Page images



straightly ordered that all who had made castles, forts, or hedge-works without his permission should forthwith be compelled to destroy them, because through them the whole neighbourhood suffered depredation and annoyance. This edict shows, we might argue, that private castles were sufficiently numerous by the year 864 to have become a public nuisance, calling for special legislation. But the chronicles of the second half of the 9th century do not reveal any extensive prevalence of private castles. Indeed, after studying all the most important chronicles of Neustria and Austrasia during this period, the present writer has only been able to find four instances of fortifications which have any claim at all to be considered private castles; and even this claim is doubtful.1

When we come to the chroniclers of the middle of the 10th century we find a marked difference. It is true that the words castrum, castellum, municipium, oppidum, munitio, are still used quite indifferently by Flodoard and other writers for one and the same thing, and that in a great many cases they obviously mean a fortified town. But there are other cases where they evidently mean a castle. And if we compare these writers with the earlier ones in the same way as we have already compared the pre-Conquest portion of the AngloSaxon Chronicle with the chroniclers of the 11th and

1 These instances are as follows:-868, A certain Acfrid shut himself up in a casa firmissima in the villa of Bellus Pauliacus on the Loire, and it was burnt over his head (Annales Bertinianorum, pp. Migne, 125, 1237); 878, The sons of Goisfrid attack the castellum and lands of the son of Odo (ibid., p. 1286); 879, Louis the Germanic besieges some men of Hugh, son of Lothaire, in quodam castello juxta Viridunum: he takes and destroys the castellum (Annals of Fulda, Pertz, i., 393); 906, Gerard and Matfrid fortify themselves in a certain castrum, in a private war (Regino, Pertz, i., 611). Sismondi states that the great nobles wrested from Louis-le-Bégue (877-879) the right of building private castles. So far, we have been unable to find any original authority for this statement.

12th centuries, we find the same contrast between them. In the pages of Flodoard or of Flodoard or Ademar the action constantly turns on the building, besieging, and burning of castles, which by whatever name they are called, have every appearance of being private castles. In fact before we get to the end of the century, the private castle is as much the leading feature of the drama as it is in the 11th or 12th centuries.

Why, then, had the chroniclers no fresh word for a thing which was in its essential nature so novel? The obvious and only answer is that the private castle in its earlier stages was nothing more than an embankment with a wooden stockade thrown round some villa or farm belonging to a private owner, and was therefore indistinguishable in appearance, though radically different in idea, from the fortifications which had hitherto been thrown up for the protection of the community.1 How easily we may be mistaken in the meaning of the word castellum, if we interpret it according to modern. ideas, may be seen by comparing the account of the bridge built by Charlemagne over the Elbe, in the Annales Laurissenses, with Eginhard's narrative of the same affair. The former states that Charlemagne built a castellum of wood and earth at each end of the bridge, while the latter tells us that it was a vallum to protect a garrison which he placed there. This, however, was a work of public utility, and not a private castle. But scanty as the evidence is, it all leads us to infer that the first private castles were fortifications of this simple nature. Mazières-on-the-Meuse, which was besieged

1 See Guizot, Histoire de la Civilisation, iii., 309. "On voit les villæ s'entourer peu à peu de fossés, de remparts de terre, de quelques apparences

de fortifications."

2 We hear of monasteries being fortified in this way; in 869 Charles the Bald drew a bank of wood and stone round the monastery of St Denis ;

[blocks in formation]

for four weeks by Archbishop Hervey, took its name from the macerias or banks which Count Erlebald had constructed around it. It is impossible to say whether this enclosure should be called a castle or a town, but in idea it was certainly a castle, since it was an enclosure formed for private, not for public interests.

Whether these first private castles were provided with towers we have no evidence either to prove or to disprove. No instance occurs from which we can conclude that they possessed any kind of citadel, before the middle of the 10th century.' But before the century is far advanced, we hear of towers in connection with the great towns, which, whether they were originally mural towers or not, are evidently private strongholds, and may justly be called keeps. The earliest instance known to the writer is in 924, when the tower of the presidium where Herbert Count of Vermandois had imprisoned Charles the Simple was burnt accidentally." This tower must have been restored, as nine years later it withstood a six weeks' siege from King Raoul. A possibly earlier instance is that of Nantes, where Bishop Fulcher had made a castle in 889; for when this castle was restored by Count Alan Barbetorte (937-943), we are "castellum in gyro ipsius monasterii ex ligno et lapide conficere cœpit." Ann. Bertinian, Migne, pp. 125, 1244. In 889 the Bishop of Nantes made a castrum of his church by enclosing it with a wall, and this wall appears to have had a tower. Chron. Namnetense, p. 45, in Lobineau's Bretagne, vol. ii. In 924 Archbishop Hervey made a castellum of the monastery of St Remi by enclosing it with a wall. Flodoard, p. 294 (Migne). But the fortification of monasteries was a very different thing from the fortification of private castles.

1 In 951 Duke Conrad, being angry with certain men of Lorraine, threw down the towers of some of them; these may have been the keeps of private castles. Flodoard, Annales, p. 477.

2 Presidium is one of those vague words which chroniclers love to use ; it means a defence of any kind, and may be a town, a castle, or a garrison. The town in which this turris stood appears by the context to have been Chateau Thierry. Cf. Flodoard, Annales, pp. 924, with 933.

told that he restored the principal tower and made it into his own house.1 Count Herbert built a keep in Laon before 931; and this appears to have been a different tower to the one attached to the royal house which Louis d'Outremer had built at the gate of the city. We hear also of towers at Amiens (950), Coucy (958), Chalons (963), and Rheims (988). All these towers, it will be observed, are connected with towns. The first stone keep in the country for whose date we have positive evidence, is that of Langeais, built by Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou, about the year 994; its ruins still exist.


But we are concerned more particularly here with the origin of the motte-and-bailey castle. The exact place or time of its first appearance is still a matter of conjecture. Certainly there is not a word in the chronicles which is descriptive of this kind of castle before the beginning of the 11th century. The first historical mention of a castle which is clearly of the motte-and-bailey kind is in the Chronicle of St Florent

1 "Castrum muro factum circa eam [ecclesiam]." Chron. Namnetense, P. 45. Precepit [Alanus] eis terrarium magnum in circuitu Ecclesiæ facere, sicut murus prioris castri steterat, quo facto turrem principalem reficiens, in ea domum suam constitit." Ibid.

2 Flodoard, Annales, pp. 931 and 949. This tower was heightened by Charles, the last of the Carlovingians, and furnished with a ditch and bank, in 988.

3 It is often supposed that these towers were derived from the Pretoria, or general's quarters in the Roman castra. It is far more probable that they were derived from mural towers. The Pretorium was not originally fortified, and it was placed in the centre of the Roman camp. But one great object of the feudal keep was to have communication with the open country. The keep of Laon was certainly on the line of the walls, as Bishop Ascelin escaped from it down a rope in 989, and got away on a horse which was waiting for him. Palgrave, England and Normandy, ii., 880.

4 The word motte or mota does not occur in any contemporary chronicle, as far as is known to the writer, before the 12th century; nor is the word dangio to be found in any writer earlier than Ordericus. But the thing certainly existed earlier.


73 le Vieil, where, at a date which the modern biographer of Fulk Nerra fixes at 1010, we learn that this same Count of Anjou built a castle on the western side of the hill Mont-Glonne, at St Florent le Vieil, on the Loire, and threw up an agger on which he built a wooden tower.1 In this case the word agger evidently means a motte. But Fulk began to reign in 987; he was a great builder of castles, and was famed for his skill in military affairs.2 One of his first castles, built between 991 and 994, was at Montbazon, not far from Tours. About 500


metres from the later castle of Montbazon is a motte and outworks, which De Salies not unreasonably supposes to be the original castle of Fulk. Montrichard, Chateaufort, Chérament, Montboyau, and Baugé are all castles built by Fulk, and all have or had mottes. Montboyau is the clearest case of all, as it was demolished by Fulk a few years after he built it, and has never been restored, so that the immense motte and outworks which are still to be seen remain very much in their original state, except that a modern tower has been placed on the motte, which is now called Bellevue.*

1 [Fulk and his son Geoffrey] in occidentali parte montis castellum determinaverunt. . . . Aggerem quoque in prospectu monasterii cum turre lignea erexerunt." Chron. St Florentii, in Lobineau's Bretagne, ii., 87. Some remains of this motte are still visible. De Salies, Foulques Nerra, p. 263.

2 "Elegantissimus in rebus bellicis" is the quaint language of the Angevin chronicler, 176.

2 See De Salies, Histoire de Foulques Nerra, which indirectly throws considerable light on the archæological question.

[ocr errors]

4 Salies, Histoire de Foulques Nerra, p. 170. M. Enlart, in his Manuel d'Archæologie Française, ii., 495, has been misled about this castle by the Chronicon Andegavense, which says: "Odo. . . . Fulconem expugnare speravit, et totis nisibus adorsus est. Annoque presenti (1025) Montis Budelli castellum, quod circiter annos decem retro abhinc contra civitatem Turonicam firmaverat Fulco, obsedit, et turrim ligneam miræ altitudinis super domgionem ipsius castri erexit." Bouquet, x., 176. M. Enlart takes this to be the first recorded instance of a motte. But the passage is evidently corrupt, as the other accounts of this affair show that Count Odo's wooden

« PreviousContinue »