A castle is a medieval stronghold. Kings and lords of the territory resided in them. The word castle is sometimes applied to prehistoric earth works such as Maiden castle in England. The word also refers to princely mansions and country seats. In other linguistic forms castles are called chateau, castello and Burg.
FACT 1: The Bailey Castle is the earliest form of a castle. It developed from the 9th century onward. In the 10th century in France fortifications were built on a high mound surrounded by a ditch and surmounted by personal stronghold of the leader. The castles at Blois and Saumur are examples of early Bailey Castles. They got their name from the baileys or ward enclosed at the foot of the mound. A bailey is an open space between encircling walls. By the 11th century, this type of castle had spread throughout Western Europe.
FACT 2: The keep was the focal point of the castle. In times of siege, when the outer lines of defence had fallen, the whole garrison converged in the keep.
FACT 3: After the third crusade (1189-92), castles were built on precipitous hills and backed by cliffs. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the development of firearms necessitated a radical change in military architecture. In 1494, French troops, with their guns, marched through Italy reducing castle after castle with alarming rapidity. The age of the medieval castle came to an end and modern military fortifications emerged. These were composed of one compact block surrounded by low walls.
FACT 4: During the renaissance, there was a separation between domestic and military architecture. The latter was a fort under the control of the monarch and the former being manors, or residences of the wealthy. The royal residence was called a castle.
FACT 5: Castles, as a stronghold of the local leader, existed in forms similar to the Baileys castle, in many parts of the world. In 15th century Japan, the authority of the central government weakened and Japan collapsed into a number of warring states. Each state built its castles for defence purposes. Many of these castles were destroyed during the Second World War. Some have been reconstructed. Japanese castles were typically built of wood.
FACT 6: In India castle in the Medieval Ear were built of mud and wood but later fortified with stone. Many of these castles are still standing. Castles in many styles of architecture and design were built over a period of 900 years. However they all possessed the main features of a Baileys Castle. Castles in India were primarily defensive structures and were rendered obsolete with the advent of gunpowder.
FACT 7: In the USA the term castle usually refers to magnificent residences built by the wealthy. These structures were not built for defence. They were built in the 19th and early 20th centuries by American millionaires, for residence or out of pure folly. Many of them are open to the public. They often feature extensive art collections and have beautiful gardens and stunning views. Many of them are open for public viewing.
FACT 8: These American castles usually have one or two typical castle features. The Boldt castle inn Heart Island, New York, was built by Hotel Magnate George C Boldt. It has a dove cote and a tower fortress. The Gillette castle built by William Hooker Gillette, looks like a ruin on the outside, but is full of modern conveniences on the inside.
FACT 9: Some American castles are built to replicate medieval castles of different regions. The Bannerman Castle, built by Scottish immigrant, is the model of a Scottish castle. The Castello di Amorosa, built in 1994, is an authentic replica of a 13th century Tuscan Castle
FACT 10: Walt Disney was inspired to create the Magic Kingdom by the fairy tale look of the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. The castle was built in the 19th century when castles no longer had any strategic significance.