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Medieval Fortifications and Artillery

The fortified town continued to exist after the fall of Rome and examples existed in medieval Europe. This type of fortification was probably a carryover from the Roman Empire. Most European fortified towns were located along the Mediterranean.

Castle Island Terminal

Aerial View of Castle Island Terminal.
Boston Port of Embarkation.
War Department. Army Service Forces.
Office of the Chief of Transportation Administrative Records, 1942 - 1946.

The motte-and-bailey castle, another type of fortification, appeared in Europe during the Middle Ages, a period from about 500 to 1500 AD. Motte is the name for the mounded earth area upon which the castle is situated and is pronounced mot. Bailey refers to the walls that enclosed the castle.

Castles have become icons of the medieval period today. Early in the medieval period, castles were located where geographical features were suitable for them. Near the end of the period, they were located where economic, tactical and strategic factors determined they should be.

The castle developed to a high art during the Middle Ages, but it was very limited to a specific set of technological factors. Improvements in artillery during the period made the fortified castle useless as a military stronghold because it could rapidly be reduced to rubble.

By the end of the period, mechanical and explosively-powered artillery advanced to the point as to assure the castle’s demise with the catapult, trebuchet and cannon being substantive factors. During most of the period, a king or lord resided inside the castle, but after this time, military architecture rarely served as residences for heads of state.

F-15C Eagle flying over the Hohenzollern Castle.

An air-to-air right side view of a 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle aircraft flying over the Hohenzollern Castle, south of Stuggart, West Germany, during exercise Cornet Phaser, a NATO rapid deployment exercise conducted under simulated wartime conditions.
Scene Camera Operator: Staff Sergeant Fernando Serna.
Department of Defense, 10/5/1987.