France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   French Castle & Fortress Architecture
Every major city and town in France has its medieval castle/fortress. Here's how to understand what your visiting.







Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel by Tom Brosnahan









 

   

 

French castles and fortresses look romantic, but they were conceived and built for serious purposes. Every aspect of their architecture was designed to promote victory in military conflict.

Here are some architectural features of castles, explaining their function. Keep these in mind when you walk through:

Allure
Walkway behind the parapet of a castle wall

Bailey
Courtyard (same as ward)

Barbican
An outward or forward extension of a castle gateway enclosing an open area in which attackers who had broken through the outermost gate could be trapped and attacked by the castle's defenders.

Chemise
Inner walled enclosure of a castle

Corbel
A stone or timber bracket supporting a projection from a wall

Crenellation
A notched battlement made up of alternate crenels (openings) and merlons (square saw-teeth)

Curtain
A castle wall enclosing a courtyard

Donjon
Inner stronghold of a castle (same as keep)

Drawbridge
A wooden bridge leading to a gateway, capable of being raised or lowered

Enceinte
An enclosing wall, usually exerior, of a fortified place

Escalade
Scaling of a castle wall by attackers

Forebuilding
A projection in front of a keep or donjon, containing the stairs to the main entrance

Garderobe
Latrine

Hall
Principal living quarters of a medieval castle or house

Keep
Inner stronghold of a castle (same as donjon)

Machicolation
A projection in the battlements of a wall with openings through which missiles can be dropped on besiegers

Merlon
Part of a battlement, the square "sawtooth" between crenels

Meurtrière
Arrow loop, slit in battlement or wall to permit firing [shooting] of arrows, or for observation

Motte
An earthwork mound on which a castle was built

Oriel
Projecting room on an upper floor (in the medieval sense; later an upper-floor bay window)

Parapet
Protective wall at the top of a fortification, around the outer side of the wall-walk

Portcullis
Vertical sliding wooden grill shod with iron suspended in front of a gateway, let down to protect the gate

Postern, Sally port
A small gate or door in a castle wall through which castle soldiers can exit to stage quick attacks on besiegers; same as sally port

Sappers
Besiegers who undermine castle walls, causing them to collapse

Solar
Originally a room above ground level, but commonly applied to the great chamber or a private sitting room off the great hall

Ward
Courtyard or bailey


Paris Architecture

Paris

Finding Your Way in Paris

Paris Arrondissements

Paris Transportation

Top 10 Travel Mistakes

Where to Go in France

 

Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel by Tom Brosnahan

 

  Carcassonne, France

La Cité, the Château de Carcassonne.

Château de Beynac, Bergerac, France

Château de Beynac.

Autumn Colors! New England USA

FTP on Facebook    
Pinterest    Twitter