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SUM OF THE EVIDENCE
wooden defences have one important advantage over stone ones, their greater cohesion, which enabled them to resist the blows of the battering-ram better than rubble masonry. Their great disadvantage was their liability to fire; but this was obviated, as in the time of the Romans, by spreading wet hides over the outsides. Stone castles were still built, where money and means were available, as we see from Fulk Nerra's keep at Langeais; but the devastations of the Northmen had decimated the population of Gaul; labour must have been dear, and skilled masons hard to find. In these social and economic reasons we have sufficient cause for the rapid spread of wooden castles in France.
The sum of the evidence which we have been reviewing is this : the earliest mottes which we know of were probably built by Thibault-le-Tricheur about the middle of the roth century. But in the present state of our knowledge we must leave the question of the time and place of their first origin open. The only thing about which we can be certain is that they were the product of feudalism, and cannot have arisen till it had taken root; that is to say, not earlier than the roth century.
1 Manuel d'Archæologie Française, p. 457.
DISTRIBUTION AND CHARACTERISTICS OF MOTTE-CASTLES
The motte-and-bailey type of castle is to be found throughout feudal Europe, but is probably more prevalent in France and the British Isles than any, where else. We say probably, because there are as yet no statistics prepared on which to base a comparison." How recent the inquiry into this subject is may be learned from the fact that Krieg von Hochfelden, writing in 1859, denied the existence of mottes in Germany;? and even Cohausen in 1898 threw doubt
1 This want will be supplied, as regards England, by the completion of the Victoria County Histories, and as regards France, by the Societé Préhistorique, which is now undertaking a catalogue of all the earthworks of France. The late M. Mortillet, in an article in the Revue Mensuelle de l'École d'Anthropologie, viii., 1895, published two lists, one of actual mottes in France, the other of place-names in which the word motte is incorporated. Unfortunately the first list is extremely defective, and the second, as it only relates to the name, is not a safe guide to the proportional numbers of the thing. All that the lists prove is that mottes are to be found in all parts of France, and that place-names into which the word motte enters seem to be more abundant in Central France than anywhere else. It is possible that a careful examination of local chroniclers may lead to the discovery of some earlier motte-builder than Thibault-le-Tricheur. We should probably know more about Thibault's castles were it not that the Pays Chartrain, as Palgrave says, is almost destitute of chroniclers.
2 Cited at length by De Caumont, Bulletin Monumental, ix., 246. Von Hochfelden considered that the origin of feudal fortresses in Germany hardly goes back to the roth century; only great dukes and counts then thought of fortifying their manors; those of the small nobility date at earliest from the end of the 12th century.
upon them,' although General Köhler in 1887 had already declared that “the researches of recent years have shown that the motte was spread over the whole of Germany, and was in use even in the 13th and 14th centuries." 2
The greater number of the castles described by Piper in his work on Austrian castles are on the motte-and-bailey plan, though the motte in those mountainous provinces is generally of natural rock, isolated either by nature or art. Mottes were not uncommon in Italy, according to Muratori,' and are especially frequent in Calabria, where we may strongly suspect that they were introduced by the Norman conqueror, Robert Guiscard. It is not improbable that the Franks of the first crusade planted in Palestine the type of castle to which they were accustomed at home, for several of the excellent plans in Rey's Architecture des Croisés show clearly enough the motte-and-bailey plan. In most of these cases the motte was a natural rock.
On the other hand, we are told by Köhler that motte-castles are not found among the Slavonic nations, because they never adopted the feudal system. Nor are there any in Norway or Sweden." Denmark has
· Die Befestigungen der Vorzeit, p. 28.
3 Antiquitates Italicæ, ii., 504. He says they are many times mentioned both in charters and chronicles in Italy.
- We hear of Robert Guiscard building a wooden castle on a hill at Rocca di St Martino in 1047. Amari, Storia dei Musulmani di Sicilia, 1., 43. Several place-names in Italy and Sicily are compounded with motta, as the Motta Sant Anastasia in Sicily. See Amari, ibid., p. 220.
6 Especially Montfort and Blanchegarde. But there is a wide field for further research both in Palestine and Sicily.
6 "Bei den Sclaven haben die Chateaux-à-motte keinen Eingang gefunden, weil ihnen das Lehnswesen fremd geblieben ist.” iii., 338.
i Professor Montelius informed the writer that they are quite unknown in Norway or Sweden ; and Dr Christison obtained an assurance to the same effect from Herr Hildebrand.
some, which are attributed by Dr Sophus Müller to the mediæval period."
Of course whenever a motte was thrown up, the first castle upon it must have been a wooden one.
A stone keep could not be placed on loose soil. The motte, therefore, must always represent the oldest castle. But there is no reason to think that the motte and its wooden keep were merely temporary expedients, intended always to be replaced as soon as possible by stone buildings. Even after stone castles had been fully developed, wood continued to hold its ground as a solid building material until a very late period. And mottes were used not only throughout the vith and 12th centuries, but even as late as the 13th. King John built many castles of this type in Ireland; and as late as 1242 Henry III. ordered a motte and wooden castle to be built in the island of Rhé. Muratori gives a much later instance: in 1320 Can Grande caused a great motte to be built near Pavia, and surrounded with a ditch and hedge, in order to build a castle on it."
1 “These are small well-defended places, the stronghold of the individual, built for a great man and his followers, and answering to mediæval conditions, to a more or less developed feudal system.” Vor Oldtid, p. 642.
? I am informed by a skilled engineer that even in the wet climate of England it would take about ten years for the soil to settle sufficiently to bear a stone building.
3 Köhler says: “By far the greater part of the castles of the Teutonic knights in Prussia, until the middle of the fourteenth century, were of wood and earth.” Die Entwickelung des Kriegswesen, iii., 376.
4 Cal. of Patent Rolls, 1232-1247, p. 340. Mandate to provost of Oléron to let Frank De Brene have tools to make a new motte in the isle of Rhé. Later the masters and crews of the king's galleys are ordered to help in building the motte and the wooden castle. P. 343.
Antiquitates Italicæ, ii., 504. Can Grande's motte at Padua. Anno 1320. “Dominus Alternerius (podesta of Padua]... cum maxima quantitate peditum et balistariorum Civitatis Paduæ, iverunt die predicto summo mane per viam Pontis Corvi versus quamdam motam magnam, quam faciebat facere Dominus Canis, cum multis fossis et tajatis ad claudendum Paduanos, ne exirent per illam partem, et volendo ibidem super illam
And as will be seen in the next chapter, there is considerable evidence that many mottes in England which were set up in the reign of William I., retained their wooden towers or stockades even till as late as the reign of Edward I. The motte at Drogheda held out some time against Cromwell, and is spoken of by him as a very strong place, having a good graft (ditch) and strongly palisaded. Tickhill Castle in Yorkshire had a palisade on the counterscarp of the ditch when it was taken by Cromwell.?
The position of these motte-castles is wholly different from that of prehistoric fortresses. They are almost invariably placed in the arable country, and as a rule not in isolated situations, but in the immediate neighbourhood of towns or villages. It is rare indeed to find a motte-castle in a wild, mountainous situation in England. The only instance which occurs to the writer is that of the motte on the top of the Hereford Beacon ; but there is great probability that this was a post fortified by the Bishop of Hereford in the 13th century to protect his game from the Earl of Gloucester. Nothing pointing to a prehistoric origin was found in this motte when it was excavated by Mr Hilton Price, though the camp in which it is placed is supposed to be prehistoric.
The great majority of mottes in England are planted
motam ædificare castrum. Tunc prædictus Potestas cum aliis nominatis splanare incæperunt, et difecerunt dictam motam cum tajatis et fossa magna."
We may remark here that as early as the 17th century the learned Muratori protested against the equation of mota and fossatum, and laughed at Spelman for making this translation of mota in his Glossary. Antiquitates Italica, ii., 504.
i Cited by Westropp, Journal of R.S.A., Ireland, 1904.
2 Vicars' Parliamentary Chronicle, cited by Hunter, South Yorks, ii., 235.
3 "Camps on the Malvern Hills,” Journ. Anthrop. Inst., X., 319.