Hot Best Seller

Castles: Their History and Evolution in Medieval Britain

Availability: Ready to download

Beginning with their introduction in the eleventh century, and ending with their widespread abandonment in the seventeenth, Marc Morris explores many of the country’s most famous castles, as well as some spectacular lesser-known examples. At times this is an epic tale, driven by characters like William the Conqueror, King John and Edward I, full of sieges and conquest on an Beginning with their introduction in the eleventh century, and ending with their widespread abandonment in the seventeenth, Marc Morris explores many of the country’s most famous castles, as well as some spectacular lesser-known examples. At times this is an epic tale, driven by characters like William the Conqueror, King John and Edward I, full of sieges and conquest on an awesome scale. But it is also by turns an intimate story of less eminent individuals, whose adventures, struggles and ambitions were reflected in the fortified residences they constructed. Be it ever so grand or ever so humble, a castle was first and foremost a home. To understand castles—who built them, who lived in them, and why—is to understand the forces that shaped medieval Britain.


Compare

Beginning with their introduction in the eleventh century, and ending with their widespread abandonment in the seventeenth, Marc Morris explores many of the country’s most famous castles, as well as some spectacular lesser-known examples. At times this is an epic tale, driven by characters like William the Conqueror, King John and Edward I, full of sieges and conquest on an Beginning with their introduction in the eleventh century, and ending with their widespread abandonment in the seventeenth, Marc Morris explores many of the country’s most famous castles, as well as some spectacular lesser-known examples. At times this is an epic tale, driven by characters like William the Conqueror, King John and Edward I, full of sieges and conquest on an awesome scale. But it is also by turns an intimate story of less eminent individuals, whose adventures, struggles and ambitions were reflected in the fortified residences they constructed. Be it ever so grand or ever so humble, a castle was first and foremost a home. To understand castles—who built them, who lived in them, and why—is to understand the forces that shaped medieval Britain.

30 review for Castles: Their History and Evolution in Medieval Britain

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    This is an informative subject about the rise of the Castle in the UK. We start from the 11th Century, with the formation of the Norman Motte and Baily, basically earthen works surrounded by timber defenses. Prior to the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066, there were already a few of these in Britain. Afterwards. after William of Normandy's conquest, then they sprang up over the whole of the UK. Or at least England. They were meant as a defense against a hostile population after the 1066 invasio This is an informative subject about the rise of the Castle in the UK. We start from the 11th Century, with the formation of the Norman Motte and Baily, basically earthen works surrounded by timber defenses. Prior to the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066, there were already a few of these in Britain. Afterwards. after William of Normandy's conquest, then they sprang up over the whole of the UK. Or at least England. They were meant as a defense against a hostile population after the 1066 invasion. Carrying on from that (the first stone Castle was the Tower of London and Dover Castle), under the reign of King Henry II then the stone Castles started to appear. Their purpose it seems was both meant to be intimidating towards the local population as well as a place of residence for the Lords that King William the First had created after the conquest. This book Marc Morris has written is both a chronological history of the Castles uses as well as giving a little bit of history of the period, right up to the English Civil War of the 1640's, along with an architectural aspect describing the particular designs certain Castles had. From King Henry II and Edward 1st and his particular conquest and defeat of Prince Llewellyn of Wales, then stone Castle building was a prosperous industry (costly and it took at least a decade to build them), and as I stated they were both an intimidating and a residence for Lords of the Manor and so on. The book is both a general, quite easy going history of Britains Castle heritage as well as an architectural discussion as well. As the Medieval years progressed, then slowly with the invention of gunpowder and cannon, then the Castles became less and less useful. We can see this starting essentially from the English Civil War of the 1640s and afterwards. The book ends at this point, and after the defeat of Charles Ist, then a program of rendering the Castles useless was implemented, to some degree of success. Most of the ruins of Castles today in Britain stem from this particular agenda, to stop any sort of rebellion against the Parliamentarians under Oliver Cromwell. A good, quite easy to read history study (over 260 pages), not dry but very informative and interesting. Personally speaking I live in Chepstow and here there is a massive Castle, built under one of William the Bastard (or conqueror, how ever you wish to name him) newly created Lords. Chepstow Castle was besieged in the Civil War of the 1640s, and succumbed from Cannon fire, and there is still evidence of that here today. As I stated, after this period of conflict in Britain, all the old aristocracy who used Castles as their stately homes moved on when the program of demolishing them during the Cromwellian Republic started. The age of the Castle in Britain ceased to be. A good history. I believe there was a television series in the early 2000's regarding it. I will give a 4 star award, and really would love to visit some of the Castles mentioned and studied in the book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Orsolya

    Castles have captivated the eyes, minds, and hearts of the young and old both in the time of their architectural rise and modern-day not only for their visual appeal but what they stand for. The questions arise of why castles were built, by whom, and what push-and-pull role did they play with British history? Marc Morris explores these and other curiosities in, “Castles: Their History and Evolution in Medieval Britain”. Marc Morris’s stylistic approach to “Castles” is to present the topic on a c Castles have captivated the eyes, minds, and hearts of the young and old both in the time of their architectural rise and modern-day not only for their visual appeal but what they stand for. The questions arise of why castles were built, by whom, and what push-and-pull role did they play with British history? Marc Morris explores these and other curiosities in, “Castles: Their History and Evolution in Medieval Britain”. Marc Morris’s stylistic approach to “Castles” is to present the topic on a chronological scale of the creation of castles throughout history and the events relating to them but also with a sort of topical feel. “Castles” is instantly entertaining, gripping, and easy-to-read. Morris has an amazing aptitude to “make history fun” and teach an educational lesson while allowing his personal excitement to bleed through the pages. In fact, the readers will find an urge to close the book exclaiming, “I love this!” and will find they are overwhelmed by the joy of the topic. Although “Castles” can have an informal feel; it also errs on the side of academia with solid, concise research and heavy detective work collectively offered in a memorable way. Readers will come away with a wealth of information. Morris infuses “Castles” with historic tales and figures which gives a more comprehensive view versus a strictly architectural dissection. Although Morris forewarns that “Castles” isn’t meant o be a comprehensive look; it is still quite solid. “Castles” is supplemented with illustrations of castle floor plans and a section of photo color plates of the specific castles discussed. Although endearing, the text would be strengthened with photos of the respective castles during the appropriate chapter. Morris occasionally takes a psychological route within “Castles” and attempts to analyze and break down the minds of castle architects or that of figures interacting with the structures. This adds some depth to “Castles” by bringing a new element to the text. In the final quarter of “Castles”, Morris employs some comedic charm and humor within the text. In no way does this approach belittle or demean the academic value of the piece and merely serves to make it more entertaining and readable. Conversely, though, there are some moments when the author ‘bad-mouths’ certain figures discussed which is somewhat juvenile and without taste. Morris concludes “Castles” with a wrap-up of the final days of castles during Stuart England and the transition to the current-day state of buildings. However, Morris missed the opportunity to fully capitalize on the topic of the modern status of castles or what we can expect in the future. Regardless, the ending is firm and well-rounded leaving on a positive note. Even with some minor drawbacks; “Castle” is a wonderful piece combining entertainment with history making for an enthralling lesson. Morris excels at reaching readers in the most optimal manner and memorably presenting facts. “Castle” is a great read and recommended for all those interested in the topic even if faintly.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This is an introduction to the history of castles in Britain. The book starts out with the Norman Conquest and how William The Conqueror brought castle-building to England. The hey-day of castle-building in Britain was from 1066 to the 15th Century and Morris spends time explaining the origins of several castles throughout the country. I am a British history buff and particularly enjoy reading about the Medieval Era, so this was right up my alley. I have visited several of the castles that he in This is an introduction to the history of castles in Britain. The book starts out with the Norman Conquest and how William The Conqueror brought castle-building to England. The hey-day of castle-building in Britain was from 1066 to the 15th Century and Morris spends time explaining the origins of several castles throughout the country. I am a British history buff and particularly enjoy reading about the Medieval Era, so this was right up my alley. I have visited several of the castles that he included in the book, and it was nice to get a more in-depth history of these landmarks.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    If you’re fascinated by castles, then I definitely recommend this book. It’s not just a dry recounting of what castle was built when, but an examination of why castles were built and what they were used for, and what they say about the people who built them. There are some gorgeous photos and ideas for places to visit, but it’s not intended as an exhaustive guide — it focuses on a couple of example castles, rather than talking about every single significant or interesting castle in Britain. Even If you’re fascinated by castles, then I definitely recommend this book. It’s not just a dry recounting of what castle was built when, but an examination of why castles were built and what they were used for, and what they say about the people who built them. There are some gorgeous photos and ideas for places to visit, but it’s not intended as an exhaustive guide — it focuses on a couple of example castles, rather than talking about every single significant or interesting castle in Britain. Even better, Morris keeps the tone light, knowing just when to comment wryly or appreciatively about the people and ideas he’s writing about. It’s not just an interesting read in terms of the information given, but an entertaining one too. Posted for The Bibliophibian.

  5. 4 out of 5

    ♣ Irish Smurfétté ♣

    The premise is fun: what exactly is a castle, how do we define it? What's even moar funner is my fave author historian taking this, a comfort food-sized dinner plate of a playground, subject and examining it in his uniquely serious cheeky ways. His main perspective lounges within the context of defensive structure vs humble abode and how each approach was influenced by the times. Or is it the other way around? A truly historical which came first, the poultry or the poached! I'll let you find out for The premise is fun: what exactly is a castle, how do we define it? What's even moar funner is my fave author historian taking this, a comfort food-sized dinner plate of a playground, subject and examining it in his uniquely serious cheeky ways. His main perspective lounges within the context of defensive structure vs humble abode and how each approach was influenced by the times. Or is it the other way around? A truly historical which came first, the poultry or the poached! I'll let you find out for yourself on which side of the ledger Morris makes his mark. ;) Bonus fun: I learned new stuffs. :D

  6. 5 out of 5

    C.E. Case

    A concise and easy-to-read history of castles in England, Scotland, and Wales (and a bit of France). It includes an equally-good and brief history of England that finally makes William the Conqueror make sense to this American. Morris's love of castles come through as he treats each example with awe and affection. A concise and easy-to-read history of castles in England, Scotland, and Wales (and a bit of France). It includes an equally-good and brief history of England that finally makes William the Conqueror make sense to this American. Morris's love of castles come through as he treats each example with awe and affection.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    What were castles? Were they the same in definition and in reality? Morris takes the pragmatic view that a castle was something known as a castle. Why did someone want a castle? He shows that it wasn't always defensive but a matter of status as well. What were castles? Were they the same in definition and in reality? Morris takes the pragmatic view that a castle was something known as a castle. Why did someone want a castle? He shows that it wasn't always defensive but a matter of status as well.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Todd Stockslager

    Review title: A man's castle is his home Castles today are usually desolate ruins of hulking stone towers and walls covered with ivy and moss, exposed to the elements due to their lack of roofs, doors, and intact windows. They seem like romantic ruins of an ancient lost civilization. But when built, they served valuable purposes for proud owners, and Morris has written this brief history of English castles to tell their story. While we associate castles with stone walls, Morris writes that the fi Review title: A man's castle is his home Castles today are usually desolate ruins of hulking stone towers and walls covered with ivy and moss, exposed to the elements due to their lack of roofs, doors, and intact windows. They seem like romantic ruins of an ancient lost civilization. But when built, they served valuable purposes for proud owners, and Morris has written this brief history of English castles to tell their story. While we associate castles with stone walls, Morris writes that the first generation of British castles starting around the 10th century were of the "motte and bailey" type: raised earthen platforms topped by wooden walls and buildings. Naturally, very few have survived as more than low, flat-topped rises. It was with the 13th century that the stone towers we recognize today as "castles" began to rise. Two of the most famous British castles of all, The Tower of London and Dover Castle, date from this era, with their central towers still rising high as national monuments both well worth the visit if you have the opportunity. It was also with this generation of castles that the debate over their purpose and identity began to arise. What is it that makes a castle more than just a monumentally large house? Morris defines the various purposes of a castle as initially military (housing and protecting knights) in nature, then political (projecting military might and governing authority) as royalty and nobility attempted to consolidate control over broader areas, and finally ceremonial, as a place to host royal conferences for traveling kings and courts. But Morris also documents the importance of the merely domestic aspects of castles: those knights, Kings, and courts needed a place to eat and sleep, in some level of comfort, as did the proud owner of the castle. After all, why spend the money on expensive construction and maintenance costs if you are going to get a bad review in TripAdvisor? Over time, as military requirements changed (battlefield strategists chose to bypass castles to conquer territory, and cannons proved stronger then stone) castles changed with the times. In the 14th and 15th centuries, creature comforts and political influence began to trump protective features like gunloops, thick walls, tiny windows, and drawbridged moats. More than just a book about castles, Morris tells the stories of the men and women who built and occupied them, using the available historical documentation to tell stories of the purposes, politics, personalities, and power of the castle builders. In the final chapter he brings the story up to the last golden age of the castle, the 17th century English Civil War, when the military purpose of the castle again came to the fore. As the Parliament's forces sent King Charles and his royalists scattering, it was to the castles of loyal nobles that they ran. And once again castles had to be refortified to serve their military purpose. Unfortunately for future architects and admirers of castles, few survived either the pounding of siege mortars or the post battle destruction by the Parliamentary forces to prevent royal restoration, leaving us with the roofless ruined walls we see today. Morris has written a nimble, fast-reading account with a casual style and light touch of humor that sticks to the history without losing the casual reader along the way. A man's castle is his home, and sometimes more.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    For a long time I have been deeply interested in castles and had the dream of having one of my own. This book does a good job at pointing out why this is the case for me and no doubt for many other people as well in reminding the reader that a castle is both a fortress and a home, both a defended place as well as one that was where someone lived with their household.  That combination of fortress and home is not something that can be forgotten, because it was present from the very beginnings of For a long time I have been deeply interested in castles and had the dream of having one of my own. This book does a good job at pointing out why this is the case for me and no doubt for many other people as well in reminding the reader that a castle is both a fortress and a home, both a defended place as well as one that was where someone lived with their household.  That combination of fortress and home is not something that can be forgotten, because it was present from the very beginnings of the castle.  Likewise, it is important to note that just as the defensible nature of castles allow for the possibility of defense against others, but it also allows one a safe base from which to project force onto others.  Small wonder then that when the English first saw castles in the 11th century that they recognized the loss of liberty that was portended by them, or that there was a desire on the part of areas to encourage the slighting or destruction of castles held by enemies who brought invasion upon localities.  All of this the author tells with a great deal of insight. The author introduces this roughly 250 page book with a discussion of the thorny issue of how to define a castle.  After that the author discusses the humble origins of the castle in the 11th century motte and bailey constructions (1) that both preceded and immediately followed the Norman conquest.  There is then a look at the rise of stone towers (2), which there the next type of castle to be found in England, and the way that Edward I built an English empire in subjugating Wales through the building of many castles there (3).  The author shifts to a look at the castle as an English home for upwardly mobile folks (4) as well as the way that castles were safe as houses in Scotland (5), where many people there sought a combination of defense and even more so the appearance of it.  The author then spends a great deal of time talking about the castle's last stand in the violence of the English civil war of the 1640's (6) before ending with an epilogue that helps the reader place the evolution of castles and their design in a larger context of politics as well as personality. And indeed it is that combination of the two that makes castles a continuing area of study.  Someone who builds a castle has a certain desire for safety and defense but also a desire to be seen as someone worthwhile in the eyes of others.  Given the expense of building castles, many people would rather spend their money on less provocative structures, but for some people the needs of both home and fortress have always been of considerable importance, and that strikes me as being very interesting as well.  Paradoxically, castles are a sign of living in a world where one's place is not entirely safe and secure and also by their existence often create a lack of safety and security for those who are outside of a castle and who may find themselves resisted and/or oppressed by those who are inside of it.  This sort of conundrum, which the author discusses through very real and noteworthy examples, is one that appears often in human existence, where our desires are often thwarted by the way we go about them, and where our behavior has symbolic resonance far beyond what is immediately obvious to ourselves and those around us.  Long may the castle live as both beautiful and provocative building, both safe house and base of operations for people on the rise.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sifa Poulton

    After quite a few disappointing history books back to back, this one was an absolute delight. With discussion of the greater political climate of Britain, this book looks at the evolution of castles over six centuries and their changing role. Mainly focusing on England and then Edward's conquest of Wales, there is also a chapter devoted to the Scottish Castles of the 15th century. This is less a look at the general history of the country than a detailed look at the buildings - and their owners. I After quite a few disappointing history books back to back, this one was an absolute delight. With discussion of the greater political climate of Britain, this book looks at the evolution of castles over six centuries and their changing role. Mainly focusing on England and then Edward's conquest of Wales, there is also a chapter devoted to the Scottish Castles of the 15th century. This is less a look at the general history of the country than a detailed look at the buildings - and their owners. I'm quite glad that the country-level history was sparse as I do know it well, so I probably would have got bored if most of the book was re-hashing that. Other readers might not agree there, but I think there was enough background for those not as familiar. Plus lots of delightful titbits about society as a whole. The book is structured around examples of specific castles and their (at times) rather dramatic history. These helped really drive home points and structure the chapters. It makes for a good through line. I particularly appreciated that I knew several of the main castles used. My family are very into visiting castles and historic buildings on holiday (some of us more than others!) and it really helped to bring the book to life as I didn't have to rely on the images. Rochester Castle (which I was very pleased with myself for identifying as the cover image) is the last castle I visited, and is the main subject of chapter two. Bodiam Castle (the main castle looked at in chapter 4) holds quite a special place in my heart as it's the first castle I remember my grandparents taking me too. That chapter also tied in greatly to my other historical research, which led to many DM squeals to bemused friends. The writing was also really engaging. There were some really voicy sections, particularly when he used a rather modern phrase that counterbalanced the more formal prose. It's not a "stuffier" academic text. But, for me at least, the mark of a really good history book is how often I reach for my laptop to do more research. If I have to keep googling things for clarity, that's not good, but if I'm eagerly searching out more information because the book makes me want to know more than can be encompassed by the pages, then it's done its job. And I was constantly googling (and even emailed a British historical trust for further information!)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mothwing

    'The foreigners,' wrote the monk, 'committed all kinds of insults and oppressions on the men in that region.' But that wasn't the worst of it. What really surprised the monk was the thing that these foreigners had built. It was a great mound of earth, topped with a large wooden tower, surrounded by an enclosure of wooden palisades. It was so new and different that the monk didn't even have a world of is own to describe it. In the end he had to settle for the word that the foreigners themselves h 'The foreigners,' wrote the monk, 'committed all kinds of insults and oppressions on the men in that region.' But that wasn't the worst of it. What really surprised the monk was the thing that these foreigners had built. It was a great mound of earth, topped with a large wooden tower, surrounded by an enclosure of wooden palisades. It was so new and different that the monk didn't even have a world of is own to describe it. In the end he had to settle for the word that the foreigners themselves had used, and called it a castle. My wife and I have been members of English Heritage and now Cadw for years and the reasons are Conwy, Gwynedd and Edward I. We went there first and, starting near Chester, visited Edward I's chain of castles along the coast with our Visitor Pass. And we fell in love. Well, I'd already been in love with Conwy, my favourite castle in my favourite city, but after that trip, I was no longer in love alone. During that holiday, we compared floor plans, builds, models, and vowed to come back. That was 2013. In the last six years, we have seen castles all over Wales and England and marvelled at their history and architecture. This year we were in Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire and went to see several of the castles mentioned in the book (like the three castles on the Welsh border White Castle, Skenfrith and Grosmont castle, all three built after the Norman invasion as Motte and Bailey castles and later fortified by Hubert de Burgh. We also saw Chepstow castle and the beautiful and stunning Raglan castle). This book takes us from the first Motte and Bailey castle to those of the Civil War and is written in an easy, entertaining style that made me revisit the castles in memory.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    In his marvelously entertaining and educational CASTLES, medieval historian Marc Morris (The Norman Conquest) charts the evolution of the castle over a period of 600 years--beginning with King Edward the Confessor in 1051 and fading out in the 17th century after the English Civil War. Morris reveals the changing role of castles and some of the dramatic events that have happened within their walls. With an expert's eye for detail and a storyteller's charm for making history personal, Morris expla In his marvelously entertaining and educational CASTLES, medieval historian Marc Morris (The Norman Conquest) charts the evolution of the castle over a period of 600 years--beginning with King Edward the Confessor in 1051 and fading out in the 17th century after the English Civil War. Morris reveals the changing role of castles and some of the dramatic events that have happened within their walls. With an expert's eye for detail and a storyteller's charm for making history personal, Morris explains how these amazing structures were built, rebuilt, extended and adapted to function not only as defensive fortresses but also as luxurious homes. CASTLES was originally published in the U.K. in 2003 (and immediately turned into a six-part documentary for British TV), but this is the first time it has been published in the United States. It is a vital, stirring and energetic overview of medieval British history while also serving as a travel guide to these long-standing and iconic fortresses. Morris is enthusiastic and confident as a tour guide and his writing is wry, well researched, accessible and entertaining. (He calls Bodiam Castle "a pin-up castle" because it's used in so many ads, calendars and movies.) History buffs, armchair travelers and Anglophiles will enjoy the fascinating history behind these massive structures and will delight in this engaging guide's more than 50 photographs and illustrations. Historian Marc Morris's CASTLES offers an enthusiastic and marvelously entertaining socio-architectural history covering 600 years of British castles.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I think Marc Morris is a fantastic historian and author. I've read several of his other books (A Great and Terrible King, The Norman Conquest, etc.) and this book was similarly interesting, well-written and rewarding. I'm a huge fan of castles myself, so it was wonderful to read about their various purposes and evolution. It's easy to see them today, scattered across the UK, but until one reads a book like this it's hard to have the right framework to begin to understand their roles and eventual I think Marc Morris is a fantastic historian and author. I've read several of his other books (A Great and Terrible King, The Norman Conquest, etc.) and this book was similarly interesting, well-written and rewarding. I'm a huge fan of castles myself, so it was wonderful to read about their various purposes and evolution. It's easy to see them today, scattered across the UK, but until one reads a book like this it's hard to have the right framework to begin to understand their roles and eventual decay into the romantic artifacts visited by so many of us tourists and amateur historians. Take Kenilworth Castle, for example. I visited this some 15 years ago while living in England and it was nearly painful to witness how something so beautiful had obviously either been destroyed our allowed to decay. You could still see its grandeur, but I had no idea why it had been scuttled until reading Morris' book about the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell, etc. Now I understand and have a mental map of sorts through which I can delve deeper into English history and the role of these amazing buildings. Interspersed with very interesting tales of specific castles and their owners' lives, this book was wonderful.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susan Paxton

    Having read Morris' biography of King John (both excellent and beautifully organized) I expected this to be a bit dry, but in fact Morris allows himself to have a bit of fun with his subject. The book isn't a complete history of castles and does not pretend to be; Morris himself telegraphs as much with his subtitle "Their History and Evolution in Medieval Britain," which means he takes the Normans as his start. You'll also find nothing in here about forts; this is about castles, which were resid Having read Morris' biography of King John (both excellent and beautifully organized) I expected this to be a bit dry, but in fact Morris allows himself to have a bit of fun with his subject. The book isn't a complete history of castles and does not pretend to be; Morris himself telegraphs as much with his subtitle "Their History and Evolution in Medieval Britain," which means he takes the Normans as his start. You'll also find nothing in here about forts; this is about castles, which were residences as well as strong points. Morris tells his story in topical/chronological chapters, ending with the destruction of many castles during and after the Civil War. The book is well illustrated with grayscale images in line with the text along with a section of color plates; I personally would have liked more castle plans, but it's a minor quibble. Enjoyable and easy reading, but full of good history and well-chosen stories.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maynard Handley

    Any monkey can write a mere chronicle, a list of events. And, unfortunately, that's what most history writing consists of. To move beyond that to historian, you have to give the facts some interpretation, some sense of why. And then the very best historiographers do more than just explain why, they explain why the reader should care. What makes this book so superb is precisely how well the author handles this. We have, interweaved, a discussion of castle technology (why various features exist, th Any monkey can write a mere chronicle, a list of events. And, unfortunately, that's what most history writing consists of. To move beyond that to historian, you have to give the facts some interpretation, some sense of why. And then the very best historiographers do more than just explain why, they explain why the reader should care. What makes this book so superb is precisely how well the author handles this. We have, interweaved, a discussion of castle technology (why various features exist, then why they were changed or abandoned) and the concurrent English history that resulted in the construction, or testing, of castles based on these technologies. Really, my only complaint it that it covers just medieval Britain; I wish the book were four times as long, going back to classical history, and covering all of Europe, if not the world.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    I definitely want to read more from Marc Morris. He knows his topic thoroughly and writes with wit and humor, making this book an absolute treat. Morris' discussion of castles ranges from before the Norman Conquest to after the English Civil War. He takes time to discuss several castles (Caernarfon, Bodiam, Raglan, Pontrefact, among others), their construction and role in their own time. I was fascinated by the details of Caernarfon's construction and the layout of Bodiam. Though I loved the mor I definitely want to read more from Marc Morris. He knows his topic thoroughly and writes with wit and humor, making this book an absolute treat. Morris' discussion of castles ranges from before the Norman Conquest to after the English Civil War. He takes time to discuss several castles (Caernarfon, Bodiam, Raglan, Pontrefact, among others), their construction and role in their own time. I was fascinated by the details of Caernarfon's construction and the layout of Bodiam. Though I loved the more thorough work of Joseph and Frances Gies, Morris is a deal more readable than they are, and thus he holds his own in castle writing. I'd give this 9.5 out of 10 stars, which is exceptionally high for me. I will recommend and I am definitely going to read his book on the Norman Conquest.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    Castles answers the questions, "What is a Castle and why were they built?". This did not read as a "typical" history book, it did not overwhelm me with facts, names, and dates and it was highly engaging and entertaining. I learned a lot about castles, medieval Britain and the everyday life of the peoples of medieval Britain. I particularly liked the section about Edward Dallingridge and learning how a castle influenced his life. Marc Morris was even able to add humor to an history book! I found Castles answers the questions, "What is a Castle and why were they built?". This did not read as a "typical" history book, it did not overwhelm me with facts, names, and dates and it was highly engaging and entertaining. I learned a lot about castles, medieval Britain and the everyday life of the peoples of medieval Britain. I particularly liked the section about Edward Dallingridge and learning how a castle influenced his life. Marc Morris was even able to add humor to an history book! I found myself laughing at his "jokes". I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in castles or British history. I look forward to reading other books by Marc Morris as well.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is a wonderfully informative and informal history of a castles in 250 pages. It focuses on a few specific examples, and takes us on a quick jaunt through history. Morris' writing style isn't dry or boring, but informal and sometimes even jokey. It makes this a good, easy read even though it's full of facts. I absolutely adore castles. I don't know what it is, but the sight of one on the horizon fills me with excitement. Morris manages to capture that feeling and pour it into every page of t This is a wonderfully informative and informal history of a castles in 250 pages. It focuses on a few specific examples, and takes us on a quick jaunt through history. Morris' writing style isn't dry or boring, but informal and sometimes even jokey. It makes this a good, easy read even though it's full of facts. I absolutely adore castles. I don't know what it is, but the sight of one on the horizon fills me with excitement. Morris manages to capture that feeling and pour it into every page of this book, so that all fellow castle-lovers will get the same thrill without having to leave their seat.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Monical

    I picked this book up thinking it would deserve a quick glance, and really got sucked into the text as the book went along. The author makes a strong and compelling case for the political and economic themes in the development and utilization of castles in Great Britian (even before there was a "Great Britian," including Scotland and Wales, and to a smaller extent, Ireland), from the Norman invasion through the demise of castles in the Civil War. Having recently traveled to Scotland and England, I picked this book up thinking it would deserve a quick glance, and really got sucked into the text as the book went along. The author makes a strong and compelling case for the political and economic themes in the development and utilization of castles in Great Britian (even before there was a "Great Britian," including Scotland and Wales, and to a smaller extent, Ireland), from the Norman invasion through the demise of castles in the Civil War. Having recently traveled to Scotland and England, I've visited a few of the sites and enjoyed learning more about them.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    What an amazing feat -- giving context to over a thousand years of history through the evolutionary architecture of castles in medieval Britain! And Morris doesn't just gloss over stuff; you really get a good sense of the politics, the economics, the wars, the threats, and even the pride and puffery that went into the building of significant castles from their intro to Britain (around/before William the Conquerer) to after Henry VIII's rule and the civil war -- and all in an amazingly slim book! What an amazing feat -- giving context to over a thousand years of history through the evolutionary architecture of castles in medieval Britain! And Morris doesn't just gloss over stuff; you really get a good sense of the politics, the economics, the wars, the threats, and even the pride and puffery that went into the building of significant castles from their intro to Britain (around/before William the Conquerer) to after Henry VIII's rule and the civil war -- and all in an amazingly slim book! I've always wanted to visit England and see some castles in person; now I really want to!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Massanutten Regional Library

    Paul, Central reference staff, June 2017, 3 stars: Castles is easy to read and has a lot of interesting tidbits about specific castles. The issue is the author doesn't really go into what everyday life was like for people living in castles, but focuses on their design. By focusing on specific castles, many of which were not built by the royal family, there is an incomplete picture. Paul, Central reference staff, June 2017, 3 stars: Castles is easy to read and has a lot of interesting tidbits about specific castles. The issue is the author doesn't really go into what everyday life was like for people living in castles, but focuses on their design. By focusing on specific castles, many of which were not built by the royal family, there is an incomplete picture.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    An easy to read book, Castles offers an excellent overview of their development, decline, and end. I did not know that castles were built so early in British history, just after 1066. How strategic they were, how they were lived in, etc. is all covered in this volume, which is also filled with interesting and important anecdotes about who built them, when, where, why, and how they fell to a besieging army. This book can be read by those in middle school on up.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Love this book! I loved reading about William the Conqueror (one of my direct ancestors) and his introduction of castles to the UK. I’ve visited a lot of the castles in the book so that was really great as well. So much fascinating history, I’ve been glued to this book. Marc Morris also has a great TV series called Castle, which is easy to find on YouTube. Loved it and looking forward to reading more by Marc Morris.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    A history of castles in Britain, from the Norman conquest to the reign of Oliver Cromwell. Mr. Morris clearly enjoyed writing this book and I appreciate the energy, humor and insight he brought to the subject matter, as well as his seemingly off-hand digressions into historiography and debunking common myths about the dark ages and early medieval era. I would recommend this book to virtually anyone looking for fun non-fiction.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Castles is a readable and fascinating introduction to the history and architecture of English castles. Morris weaves in the history of the period and lives of the residents of the castles which really brings the buildings to life. There’s also a fair bit of information about the defenses, architectural features, and decorative elements of castles. Overall, a really great read that also gave me several more castles to add to my list of places to visit.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kylie Crawford

    I really enjoyed this book! 3.5 stars Morris takes you through the pages of history using history's tangible remains - castles. Hearing history told by this particular historian comes off more like your cool uncle talking to you about one of his passions than reading a textbook. Morris is engaging and compelling and I cannot wait to visit the places he's described. I really enjoyed this book! 3.5 stars Morris takes you through the pages of history using history's tangible remains - castles. Hearing history told by this particular historian comes off more like your cool uncle talking to you about one of his passions than reading a textbook. Morris is engaging and compelling and I cannot wait to visit the places he's described.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katharine

    A good overview of the general history of castles in Britain. Could do with more pictures and illustrations placed where they'd have the best effect, rather than at the end of chapters or as an appendix to the book. A good overview of the general history of castles in Britain. Could do with more pictures and illustrations placed where they'd have the best effect, rather than at the end of chapters or as an appendix to the book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    JP Mitton

    Short entertaining history of Castles in England, Wales and Scotland and the political and military context in which the were built and evolved over time. An excellent supplement to further reading on post Norman Britain.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Al Berry

    An okay survey book on a bunch of different Castles in Britain. Goes into their construction and use, Nothing really stood out and nothing particularly connected them all together, others may enjoy the book more, but nothing was truly memorable to me.

  30. 4 out of 5

    S. D. Howarth

    Well researched and very easy to read and be swept along into the history. Well worth the read for anyone interested in medieval history, or researching the topics.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...