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Castles versus Palaces

Lancaster Castle and Hampton Court Palace @2015 Photographs by Caterina Novelliere

Lancaster Castle and Hampton Court Palace @2015 Photographs by Caterina Novelliere

As I am touring sites with the words castle and palace in their name, it has me wondering what exactly is a castle versus a palace? And are what we call castles actually castles? The short answer is it depends. New titles, cultural tourism, and deceptive styles of architecture can make something perceived as relatively simple term fairly complicated and not easy to identify. To make sure you and I are on the same page, I am going to define a castle based on my studying and observations.

A castle from my perspective is a fortification built pre- Enlightenment that serves either a military function or a military and residential function surrounded by walls. The reason I am drawing the line at the Enlightenment period is I believe great manor homes and palaces replaced castles by this time period, even if some of the great residences of the day embraced a revival of gothic style and incorporated medieval architecture into their designs. Castles have distinct features. They are stone structures with a keep or gatehouse that serve as both residence and barracks for military personnel. They are frequently built on high ground or areas that would make them challenging to capture. On their grounds you will find baileys: a hill or man made mound that elevates the castle, a moat or motte: this can be a water filled large ditch around the castle, but it can also be a large swath of dry land that in the past would have been filled with things like spikes to try and prevent enemies from scaling the walls. Castles have a great gate that can house large doors or a portcullis with a barbican and/or drawbridge. Above the gate one can usually find murder holes allowing defenders to pour hot coals or other items onto besiegers. Throughout the walls, gate house and keep, small openings that can be slits, rectangles, or crosses called loop holes allowed soldiers to fire arrows or muskets at besiegers.

The preceding paragraph places me in a similar school of thought as historians J.E. and H.W. Kaufmann though their timeframe for the castle is more specific than mine. They state that a castle is “a fortification of the High Middle Ages that was characterized by high walls, usually with a moat, and towers regardless of whether or not it is a private residence.”[1]

Castles are not necessarily royal residences. Many nobles with the financial means could build castles on land they managed. Most would need to solicit special permission from the king or queen to construct a fortress; however, some did not wait for permission. Those who built keeps without their monarch’s blessing risked their home being destroyed or other penalties. It was not uncommon for a castellan, an early form of castle owner, to find their home dismantled if they fell out of favor. If a petition for a castle was denied and a more defensive style property was needed, many nobles would build what is known as a fortified manor home. Fortified farms or manors are basically a country home with defensive features. The noble could also maintain a privately funded guard to protect those that lived on the estate.

Now palaces are exactly what we think them to be. They are royal residences built in grand fashion. They may incorporate what was once a castle. Windsor Castle is a great example of a royal residence or palace where a Middle Ages castle has been modified and additions added over the centuries to keep it a key royal residence. Hampton Court Palace is a beautiful structure with a mix of medieval architecture all the way through the Georgian period. It is your classic palace. While it has a gate, towers, walls and is a royal residence, Hampton Court could not truly be considered a castle based on its function, history, and architecture. I will write a separate blog entry highlighting this stunning location.

Hopefully, the above provides some parameters and new insights for you as you follow my posts on castles or research them on your own.

Bibliography for this post:

Kaufmann, J. E., and H. W. Kaufmann. The Medieval Fortress: Castles, Forts, And Walled Cities Of The Middle Ages. 1st Da Capo Pbk. Ed edition. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2004.

This is a fantastic book to introduce you to castles.


[1] J. E. Kaufmann and H. W. Kaufmann, The Medieval Fortress: Castles, Forts, And Walled Cities Of The Middle Ages, 1st Da Capo Pbk. Ed edition (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2004), 21.

A Simple Guide to Deep PoV

Nicholas C. Rossis

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksPoint of View (PoV) is a fascinating thing. It allows us to play god in the little universe we have created for ourselves (and, hopefully, our readers). And, like a zoom-in function, allows us to zoom in and out of our characters. We can either watch them from afar or listen in to their most intimate thoughts.

First, third, omniscient…

You are probably aware of the three main PoV used in most fiction: first-person, third-person and third-person omniscient, but here is a quick recap:

First-person uses, well, the first person: “I stared lovingly into her almond eyes. I love you, I wanted to tell her. She seemed unnerved.”

Third-person, imaginatively enough, uses the third person: “He stared lovingly into her almond eyes. I love you, he wanted to tell her. She seemed unnerved.”

Third-person omniscient resembles closely the former, but allows us to jump from one character to another…

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Rapunzel Imprisoned in Ivory Tower Following Academic Dispute

Loved this fairytale makeover. 🙂 especially the undergraduate diet.

The Grimm Report

A Special Report By Grimm Report Chief Education Correspondent,
Jocelyn Koehler
http://teamblood.org | @jocelynk414

At a local university, a disagreement between two rival professors has taken a more serious turn. Rapunzel Green, the daughter of one professor, is now locked in a disused and inaccessible tower on campus. She is being held prisoner by the Old Enchantress, who also happens to be the Dean of Magic and Horticultural Studies.

“He poached on my area of study when he published an article on magic beans in the Journal of Paranormal Botany,” she said haughtily. “Everyone knows that I’m the expert on that! But he didn’t make me a co-author or even cite my works. So I took his daughter and locked her in my tower as punishment. Hmpf. That’ll teach him to mess with the academic hierarchy!”

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Killing your Characters

Nicholas C. Rossis

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksI was reading the other day a fascinating post, Killing the Mary-Sue, by Chiyome. As I am currently debating killing a character or two in my WIP, the fourth book of my epic fantasy series Pearseus, her musings made me wonder about the role death plays in our works.

Both Schism and Rise of the Prince (the two first Pearseus books) had their fair number of untimely death, culminating in a couple of (hopefully) unexpected ones. However, everyone said those deaths made perfect sense, and accepted them.

Mad Water, the third book, also seems to have a successful ending, even if the death toll is lower – leading a reviewer to comment that it was closer to a TV series, where characters manage to cheat death more often than not.

So, why am I agonizing about death in the fourth book of the series? Probably because death, even in fiction, is such a final thing. So…

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5 Things to Do Before Posting your Blog Post and other thoughts

Great tips and guidance on how to effectively leverage social media from Nicholas Rossis.

Nicholas C. Rossis

When I entered the social media world, I was pretty much clueless, just like everybody else, I guess.  Anyone who knows the difference between a Facebook page and profile and all those tiny but oh-so-perceptible differences between hashtags, @ signs and .@ signs on Twitter can now leave this post to get your afternoon tea or coffee, frolic in your garden, call your friends or do whatever it is you people do.

When_to_Post_to_Social_Media_Infographic - Infographic by fannit.com When to post to Social Media – Infographic by fannit.com

As for the rest of us, I had no idea how much work, effort and expertise were required to get your message across.  The amazing – and more than a little irritating – fact is that things change so fast that I constantly have to learn new marketing tips.  For example, did you know the best times to post? Apparently, 1pm to 4 pm for Facebook, 1 pm to 3 pm for Twitter, 7 am to…

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The Language of Zombies: Latin, Dead or Alive?

Fun read on Latin written by one of my classmates. Hope you enjoy it!

Rowdy Writers

When I enrolled in my first Latin class, I received mixed emotions from my friends. “Latin? Why would you take that as your foreign language? Nobody speaks it anymore. IT’S A DEAD LANGUAGE!”  I can understand that initial reaction. One might assume learning Spanish or French would be more practical to use in a professional field. However, I have to disagree.  Latin is often referred to as a “dead language” because it is not spoken on a daily basis… or is it?

Doctors, Lawyers, and Scientists: 

As many of you may know, Latin terminology is highly notable in legal jargon, medical terms, and scientific classifications. New discoveries in these fields are made all the time. When a new species is discovered, how do they decide what to name it? When a new disease is found, what is it going to be called? The names of these new discoveries will be Latin.

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Working on Final Edits

Wanted to apologize if I have neglected my blogging.  I am in the process of completing a last round of editing on my first full length novel. As I move forward with the publishing process I will share updates on how things are going and when the book will be available.

I promise to post some fun new blog entries and writing highlights soon!

Thank you for your patience with me!