Page images

way itself is always defended by a pair of massive towers.

Edward I. is generally credited with the introduction of this type of castle into England, but until the Pipe Rolls of Henry II I.'s reign have been carefully examined, we cannot be certain that it was not introduced earlier. It was certainly known in Germany fifty years before Edward's accession to the throne, and in France as early as 1231.

It is always supposed that this type of castle was introduced by the Crusaders from Syria. But when did it make its first appearance in Syria? This is a point which, we venture to think, has not been yet sufficiently investigated. We do not believe that it can have existed in Syria at the time of the third crusade, otherwise Richard I., who is universally acknowledged to have been a first-class military architect, would have brought the idea home with him. Yet his favourite castle of Chateau Gaillard, built in accordance with the latest military science, is in the main a castle of the keep-and-bailey type, and has even a reminiscence of the motte, in the scarped rock on which the keep and inner ward are placed.

1 Köhler mentions the castle of Neu Leiningen as the first example in Germany, built in 1224. Kriegswesen, iii., 475. Frederic II.'s castles were of this type. The castle of Boulogne, finished in 1231, is one of the oldest examples of the keepless type in France. Enlart, Archaologie Française, ii., 534. The Bastille of Paris was a castle of this kind. According to Hartshorne, Barnwell Castle, in Northants, is of the keepless kind, and as the Hundred Rolls state that it was built in 1264, we seem to have here a positive instance of a keepless castle in Henry III.'s reign. Arch. Inst. Newcastle, vol. 1852. And it appears to be certain that Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, built the keepless castle of Caerphilly before Edward came to the throne. See Little's Mediæval Wales, p. 87.

2 French archæologists are enthusiastic over the keep of Chateau Gaillard, the scientific construction of the towers of the curtain, the avoidance of “dead angles," the continuous Aanking, etc. See Viollet le Duc, art. “Chateau," and Dieulafoy, Le Chateau Gaillard.







The new type of keepless castle never entirely displaced the old keep-and-bailey type. We have already seen that keeps of the old sort continued to be built till the end of the Middle Ages. Hawarden Castle has a good example of a 14th-century round keep; Warkworth a most remarkable specimen of the 15th, the plan being a square tower with polygonal turrets set on each face, 1 In France and Germany also the old type appears to have persisted.?

We have already trespassed beyond the limits of our subject; but as we offer this chapter more programme of work than as a categorical outline, we trust it may not be without use to the student who may feel disposed to take up this much-neglected subject.

A few words must yet be said about the state of the law relating to castles. Nothing explicit has come down to us on this subject from the 11th century in England, but it is clear that the feudal system which William introduced, and which required that all lands should revert to the king on the death of the holder, forbade the building of any castle without the king's license, and, further, allowed only a life tenure in each

The Council of Lillebonne in 1080 had laid it down in express terms that no one should build a castle in Normandy without the permission of the duke;



1 This type is extremely rare : Trim, in Ireland, and Castle Rushen, in the Isle of Man, are the only other instances known to the writer. Trim is a square tower with square turrets in the middle of each face; Castle Rushen is on the same plan, but the central part appears to have been an open court.

2 Enlart, Archæologie Française, ii., 516.

3 Martène's Thesaurus Anecdotorum, iv., 118. “Nulli licuit in Normannia fossatum facere in planam terram, nisi tale quod de fundo potuisset terram jactare superius sine scabello. Et ibi nulli licuit facere palicium, nisi in una regula ; et id sine propugnaculis et alatoriis. Et in rupe et in insula nulli licuit facere fortitudinem, et nulli licuit in Normannia castellum facere."

and William, after his great victory over his revolted barons, had enforced the right of garrisoning their castles. He was not able to do this in England, while he must have desired to check the building of private castles as far as possible. On the other hand, he had to face the dilemma that no Norman land-holder would be safe in his usurped estates without the shelter of a castle. In this situation we have the elements of the civil strife which burst forth in Stephen's reign, and which was ended by what we may call the anti-castle policy of Henry II.'

The rights secured by this able king were often recklessly sold by his successors, but in the reign of Henry III. it was evidently illegal even to fortify an ordinary house with a ditch and stockade without royal permission.

Feudalism was an inevitable phase in the evolution of the Western nations, and it ought neither to be idealised nor execrated. After the break-up of the tribal system the nations of Europe sought refuge in the forms of imperialism which were devised by Charlemagne, and even the small and distant island of England strove to move in the same direction. But the times were not ripe for centralisation on so great a scale, and when the system of the Carlovingian Empire gave way under the inrush of Northmen and Huns, European society would have fallen into ruin had it not been for the institutions of feudalism. These offered,

[ocr errors]

1 The document which calls itself Leges Henrici Primi, X., I, declares the “castellatio trium scannorum” to be a right of the king. Scannorum is clearly scamnorum, banks. It is noteworthy that a motte-and-bailey castle is actually a fortification with three banks: one round the top of the motte, one round the edge of the bailey, one on the counterscarp of the ditch.

2 See the case of Benhall, Close Rolls, ii., 52b (1225).


[blocks in formation]

in place of the old blood bond of the tribe, a social compact which, though itself artificial, was so admirably adapted to the general need that it was speedily adopted by all the progressive nations of Europe. The great merit of feudalism was that it replaced the collective responsibility of the tribe by the individual responsibility of the man to his lord, and of the lord to his man. In an age when the decay of mutual trust was the worst evil of society it laid stress on individual loyalty, and insisted that personal honour should consist in the fulfilment of obligations. Being a system so wholly personal, its usefulness depended largely on the nature of the person in power, and it was therefore liable to great abuses.

But it is probable that feudalism worked better on the whole in England than in any other part of Western Europe. The worst evils of French feudalism never appeared in this country, except during the short and disastrous reign of Stephen. The strong kings of the Norman and Plantagenet Houses held in check the turbulence of the barons; and private war was never allowed to become here, as it was on the Continent, a standing evil. To follow out this subject would lead us beyond the limits of this book, but it is interesting to remember that not only the picturesque ruins of our castles, but also the neglected green hillocks of which we have treated in this work, while they point to the skilful machinery by which the Norman Conquest was riveted on the land, bear witness also to something still more important. They tell of a period of discipline and education through which the English people passed, when in spite of much oppression and sometimes even cruelty, seeds of many noble and useful things were sown, from which succeeding generations have garnered the enduring fruit.

« PreviousContinue »