HISTORY 192: LIFE IN A MEDIEVAL CASTLE
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Prof. Martha Carlin
copyright Martha Carlin 2010; all rights
Office: Holton 328
Phone: (414) 229-5767
Messages: History Department, tel. (414) 229-4361
Home page: http://pantherfile.uwm.edu/carlin/www/
Office hours: Tuesdays, 2:00-3:00 PM, and by appointment
Course description: The medieval castle was much more than a fortress; it was medieval society in microcosm. Castles were the homes not only of aristocratic owners and their families, but also of the many other people who worked in them, including knights, squires, pages, waiting-women, clerics, physicians, tutors, nursemaids, administrators, entertainers, cooks, builders, tailors, domestic servants, and men-at-arms. In this course we will use original medieval texts and images, surviving buildings, archaeological evidence, and the work of modern scholars to examine many facets of life in the medieval castle.
Course objectives: This course should provide you with a good overview of what it was like to live and work in a medieval castle; how castles were built and how their designs changed over time; and the role of castles in medieval society, politics, and warfare. It should also enable you to develop important skills in:
Grading and deadlines: You will be assessed on both your class participation and your written work. Fifty percent of your grade will be based on your class attendance and participation. This includes not only showing up for each class, with copies of the day's assigned readings, but also doing the assigned reading on time, before coming to class, and taking an active part in discussions and other in-class work. The other fifty percent of your grade will be based on your out-of-class assignments (described at end of syllabus). Assignments are due on the dates specified. Late work will not be accepted, except in cases of major illness or emergency (it is your responsibility to contact me immediately in such a case).
Exams: There will be no midterm or final exam for this course, but there may be unannounced quizzes, which will count towards your final grade.
Attendance: There will be two class meetings each week, and your attendance at each class is required. Your grade will be lowered if you miss class, except in genuine cases of illness or emergency (it is your responsibility to contact me immediately in such a case). Students who do not attend class during the first week of classes may be dropped administratively.
Disabilities: If you have a disability, it is important that you contact me early in the semester for any help or accommodation you may need.
Academic Advising in History: All L&S students have to declare and complete an academic major to graduate. If you are interested in declaring a major or minor in History, or require academic advising in History, please visit the Department of History’s undergraduate program web page at
There are two required textbooks:
Gies, Joseph, and Frances
Gies. Life in a Medieval Castle.
Macaulay, David. Castle.
There will also be required reading assignments (see Topics and Readings) from online resources and also from the books and articles listed below, which are available in the Course Reserve department in the East Wing of the library. All of the Course Reserve readings are available online via e-reserve, and in hard copy on two-hour reserve. You will find the online versions of these reserve readings at the following website: http://www4.uwm.edu/libraries/ereserve/mcarlin/HIST192.html
(These books can also be found on two-hour reserve in the Course Reserve department in the East Wing of the UWM Library. Their call numbers given below.)
Bennett, Matthew. "The
Medieval Warhorse Reconsidered." In Medieval Knighthood, V. Papers
the Sixth Strawberry Hill Conference, 1994. Ed. Stephen Church and
Call no.: CR4513 I34 1994
----------. "The Status of
Squire: The Northern Evidence." In The Ideals and Practice of
Knighthood. Papers from the First and Second Strawberry Hill Conferences.
Call no.: CR4513 I34 1986
Brown, R. Allen. Allen Brown’s English Castles. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell, 2004 (reprint of 1976 edn, with new Introduction by Jonathan Coad), pp. 140-149 (the castle in war).
Call no.: DA660 .B85 2004
Gies, Frances, and Joseph
Marriage and Family in the Middle Ages. New York: Harper and Row,
Call no.: HQ513 G53 1987
----------. Women in the
Ages. New York: Harper and Row, Perennial Library, 1978.
Call no.: Q1143 G53 1978
Holmes, Urban Tigner, Jr. Daily
Century. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press,
Call no.: CB353 H65
Labarge, Margaret Wade. A Baronial Household of the Thirteenth Century. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1965, rpt 1980, Chaps. 1 (pp. 18-37), 3 (pp. 53-70), 7 (pp. 116-128), and pp. 166-172, plus notes on pp. 203-4, 206-7, 212-13, 216-17.
Call nos.: DA185 L3 and DA185 L3 1980
[The above book was subsequently reprinted under the title Mistress, Maids and Men: Baronial Life in the Thirteenth Century, London: Phoenix Books: 2004 (ISBN: 1-84212-499-4; ISBN 13: 978-1-84212-499-4). This reprint edition is now out of print, but if you are interested you might find copies in other libraries or for sale second-hand.]
Labarge,Margaret Wade. A Small Sound of the Trumpet. Boston: Beacon, 1986, Chap. 4 (“Women Who Ruled: Noble Ladies”), pp. 72-97, plus notes on pp. 243-4.
Call no.: HQ 1147 .E853 L33 1986
Paterson, Linda M. "Military
Surgery: Knights, Sergeants, and Raimon of
Call no.: CR4513 .I34 1988
Peirce, Ian. "The Knight, His
Arms and Armour in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries." In The
and Practice of Medieval Knighthood. Papers from the First and Second
Strawberry Hill Conferences. Ed. Christopher Harper-Bill and Ruth
Call no.: CR4513 I34 1986
Pisan, Christine de. The
Call no.: PQ1575 L56 E52x 1985
Pounds, N. J. G. The
Call no.: DA660 P68 1990
Prestwich, Michael. Armies
The English Experience. New Haven and
Yale University Press, 1996.
Call no.: DA60 .P74 1996
Prestwich, Michael. “The Garrisoning of English Medieval Castles.” In The Normans and Their Adversaries at War: Essays in Memory of C. Warren Hollister. Ed. Richard P. Abels and Bernard Bachrach. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2001, pp. 185-200.
Call no.: U37 .N67 2001
Shahar, Shulamith. Childhood
Ages. Trans. Chaya Galai. London and New
Routledge, 1990, pp. 209-224, 320-325.
Call no.: HQ792 E8 S53 1990
Singman, Jeffrey L. Daily Life in Medieval Europe. Westport, Conn., and London : Greenwood Press, 1999, pp. 17-27 (plus notes on p. 32), 46-50, 57-64, 119-138
Call no.: D119 .S55 1999
There is a useful online
Timeline of British History, 1066-1485, which includes brief
English kings, at:
TOPICS AND READINGS FOR CLASS
Week 1 INTRODUCTION
Week 2 THE NORMANS COME TO ENGLAND; EARLY CASTLES AND THEIR LORDS
7 September Assignment 1 due (required of all students)
Gies and Gies, Life, pp. 1-20
9 September Gies and Gies, Life, Chap. 2 (pp. 32-56)
Week 3 BUILDING THE CASTLE
14 September Assignment 2 due
Gies and Gies, Life, pp. 21-31
Macaulay, pp. 5-37
Pounds, pp. 102-6, 126-9
16 September Macaulay, pp. 38-63
sketch, and letter concerning
building progress at Beaumaris Castle (see both websites below)
Week 4 THE CASTLE AS A HOUSE
21 September Assignment 3 due
Gies and Gies, Life, Chap. 3 (pp. 57-74)
Holmes, pp. 18, 82 (mid-page) -87, 178 (last paragraph) -191
23 September Labarge, Chap. 1 (“The Castle as a Home”), pp. 18-37
Singman, Daily Life in Medieval Europe, pp. 46-50, 126 (mid-page) - 138
de Troyes, Erec andEnide,
Week 5 THE LADY OF THE CASTLE
28 September Assignment 4 due
Gies and Gies, Life, Chap. 4 (pp. 75-94)
Labarge, A Small Sound of the Trumpet, Chap. 4 (“Women Who Ruled: Noble Ladies”), pp. 72-97.
On the Properties of Things
(man and wife)
http://pantherfile.uwm.edu/carlin/www/Trevisa's Bartholomew.Man and Wife.htm
Women in the Middle Ages,
7 (pp. 120-142):
"A Great Lady: Eleanor de Montfort" [Note that this is a different book by the Gieses than your course textbook!]
Pisan, Part II, Chaps. 9-10, pp.
128-133: "Of baronesses," and
ladies and young women who live on their manors ought to manage their households and estates"
Week 6 THE CASTLE HOUSEHOLD AND ECONOMY
5 October Assignment 5 due
Gies and Gies, Life, Chap. 5 (pp. 95-108)
Labarge, Chap. 3 (pp. 53-70)
7 October Prestwich, “The Garrisoning of English Medieval Castles.”
Singman, pp. 46-53, 57-64
of Lancaster, 1313-1
Week 7 LIFE IN THE CASTLE
12 October Assignment 6 due
Gies and Gies, Life, Chap. 6 (pp. 109-124) and Chap. 11(pp. 206-216)
Boke of Nurture (c. 1460): How to serve
master at table
14 October Labarge, Chap. 7 (“Cooking and Serving of Meals”), pp. 116-128
Holmes, pp. 87 (bottom) - 94
Week 8 CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE IN THE CASTLE
19 October Assignment 7 due
Marriage and the Family, Chap. 10 (pp. 196-217):
“Children in the Middle Ages” [Note that this is a different book by the Gieses than your course textbook!]
Singman, Daily Life in Medieval Europe, pp. 17-27 (notes on p. 32)
21 October Shahar, Chap. 10 (first part), pp. 209-213 (with notes on pp. 320-322): "Education in the nobility"
Oosterwijk, "The Medieval Child: An Unknown Phenomenon?"
Gies and Gies, Marriage and the Family, pp. 141-145
An aristocratic education, from John Harding's
Chronicle (c. 1457);
and the ideal squire, from Philippe de Remi, sire de Beaumanoir's Blonde of Oxford (Jehan et Blonde, c. 1250-65)
Week 9 EDUCATION AND MANNERS
26 October Assignment 8 due
Shahar, Chap. 10 (second part), pp. 214-224 (with notes on pp. 322-325): "Education in the nobility" “Schooling” (9 extracts from the writings of Guibert of Nogent and others)
"Distichs of Cato" (a medieval schoolbook for teaching Latin); read editor's introduction, and then click on "The Monostichs, as `Prologue'" and read that page also
28 October “Medieval Writing -- The Laity” (read the texts at both websites below):
Duenna's Advice on Table
Manners,” from Jean de Meun's continuation
of The Romance of the Rose, late thirteenth century
Week 10 THE MAKING OF A KNIGHT; ARMS AND ARMOR
2 November Assignment 9 due
Gies and Gies, Life, Chap. 9 (pp. 166-185)
of the New Knighthood,"
read editor's note and
4 November Peirce, "The Knight, His Arms and Armour"
Singman, Daily Life in Medieval Europe, pp. 119-126 (mid-page; notes on p. 138)
“Male clothing and knightly armor of the 1250s”: click on "next" in upper right corner
of screen and read all 11 pages of this site)
View website below to see a re-enactor manufacturing
of c. 1300: look at the following photos to see how clothing and armor actually
Week 11 HORSES AND HUNTING
9 November Assignment 10 due
Bennett, "The Medieval Warhorse"
Prestwich, pp. 30-37
Life, Chap. 7
Labarge, Baronial Household, pp. 166-172 midpage (plus notes on pp. 216-17)
Duke of York, The Master of Game,
Week 12 THE CASTLE AT WAR
16 November Assignment 11 due
Gies and Gies, Life, Chap. 10 (pp. 186-205)
Macaulay, pp. 64-78
18 November Pounds, pp. 106-13 ("siegecraft and defence")
Prestwich, pp. 1-4, 11, 219-22, 231-43
R. Allen Brown, Allen
Brown’s English Castles, pp. 140-9
Week 13 WAR SUPPLIES, SIEGE ENGINES, AND STRATEGIES
23 November Assignment 12 due (2-minute oral reports due from everyone)
Pound, pp. 122-5 ("garrison and supplies")
25 November [THANKSGIVING DAY. NO CLASS. ]
Week 14 WARFARE AND SIEGE
30 November Assignment 13 due
Pounds, pp. 113-21 ("castles in medieval warfare")
according to Documents from the English Government
2 December Prestwich, pp. 281-304
Chronicle (read all three of
following selections at the website below):
1) editor's introduction
2) "A few Scots capture Berwick" (in Book II)
3) "The English recapture Berwick" (in Book II)
Week 15 BATTLE AND INJURY; THE LATE MEDIEVAL CASTLE
7 December Assignment 14 due
Brennand, review of Blood
Red Roses: The
Archaeology of a Mass Grave from the Battle of Towton AD 1461
Battle of Towton, 1461
9 December Pounds, pp. 249-260, 269-75, 295-300
Gies and Gies, Life, Chap. 12 (pp. 218-224)
Week 16 REVIEW
14 December Review
MAP AND WRITING ASSIGNMENTS FOR HISTORY 192
There are 14 weekly assignments. Assignments 1 and 12 (oral report) are required of everyone. Your writing grade for the course will also include your eight best written essays. That means that you must complete at least eight of the remaining twelve writing assignments.
Assignment 1: SEE HANDOUT. Required of everyone.
Writing assignments (Assignments 2-14):
Write one full page (no more, no less!) on the weekly topic. Your paper must be double-spaced, using Times Roman 12-point font.
Document your text fully with endnotes and bibliography, placed on a second page. (On documentation, see handout). Do not use parenthetical citations.
You must base your paper on at least one primary source and one scholarly secondary source from the week's readings for each assignment. You may supplement these with additional sources from the course syllabus, if you wish. You may not use any sources that are not on the course syllabus, with the exception of maps or illustrations (if desired). (On primary and scholarly secondary sources, see FAQs, below.)
College-level writing, using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation, is required. The point of these papers is for you to read the assigned sources carefully and to use them to produce a genuine piece of historical research, packed with factual details, so no fantasy and no "time-travelers," please.
It is the year 1290. You are a master mason who has been hired to design a
The year is 1300. You are an elderly lady or lord, living in a castle in
You are the lady of a castle. Is your life easier, or more difficult, than that of the lord of a castle? Discuss.
You are a dishonest household or manorial steward. Describe your most lucrative fraud.
You work in a castle kitchen as a cook or cook's assistant. Describe a typical day's work.
You are the senior nursemaid in charge of the young children of the lord of the castle. A new junior servant has been ordered to assist you. Describe for this assistant four of the most common hazards of castle life from which the children must be protected.
You are an adolescent boy or girl being educated in a castle. Which parts of your education do you enjoy the most? Which the least?
The year is 1250. You are a castle knight. Describe your weapons and armor.
You are a guest (male or female) in a castle. A hunt is planned for tomorrow. Describe what game you hope to take, and how.
The year is 1300. You are a senior officer whose lord has asked for some military advice. Describe the advantages and the difficulties of using a trebuchet in a siege.
ORAL REPORT (to be delivered in class: 2 minutes long and no longer!): You are a spy (male or female) in a castle. What important information have you been ordered to discover? How will you do this? How will you get the information back to your lord?
You are a lord or lady who is defending a castle against a strong attack. Describe your worst problem and how you might solve it.
You have been injured during a siege. Describe your injuries and their treatment.
“How can I tell if something is a primary source?”
Answer: A primary source is an "eyewitness" source, one that dates
from the period that you are studying. Examples of primary
the medieval period include chronicles, account rolls, letters, and
documents, and also works of art, architecture, pottery, coins, and
artifacts. A source that dates from a later period is a
“What defines a secondary source as 'scholarly'?”
Answer: For the purposes of this class, only works (including websites)
are fully documented with footnotes or endnotes are considered
scholarly. A bibliography alone is not sufficient. (Thus,
neither of the two course textbooks
qualifies as “scholarly.”)