When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the Lord…Joshua 6
This morning I have been processing my “full camera” photographs from Bodiam Castle. My original post (October 13 – Exploring a Classic Medieval Fortress) features the story of the castle, along with some great images. So today serves as a supplement, and – also – tying the story into our lives back here in in the United States of America.
Castles are especially good at telling stories. When we know who built them, how they acquired their power and wealth, and how society functioned, then the edifices become not only more interesting but more instructive.
One of the reasons so many castles popped up like mushrooms in Medieval England was not so much in order to stave off invasion as to protect the status quo within the country. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the entire leadership structure of the kingdom was dismantled; almost every Anglo Saxon Lord, Duke, Earl, Baron, Marquise and whatever was replaced with someone from William of Normandy’s power base.
When William began his famous Doomsday Book project, the first comprehensive auditing of English lands and wealth, it was part of this recalibration of control. Obviously, this was not a popular change, so most of the new land barons built strongholds – castles – to protect their wealth, to subdue the population, and to project their power.
I am, interestingly, currently reading the classic “Adventures of Robin Hood” to my dad. The story is set in the exact post-Norman-invasion England we are talking about. The evil Sheriff of Nottingham is Norman; Robin and his band of “merry men” are Saxon, and most have been disenfranchised and dispossessed in some way by the new power structure.
This pattern still tends to repeat itself in our culture today, where the most pressing interest of those who acquire power and wealth is often that of preserving it – rather than using it as an opportunity to help improve the lives of neighbors.
The powerful still build castles, then defend them:
People build castles, and then they defend them, often via lies and manipulations and false ideologies and conspiracy theories and tax breaks for themselves and false flag operations and more.
But typically – and this is the lesson of history – such fortresses seldom fall to direct assault but rather decay from within, or shifting allegiances, or irrelevancy, and they finally transform from ramparts to ruins.
Regardless of the commentary, these are some cool pictures! Enjoy.
And, peace in every way – DEREK