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The Castles And Cathedrals History Essay


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Castles and cathedrals were majestic structures built primarily in, and around the middle Ages. Castles were built mainly for protection, and to show power in that time, whereas cathedrals were built mainly to show God's glory. Several types of architecture were used to build these structures including: Norman, Concentric, and Gothic style. The architectural problems in the middle ages led up to the gothic style. Gothic architecture and style revolutionized the building of castles and cathedrals in the middle ages.

Castles were built for several purposes. The building of castles began around 900 A.D (Gravett 8). Castles began being built for protection from raids (Gravett 8). Lords needed a stronghold to defend from and house soldiers (Gravett 8). Castles also became a symbol of the power of the king or lord that ruled over the land (Castle in Medieval Times 1). In the middle ages, the king owned all the land and he gave out chunks of land to the nobles (Castle in Medieval Times 1). To get this land, the nobles had to help the king defend against invaders (Castle in Medieval Times 1). The nobles would then give out pieces of land to lords and knights, who then would help fight for the king (Castle in Medieval Times 1). Castles served as housing for the nobles and their families and kept their families safe (Castle in Medieval Times 2 and Newman 1).

The building of castles required much planning and many people. The lord would have to find a piece of land that was acceptable to build a castle on (Gravett 56). The place it would be built on had to have fresh water (Gravett 56). Then the lord would hire a master mason that assisted in designing, and building the castle (Gravett 56). A clerk was also hired to keep the records, and get materials for the structure (Gravett 56). Some of the other workers included: hewers, freemasons, rough masons, carpenters, well-diggers, smiths, stone-porters, woodworkers, and metalworkers (Gravett 56-60).

One type of architecture used to build castles and cathedrals was called Norman style. Norman style includes the Mott and Bailey castles (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 1-2). Norman castles had problems with defense (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 2). These castles were made out of wood, so they could be set on fire (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 2). The towers of these wooden castles were then replaced with ones made out of stone, but these also had issues (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 2). The stones towers were called great towers, or donjons, but they are now more well-known as keeps (Gravett 10). These towers had weak corners and the enemy could collapse them easily (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 2). Norman castles had just one wall of defense (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 2). Norman cathedrals had arched, round roofs that were supported by huge pillars and wide walls (Langley 32). Norman castles and cathedrals were dark and cold (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 2). These castles' weaknesses had to be dealt with (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 2).

Concentric castles were born from solving the problems of the Norman style. The Concentric castles are a castle inside a castle (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 2). Concentric castles were built as one big medieval castle complex with buildings, towers, gatehouses, and walls inside (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 2). Concentric castles were built with a defense that could stand up to a siege and kill any enemy (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 2). Some changes were made to these castles like adding barbican, murder holes, crenellations, and arrow loops all for more defense of the castle (Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages 2). Concentric castles stressed height, and had pointed arches, which held up more weight (Concentric Castles 2). The use of these arches let the wall be thinner, and have bigger windows (Concentric Castles 2). Stone gargoyles were launched into architecture during the time of Concentric castles (Concentric castles 2). Round shaped towers got rid of the weak corners of the stone towers (Concentric castles 2).

Gothic architecture was an elegant style and it solved many of the previous problems. Gothic architecture originated in France and was called "The French Style" (History of Gothic Architecture 1). "Many castles adopted some of the characteristics of gothic architecture, too. They became transformed from dank and squat living environments into majestic, light and pleasant residences for the lords and ladies within" (The Seven Key Characteristics 1). The architects of gothic style focused on adding more light, open, and tall rooms (History of Gothic Architecture 1). Some people did not like the new French style architecture and called it gothic (History of Gothic Architecture 2). The Barbaric Goths and Visigoths were a group of people that followed Alaric who helped Rome fall (History of Gothic Architecture 2). Gothic architecture ended up being all about light rooms with vaulted ceilings with spires, pinnacles, and pointed arches (History of Gothic Architecture 2). Pointed arches led to the use of vaulted ceilings (The Seven Key Characteristics 3). Vaulted ceilings, using the pointed arch, also helped with weight (The Seven Key Characteristics 3). Vaulted ceilings could be in many different shapes or sizes (The Seven Key Characteristics 3). Before the gothic style, vaulted ceilings could only have circular or rectangular shapes (The Seven Key Characteristics 4).

Gothic architecture is all about being decorative (History of Gothic Architecture 2). Before Gothic architecture came to be, early architecture could not disperse the weight of stone walls very well (The Seven Key Characteristics 1). Most towers were short, and structures were thin, if not the weight of raised levels would cave-in the lower ones (The Seven Key Characteristics 1). Gothic architecture got rid of this problem and let buildings be built very tall (The Seven Key Characteristics 1). Gothic architecture uses flying buttresses, which distribute the weight of the building to the ground (The Seven Key Characteristics 1). Flying buttresses were elaborately embellished and very pretty (The Seven Key Characteristics 2). Another important part of gothic architecture is the gargoyles (The Seven Key Characteristics 4). Gargoyles are stone sculptures of creatures usually placed on the roofs of castles and other structures (The Seven Key Characteristics 4). Gargoyles are spouts and when it rains, the water drains off the roof by flowing through their mouths to the ground (The Seven Key Characteristics 4). Gargoyles were also made to scare people into attending the cathedral or church (The Seven Key Characteristics 4). Back in that time, people were very superstitious, and gargoyles looked like demons or monsters (The Seven Key Characteristics 4). Gothic style is all about beauty and ornate designs (The Seven Key Characteristics 5). The most well-known examples in England of gothic architecture are the Canterbury Cathedral, and the Westminster Abbey (History of Gothic Architecture 3 and Wilson 217).

Cathedrals were built for a couple reasons. Building a majestic cathedral was an expression of belief in God and it was a creative outlet (Veitch 1 and Newman 1). Building a cathedral was usually done by the community (Veitch 1). The church would forgive the sins, grant indulgences, of the people who help build the cathedral or church (Veitch 1). Some people thought it was wasteful to spend money on building these cathedrals, but most people had much enthusiasm for constructing these buildings for God (Veitch 1). Cathedrals took decades to a century to finish (Veitch 1-2). People who built them usually did not think they would ever see it finished (Veitch 1-2). People had to be willing to be a part of something larger than themselves (Veitch 1-2). Cathedral building was usually led and paid for mostly by the senior clergy (Veitch 2). The senior clergy raised money for cathedrals by making up fines for sins like tardiness, and having relics (Veitch 2).

Building a cathedral took a lot of workers. Most of the workers were paid to build the cathedral (Veitch 3). The workers with less skill had jobs like: digging for the foundations, removing dirt, and transporting materials (Veitch 3). The workers with higher skills had jobs like: quarryman, mortar-maker, plasterer, stonecutter, or mason (Veitch 2). They often used an assembly line to build cathedrals (Veitch 2). Stonecutters moved around a lot from one building site to another (Veitch 2-3). There were usually about 300 people making stone blocks in the quarry (Building a Medieval Cathedral 2). The workers who built the cathedrals used basic tools and worked in bad conditions (Building a Medieval Cathedral 1).

Castles and cathedrals were built for practical and non-practical reasons. They were built using one of several different types of architecture. Castles and cathedrals were grand structures and still are. Gothic architecture revolutionized the middle ages, because it solved many structural problems, but had beauty at the same time.

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