger of difficult entrances that he abandoned the old fashion. This may be true, but it is a pure guess of Le Duc's, as there is nothing whatever to justify it in William the Breton's circumstantial narrative. It is, however, certain that Philip adopted the ground entrance to all his keeps. In England we find ground entrances to many round keeps of the 13th century, as at Pembroke; but the older fashion was sometimes retained; Conisburgh, one of the finest keeps in England, has its entrance on the first floor.?

After the introduction of the trébuchet, we might expect that the walls of keeps would be made very much thicker, and such seems to have been the case in France, but we do not find that it was the rule in England." The lower storeys were now generally instead of occasionally vaulted. In the course of the 13th century it became common to vault all the storeys. But in spite of the military advantages of the round keep, in its avoidance of angles favourable to the battering-ram, and

2

i Ground entrances occur in several much earlier keeps, as at Colchester (almost certainly an addition of Henry I.'s time), Bamborough (probably Henry II.'s reign), and Richmond, where Earl Conan seems to have used a former entrance gateway to make the basement entrance of his keep. See Milward, Arch. Journ., vol. v.

2 Built by Earl Hamelin, half-brother of Henry II., who died in 1201. 3 Viollet le Duc, art. “Donjon.”

4 The walls of the Tower are from 12 to 15 feet thick at the base ; those of Norwich 13; the four walls of Dover respectively, 17, 18, 19, and 21 feet; Carlisle, 15 feet on two sides. (Clark.) William of Worcester tells us that Bristol keep was 25 feet thick at the base! Itin., p. 260.

THE KEEPLESS CASTLE

375

its deflection of missiles, the square keep continued to be built in various parts of both France and England till quite late in the Middle Ages. On the Scottish border, square towers of the ancient type, with quite Norman decorations, were built as late as the 15th century. The advantage of the square tower was that it was more roomy inside, and was therefore preferred when the tower was intended for habitation.

We come now to the greatest of all the changes introduced in the 13th century: the keepless castle, in which the keep is done away with altogether, and the castle consists of a square or oblong court surrounded by a strong wall with massive towers at the angles, and in large castles, in the curtain also. Usually this inner quadrangle is encircled with an outer quadrangle of walls and towers, so that this type of castle is frequently called the concentric. But the castles of the keepless kind are not invariably concentric; those built by Edward I. at Conway, Carnarvon, and Flint are not

Instead of a dark and comfortless keep, the royal or noble owner is provided in this type of castle with a palatial house. In England this house is frequently attached to the gateway, forming what we may call a gatehouse palace; good examples may be seen at Beaumaris, Harlech, and Tonbridge. The gate

1 1 See Enlart, Manuel d'Archæologie Française, ii., 526. 2 MacGibbon and Ross, Castellated Architecture of Scotland, p. 159.

3 This type of castle was probably borrowed from the fortifications of Greek cities, which the Crusaders had observed in the East.

4 Conway and Carnarvon consist of two adjoining courts, without any external enclosure but a moat. Flint has a great tower outside the quadrangle, which is sometimes mistakenly called a keep, but its internal arrangements show that it was not so, and it is doubtful whether it was ever roofed over. It was simply a tower to protect the entrance, taking the place of the 13th-century barbican.

5 Köhler states that the gatehouse palace is peculiar to England: “only at Perpignan is there anything like it.” Entwickelung des Kriegswesen, iii., 480,

« PreviousContinue »