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Castle: A History of Buildings That Shaped Medieval Britain [Paperback]

Marc Morris
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 2 April 2004 --  

Book Description

2 April 2004
Castle is an enlightening look at the origins, development and decline of castles in Britain. A real castle is a fortress and a stately home all rolled into one. This is part of what makes these extraordinary structures so fascinating – they are a product of two contradictory impulses – to be warlike and homely at the same time. The castle occupies an easily definable place in British history – introduced to Britain as a result of the Norman Conquest in 1066, it was not until the middle of the seventeenth century, as a result of the English Civil War, that castles were destroyed and abandoned on a large scale and the story draws to a close. Medieval historian and presenter Marc Morris focuses on a range of castles across England, Scotland and Wales, and explores their humble origins as timber buildings to the development of stone towers and keeps used in siege warfare. Among the castles featured are the tower of London, Dover, Rochester, Caerphilly, Caernarfon, Rhuddlan, Bodiam, Threave, Borthwick, Urquhart, Raglan and Pontefract. He also uncovers the lives of the inhabitants, examining the peculiarities of domestic life in a castle and the workings of an aristocratic household. Castle brings back to life the kings and queens, damsels and knights, sieges and tournaments that were once a part of these magical buildings.


Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (2 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033043246X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330432467
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 15.1 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 724,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Marc Morris is an historian and broadcaster, specialising in the Middle Ages. He is the author of the bestselling A Great and Terrible King (Hutchinson, 2008) and The Norman Conquest (Windmill, 2013).

In 2003 Marc presented the highly acclaimed TV series Castle for Channel 4 and wrote its accompanying book (now published in paperback by Hutchinson). He has also contributed to other history programmes on radio and television.

An expert on medieval monarchy and aristocracy, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Marc has written numerous articles for History Today, BBC History Magazine and Heritage Today (now published together as an e-book, Kings and Castles).

For more information, including details of upcoming talks and tours, visit www.marcmorris.org.uk or www.facebook.com/marcmorrishistorian.


Product Description

Review

An interesting political overview of each period of castle building. -- Oxford Times, June 2003 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Beginning with their introduction in the eleventh century, and ending with their widespread abandonment in the seventeenth, Marc Morris explores many of the country's most famous castles, as well as some spectacular lesser-known examples. At times this is an epic tale, driven by characters like William the Conqueror, King John and Edward I, full of sieges and conquest on an awesome scale. But it is also by turns an intimate story of less eminent individuals, whose adventures, struggles and ambitions were reflected in the fortified residences they constructed. Be it ever so grand or ever so humble, a castle was first and foremost a home.

To understand castles - who built them, who lived in them, and why - is to understand the forces that shaped medieval Britain.

From the author of A Great and Terrible King and The Norman Conquest comes a sweeping and surprising history of some of the most magnificent buildings in Britain. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book. 6 Nov 2003
Format:Hardcover
A fantastic resume of the history of the Castle over the years. No need to have watched the programme as the authors descriptions and diagrams allow your mind to illustrate all the mystery and facts surrounding a great British (or was it French!) tradition. A tribute to the author is the fact that you can't put it down. When will he write another and what will the subject be?????
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the usual book of the series 7 Aug 2005
Format:Paperback
Much better than the usual picture book accompanying the TV series - an excellent introduction to castles and the reasons for them.
Only real criticism, it would benefit from a few more maps and illustrations to go with the descriptions of sites.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book 14 Aug 2004
By SMG
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An interesting and very readable book. Marc Morris explains the evolution of the castle and how it has worked (or not) at different times in history. He really has brought the subject to life. He tells us about the people who built castles and examines what they wanted from their own particular version of it. This book was as gripping as any thriller!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read! 4 Jun 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent companion to Morris' television series of
the same title, even as it stands on its own as a highly
entertaining and informative read. Morris retains in print
the same combination of historical knowledge and narrative
accessibility that he brings to the screen. By focusing not
just on the political and military motivations for castle-
building but also on the personalities and domestic circumstances
of those who built them, he has produced a book that should
appeal to a variety of readers. Not to be missed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Castles vividly brought to life 10 July 2011
Format:Paperback
This book brings castles alive like no other. When I was young I loved visiting castles with my parents and we always bought the booklet about each particular castle. To a tee they were dry, largely inedible reading fodder. I was left entirely to my child's imagination as to how the castle functioned, whether anybody had lived in it and if so how they had lived in it. These booklets always told you who had built the castle in question and when, but they never told you why, what their motivation had been.

Marc Morris tells us all these things and much more. One becomes gripped by the successive stories that he lays before you each in a highly accessible, unstuffy and entertaining way. The book has a definite and logical structure to it, set out in the chronological sequence of castle building in England, Wales and Scotland. Each particular era of castle building is set within its political and monarchical context.

Because of this book I will now be able to visit castles with much more knowledge than before and so these visits will become that much more enjoyable. If only it had been available 40 years ago!

I highly recommend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended! 7 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book without any prior knowledge, just chose it on Amazon for some reason.
It turned out to be a very engaging and informative read. Marc Morris is an excellent writer, the topic of castle history can be very boring, but he manages to make it exciting, fascinating and entertaining! He suggests several criteria to look for while evaluating castles and suggests the structure into which to classify your knowledge about castles. He chooses one particular example of a "typical" castle for each epoch and covers its history in great detail while providing info about other castle of the period.
I am in love with this book and I can't recommend it enough to anyone who wants to learn about British castles.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Castle by Marc Morris 18 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback
Castle: A History of Buildings That Shaped Medieval Britain

Castle, by Marc Morris is in his own words not meant to be 'a guide to castles, nor a comprehensive gazetteer'; it is an invitation to us, the reader to think, read and visit castles ourselves to pursue our interest in them - it is the seed, not the tree itself.

However, Marc Morris has written a thoroughly interesting and informative story of the Castle's history which fits perfectly alongside his TV series of the same name. It starts from the creation of Castles in England until the English Civil War when the Castle had its last stand (to use the last chapter's title) - it will make you want to visit and experience them for yourself.

A great read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 30 May 2012
Format:Paperback
A really excellent book on the architecture, history, and politics behind castles. Not only do we learn how they were built, but why, and why at that precise location. Furthermore it is all done in a very captivating style, that makes you want to go and visit the places. This is my third book I've read by Mr. Morris ("The Norman Conquest" and "A great and terrible King"), they are all great and very informative reads. An absolute must for everyone interested in (English) medieval history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book kept me interested from the word go. ...
This book kept me interested from the word go. The way Marc Morris writes leads every tale into another in the most fluid of motions. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Ash Lindop
5.0 out of 5 stars Marc Morris: Castle
Highly readable. My favourite book on castle history. Fresh and deep insight in a highly entertaining manner with a lot of unexpected findings.
Published 3 months ago by Attila Barįth
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written
A very well ordered and written book from an author that is objective and knowledgeable. I have read a number of texts on the subject and this is one of my favourites. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Fuel
5.0 out of 5 stars castles.
I found this book was very informative and a fascinating read.
The book charts the development of the castle from the motte and bailey to the more palatial castles of the 16th... Read more
Published 12 months ago by roadrunner
5.0 out of 5 stars Castles
This book proved very informative and interesting. The author obviously has a great knowledge of his subjects, as in his other books
Published 15 months ago by Paul Guest
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining...
This is a light history book possibly suitable for reading on the beach or as a guide for GCSE students but it is certainly not a serious history book. Read more
Published on 2 July 2012 by DavidOrlo,London
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
This is the essential book of castles - along with the documentary series Marc Morris has made it is a perfect interpretation. Read more
Published on 6 Nov 2011 by Peter
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