A curtain wall is a defensive wall between two towers (bastions) of a castle, fortress,or town.
Evidence for curtain walls or a series of walls surrounding a town or fortress can be found in the historical sources from Assyria and Egypt. Some notable examples are ancient Tel Lachish in Israel and Buhen in Egypt. Curtain walls were built across Europe during the Roman Empire; the early 5th century Theodosian Walls of Constantinople influenced the builders of medieval castles many centuries later.
In medieval castles, the area surrounded by a curtain wall, with or without towers, is known as the bailey.The outermost walls with their integrated bastions and wall towers together make up the enceinte or main defensive line enclosing the site.
In medieval designs of castle and town, the curtain walls were often built to a considerable height and were fronted by a ditch or moat to make assault difficult. Walls were topped with battlements which consisted of a parapet, which was generally crenellated with merlons to protect the defenders and lower crenels or embrasures which allowed them to shoot from behind cover; merlons were sometimes pierced by loopholes or arrowslits for better protection. Behind the parapet was a wall walk from which the defenders could fight or move from one part of the castle to another. Larger curtain walls were provided with mural passages or galleries built into the thickness of the walls and provided with arrowslits. If an enemy reached the foot of the wall, they became difficult to see or shoot at directly, so some walls were fitted with a projecting wooden platform called a hoarding or brattice. Stone machicolations performed a similar function.
The introduction of gunpowder made tall castle walls vulnerable to fire from heavy cannon, which prompted the trace italienne style from the 16th century. In these fortifications, the height of the curtain walls was reduced, and beyond the ditch, additional outworks such as ravelins and tenailles were added to protect the curtain walls from direct cannonading.
Medieval fortification refers to medieval military methods that cover the development of fortification construction and use in Europe, roughly from the fall of the Western Roman Empire to the Renaissance. During this millennium, fortifications changed warfare, and in turn were modified to suit new tactics, weapons and siege techniques.
A glacis in military engineering is an artificial slope as part of a medieval castle or in early modern fortresses. They may be constructed of earth as a temporary structure or of stone in more permanent structure.
A castle is a type of fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble. This is distinct from a palace, which is not fortified; from a fortress, which was not always a residence for royalty or nobility; and from a fortified settlement, which was a public defence – though there are many similarities among these types of construction. Usage of the term has varied over time and has been applied to structures as diverse as hill forts and country houses. Over the approximately 900 years that castles were built, they took on a great many forms with many different features, although some, such as curtain walls, arrowslits, and portcullises, were commonplace.
A defensive wall is a fortification usually used to protect a city, town or other settlement from potential aggressors. The walls can range from simple palisades or earthworks to extensive military fortifications with towers, bastions and gates for access to the city. From ancient to modern times, they were used to enclose settlements. Generally, these are referred to as city walls or town walls, although there were also walls, such as the Great Wall of China, Walls of Benin, Hadrian's Wall, Anastasian Wall, and the Atlantic Wall, which extended far beyond the borders of a city and were used to enclose regions or mark territorial boundaries. In mountainous terrain, defensive walls such as letzis were used in combination with castles to seal valleys from potential attack. Beyond their defensive utility, many walls also had important symbolic functions – representing the status and independence of the communities they embraced.
A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defence of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from Latin fortis ("strong") and facere.
A bastion or bulwark is a structure projecting outward from the curtain wall of a fortification, most commonly angular in shape and positioned at the corners of the fort. The fully developed bastion consists of two faces and two flanks, with fire from the flanks being able to protect the curtain wall and the adjacent bastions. Compared with the medieval fortifications they replaced, bastion fortifications offered a greater degree of passive resistance and more scope for ranged defence in the age of gunpowder artillery. As military architecture, the bastion is one element in the style of fortification dominant from the mid 16th to mid 19th centuries.
A merlon is the solid upright section of a battlement in medieval architecture or fortifications. Merlons are sometimes pierced by narrow, vertical embrasures or slits designed for observation and fire. The space between two merlons is called a crenel, and a succession of merlons and crenels is a crenellation. Crenels designed in later eras for use by cannons were also called embrasures.
A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of city walls or castles, comprises a parapet, in which gaps or indentations, which are often rectangular, occur at intervals to allow for the launch of arrows or other projectiles from within the defences. These gaps are termed "crenels", and a wall or building with them is called crenellated; alternative (older) terms are castellated and embattled. The act of adding crenels to a previously unbroken parapet is termed crenellation.
A concentric castle is a castle with two or more concentric curtain walls, such that the inner wall is higher than the outer and can be defended from it. The layout was square where the terrain permitted, or an irregular polygon where curtain walls of a spur castle followed the contours of a hill.
Ewloe Castle is a native Welsh castle built by the Kingdom of Gwynedd near the town of Ewloe in Flintshire, Wales. The castle, which was one of the last fortifications to be built by the native Princes of Wales, was abandoned at the beginning of the invasion of Wales by Edward I in 1277. Its construction, using locally quarried sandstone, appears to have continued piecemeal over many years and may have not been completed. On taking the castle, the English Crown gave it little military value and allowed it to fall into ruin.
A bastion fort or trace italienne is a fortification in a style that evolved during the early modern period of gunpowder when the cannon came to dominate the battlefield. It was first seen in the mid-fifteenth century in Italy. Some types, especially when combined with ravelins and other outworks, resembled the related star fort of the same era.
Enceinte is a French term denoting the "main defensive enclosure of a fortification". For a castle this is the main defensive line of wall towers and curtain walls enclosing the position. For a settlement it would be the main town wall with its associated gatehouses and towers and walls.
The existence of the earliest forts in India have been substantiated by documentation and excavation. In the medieval times, the architecture of the forts had both Hindu and Muslim influence. The forts constructed by the British initially opted for simple designs. The existing castles are continually modified and many of them are privately owned.
The Cittadella, also known as the Castello, is the citadel of Victoria on the island of Gozo, Malta. The area has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, and the site now occupied by the Cittadella is believed to have been the acropolis of the Punic-Roman city of Gaulos or Glauconis Civitas.
An arrowslit is a narrow vertical aperture in a fortification through which an archer can launch arrows or a crossbowman can launch bolts.
The Castle of Alenquer, is a Portuguese medieval castle in civil parish of Alenquer, in the municipality of Alenquer, in the district of Lisbon.
In fortification architecture, a rampart is a length of bank or wall forming part of the defensive boundary of a castle, hillfort, settlement or other fortified site. It is usually broad-topped and made of excavated earth and/or masonry.
The fortifications of Valletta are a series of defensive walls and other fortifications which surround Valletta, the capital city of Malta. The first fortification to be built was Fort Saint Elmo in 1552, but the fortifications of the city proper began to be built in 1566 when it was founded by Grand Master Jean de Valette. Modifications were made throughout the following centuries, with the last major addition being Fort Lascaris which was completed in 1856. Most of the fortifications remain largely intact today.
The fortifications of Mdina are a series of defensive walls which surround the former capital city of Mdina, Malta. The city was founded as Maleth by the Phoenicians in around the 8th century BC, and it later became part of the Roman Empire under the name Melite. The ancient city was surrounded by walls, but very few remains of these have survived.
The fortifications of Heraklion are a series of defensive walls and other fortifications which surround the city of Heraklion in Crete, Greece. The first city walls were built in the Middle Ages, but they were completely rebuilt by the Republic of Venice. The fortifications managed to withstand the second longest siege in history for 21 years, before the city fell to the Ottomans in 1669.
Fortification (architectural elements)