‘Charles the Bald, the Origins of the Medieval Castle and the End of the Carolingian Empire’
Prof. Simon MacLean (University of St Andrews)
The castle sat at the centre of medieval social and political order in Western Europe from the eleventh century onwards, and represents perhaps the most recognisable feature of the medieval landscape. The origins of the medieval castle are generally assigned to the ninth and tenth centuries, and the standard story begins with the defensive fortifications established against the Vikings by the Carolingian king Charles the Bald in the 860s. In this paper I argue that there are problems with this story, by re-evaluating some of the key sources and assumptions on which it rests. This argument has broader implications for how we think about the significance of fortifications in the last years of the Carolingian Empire; and the evolution of the castle between the ninth and twelfth centuries.
Dr Simon MacLean is Professor of History at the University of St Andrews. His research focuses on early medieval European history, in particular the Carolingian Empire and its successor kingdoms.
Image: Schloss Broich, Mülheim an der Ruhr; Wikicommons.