Saturday, November 7, 2009


Since I have written a medieval novel, I was delighted to find an article on castles, a bit grim but interesting. (Via Richard) To quote:
A king, a duke, a count, or any mighty lord would have a household, a court, and various officials to assist him in ruling. The same men who ministered to the domestic needs of the household conducted the business of the fief and participated in warfare. The provost superintended the demesne and collected taxes and dues. In England the Anglo-Saxons kings appointed a shire-reeve or sheriff, a removable agent in each county. The chaplain heard confession and said mass in the chapel. Since the chaplain was a clerk, he did not fight, and, as he was often literate, he held the lord's written records. In time he was called chancellor and had other clerks under him who served as chaplains and secretaries. The chamberlain looked after the bed chamber, watched over the lord's valuables, jewels, and clothes as well as archives and charters, and he generally controlled access to the lord. The constable and the marshal were military officers that commanded the soldiers, were responsible for armor and weapons, and saw to the horses and, as such, had a high status in the feudal demesnes showing the importance of horses. The steward was the head of the administration; he was also responsible for the provisioning of the household. The steward was assisted by the butler, who procured the wine, and the dispenser, who supervised the issuance of wine.
Entertainment included solid meals and drinking and possibly more refined shows with minstrels displaying varied talents, storytellers with magnificent tales, tumblers, and dancing bears. Hunting and hawking were the feudal ruler caste's main pleasure, and the hunting grounds were guarded with jealousy against the depredations of poachers. Penalties for catching reserved animals- such as a deer - were severe and included flaying, mutilation, and even hanging. Hunting was regarded as a sign of great courage and an opportunity to exercise healthiness, knightly qualities, and a display of skill besides providing a valuable addition to the medieval diet. The chasse-a-courre consisted of pursuing on horseback stags, wild boars, deer, and wild cats with the help of a pack of hounddogs. Animals were put to death with spears or swords. Troublesome animals were also hunted - as much for pleasure as for the necessary extermination - including wolves, bears, lynx, elk, aurochs, and bison, which terrorized peasants, ruined their crops, and decimated their cattle. Wild animals could be hunted with bows and arrows. Game birds were hunted by hawking with a trained falcon. It developed into a great art, falconry. Hawks and falcons were valuable and sometimes given as prestigious gifts.



Gabriel Girl said...

It's so interesting how downright practical castles were, when we (I) usually associate them with dreamy princesses and magic.

Julygirl said...

Thanks for defining the various roles of the supervisory staff and what the titles designated. One reads the titles in litary works and hears them used in films without fully knowing the extent of the various duties and how the titles originated.

P.S. I am exctied about the publication of your book and plan on ordering copies as gifts as well as one for my personal library.

I enjoyed reading the impressive comments made by other author's whose work I respect.

Congratulations of being voted one of the top Blogs internationally by Wikio.

elena maria vidal said...

I agree, Gabriel Girl.

Thank you very much, Julygirl. I'm exited, too! And yes, I am now in the top 25 of Literature blogs according to the Wikio rating.