Medieval Castles and Battles

Castles belonged to the wealthy, important, and powerful people of the land – kings, nobles, and knights. Castles were symbols of status during times of war and in peace. And, they were often the seats of local power and justice.

Medieval Vocabulary

Lord: The proprietor of a manor.

Manor: The district over which a lord had domain and could exercise certain rights and privileges in medieval Europe.

They were designed to be difficult to attack and easy to defend. Castles protected owners from rivals and invaders; however, castles were also used to protect the local citizens.

Early castles were built in the 9th and 10th centuries and were constructed of earth and wood; usually constructed on higher ground. Castles from the 11th century and later were always built of rocks and stones on high ground and often surrounded by water such as a lake of wide, deep water called a moat. Stone castles had massive walls that were between 15 and 20 feet thick.

Noblewomen and their maids generally made the tapestries during the medieval period. They were used as decoration or they would be hung over windows and doorways to keep the cold out.

Castles were central to medieval warfare

At a time when most people could not read, the images in the tapestries ensured that history and momentous events were recorded. By the 1400s, artisans were employed to weave elaborate designs for a growing market. It has been estimated that 15,000 people were employed in the craft by this time. Medieval weavers extracted dyes from plants and insects in a range of less than 20 colors.

Medieval tapestries date back centuries and include some of the best-known works such as The Bayeaux Tapestry and the Lady with the Unicorn series. The Lady with the Unicorn series was woven at the turn of the 15th century in the Loire valley, in the medieval style of mille fleurs, which means "a thousand flowers." The Bayeaux Tapestry is an embroidered depiction of the Battle of Hastings in 1066 that ended in Norman Conquest. It is 70 meters long, and is embroidered wool on linen.

Downloadable Lesson Plans

Use the following downloadable lesson plans and worksheets to guide your classroom through a medieval journey before or after your visit to the castle!

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