In the later Middle Ages, feudal obligations became obsolete. Men-at-arms and knights became expensive to maintain. Consequently, more mercenary soldiers were used. Castles in England were less important during what later came to be known as the Wars of the Roses when warfare changed to pitched battles in open fields rather than sieges. The ranks of barons were reduced and were replaced politically and socially by the peerage who grew richer as a consequence.
The gentry and some knights started to gain wealth by trade, profits from war or public office or marrying into rich families. This was a time of ambition and social emulation. They began to build semi-fortified manor houses with square tower keeps, crenellations and a gatehouse. A tower house as one’s home was a symbol of status, power and rank, denoting the owner could look after himself and protect his valuable possessions.
The tower house was the simplest, most functional and most cost effective approach for defense against neighbors and enemies. Tower houses began to be built in cities, along the coast and in the Marches and Borders. They were never conceived as a means for planned defense and if there were more in some areas than in others, it was only because the dangers were more apparent in those areas. (Read more.)
Togher Tower House in Dunmanway, County Cork as told in The Paradise Tree. Share