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Germanic invasion, the great landed proprietors dwelt either in the cities, or in beautiful houses agreeably situated near the cities."i These Gallo-Roman villas had no fortifications; nor were the Roman villas in England fortified. It was the business of the State to defend the community; this was the theory so long sustained by imperial Rome, and which broke down so completely under the later Carlovingians.
In the time of Charlemagne and Louis le Debonnaire, even the royal palaces do not appear to have been fortified. They were always spoken of as palatia, never as castella. The Danes, when they took possession of the palace of Nimeguen in 880, fortified it with ditches and banks. Charles the Bald appears to have been the first to fortify the palace of Compiègne.”
Although there can be no doubt that private castles had become extremely common on the mainland of Western Europe before the end of the roth century, it is more difficult than is generally supposed to trace their first appearance. Historians, even those of great repute, have been somewhat careless in translating the words castrum or castellum as castle or château, and taking them in the sense of the feudal or private castle. We have already pointed out that these words in our AngloSaxon charters mean a town or village. The fact is that from Roman times until toward the end of the 9th century the words castrum and castellum are used indifferently for a fortified city or town, or a temporary camp. The expression civitates et castella is not uncommon, and might lead one to think that a distinction was drawn between large and small towns, or forts. But it is far more likely that it is a mere pleonasm, a bit of that redundancy which was always dear to the mediæval scribe who was trying to write well. For as the instances cited in the Appendix will prove, we constantly find the words castrum and castellum used for the same town, sometimes even in the same paragraph. Later, from the last quarter of the gth century to the middle of the 12th century, these same words are used indifferently for a town or a castle, and it is impossible to tell, except by the context, whether a town or a castle is meant; and often even the context throws no light
1 Guizot, Histoire de la Civilisation en France, iii., 311. ? Enlart, Manuel d'Archæologie Française, ii., 494.
3 See Dr Haverfield's articles in the Victoria County Histories, passim. The late J. H. Burton justly wrote: “We have nothing from the Romans answering to the feudal stronghold or castle, no vestige of a place where a great man lived apart with his family and his servants, ruling over dependants and fortifying himself against enemies." History of Scotland, i., 385.
Annals of Fulda, 394, Pertz, i. • Cap. Regum Francor., ii., 360. 6 Thus De Caumont unfortunately spoke of the fortress built by Nicetus, Bishop of Treves, in the 6th century, as a château (Abécédaire, ii., 382); but Venantius Fortunatus, in his descriptive poem, tells us that it was a vast enclosure with no less than thirty towers, built by the good pastor for the protection of his flock. It even contained fields and vineyards, and altogether was as different from a private castle as anything can well be. Similarly the castrum of Merliac, spoken of by Enlart (Architecture Militaire, p. 492) as a “veritable château,” is described as containing cultivated lands and sheets of water! (Cited from Gregory of Tours, Hist. Francorum, liii., 13.) De Caumont himself says :“Les grandes exploitations rurales que possédaient les rois de France et les principaux du royaume du Việmo au Xième siècle ne furent pas des forteresses et ne doivent point être confondues avec les chateaux." Abécédaire, ii., 62.
This makes it extremely difficult to say with any exactness when the private castle first arose.
We seem indeed to have a fixed date in the Capitulary of Pistes, issued by Charles the Bald in 864, in which he
i See Appendix D.
2 “Volumus et expresse mandamus, ut quicunque istis temporibus castella et firmitates et haias sine nostro verbo fecerint, Kalendis Augusti omnes tales firmitates disfactas habeant ; quia vicini et circummanentes exinde multas depredationes et impedimenta sustinent." Capitularia Regum Francorum, Boretius, ii., 328.
IN THE TENTH CENTURY
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.
When we come to the chroniclers of the middle of the roth 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 12th centuries, we find the same contrast between them. In the pages 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 nith or 12th centuries.
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.
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 differ
ent in idea, from the fortifications which had hitherto been thrown up for the protection of the community." 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
See Guizot, Histoire de la Civilisation, iii., 309. “On voit les villa s'entourer peu
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 ; 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.
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 conclude that they possessed any kind of citadel, before the middle of the roth century. But before the century
1 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 cæpit.” 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.
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.