Life in a Middle Ages Castle Description - The Visitors
A visitor to a medieval castle crossed the drawbridge over the moat and approached the narrow doorway, which was protected by a tower on each side. If he was admitted, the iron grating ("portcullis") rose slowly on its creaking pulleys, the heavy, wooden doors swung open, and he found himself in the courtyard commanded by the great central tower ("keep"), where the lord and his family lived, especially in time of war. At the summit of the keep rose a platform from where the sentinel surveyed the country far and wide; below, two stories underground, lay the dungeon, dark, damp, and dirty. As the visitor walked about the court-yard, he came upon the Great hall, used as the lord's residence in time of peace, the armory, the chapel, the kitchens, and the stables. A spacious castle might contain all the buildings necessary for the support of the lord's servants and soldiers.
Life in a Middle Ages Castle Description - The Residence
The medieval castle of the Middle Ages formed a good fortress, but a poor home. Its small rooms, lighted only by narrow windows, heated only by fireplaces, badly ventilated, and provided with little furniture, must have been indeed cheerless. Toward the close of the feudal period, when life became more luxurious, the castle began to look less like a dungeon. Windows were widened and provided with panes of painted glass, walls were hung with costly tapestries, and floors were covered with thick Oriental rugs obtained from travels to the crusades. The nobles became attached to their castle homes and often took their names from those of their estates.
Life in a Middle Ages Castle Description - Entertainment of the Nobles
Life within the castle was very dull. There were some games, especially chess, which the nobles learned from the Moslems. Banqueting, however, formed the chief indoor amusement. The lord and his retainers sat down to a gluttonous feast and, as they ate and drank, watched the pranks of a professional jester or listened to the songs and music of minstrels or, it may be, heard with wonder the tales of far-off countries brought by some returning traveller. Outside the castle walls a common sport was hunting in the forests and game preserves which were attached to every estate. Deer, bears, and wild boars were hunted with hounds; for smaller animals trained hawks, or falcons, were employed. But the chief outdoor occupation and pastime was weapons training and fighting. "To play a great game" was their description of a battle.