The Anatomy of a Medieval Castle: Part 4 – Types and Architectural Features

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Italy’s Castel del Monte was built in the 1240s by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. You may not know it, but it originally had a curtain wall. Yet, it’s a unique enough castle to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Finally, we get to the castle architecture. Over the 900 some years castles were built during the Middle Ages, they took on many forms with many different features. Most castles were made from wood since it was cheap, readily available, and an easy building material. However, a wooden castle was totally helpless against flaming arrows because we all know how wood catches fire, breaks, and decays over time. However, if a noble could afford it, he’d have his castle constructed from stone despite the high expense and maintenance. But stone was significantly less flammable and breakable with siege weapons and the elements. Early castles mostly consisted of simple fortifications and design. But as the medieval period went on, they became more complex with more towers, stronger gatehouses, and sturdier walls.

Castle Types

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Restormel Castle in England is an example of a shell keep which was a circular stone keep, are type of castle design. Though once a luxurious residence of the Duke of Cornwall, it was in ruins by the 16th century.

Adulterine Castle- a castle built without a liege lord’s or king’s approval.

Concentric Castle- a castle with 2 or more concentric curtain walls, such that the inner curtain wall is higher than the outer and can be defended from it. Often had round towers.

Courtyard Castle- a castle type consisting of a stone curtain wall surrounding a courtyard with buildings built inside it, normally against the curtain wall.

Knight’s Castle- a castle owned by a knight.

Motte and Bailey- an early form of castle where a large mound of dirt was built up. A wooden fortification was placed on top, which were shaped like a timber fence forming a circle like a crown.

Rectangular Keep- a stone castle with a square or rectangular keep with a second-floor entrance. The castle on Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a classic example.
Shell-Keep- castle style consisting of a circular or oval wall surrounding its inner portion. Usually stores and accommodates wooden buildings inside the hollow walls.

Stone Keep Castle- the classic medieval castle with a stone keep and a thick stone wall, which can be rectangular or circular in shape.

Tower House- a small castle consisting mainly or entirely of a single tower.

Architectural Features

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Built in the 12th century, the Château de Pierrefonds almost seems straight out of a fairy tale. Despite its 19th century restoration, it retains most of its defensive military architecture.

Aisle- space between an arcade and outer wall.

Ambulatory- aisle around an apse.

Apse- a circular or polygonal end of a tower or chapel.

Baluster- a small column.

Balustrade- a railing, as along a path or stairway.

Bar Hole- Horizontal bar for timber bar used as a door-bolt.

Barrel Vault- a cylindrical roof of stone or wood.

Base Cruck- a form of wood framed construction where the roof is supported by curved logs rising from the walls and not by aisle posts set on floor.

Bay- an internal division marked by roof principals or vaulting peers.

Blind Arcade- a line of arches on the face of a solid wall for decoration.

Bonnet- a freestanding fortification.

Boss or Keystone- a central stone in an arch or vault.

Bressumer- a beam to support a projection.

Cap House- a small chamber at the top of a spiral staircase in a tower or turret, leading to an open wall walk on the roof.

Cavalier- a raised structure containing a battery, usually sited above a bastion’s center to give better trajectory.

Cesspit- a wall opening where waste from one or more toilets were collected.

Colonnade- a range of evenly spaced columns.

Course- a level layer of stones or bricks.

Crossbar or Transom- a horizontal window division.

Cupola- a hemispherical armored roof.

Crow or Corbie Steps- a step-gabled end to a roof.

Diaphragm- a wall running up to the roof ridge.

Dog Leg- a right angle in a passageway.

Dormer- a vertically placed window in a sloping roof. Like you see on the top floors of a Cape Cod house.

Entresol or Mezzanine- a low story between 2 high ones.

Fireplace- a walled hearth used for heating a room. Most castles in the later Middle Ages had one in almost every room once they took off.

Gable- a wall covering the end of a roof ridge.

Garret- a building’s top story within a roof.

Groined- a roof with sharp edges at intersection of cross vaults.

Groin- junction of 2 curved surfaces in a vault.

Hood- an arched covering.

Impost- a wall bracket to support arch.

Jambs- side posts of an arch, door, or window.

Joists- wall-to-wall timber beans to support floor boards.

Lancet- a long, narrow window with a pointed head.

Label- a projecting weather molding above a roof or window to deflect rainwater.

Lantern- a small structure with open or window sides on top of a roof or dome to let light or air into the enclosed space below.

Lattice- Lines crossing to form a network whether on a window, fence, or gate.

Lintel- a horizontal stone or beam bridging an opening.

Loggia- a covered arcade or colonnade.

Louvre- a potter vent allowing smoke to escape from the hearth.

Meurtriere- an opening in the roof of a passage where soldiers could shoot into the room below.

Molding- masonry decoration that’s long and narrow as well as casts strong shadows.

Mullion- a vertical division of a window that’s constructed in panels.

Newel- Center post of a spiral staircase.

Nookshaft- a shaft set in a jamb or pier angle.

Pediment- a low-pitched gable over porticos, doors, and windows.

Pilaster- a shallow pier used to buttress a wall.

Piscina- a hand basin with a drain, usually set against or into a wall.

Pointed Arch- a sturdy arch that distributed the force of heavier ceilings and bulky wall. Can support much more weight than previous, simply, spindly pillars.

Rear Arch- an arch on a wall’s inner side.

Relieving Arch- an arch built up in a wall to relieve thrust on another opening.

Rib- a raised molding dividing a vault.

Roofridge- a roof’s summit line.

Soffit- an underside of an arch, hung parapet, or opening.

Spur- a triangular buttress used to strengthen a round tower’s bottom.

Spiral Staircase, Corkscrew, or Turnpike- a winding, circular staircase spiraling up clockwise which allowed added sword room for defenders. Steps were built unevenly to make it difficult for attackers to climb and fight. Said to be among the most economical and convenient method of accessing upper tower floors and easier to defend.

Squint- an observation hole in wall or room.

Traverse- a small bank or wall cutting across a covered way’s line.

Tympanum- a space between a lintel and arch over a doorway.

Vault- stone roofing.

Vaulted Ceiling- a ceiling with sturdy pointed archers and pillars that allowed ceilings to be taller than ever before. Also provided an impression of height, grandeur, and elegance. Can be built in a variety of different shapes and sizes.

Wall-Plate- a horizontal roof-timber on wall-top.
Wall-Stair- staircase built into a wall’s thickness.

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The Anatomy of a Medieval Castle: Part 3 – The Keep, Bailey, and Interior

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Built in the 14th century, the French Château de Vincennes boasts one of the tallest medieval fortified medieval structure in its keep. Within Paris, this castle served as the French royal residence during the 15th century. Yet, it’s had a long and colorful history with memorable moments.

Once you get through the walls, it’s on to the castle’s interior. First, we go into the courtyard with the bailey where you’d find plenty of animals grazing, gardens, and buildings. These buildings consisted of stables, workshops, barracks, water suppliers, and storage facilities. You may even see a chapel there. Yet, the central heart of the castle was the keep, which was considered the strongest area and the last place of refuge if outer defenses fell. During times of peacetime, it was the lord’s main residence where he’d conduct his business. He’d hold meetings and entertain guests in the great hall. At banquets, the kitchens would be bustling preparing lavish feasts while everyone was treated to dinner and entertainment. In some castles, the lord and his family would eat and sleep in the hall. Sometimes you might even find a chapel or dungeon, too.

The Courtyard

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Scotland’s Doune Castle was built in the 13th century by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany. Its 14th century reflected current ideas on what a royal castle should be. Yet, we remember this as the castle featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Its courtyard isn’t particularly big in this aerial shot. Yet, it at least includes a well.

Bailey, Courtyard, Enclosure, or Ward- open space surrounded by a castle’s walls. Walls making up the bailey could be considered part of it. A castle could have several of these like an upper bailey, lower bailey, west bailey, and/or east bailey. Had room for buildings to house the Lord and his immediate followers along with space for animals and storage. During attacks, the local people could enter the bailey for safety.

Bake House- building that would’ve baked fresh bread for everyone living within the castle since bread was a dietary medieval staple.

Barmkin- a yard surrounded by a defensive wall in smaller castles.

Brewery- a building where an ale wife would’ve brewed ale and beer. Mostly because brewing beer was said to sterilize highly polluted water.

Death Hole- the space between the inner and outer curtain walls of a concentric circle that trapped attackers.

Garden- green area located in the bailey near the kitchen. Was split into several sections: fruit trees and bushes, herbs for cooking, herbs for medicine, vegetables, flowers for cooking, and flowers for medicine. There were often stairs leading up to it.

Inner Ward or Quadrangle- large inner courtyard inside a castle, usually around the keep. A focus to day-to-day residential life within the castle.

Outer Ward- large courtyard outside the inner ward but still held within the curtain wall. Was mostly reserved for livestock for grazing.

Stables- part where the horses and other livestock are kept since they’re the main medieval means of transportation, communication, and battle. Included haylofts and spaces for the grooms to live.

Workshops- separate buildings in the bailey for artisans to make objects for maintaining the building the grounds. Consists of carpenters, farriers, and blacksmiths.

The Keep

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Germany’s Burg Eltz was built in the 12th century and has been own by the same family for over 33 generations. It is one of 3 castles in the country that have never been destroyed. Yet, its keep is quite imposing in the Alps.

Forebuilding- a fortified entrance to the keep. Often held a staircase and a small chapel.

Keep, Donjon, or Great Tower-generally the central main tower built in the inner ward which was the tallest and strongest structure in the castle and gave a commanding view of all fighting positions. Usually served as the ruling lord’s residence since it was the safest place. The top most part served as his and his family’s quarters. The bottom was used for storage. While the middle was used for the great hall. In warfare, it was mostly used as the last line of defense during a siege or attack. Can be square or round and comprise of several floors. Can be attached to walls or free standing. Its walls could be over 17 feet thick to prevent undermining and a built-in staircase.

The Dungeons

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Castle dungeons were the stuff of nightmares. If you were thrown in here for a crime, you can be subject to a dark room in the castle basement with all kinds of horrifying conditions. And yes, you may be subject to torture and possibly execution. If you don’t starve to death or succumb to disease first.

Dungeon- a place to confine political prisoners. Mostly consists of a single small room with a single access from outside like a heavy door. Is generally underground and sometimes a secret passageway would lead to it. Though it could also be in the keep or under a gatehouse. Has plenty of unique torture devices for interrogation like branding irons, collar, torture rack, and others. Other enhanced interrogation techniques include whipping, boiling in water, and starvation etc. Also, employed full-time executioner who also administered torture.

Oubliette- a dark, narrow, underground, vertical tunnel-like dungeon with the only opening consisting of an iron-grilled trap door on the ceiling from the guard room floor where prisoners were left in their solitude for psychological torture. Though other torture methods may be used for interrogation or increase a prisoner’s suffering. Once a victim was thrown in the oubliette, they were considered forgotten by the outside world and left to die. Survival was nearly impossible and there was no way to escape.

The Great Hall

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The Great Hall was the main room in the castle where the lord would conduct his business, hold meetings, and throw feasts. In early castles, the lord, his family, and staff would even eat and sleep there.

Gallery- passage built into the thickness of the walls that runs around the upper part of a keep’s hall. Windows allow light into the hall below and the passage allows for movement around the keep’s upper floors. Also provides a position where hall events can be viewed. If the hall’s captured, defenders could’ve used a gallery to shoot arrows from.

Hall or Great Hall- a major room that’s possibly the heart of the castle which served as the castle’s principal living quarters. Usually a castle’s largest room either built in the keep or a separate building. Generally, consists of an elaborate high vaulted roof and/or a gallery running around on top of it. Served as a throne room, conference center, and dining hall.

Minstrels Gallery- a raised gallery overlooking the great hall intended for the lord’s musicians. Consisted of a narrow balcony with a railing or balustrade.

Truss- a timber frame used to support the roof over the great hall.

The Chapel

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Since Christianity was very important to people in the Middle Ages, most castles included a chapel. These can range from a simple room like this to elaborate buildings.

Aumbry- recess to hold sacred objects, typically in a chapel.

Chancel- the space surrounding the altar.

Chapel- a place of worship usually built within the keep, near the gatehouse, or a separate building in the bailey. Can range from a simple room or an elaborate edifice that can be 2 stories high with the family sitting in the balcony and servants in the nave. May have a resident or visiting priest depending on the resident noble’s peerage rank. Great place for the lord to marry off family members to secure alliances, soldier funerals, and display of piety. Also, a great space safe since harming a priest was widely seen as the ultimate act of barbarity. For only the most fearless of castle attackers would do such a thing. Not to mention, killing anyone in a place of worship was often frowned upon in the Middle Ages.

Choir- part of a cruciform church east of the crossing where you’ll find the singers.

Narthex- a chapel’s principal hall between the nave and the main entrance.

Nave- the principal chapel hall, extending from the narthex to the chancel.

Living Quarters

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In most medieval castles, high ranking nobles rarely slept alone since many had servants there with them. Yet, they can nonetheless be colorful tableaus as you see in this one.

Apartment- a room belonging to a castle household resident like a lord’s widowed mother.

Bottlery or Buttery- a room for storing and serving beverages like wine land other expensive provisions like a castle wine cellar. Located between the great hall and the kitchen. The person who presided over this room was called the butler.

Bower- attractive private apartment intended for the Lady. Usually in a room behind the dais of the great hall but later a higher level in the keep.

Camera- a private room used for both living and sleeping that’s set apart from the more public areas of a house.

Cistern- a castle’s water source, which collected rainwater from roofs. Can be located within the keep or bailey. Some castles had rudimentary plumbing that channeled water from cisterns to sinks.

Great Chamber- the bedroom for the lord and lady located on the keep’s upper floor.

Kitchens- where food is made. In early castles, they were separate from the keep in kitchen towers due to fire risk. But moved to the keep when brick construction became more common. A castle kitchen’s size was often proportionate to castle’s intended grandeur and importance. The most elaborate kitchens were all set to cook and prepare game and fish when hunting on the grounds.

Larder- a cool area where perishable food is stored prior to use. Was usually close to the kitchen. Staffed by a larderer who was responsible for meat and fish. Often had ice to keep the food chilled along with meat hooks.

Latrine or Privy- rooms with holes in the seats used as toilets. Wastes dropped below into the bailey, the outer wall’s base, the moat, or cesspools within the tower. Usually far away from the chambers and often had double doors to reduce the smell. But as time went on, a private privy was built for people occupying important rooms. To keep out a noxious stink, privy windows had no glass, which made it freezing in the winter months. Can be fitted with a wooden or stone bench with as many as 4-6 holes in it. Hat a chute which led to a cesspit or moat. Supplemented by chamber pots.

Oratory- a private chapel with an altar used by the lord’s family for private prayer. Can also be a small cell attached to a larger chapel.

Pantry- a storage area for food, beverages, gold, and other items. Usually located in the keep’s lower levels.

Screens- wooden partitions at the kitchen end of a hall, protecting passage leading to the buttery, pantry, and kitchen.

Solar- originally a room above ground level, but commonly applied to the great chamber or a private room off the great hall. Was traditionally seen as the sleeping and private quarters of the Lord’s family. But later became their private living room. Usually above the great hall.

Wardrobe- a room used to store the lord and his family’s clothes and personal articles.

Well- a castle’s primary water source that proved important during a siege even if they had little food. Can be situated in the courtyard or keep. Or at least located near the kitchen either within the bailey or keep. Outside wells were usually protected from the elements by a wooden covering or iron grating. Yet, it was possibly the castle’s weakest point. Since invaders could poison the water supply if left unattended, which virtually guaranteed defeat.

Specialty Areas

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No castle could ever be without its own armory. But where it was could depend on the castle. On some it can be in the keep. In others, in the gatehouse or bailey.

Arcade or Cloister- a covered passageway with arches along one or both sides. Can also be a row of arches supported on columns, which could be free standing or attached to a wall (like a blind arcade).

Armory- a room which stored weapons, armor, and other defenses to use in war or attacks. Typically located in the keep’s upper levels.

Barracks- a building or group of buildings used to accommodate soldiers.

Blockhouse- a small square fortification, usually of timber bond overlapping arrangement of bricks in courses.

Dovecote- a building used to house pigeons and doves. Generally contained pigeon holes for birds to nest.

Guardroom- room used by on-duty guards. Can also store weapons. However, the guards wouldn’t sleep there since they’d be barracked in the gatehouse, a tower, or under the keep.

Ice House- building to store ice. Was usually built underground with a conical or rounded bottom to hold melted ice and a drain for water.

Kennel- place to keep animals, particularly hunting dogs.

Knight’s Hall- a large room or chamber within a castle where knights gathered for meetings, meals, and planning their next activities.

Knights’ Quarters- living area for resident castle knights.

Mess Hall- dining area for soldiers and servants. May include its own kitchen.

Secret Passage- secret routes in the castle that served a variety of purposes. Some were designed to pen up a distance from the castle so inhabitants could escape during an attack or get supplies in and out during a siege. Secret passages also led to secret chambers where people can hide, supplies could be kept, or a water well was dug.

The Anatomy of a Medieval Castle: Part 2 – Towers and Gates

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England’s Windsor Castle was built after William the Conqueror’s invasion in the 11th century. Since then, it’s been a residence for the royal family to this day. Even if modern British monarchs just use this place for a weekend getaway. And yes, you’d almost mistake this gatehouse as the castle itself.

So we’re off to a great start. Some of the other distinguishing castle features are towers and the gates. When you look at any castle picture, you might come across an imposing entrance with the impressive gatehouse containing a drawbridge and that sliding iron wrought door of spikes. Yet, since an unsecure entrance made a castle uniquely vulnerable, the gateway was usually the first structure built in stone. A gatehouse contained a series of defenses to make a direct assault more difficult than battering down a simple gate. Yet, you’d probably wouldn’t know this in movies where vast armies storm the castle with no problem. In reality, trying to storm a castle head was a stupid way to lose an army. Another prominent castle feature are the towers, which were used for look outs and shooting arrows along with storage and imprisonment. They could be built in various locations like the walls and the gatehouse as well as come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Though early towers were mostly square shape which were said to be quite easy to topple through burrowing at the foundations. While round towers were not.

The Main Entrance

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The Welsh Harlech Castle was built by English King Edward I Longshanks in the 1280s. It was involved in several wars and was used as a residence and military headquarters by Welsh hero Owain Glyndwr in the early 1400s. Later, it was held by the Lancastrians during the 1460s until the Yorkist forces took it during the Wars of the Roses. And served as a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War in the 1640s. Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site as one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe.” Nonetheless, seeing this imposing gatehouse, you wouldn’t want to storm this castle.

Barbican- a stone outpost protecting the castle’s gate usually built in front of the main entrance. Construed in the form of a tower or gateway where guards could stand watch. Some may include a narrow passage allowing for a limited number of attackers forced into a confined area for defenders to shoot at them like fish in a barrel through murder holes from the ceiling. Early barbicans were built from earthworks and wooden palisades designed to add complexity to the entrance’s layout and confuse attackers. Usually acted as the outermost defense of a castle. Due to limited space, was only defended by a small number of men.

Breastwork- a heavy parapet slung between 2 gate towers. A defensive work usually situated over the portcullis.

Drawbridge- wooden bridge in front of the main gate to span the moat or ditch. In early castles, it was moved horizontally to the ground by hand or destroyed and replaced. In later castles, it was built so it can raise up in a hinged fashion thanks to pulleys, ropes, chains, and winches. Can be raised or withdrawn making crossing impossible and prevent siege weaponry being pushed toward the castle’s walls and gates.

Gatehouse- a complex of towers, bridges, and barriers built to protect the castle’s main entrance. Often had a guard house and living quarters. Usually consisted of 2 very large stone towers joined above the main gate guarded by a bridge, gates, portcullis, or a combination. But can range from a simple structure to a 2-3 story building with an impressive façade to impress royal visitors. Above the entrance were rooms to house the constable and some men to defend the building who were stationed on the first floor. While the top floor contained murder holes and storage space for weapons. Traditionally the most vulnerable part of the castle, it became one of the most secure and with an excellent defensive position. Contains a passage with all kinds of obstacles, traps, and murder holes in the vaulted ceilings. So perhaps you want to think twice before storming a castle. Usually the first part of the castle to be completed. Though a larger and circular wall castle could have more than one.

Murder Holes- holes left in the floor on a gatehouse’s upper level, used to thrust pole weapons down, or shoot down flaming arrows at attackers trapped between the inner and outer gates. Also used for dropping heavy rocks, hot tar, boiling water, and other nasty things.

Neck or Death Trap- a narrow walled passage between a barbican and the castle walls which trapped invading enemies.

Portcullis- a heavy, sliding metal or wood grate with sharp spikes that was vertically dropped just inside the castle’s main gate through ropes and pulleys. Designed to block passage and make using rams against the main gate less effective. Think about that before trying to break down a door with a battering ram. Can also be dropped on an enemy and injure multiple people. Was always in a state of readiness and the guards can drop it from its suspended position at any time. Some gatehouses could had more than one, depending on the castle’s size and number of entrances.

Turning Bridge- drawbridge pivoted in the middle and worked like a see-saw. Had a counterweight attached to the end near the gateway.

Wicket- a person-sized door set into the main gate door.

Wing-Wall- a motte’s wall downslope to protect stairway.

Yett- a portcullis of lattice wrought iron bars used for defensive purposes.

The Towers

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Originally built in the early 1100s, the Alcazar of Segovia started out as a fortress, but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery college, and a military academy. Today it’s a military archives building, museum, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yet, you have to admit how its towers give the place a unique look.

Bastion Tower- tower projecting from a wall face that functions as a bastion.

Bastle House- a small tower house with a living room over a cowshed.

Corner or Archer Tower- tower located on curtain wall corners used for firing arrows from slits.

Drum Tower- a large, round, low, squat tower built into a wall, usually connecting stretches of curtain wall.

Flanking or Mural Tower- tower located on the castle walls that provided effective flanking fire.

Gate Tower- tower constructed at the main entrance. May be part of the gate house.

Tower- fortification used to provide stability and additional defensive capabilities to the curtain wall. Used for firing upon enemies, lookout, storage, and keeping prisoners. Provided access to lookout points, wall walks, and sleeping points. Can be constructed in various shapes, sizes, and at various locations.

Sanitary Towers- a tower in the inner or outer walls used as a toilet. The wastes would drop into a cesspool in a pit.

Wall Tower- tower on wall that archers used for showering arrows on invading armies.

Watchtower or Look Out- a freestanding structure used to alert the castle in an enemy attack, spot returning soldiers and visitors in the distance, check whether the coast was clear before anyone left the castle, and send messages to distant people using recognized symbols. Had to be so high that areas around the castle could be watched for an impending attack or siege. Usually had a 360-degree view as well as employed a guard or watchman to see for many miles around.

Turrets

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Belgium’s 14th century Cleydael Castle seems straight out of a fairy tale on the water. However, the turrets on that one tower are quite unique.

Bartizan or Crow’s Nest- a small turret at the corner of a tower or wall. Usually at the top but not always. Usually located at one of the highest points of the castle and used as a lookout.

Belvedere- a raised turret or pavilion.

Squinch Arch- arched support for an angle turret that doesn’t reach the ground.

Turret- a small tower rising above and resting on the walls or the edge of the castle’s main towers, usually used as a lookout point. Allowed defenders to provide sheltering fire to the adjacent wall in attacks. Can contain a staircase if higher than the main tower or an extension of a tower room.

The Anatomy of a Medieval Castle: Part 1 – Around the Walls

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This is Bodiam Castle in Sussex, England. Built in 1385 to defend against French invasion during the Hundred Years War, it doesn’t have a keep. But its walls and moat are impressive.

Whether you’re into Disney movies, Middle Earth, or Game of Thrones, we all seem enchanted with medieval castles. However, while we imagine them as a fairy tale palace, they were medieval house fortresses for European nobility. Though you’ll also find castles in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Castles originated in the 9th and 10th centuries as the fall of the Carolingian Empire resulted in individual lords and nobles dividing the territory. To control the area surrounding them, these guys built castles as both offensive and defensive structures. Castles provided a base to launch raids and protect from enemies. Though castle studies often emphasize their military origins and see castles as “a fortified private residence,” they also served as centers of administration and power. Urban castles were used to control the local populace and important travel routes. Rural features were often near features integral to life and community like mills, fertile land, or a water source. Though most medieval castles in Europe today are made from stone, many were made from wood, especially in the early Middle Ages. Due to lacking arrow slits and towers, early castles often exploited natural defenses and relied on a central keep. But as a scientific approach to castle defense emerged, leading to tower proliferation and emphasizing flanking fire. Taking inspiration from Roman forts and technology from the Crusades, you’ll find some concentric castles. Nevertheless, since all things much come to an end, castles began to decline began to decline with the introduction of gunpowder which made them uncomfortable and undesirable places to live. Though these structures still captured the imagination enough to make aristocrats want to build castle like houses, but without the key defenses.

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This is Herstmonceux Catstle in England’s East Sussex. Built in the 15th century, it’s one of the most significant brick buildings in England. Though more like a palace than a fortress, its walls and moat are nonetheless impressive. By the way, from 1957-1988, it was home to the Greenwich Royal Observatory. Today it’s used by the Bader International Center of Queen’s University in Canada.

The first part of this series will focus on the outermost components like the walls and what’s outside them. As the first line of defense, such structures would have to make invasions and sieges incredibly difficult for the enemy. Before a castle was built, you’d often construct an artificial hill called a motte and a ditch filled with water called a moat. A castle’s walls had to be high enough to make scaling with ladders impossible. And they had to be thick enough to withstand bombardment from siege engines. Though sizes vary, a typical castle wall could be 10 feet thick and 39 feet tall. They’d also have stone skirts around their bases to prevent infiltration as well. Walkways on top of curtain walls allowed defenders to rain arrows on the enemies below with battlements giving them further protection.

Outside the Walls

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The Chateau de Gisors in France whish was a key fortress for the Dukes of Normandy in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was built to defend the Anglo-Norman Vexin territory from the King of France. However, when Richard the Lionheart got imprisoned in Germany, the castle went into Philip Augustus’s hands. Was also known for its links to the Templars, serving as a final prison for its last Grand Master in 1314. Still, its motte is particularly notable.

Berm- a flat piece of land between the curtain wall and the moat protecting it. Intended to reduce soil erosion to keep the wall from collapsing. Also kept debris from the wall from falling into and filling the moat.

Bivalate- a pair of defensive ditches or earth embankments surrounding a mound or medieval castle.

Caponier- a covered passage within a ditch.

Caponiere- a covered passage across a ditch to an outer fortification structure like a ravelin.

Counterscarp- outer slope of a ditch.

Couvre Face- a low rampart in a ditch protecting the ravelin’s face.

Covered Way- a protected communication wall all around the ditch’s outer edge, covered by earthworks from enemy fire.

Crownwork- a freestanding fortification built in front of the main defenses.

Cunette- a trench at a ditch’s bottom.

Ditch or Fosse- a common defense dug around the castle’s outside walls and the resulting earth to create banks. Most were dry but some were filled with water to create moats. The steeper the ditch sides, the better since it made it more difficult for attackers to climb. Though ditches weren’t filled with water, rainfall would’ve created a muddy obstacle to cross. The castle’s toilets also emptied into it, giving attackers another disgusting problem.

Earthwork- fortification made of earth mounds, banks, and ditches.

Glacis- a bank sloping down from a castle which acts as a defense against invaders. Consists of broad, sloping, naked rock or earth on which the attackers are completely exposed.

Hornwork- an independent earthwork located in front but not connected to the curtain wall within its bastions’ range (so it can be defended by them). Had long parallel sides with a back shaped like a crescent moon facing the castle’s curtain wall. But was built so low so it couldn’t shelter attacking forces if overrun. Forced attackers to start their siege further away from the castle and gave defenders a better chance to destroy siege lines before they could reach the structure.

Moat- a deep, wide ditch surrounding a castle’s outer walls. Often filled with water from diverted rivers, lakes, or springs with a special dam. Mostly had an inlet and outlet of water rather than being a self-contained donut (unless the castle was built on an island in the middle of a lake). It was often around 3-30 feet deep and at least 12 feet wide. It was sometimes within the outer wall or between the outer wall and the inner wall. Its primary purpose wasn’t to stop attackers but siege weapons, siege towers, battering rams, and most importantly, tunnelers. Since tunneling a castle was an effective means of collapsing the walls or infiltrating it. A moat would cause any tunnel to collapse through flooding. Also, gave valuable time for castle defenders to form strategies for subsequent defense. Sewage was often tipped into the moat so it would smell pretty unpleasant.

Motte- a natural or artificial hill with a flat top upon which a castle was built. Was constructed from dirt and rocks to a height between 10 and 100 feet.
Neck Ditch- a ditch cutting across a neck of land to hinder an enemy’s advance.
Place of Arms- an enlarged area in a covered way where troops could assemble.
Ravelin or Demilune- a triangular earthwork located in front (but not connected to) the curtain wall, within range of the curtain wall’s bastions. The back was shaped like a crescent moon and faced the curtain wall. But built low so it couldn’t shelter attacking forces if the ravelin was overrun. The front sides also had a defensive wall of their own. Allowed defenders to fire upon attacking troops before they could reach the curtain and a better chance to destroy siege lines before they could reach the castle. Forced attackers to start their siege further away from the castle.

Revetment- a retaining wall to prevent erosion.

Scarp- a slope on a ditch’s inner side.

Tilting Yard- yard or field where jousting tournaments and combats took place. Usually situated just outside the castle’s confines.

Watergate- a gate allowing a coastal castle to be resupplied by sea, especially during a siege.

The Walls

Craigmillar_outer_court

Scotland’s Craigmillar Castle is a ruined castle in Edingburgh built in the 14th century. Mary, Queen of Scots once stopped here to convalesce after her son James’s birth. It was here some of her supporters decided to kill her godawful husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Still, the walls are amazing to look at.

Allure or Wall Walk- walkway at the top inside of the curtain wall, which allowed guards to look for enemies. Reached either from a set of stairs running up from the wall’s inside or from a built-in tower. Can also be the fighting area on a tower as well.
Bastion or Bulwark- a structure projecting at the end of the curtain wall or at the junction of 2 walls. Usually situated at each corner of a curtain wall. Though could be placed in the middle if the walls were long. Allowed the defenders to cover dead ground (blind spots where attackers can’t be seen or fired upon) and provide crossfire for the curtain wall and adjacent bastions. Can consist of a tower or turret.

Batters- a section at a castle wall’s base that’s angled in such a way to make dropped stones bounce away from the curtain wall and into the enemy. Also add strength to the wall walk’s base.

Buttresses- a rectangular masonry projections used as additional outside strength and support for walls. Become thinner towards the top. Prominently featured in Gothic cathedrals like Notre Dame.

Chemin-de-Ronde- a walk-walk extending all the way around a castle.

Chemise Wall- wall formed by a series of interlinked or overlapping semicircular bastions.

Citadel- the innermost curtain wall of a concentric castle. Had walls higher than the rest and was the last line of defense before the keep itself.

Corbel- a stone bracket projecting from a wall or corner that supports a main floor or other structure’s weight. Often used for turrets.

Cornice- a decorative projection along the top of a wall.

Counterguard- a long near-triangular free-standing fortification within the moat.
Crenels, Embrasures, or Wheelers- small openings in crenellation that’s splayed on the inside, allowing the archer to move into the arrow slit space and get a better view.

Cross-Wall- an internal dividing stone wall in the keep providing extra strength and a platform for wooden floors. Also served as a barrier at times when the keep had been invaded.

Curtain Wall or Enceinte- a surrounding outer stone wall around the castle connecting the towers and other fortifications. Was designed to protect the castle. Can be 8-20 feet wide, up to 45 feet high and 1,500 feet long.

Flying Buttresses- masonry projections used to spread and support the weight of tall walls by transferring force directly to the ground. Were often elaborately designed, appearing to dart and sweep around each building, giving a sense of movement and flight. Usually decorated with intricate carvings giving a sense of grandeur and importance.

Garderobe- a room projecting from a wall that served as a toilet the family’s clothes. A hole in the floor allow wastes to drop below. Had chutes for discharge which often led to the castle moats and had iron bars to prevent entry from attackers.

Glacis- an angling of the curtain wall along the vertical plane that allows the wall to deflect some or all the force of rocks or other missiles thrown from a siege engine or cannon balls fired from siege cannons.

Hoardings or Brattices- wooden fortifications added to the crenellations and towers to provide additional protection to the castle’s defenders. They were removable and provided overhead cover. Also provided a walkway outside the crenellations facilitating the dropping of stones and hot liquids on attackers.

Hoarding Holes- holes in the castle walls to support the hoarding.

Inner Curtain Wall- defensive wall within a castle dividing the inner area into 2 or more defensive areas.

Lunette- a fortification shaped like a half-moon or arrowhead which was similar to a bastion except that it didn’t have wings connecting to a castle’s wall and the back was generally open. Can be its own structure or connected to a curtain wall like a bastion.
Machicolations- permanent stone additions to a castle’s battlement which provided better cover for defenders inside the castle, allowing them to drop items like boiling oil, hot lead, dead animals, human excrement, and rocks on attackers. Most often located in places that would be commonly attacked like near the main entrance.

Oriel Window- a window or set of windows sticking out from a building like bay windows. Made of stone or wood. Often had corbels underneath to support them.

Orillion- an arrowhead bastion.

Palisade- a sturdy wooden fence built to enclose a site until a permanent stone wall could be constructed. Can be as high as 10 feet tall.

Pitatta Forma- a fortification structure protecting the curtain wall between 2 bastions. It’s square or rectangular in plan but takes the form of a small tetrahedral bastion.

Plinth- a wall’s projecting base.

Postern or Sally Port- a small secondary gate located in the curtain wall’s back, which mostly functioned as a backdoor entrance or exit. Was connected to a small guard room near the bailey. Was often in a concealed location which allowed occupants to come and go inconspicuously. If possible, it could be built on a cliff, only accessible by footpath. During a siege a postern could act as a secret exit for troops to pass through besiegers or send out a messenger. Was firmly barricaded during conflict and people sometimes used a password to enter. Used by tradesmen and servants during peacetime. Designed for only one unmounted person could go through at a time.

Putlog Holes- castle wall holes to support scaffolding.

Rampart- a defensive wall of stone and mounds of earth that can be built quickly for early medieval castles. Later replaced by battlements.

Rear Arch- arch on an inner wall’s side.

Relieving Arch- an arch built in a wall to relieve thrust on another opening.

Respond- a half-pier bonded into a wall to carry an arch.

Redan- a small ravelin, derived from the lunette but had shorter sides. Was often made of earthwork but could comprise of stone and other materials. Could be its own structure or connected to a curtain wall like a bastion.

Rubble Core- a filling between the outer and inner wall parts.

Shield Wall- an exceptionally thick wall protecting the castle on its most vulnerable side.
Talus- a slope on the curtain wall that inhibited an attacker’s ability to reach the wall with a siege tower. Since a tower’s ramp wasn’t enough. Also provided a strong foundation to help support a wall against undermining.

Battlements

1000px-2007-08-26-09095_GreatBritain_Warwick

England’s Warwick Castle was developed from an original built by William the Conqueror during the 12th century. During the Hundred Years War, it was refortified which resulted in one of the most recognizable examples of 14th century military architecture. After its stronghold days were over in the 17th century, it was converted in a country house. And yes, you’ll find a lot of cool battlements here.

Arrow Loops, Arrow Slits, or Loopholes- thin slots in the walls and structures used to shoot arrows through. Came in a variety of shapes and sizes, usually depending on the weapons fired from it. Low and narrow arrow slits were suited for crossbows. High and wide arrow slits were built for longbows, which can be as high as 9 feet. But common designs are key holes, vertical slits, or crosses which allow the archer to fire his weapon with a great amount of protection.

Battlement, Rampart, or Crenellation- a defensive, outside top wall that has a broad top with a walkway and a typically stone parapet. Notched wall consists of alternate crenels (openings) and merlons (square sawteeth) to give castle defenders a position to fight or fire through as well enough protection to reload.

Fausse Braie- an exterior battlement, outside and parallel to the main battlement and considerably below its level.

Finial- a slender piece of stone used to decorate the merlon tops.

Merlons- upward square sawteeth of a battlement. Often pierced with arrow slits for observation and fire. Are usually rectangular in medieval Europe but can also appear in a swallow-tail form along with other shapes. Also have a secondary decorative purpose by giving the castle a distinct castle like appearance you find in storybooks.

Oilette- a round opening at a loophole’s base to help archers to easily aim a shot.

Parados- a low wall on a main wall’s inner side.

Parapet- a barrier at the edge of a roof, terrace, walkway, or other structure. Often used to defend a castle from military attack as a low defensive wall at shoulder or head height.

Celtic Mythology Reexamined: Figures from Arthurian Legend

Camelot_Avalon_Empowerment

Sorry, but the figures you won’t find in this post are Sir Robin, the fighting obsessed Black Knight, the women of Castle Anthrax, the Knights of Ni, Brother Maynard, Prince Herbert, Tim the Enchanter, the Killer Rabbit and the Monster of Aaaargh. King Arthur: “On second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. It’s a silly place.”

While Celtic mythology is rather influential in itself though you may not realize it with many popular legends and figures. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to sort out since Celts were largely spread out in Western Europe, had no writing system, and a lot were conquered and assimilated rather early (like before Jesus) so much of their legends didn’t survive save maybe those coming from Ireland or the British Isles. Not to mention, the fact that most of what we know in Celtic mythology was written down during the Middle Ages when most of Europe was Christian, which can muddle a few things as well as lots of characters with names hard to pronounce. Don’t get me wrong but there’s a reason why I’m doing a post on Celtic gods or goddesses. Nevertheless, one of the more popular stories revolves around a man named King Arthur with his Knights of the Round Table in Camelot, the renown wizard Merlin, his wife Guinevere, and so many others. Though we’re not sure whether Arthur was a real historical figure (if so then a Romano-British general of some outpost who fought against the Saxons) or a mythological king, these legends (though Christianized) enjoyed a lot of popularity in Medieval Europe (as well as up to today in fact) particularly in England where he’s been seen as a national figure (though the earliest stories came from Wales and Cornwall in the 5th century. Also, these stories have been very popular in France.). Nevertheless, these legends aren’t known for their consistency. So without further adieu, here are an assortment of figures from the Arthurian Legends.

1. King Arthur

King Arthur receiving Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake after the Sword in the Stone is broken. Known for glowing brightly as well as having an insanely sharp edge. Scabbard is said to stop the wearer from bleeding. It's said that who wielded Excalibur could never be defeated in battle, though this isn't set in stone.

King Arthur receiving Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake after the Sword in the Stone is broken. Known for glowing brightly as well as having an insanely sharp edge. Scabbard is said to stop the wearer from bleeding. It’s said that who wielded Excalibur could never be defeated in battle, though this isn’t set in stone.

You know him as: The perfect warrior king who ruled Great Britain during a Golden Age with Merlin at his side but fell to treachery and now sleeps, waiting for his land’s hour of need (or else has succumbed to his wounds after the Battle of Camlann). He’s a legendary and somewhat tragic figure who tries to overcome the land’s chaos and the notion of “might makes right” through noble chivalry but is ultimately undone. Son of Uther Pendragon and Igraine who was married to Duke Gorlois of Cornwall at the time her famous son was conceived through a rape by deception (assisted by Merlin no less, though Uther and Igraine got married before he was born but poor Gorlois {who got killed}, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth). Raised by Merlin (or Sir Ector depending on the version). Became king when he pulled the Sword in the Stone (which may not have been Excalibur depending on version. If not, then he received it as a gift from the Lady of the Lake after the Sword in the Stone breaks). United Britain, set up a Round Table with his Knights, drives off the Saxons, and reigns as a beloved king in an age of chivalry. Should’ve paid more attention to Guinevere if you know what I mean.

What you don’t know about him: Though always a warrior hero, he wasn’t always the clean-cut king we all know and love. In earlier traditions he was quite lustful, jealous, prideful, and greedy. He could be seen quarreling with churchmen, trying to steal Tristan’s pigs, killing a rival over a woman, and fathering several sons, none of them by Guinevere. Oh, and in the earlier legends, he was more of a warrior than king doing his own grunt work half the time as well as becomes king only because he’s the only guy to stall the Saxon invasion. Oh, and when he has Guinevere burned at the stake, he’s not conflicted about it at all in the original rendition. Yet, at least the early legends didn’t have him trying drown all the Mayday babies after finding out he knocked up his sister.

Earliest Mention: First surviving reference from Welsh and Breton sources at around 600 A. D. In the earlier stories, he’s only an allied commander and war hero and commander of lower birth who won a lot of battles against the Saxons in the 7th century Historia Brittonum (which has the first description of Arthur’s career.) He’s also said to have a dog named Cabal and kill his own son Amr.

2. Merlin

Merlin is perhaps the inspiration of the old wizard archetype that has taken the form of Albus Dumbledore and Gandalf the Gray. Yet, this doesn't mean that Merlin is wholly good since his portrayal is rather dependent on the writer who could cast him as a hero, anti-hero, or villain.

Merlin is perhaps the inspiration of the old wizard archetype that has taken the form of Albus Dumbledore and Gandalf the Gray. Yet, this doesn’t mean that Merlin is wholly good since his portrayal is rather dependent on the writer who could cast him as a hero, anti-hero, or villain.

You know him as: King Arthur’s wizard mentor who may have raised him (except in the stories in which Sir Ector does then Merlin is just the honorary uncle who leaves him at Sir Ector’s doorstep). In most versions, he’s the son of mortal nun raped by a demon explaining why he has magic powers he could only use for good and was said to be one of the last shape-changers during his childhood. Through magic and intrigue he’s responsible for King Arthur’s existence and rise to glory as well as many other events in Arthurian legend. Had a tendency to teach magic to younger women and his relationship with Nimue led to her betraying him and binding him to a tree, rock, or cave (depending on version).

What you don’t know about him: Though his mom is almost always a mortal woman, his dad’s identity varies through legend. Sometimes he’s a demon and in others he could be a fairy, deity, Satan, or nobody. Still, his actions could be highly questionable such as helping Uther to disguise himself as Gorlois so he could father Arthur with Igraine, snatching Arthur away and having someone else raise him, as well arranging the Sword in the Stone test so events would happen as prophesied. Not telling Arthur who his parents were caused many rebellions during the latter’s early reign, as well as Arthur knocking up his sister, and the May Day massacre.

Earliest Mention: Merlin as we know him appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britannae written around 1136 and was based on an amalgamation of previous historical and mythical figures. Geoffrey originally based his version on eccentric mystic Myrddin Wyllt and Romano-British war leader, Ambrosius Aurelianus. Referred as Merlin Ambrosius  by Geoffrey of Monmouth for this reason.

3. Queen Guinevere

Guinevere has been portrayed as everything from a weak and opportunistic traitor to a fatally flawed but noble and virtuous gentlewoman. She could be praised for her friendliness, intelligence, and gentility or depicted as a vindictive adultress disliked by well-bred knights. Sometimes she's portrayed inauspiciously or hardly at all.

Guinevere has been portrayed as everything from a weak and opportunistic traitor to a fatally flawed but noble and virtuous gentlewoman. She could be praised for her friendliness, intelligence, and gentility or depicted as a vindictive adultress disliked by well-bred knights. Sometimes she’s portrayed inauspiciously or hardly at all.

You know her as: King Arthur’s wife and consort as well as best known for dooming her husband’s kingdom by having an affair with Sir Lancelot (well, the later legends anyway). Daughter of King Leodegrance (in the non-Welsh medieval romance), she was known for her great beauty and intelligence. After her affair with Sir Lancelot was exposed, Arthur condemned her to burn at the stake though Lancelot eventually rescued her anyway which sent Arthur into a rage and pressure the king to confront the knight. While Arthur is in France, Mordred prepares to take over and marry her himself. Her fate after this depends according to version (either she assented, ran away to hide in the Tower of London, or spent the rest of her life in a convent.) After Camlann, she meets Lancelot one last time before returning to the convent to spend the rest of her life. She also had famous abduction story where she’s kidnapped by the king of the “Summer Country” and King Arthur had to spend a year to find her and are finally reunited by Saint Gildas (in one of the earlier renditions. In a later rendition, she’s rescued by Lancelot and their affair begins from here.)

What you don’t know about her: In the earlier Welsh legends, King Arthur is married to three Guineveres (or she just has 3 different dads) and her family composition varies by version. In early Welsh variants, she has a sister Gwenhwyfach and it’s their contention that led to the Battle of Camlann. In the stories where she’s the daughter of King Leodegrance, she has an evil identical half-sister with the same name who tries to get rid of her and ruin her life but was stopped thanks to the Pope. Though childless in most stories, one has her bearing two sons to Mordred and she sometimes takes up with him, too in some variants as well.  In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account, she’s a beautiful educated Romano-British noblewoman in stories prior to the 13th century, she’s badass warrior and magic-user.

Earliest Mention: Earliest mention of her as King Arthur’s queen is in the Welsh tale Culhwch ac Olwen written in the early 1100s, but little more is said about her. Also, her name has a lot of spelling variations.

4. Sir Lancelot

Sir Lancelot may have been a latecomer in the Arthurian mythos but he quickly became very popular afterwards. In the later romances he's a main focus.

Sir Lancelot may have been a latecomer in the Arthurian mythos but he quickly became very popular afterwards. In the later romances he’s a main focus. Also, Guinevere isn’t the only woman he’s linked with in the legends.

You know him as: He’s probably the Knight of the Round Table you’re most familiar with and is seen as King Arthur’s greatest champion whose affair with Queen Guinevere brings Camelot’s downfall. Seen as the bravest knight, sometimes uniquely perfect in every way save his relationships with women as well as buddies with almost all the knights. Son of King Ban and Queen Elaine by was raised by the Lady of the Lake. Father of Sir Galahad with Elaine of Corbenic who had him sleep with her by tricking him into thinking she was Guinevere (though it’s said they were married for ten years after that.) Went on the Holy Grail quest to atone for his sins but he forgot everything about purity and all that as well as resumes his affair with Guinevere. When found out, he escaped before King Arthur could confront him but he rescues Guinevere from the stake. They meet one last time after Arthur’s death before he spends the rest of his life as a priest by her death.

What you don’t know about him: While known to go on a homicidal rampage in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it’s worth remembering that he was mentally unstable prone to slaughtering innocents at no provocation, only to collapse in abject apologies afterward in the Sir Thomas Malory rendition (this is exactly how Monty Python depicted him though they depict him as rather sexually ambiguous.) Also had the habit of wandering into the other knights’ pavilions and making himself at home. Not to mention, he’s actually a relative latecomer as a Knight of the Round Table he joins long after it’s assembled.

Earliest Mention: Introduced in the 12th century by French writer Chretien de Troyes in Erec and Enide. First appearance as a main character was in Le Chevelier de la Charette (or “Lancelot, Knight of the Cart”). His patron was one of Queen Eleanor of Acquitaine’s daughters who may have ordered de Troyes to add Lancelot’s infamous affair with Guinevere. Thus, it’s possible the entire crux of a huge portion of the Arthurian Romances was the result of a lady wanting to turn an adventure story into a medieval equivalent of a Harlequin Romance novel.

5. Sir Gawain

Sir Gawain was King Arthur's nephew and original champion. He's known for his unparallelled courteousness and his way with women. His symbol is a gold pentangle on a red background (at least from the Green Knight legend).

Sir Gawain was King Arthur’s nephew and original champion. He’s known for his unparallelled courteousness and his way with women. His symbol is a gold pentangle on a red background (at least from the Green Knight legend).

You know him as: Knight of the Round Table and King Arthur’s nephew. Son of Morgause and King Lot of Lothain and Orkney, he is the best known of the Orkney brothers (depending on whether you accept Mordred as one of them.) Before Sir Lancelot, he was King Arthur’s greatest champion. He’s often seen as formidable, courteous, and compassionate warrior who’s loyal to his king and family. He’s a friend to young knights, defender of the poor, and defender of women as “The Maiden’s Knight.” Some legends have the sun as his source of strength and is said to be a great healer through his knowledge of herbs. Best known stories of him are his struggles with the Green Knight and his wedding to Dame Ragnell (an early prot0-feminist tale. Yet, he’s been romantically linked to other women in legends particularly Lady Bertilak from the Green Knight legend. He’s also credited with fathering at least 3 kids.)  Accompanied King Arthur on the quest for the Holy Grail yet, is buddies with Sir Percival, and  feuded with Sir Lancelot after the latter killed a few of his brothers (save Mordred.) Dies in an attempt to prevent Mordred’s usurpation.

What you don’t know about him: In the earlier legends, it’s implied that he’s King Arthur’s second-in-command as well as the true and rightful heir to his uncle’s throne. Of course, he was later struck down by Mordred’s forces. The French legends about him weren’t as glowing about him and depict him as a proud and worldly knight demonstrating through his failures the danger of neglecting the spirit for futile gifts of the material world. On the Post-Vulgate Grail Quest, he always has the purest intentions but can’t see God’s grace to notice the error in his ways.

Earliest Mention: He’s been mentioned in some of the earliest Welsh Arthurian sources under the name Gwalchmei who was seen as a traditional Welsh hero.

6. Sir Percival

There are many versions of Sir Percival's birth and family. His father may be Alain de Gros, King Pellinore, or another worthy knight. If Pellinore, then his brothers are Sir Agovale, Sir Lamorak, Sir Dornar, and Sir Tor. Guess there's a reason why his mom didn't want him to be a knight.

There are many versions of Sir Percival’s birth and family. His father may be Alain de Gros, King Pellinore, or another worthy knight. If Pellinore, then his brothers are Sir Agovale, Sir Lamorak, Sir Dornar, and Sir Tor. Guess there’s a reason why his mom didn’t want him to be a knight.

You know him as: Knight of the Round Table and known as “the Best Knight of the World.” Said to be the youngest of King Arthur’s knights as well as rather naive with few social skills since his mom raised him in the Welsh forests ignorant of the ways of men until he was 15 (then he went to join the Round Table through beating Sir Kay.) Still, in a lot of stories, he’s either a virgin or has very little experience with women, which is okay since he’s a teenager. Yet, don’t attack anyone unarmed in front of him or he will beat you up as Sir Kay learned the hard way. In some stories he has a sword that could cut through anything and would never break except in the toughest battle of his life. Best known for his involvement in the Holy Grail quest in which he meets the Fisher King but fails to answer a question to heal him, resists a beautiful enchantress, and was one of the two knights who accompanied Sir Galahad at the Grail castle.

What you don’t know about him: In earlier Grail narratives, he’s the hero while Galahad takes over in the later legends. Also, while he has a girlfriend in the earlier works, he’s certainly sexually inexperienced in the later versions and almost certainly stays that way since he becomes a monk. In some tales, he’s best friends with Sir Gawain (who’s sometimes his cousin) and in one legend even chooses to share a curse Gawain brought upon himself. His willingness to save his friend’s life by splitting the curse in half though they each get wounded badly.

Earliest Mention: He’s a difficult case. While he first appears under his regular name during the 1100s in Chrietien de Troyes’ le Conte du Graal (“Perceval, the Story of the Grail”), there is a similar character named Peredur in the Welsh legends but to what extent de Troyes adapted such stories into his work is a matter of debate.

7. Sir Galahad

Sir Galahad is one of the more familiar Knights of the Round Table but he's one of the most recent and least interesting. Rather he's seen as "the world's greatest knight." Then again, his character may have been inspired by the practices of the Cistercian Order founded by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

Sir Galahad is one of the more familiar Knights of the Round Table but he’s one of the most recent and least interesting. Rather he’s seen as “the world’s greatest knight.” Then again, his character may have been inspired by the practices of the Cistercian Order founded by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

You know him as: Knight of the Round Table and hero of the Holy Grail legend. Though an illegitimate son (conceived through rape of deception) of Sir Lancelot and Elaine of Corbenic, he is known for his gallantry and purity. Upon reaching adulthood, he’s knighted by his dad and joins the Round Table after being the only person to survive the Siege Perilous and pulling a sword out of a rock. During the Grail Quest, he smites his enemies, saves Sir Percival from 20 knights, rescues damsels in distress, and what not. After receiving the Grail, he is taken up to Heaven and never to be seen again.

What you don’t know about him: He was actually named after his dad Sir Lancelot (who’s name was originally Galahad before changing it). Also, despite being one of the best known Knights of the Round Table, he doesn’t really do much except go on a quest for the Holy Grail which was what he was pretty much chosen for.

Earliest Mention: He’s a latecomer in Arthurian legend with his first appearance being in the 13th century French Lancelot-Grail cycle. Most of what he does in the Holy Grail quest, Sir Percival does in earlier versions.

8. Sir Kay

Though known for his bad mouth as well as bullying and boorish behavior, Sir Kay appeared in some of the earliest Arthurian legends as one of King Arthur's premier knights. Later legends have him as a jerk to get the crap beat out of him.

Though known for his bad mouth as well as bullying and boorish behavior, Sir Kay appeared in some of the earliest Arthurian legends as one of King Arthur’s premier knights. Later legends have him as a jerk to get the crap beat out of him.

You know him as: As son of Sir Ector, he’s King Arthur’s foster brother, seneschal, as well as one of the first Knights of the Round Table. Though a loyal and capable knight, he tends to manipulate the king to get his way and prior to the Sword of the Stone story (the story he’s best known in), Arthur was his squire at a tournament who only pulled the sword out because he couldn’t get the new knight’s sword due to being locked out of the house. Sure he tries to claim he pulled the sword but later relents it was Arthur. He’s also kind of a hothead with a fiery temper and sometimes could be bit of a bully who mainly serves either as a foil or to get the crap beat out of him by the new knight.

What you don’t know about him: While he’s not seen in a great light in the best known Arthurian legends, the Welsh legends have him as a really badass knight capable of magical powers like growing giant size, generating so much body heat he could keep dry in the rain, holding his breath underwater for 9 days as well as going without sleep the same amount of time. Also, it’s said that if no wounds could be healed from his sword.

Earliest Mention: He’s one of the earliest characters in Arthurian legend from the original Welsh tales.

9. Sir Bedivere

Sir Bedivere returning Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake. Though a prominent figure in the early Arthurian Mythos, this is what he's most remembered for. Well, that and trying women for witchcraft by weighing them against ducks.

Sir Bedivere returning Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake. Though a prominent figure in the early Arthurian Mythos, this is what he’s most remembered for. Well, that and trying women for witchcraft by weighing them against ducks.

You know him as: Early Knight of the Round Table and King Arthur’s marshal (or cup-bearer in later versions.) In the Arthurian mythos, he’s best known for being the only Round Table Knight to survive the Battle of Camlann and throws Excalibur back to the Lady of the Lake at the mortally wounded King Arthur’s request.  In pop culture, he’s best known for condemning a woman to death for witchcraft by weighing her against against a duck since he believes she’s made out of wood in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

What you don’t know about him: In older Welsh legends, he’s the handsome one handed knight with a four pronged spear and was known for using dark magic against his foes with great skill and aggression to the townspeople’s chagrin. He’s also said to be the best looking knight in Britain.

Earliest Mention: He’s one of the oldest characters in Arthurian legend from the original Welsh tales.

10. Sir Mordred

Sir Mordred once a capable knight only to become traitor when discovering he was a product of incest. In the Welsh sources, he's only King Arthur's nephew and in the earliest sources, they're not related at all.

Sir Mordred who was once a capable knight only to become traitor when discovering he was a product of incest. In the Welsh sources, he’s only King Arthur’s nephew and in the earliest sources, they’re not related at all.

You know him as: Knight of the Round Table and notorious traitor who fought King Arthur at the Battle of Camlann where that claimed both their lives (or at least his if you accept the King Arthur in sleep narrative). He’s popularly seen as King Arthur’s illegitimate son by his half-sister Morgause (if not, then Morgan Le Fay). At first, he’s a loyal and competent knight until he finds out about his real father. Let’s just say it’s goes downhill from there. Though two of his half-brothers expose Guinevere’s affair with Sir Lancelot, he nevertheless exploits it when King Arthur leaves him in charge of the kingdom so he could fight the guy who slept with his wife. Once his uncle dad is gone, he officially has himself declared king. Camlann is fought when King Arthur returns.

What you don’t know about him: In the Welsh legends, he’s only King Arthur’s nephew (if related at all) and foster son as well as was legitimately conceived between Morgause and her husband. In stories where he takes over the kingdom while King Arthur is away, he marries (or at least tries to marry) Guinevere though she didn’t have much choice in the matter. In stories he doesn’t, he’s married to Queen Guinevere’s sister Gwenhwyfach (making him King Arthur’s brother-in-law) and his inevitable confrontation with King Arthur at Camlann was due to a spat between their wives.

Earliest Mention: The first surviving mention of him is in the 10th century Annales Cambriae where he’s listed as Merdaut. All it says is that him and Arthur died at Camlann but it’s never certain whether they killed each other or were on opposite sides. He first plays role of traitor on Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britannae.

11. Sir Palomides

Sir Palomides may be the most famous Non-European Knight of the Round Table, but he has such rotten luck. Not only did he fall in love with a girl who had the hots for his best friend, but in some stories, he's killed after the Grail Quest for killing that woman's husband.

Sir Palomides may be the most famous Non-European Knight of the Round Table, but he has such rotten luck. Not only did he fall in love with a girl who had the hots for his best friend, but in some stories, he’s killed after the Grail Quest for killing that woman’s husband.

You know him as: Knight of the Round Table from the Middle East along with his brothers Segwarides and Safir. Originally a pagan prince of Esclabor before converting to Christianity (in some versions during the Grail Quest). While best friends with Sir Tristan, he sort of resents him when they both fall in love with Iseult the Fair, though he doesn’t want that to t ruin their relationship (also, because he lost a joust with Sir Tristan that determined which one called dibs). Best known for taking over King Pellinore’s hunt for the Questing Beast which proved to be just as fruitless as the hope of having a relationship with Iseult the Fair (though Sir Thomas Malory has him finally slay the beast after his conversion to Christianity which releases him from worldly entanglements).

What you don’t know about him: His fate differs according to version. In Sir Thomas Malory’s tale, he sides with Sir Lancelot after the latter’s affair with Queen Guinevere is exposed and is made a Duke of Provence. In the Post-Vulgate version, Sir Gawain kills him after the Holy Grail Quest since he killed King Mark of Cornwall for slaying Sir Tristan.

Earliest Mention: First appears in the 13th century Prose Tristan an expansion of the Tristan and Isolde story.

12. Sir Ywain

Sure Sir Ywain may have killed a supernatural fountain guardian who beat up his cousin and later married the guy's widow. But he at least has a cool lion despite that he's the Round Table Knight you probably never heard of.

Sure Sir Ywain may have killed a supernatural fountain guardian who beat up his cousin and later married the guy’s widow. But he at least has a cool lion despite that he’s the Round Table Knight you probably never heard of.

You know him as: Knight of the Round Table and son of King Urien (sometimes with Morgan Le Fay, which makes him King Arthur’s nephew). Best known for rescuing a lion from a serpent who proves to be a loyal companion and symbol of knightly virtue. As for him, not so much since he ended up killing a guardian of a supernatural storm-causing fountain because the guy beat up his cousin. Not to mention, he also marries the guy’s widow Laudine who later dumps him after Sir Gawain tempts him into another adventure (they make up thanks to the lion helping him to shape up after he’s basically devastated by the whole thing).

What you don’t know about him: He was a very popular character in the Arthurian legends during the Middle Ages though he’s not a well known knight nowadays though he’s more or less seen as “the one with the lion” if he is. Also, there’s a Welsh legend of him playing chess with King Arthur as the Saxons prepare to fight the Battle of Badon.

Earliest Mention: He’s one of the earliest characters associated with King Arthur from the Welsh legends. Also, he’s based on the historical figure Owain mab Urien, King of Reghed in Great Britain.

13. Sir Tristan

I don't know about Sir Tristan here, but I'm sure that sharing a love potion with your uncle's fiancee is never a good idea. Really not a good idea, on a positive note, he's not in the Harry Potter universe where love potions are date rape drugs.

I don’t know about Sir Tristan here, but I’m sure that sharing a love potion with your uncle’s fiancee is never a good idea. Really not a good idea, on a positive note, he’s not in the Harry Potter universe where love potions are date rape drugs.

You know him as: Knight of the Roundtable who was sent by his Uncle King Mark of Cornwall to fetch the Irish princess Iseult the Fair for the Cornish king’s wedding. Yet, on the way, they accidentally consume a love potion and fall helplessly in love. Though she marries King Mark as promised, the pair undergo a lot of trials and tribulations that test their secret affair. Of course, this goes on until their tragic deaths by despair (his by poison out of thinking she abandoned him) but they’re buried side by side as two star crossed lovers should be with a honeysuckle springing from her grave around a hazel tree growing from his (that or a briar twirling around a rose or just pain dead).

What you don’t know about him: Since he couldn’t marry his beloved Iseult the Fair, he married another woman named Iseult of the White Handsand is only attracted to her because she shared his beloved’s name. It goes as worse as you’d expect since this Iseult ended up indirectly killing him by saying his beloved was never coming back just as the girl arrives to cure him.

Earliest Mention: He makes his early appearance in the early 12th century in Celtic mythology and/or folklore though his affair with Iseult the Fair is incorporated into the Arthurian Mythos later.

14. Morgause

Though Queen of Lothain and Orkney and mother of five sons and a number of daughters, Morgause still has a heft sexual appetite. Yet, this is what did her in at the end when her son Gaheris lopped her head off.

Though Queen of Lothain and Orkney and mother of five sons and a number of daughters, Morgause still has a heft sexual appetite. Yet, this is what did her in at the end when her son Gaheris lopped her head off.

You know her as: King Arthur’s half-sister, wife of King Lot of Lothain and Orkney, and mother of the Orkney brothers: Sir Gawain, Sir Agavain, Sir Gareth, Sir Gaheris, and Sir Mordred. May have conceived Mordred with King Arthur in an act of inadvertent incest, but they’re estranged upon realization for good reason. Yet, despite five boys and a number of daughters, she manages to be some sort of cougar being very friendly with younger men (King Arthur included). After King Lot’s death, she has an affair with Sir Lamorak (son of the guy who killed her husband), which leads to her son Sir Gaheris beheading her in bed though tries to frame her lover leading Agavain, Gawain, and Mordred to get rid of him.

What you don’t know about her: In her earlier stories, she does nothing but be the mother of the Orkney brothers. She doesn’t become a fully formed character until Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. Also tends to be combined with Morgan Le Fay and some scholars think she was created due to a translation error.

Earliest Mention: She’s a later addition appearing in Chretien de Troyes Perceval as Orcades. Yet, she did have a few earlier counterparts before then.

15. Morgan Le Fay

Morgan Le Fay is perhaps one of the best known characters in Arthurian legend as well as one of the most popular. Somehow there's something hard to resist with such a complex scheming witch who feels that Queen Guinevere's a hypocrite for banishing her lover and taking up with Sir Lancelot. Of course, she also had the hots for him as well.

Morgan Le Fay is perhaps one of the best known characters in Arthurian legend as well as one of the most popular. Somehow there’s something hard to resist with such a complex scheming witch who feels that Queen Guinevere’s a hypocrite for banishing her lover and taking up with Sir Lancelot. Of course, she also had the hots for him as well.

You know her as: King Arthur’s half-sister, a powerful sorceress, and in later traditions, wife of King Uriens and mother of Sir Ywain. Though some modern renditions make her Mordred’s mother, she is not but like her sister Morgause, she has a string of lovers nevertheless (though Uriens doesn’t seem to mind when she’s married to him). Yet, while she sometimes has a adversarial relationship with King Arthur (to the point when she tries to arrange his downfall but fails), she’s more of a an arch-enemy toward Guinevere (who exposed her having an affair with her cousin). Also, part of her hatred for Guinevere stems from the fact she herself wanted to sleep with Sir Lancelot. She devotes a lot of her time in the legend to exposing Guinevere’s affair with Sir Lancelot though King Arthur didn’t believe her no matter how hard she tried to convince him. Yet, somehow she mellows, she and Arthur reconcile, and soon takes him up to Avalon after Camlann.

What you don’t know about her: She may have started out in Arthurian legend as a supernatural being possibly a goddess. Also, she didn’t start out as King Arthur’s half-sister and actually had nine in her early appearances. Not only that, but her early appearances have her as a benevolent sorceress who might’ve saved King Arthur’s life. She also plays a role assisting Sir Ywain in one story, too as a healer but the story doesn’t imply that they are mother and son. Oh, and she appears in stories that are unconnected with the Arthurian Mythos as well.

Earliest Mention: It’s hard to say whether she started out as a French character or as a Welsh one. She’s first mentioned by name in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini while the later French tales feature her with all her familiar traits.

16. Nyneve

She may not have given King Arthur Excalibur but Nyneve's a magical being who's closely identified as being the Lady of the Lake. Also, has many names like Nimue, Niniane, and Vivian.

She may not have given King Arthur Excalibur but Nyneve’s a magical being who’s closely identified as being the Lady of the Lake. Also, has many names like Nimue, Niniane, and Vivian.

You know her as: She’s best known as the Lady of the Lake (though she’s not the one who gave King Arthur Excalibur, though she was a servant of hers in some versions who’s later beheaded in the Sir Thomas Malory stories).  Learned magic from Merlin who fell for her yet she ends up betraying him and using her powers to lock him in a tree, (rock, or cave). Afterwards, she replaces Merlin as King Arthur’s adviser. Still, her love is Sir Pelleas who she used her magic to hate a girl who was thoroughly uninterested in him (yet, she ended up dying in despair). Nevertheless, the guy lived mostly because of her. Associated with Avalon and may have raised Sir Lancelot.

What you don’t know about her: Though one of the more familiar characters in Arthurian legend, there’s not a lot of stories about her and her character.

Earliest Mention: Either in the works by Chretian de Troyes or the Lancelot Grail cycle. About as early as the 1100s maybe even before that.

17. Iseult the Fair

Iseult's affair with Sir Tristan is one of the more enduring medieval love stories that has stood the test of time. Yet, this was originally a separate story before being part of the Arthur Mythos.

Iseult’s affair with Sir Tristan is one of the more enduring medieval love stories that has stood the test of time. Yet, this was originally a separate story before being part of the Arthur Mythos.

You know her as: An Irish princess who heals Sir Tristan and is arranged to marry his Uncle King Mark of Cornwall. Yet, when she and Tristan accidentally drink a love potion en route, they fall hopelessly in love. Once she’s married, they embark on a tragic love affair consisting of secret meetings until King Mark banishes Tristan from Cornwall. They meet again when Tristan is poisoned (or stabbed in the back by King Mark once he catches him playing a harp from a tree).

What you don’t know about her: In verse tradition, she and Tristan don’t meet again after he’s banished until he’s on his deathbed. Some versions have their affair go much longer and in some stories they even have kids. Also, she has a lot of guys attracted to her mostly so they could have a conflict with Tristan.

Earliest Mention: Like Sir Tristan, she makes her first appearance in the 12th century in Celtic mythology and/or folklore, though her affair was treated as a separate story and incorporated in the the King Arthur Mythos later.

18. King Pellinore

King Pellinore on the endless hunt of the legendary Questing Beast whose appearance can't be articulated in this post. Still, this guy probably should've been making less war and spend more time with his family or families.

King Pellinore on the endless hunt of the legendary Questing Beast whose appearance can’t be articulated in this post. Still, this guy probably should’ve been making less war and spend more time with his family or families.

You know him as: Best known for his endless hunt of the Questing Beast and beating King Arthur in three jousts which breaks the Sword in the Stone, which leads to the latter to fetch Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake (if the sword is Excalibur, Merlin just enchants Arthur to save his life. Both become friends afterwards and he’s invited to join the Round Table afterwards. Also, he’s known to have a lot of kids to different women and at least has three sons join the Round Table, too (though he’s sometimes referred to as Sir Percival’s father). Not to mention, he helps King Arthur put down a lot of rebellions of other kings including his brother-in-law Lot of Lothian. Kills King Lot of Orkney during a battle that results in a blood feud with the Orkney brothers and many other deaths including his own son Lamorak.

What you don’t know about him: When trying to rescue Nyneve, he refused to provide aid to a wounded knight and his ailing lady. Lady later killed herself with her dead lover’s sword before he would eventually find out she was his own daughter.

Earliest Mention: He’s at least in Arthurian legend as early as the Post-Vulgate cycle.

History of the World According to the Movies: Part 92 – 1990s Europe

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Helen Mirren stars as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the 2006 The Queen in which she won a well deserved Oscar. The film is a portrait of the relationships between the British Royal Family and the Blair government amidst the tragic death of Princess Diana in a car accident, who was well loved by the public and not so much by the royals (though they were genuine upset by it). Still, you could also say that this film is about how Queen Elizabeth II was under pressure to publicly express her grief on Diana’s death despite being uncomfortable showing her emotions. Still, The Queen is a fitting film that shows what it’s like being a constitutional monarch in this day in age.

Of course, the United States wasn’t the only place where things were happening in the 1990s. After all, the Cold War ending in Europe led to a massive readjustment in Eastern Europe where the 1990s were certainly not a fun time. This is especially true if you lived in Yugoslavia which had been struggling since the 1980s to keep itself together since their dictator Josip Tito died, but it would ultimately fail in 1991 and by the end of the 1990s, the country would be no more since it would split in other nations like Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Slovenia, and Kosovo. Let’s just say it’s a hell hole for Europe. Of course, the other places in Eastern Europe besides the former East Germany, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland would be kind of bummed that Communism fell, except perhaps hockey players and women athletes (especially in East Germany). In Britain, you have the rise of Tony Blair as well as a lot of drama in the royal family with Prince Charles and Princess Diana getting divorced, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson getting divorced, and Princess Diana dying in a car accident in 1997 which led to Elton John singing at her funeral and his eventual knightood. Still, Britpop was in vogue at this time with Oasis and the Spice Girls (that would have one member marry a famous soccer player and another father Eddie Murphy’s baby). Nevertheless, there are movies made in this time that contain their share of inaccuracies which I shall list.

Europe:

The European Union was in existence in 1993. (It was known as the EEC or European Economic Community until 1993.)

Yugoslav Wars:

It was the Cincinnati Accords that kept the peace in Bosnia. (It was the Dayton Accords contrary to Behind Enemy Lines because the treaty was signed in Dayton, Ohio. And perhaps not for long.)

France:

Jean Dominique Bauby’s girlfriend at the time wouldn’t visit him in the hospital after he experienced a debilitating stroke. (While this is shown in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, his late-life partner Florence Ben Sadoun has claimed to be a faithful partner who visited him at Berck-Sur-Mer frequently during Bauby’s final days, driving from Paris for 3 hours 2-3 times a week to be with him {and she had 2 kids from a previous marriage as well}. And she has evidence to back it up since Bauby said so in his memoirs and there’s video footage as well. I think the writer for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly kind of owes Florence an apology.)

Jean Dominque Bauby’s baby mama visited him frequently while he was in the hospital. (Contrary to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, it’s disputed how often Sylvie de la Rouchefoucauld visited him. She said she saw him frequently while other sources said she rarely did so and was with her boyfriend in New York the day Bauby died in 1997 and she’s hardly mentioned in his memoirs aside from a Father’s Day outing on the beach when she brings their kids to the hospital. Still, she wasn’t the long suffering ex who still loved him in the film who takes up the slack because his girlfriend wouldn’t see him. Rather she moved on. She never had to call up Bauby’s girlfriend or be worried about him being neglected because she’d be at his bedside as often as she could. Oh, and they had two kids not three since the director couldn’t decide between three child actors for the film. Then again, the mother of Bauby’s kids is a successful businesswoman with her own PR company)

During his time in the hospital Jean Dominique Bauby was an invalid babe magnet with women surrounding him in the hospital vying for his attention. (Bauby didn’t mention any of this in his book though friends said he was very charming with a sense of humor. He was also said to be engaging.)

Jean Dominique Bauby’s friend Jean Paul K came to see him in the hospital. (Contrary to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Bauby wrote in his memoirs that he felt guilty for not seeing his friend after he had been released from being held hostage in Lebanon.)

Jean Dominique was a miserable wreck during his time having locked-in syndrome and wanted to kill himself. (His girlfriend Florence said that he never wished to die even when he was unable to move everything in his body but an eyelid.)

Florence Ben Sadoun was a weak-willed and selfish girlfriend to Jean Dominique Bauby and was unable to face her once handsome boyfriend. (Contrary to her portrayal in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, she was anything but. Also, she wasn’t a model at the time; she was a critic and a single mother of two.)

Great Britain:

Robin Janvin was Queen Elizabeth II’s private secretary in 1997. (Not until 1999, unlike in The Queen.)

Queen Elizabeth II:

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip shared a bed. (Though shown in The Queen, the British public have known that the royal couple don’t sleep in the same bedroom since 1982 when someone tried to break in into the Queen’s chamber at Buckingham Palace. However, this just applies to Buckingham Palace since it’s not the only royal residence.)

Between Princess Diana’s death and Queen Elizabeth’s public capitulation, opposition to the monarch dropped from 25% to zero. (Contrary to The Queen, support for republicanism has remained consistent for decades at 15-20% even before and after Diana’s death.)

Prince Charles was Queen Elizabeth II’s only child. (Though he’s the only one of her kids shown in The Queen, she has four kids including Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.)

Princess Diana:

Princess Diana had an affair in 1995 with surgeon Hasnat Khan. (Contrary to Diana, though the real Khan said that he and Diana knew each other and dated for two years, but neither he nor Diana have confirmed whether they were in what you’d call “true love.” Yet, this doesn’t stop close friends from saying that he was her “true love” but maybe this is what they’d want to believe. Still, it’s likely that Khan and Diana were no more than just friends, though she might’ve been more like a desperate, wounded stalker who wouldn’t leave him alone.)

Princess Diana dated Dodi Al Fayed to make Dr. Hasnat Khan jealous. (We’re not sure about that contrary to Diana. Also, she and Khan broke up on mutual terms since he couldn’t handle the media attention of her celebrity and she didn’t want to move to Pakistan.)

Princess Diana was a sweet natured, wistful, half-wit. (According to one critic of Naomi Watts’ Diana performance, yet she’s said to be quite smart who tried to make the world a better place but she was also conniving, manipulative, and materialistic. She was also driven by payback trying to make Prince Charles jealous such as posing in a revealing swimsuit on the south of France while the Prince of Wales hosted a 50th birthday party for Camilla Parker-Bowles. Yet, didn’t work since Charles had been in love with Camilla for years {as well as fooled around with her} and only married Diana due to pressure from his family. She was also estranged from her mom for dating a Muslim and hadn’t spoken in months before she died.)

Tony Blair:

Tony Blair and his family cooked their own food while he was prime minister. (Contrary to The Queen, I’m not so sure they’d even be allowed to do this. I mean the President of the United States has his own chef and servant retinue. Then again, maybe the Blairs prefer to cook themselves.)

Miscellaneous:

Adderall was around in the early 1990s. (It wouldn’t be on the market until 1996 and wouldn’t be sold in generic until 2002.)

Nintendo game cubes were around in 1995. (Not until 2001.)

LED warning lights were around in 1995. (Strobe beacons would’ve been used because I have no memory of hearing about LED until my teens.)

History of the World According to the Movies: Part 87 – 1970s Europe

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The 1986 film Sid and Nancy that stars Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb as the doomed lovers Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. Though the movie doesn’t quite get the 1970s British punk rock scene right, it captures the self-destructive and dysfunctional nature that their relationship was (which was plagued by sex, drugs, and rock n roll as well as craziness). Yet, while this movie may not have an accurate depiction of Nancy’s murder, it’s very likely Sid did it though Sex Pistols fans dispute this.

Yet, the US wasn’t the only happening place in the 1970s. Europe had a lot of things going on there as well. You have the Cold War slacking off in Eastern Europe where there was a short period of stability and economic growth as well as a bit of openness of Western Media. So it’s no surprise that people in that area would embrace fashions from the 1970s and continue to wear them until the 2000s. In 1975, the last Francisco Franco would finally die and would be succeed by King Juan Carlos who decided to become a constitutional monarch in a democratic state. Also, Franco would stay dead. The Troubles (that began in 1966) would be in full swing in Northern Ireland during this time between the Catholic IRA and the Unionist Protestants (though this didn’t mean that they were practicing however) that sparked a wave of terrorism that would last a couple of decades. In Great Britain, despite the Beatles breaking up, you had a music scene that included Led Zeppelin, Queen, the Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, and others. You also had Monty Python there as well, which we shouldn’t forget about.Some of them would be from the 1960s while others would not. There aren’t a lot of movies set at this time though the films out there do contain their share of inaccuracies which I shall list.

France:

Yves Saint Laurent died in 1976 or soon after. (Contrary to his biopic, Yves lived for another 32 years.)

West Germany:

Ignes Ponto was sitting on the patio in sunshine when her husband got shot. (Contrary to the Baader Meinhof Complex she was making a phone call when she witnessed her husband getting assassinated in their house.)

Ireland:

Cerebral palsy author Christy Brown wrote My Left Foot while seeing English nurse Mary Carr. (He had already written his autobiography by 1954 unlike what the movie suggests. In fact, he was a well established author who already had an affair with a married American woman by then who administered a strict working regimen for him mostly by denying him booze until a day’s work was completed {yet he dumped her after over a decade for Carr who may not have been a nurse}.)

Christy Brown lived happily ever after with Mary Carr. (Contrary to what My Left Foot wants you to believe, they didn’t live happily ever after. Brown would remain a recluse for the later years of his life and his health deteriorated. He died by choking on a piece of meat in 1981 and his body was found to have significant bruising that led many to believe that Carr had abused him. Thus, he spent his later life in an angry alcoholic haze married to a cheating bisexual alcoholic prostitute who neglected him and whisked him away to an ocean front cottage in Kerry to hide him from his anxious family and friends. His final works were critical and commercial failures. After his death, Mary threw out many of his paintings.)

Great Britain:

David Frost:

David Frost met Caroline Cushing during his interviews with Richard Nixon. (Contrary to Frost/Nixon, they had been dating five years by then.)

Margaret Thatcher:

Margaret Thatcher was mainly occupied as a wife and mother. (Yes, she was married and had kids but she was a career politician since 1950 where she sat on a podium next to her dad and discussed the welfare state during a Dafford selection meeting.)

Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party by going through a fabulous blow dry. (Though The Iron Lady suggests this, she most likely didn’t. Yet, I beg to differ about Sarah Palin, on the other hand.)

Margaret Thatcher said goodby to Airey Neave a few moments before his assassination. (Contrary to The Iron Lady, she wasn’t in Westminster at the time and carrying out official business elsewhere when she found out.)

Sports:

Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda loathed each other. (Contrary to Rush, they were rivals but they were also good friends. When Hunt won his Formula Two Race in 1972 at Oulton Park, Lauda and fellow driver Ronnie Peterson congratulated him and “were genuinely happy to see James finally get a share of the success they felt he deserved.” Hunt would also say, “I got on very well with Niki and always had done since we first met in Formula Three and gypsied around Europe together. We raced against each other but we also teamed up as mates, not just casual acquaintances.”)

Lord Alexander Hesketh’s money problems caused him to sell his Easton Nelson estate. (He sold it to a Russian businessman in 2005.)

Nicki Lauda’s relationship with Marlene Knaus was love at first sight. (Yes, it was, yet unlike in Rush, he dumped his girlfriend of 8 years for her. So he probably wasn’t as disciplined and obsessive as he was in the film.)

Derby county soccer manager David Mackay betrayed Brian Clough to become the team’s manager. (Contrary to The Damned United, Mackay sued the film’s production company over such implication.)

Brian Clough:

Leeds soccer manager Brian Clough burned his predecessor’s desk. (Contrary to The Damned United, his son Nigel said he did no such thing. Still, you have to praise The Damned United for showing what goes on in a sports team as realistically as possible and avoids all the twists and turns of a traditional sports movie. Also, Don Revie didn’t snub him for his son said it would’ve been completely out of character for him to do so. Besides, Revie was being promoted to manage England’s national team when Clough replaced him.)

Brian Clough never managed the Brighton & Hove Albion club. (Actually he did with his assistant Peter Taylor during the 1973-1974 season contrary to The Damned United a famous British sports movie. The team finished 19th.The film’s said to get a lot of things wrong about the actual events though and I’ll leave it at that since I’m an American who doesn’t like sports and would know nothing about British soccer anyway.)

Brian Clough blamed Leeds for his team’s loss to the Italians. (Contrary to The Damned United, Clough felt that the Juventus team influenced the referee in favor on their side and berated Leeds.)

Brian Clough represented soccer player Brian Bremner when the latter was punished for sending off in the Charity Shield. (Contrary to The Damned United, Bremner was represented by Maurice Lindley. Also, though seen belligerently unrepentant in the film, a fellow player remarked that Bremner apologized during his hearing and was close to tears. Still, as an American, I don’t know who these people are.)

Music:

The Sex Pistols:

Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen were in their late twenties when they met. (They met in their early 20s but they’re played by 30 year old Gary Oldman and 28 year old Chloe Webb.)

After the Sex Pistols’ first gig, Sid Vicious assaulted a critic Dick Dent with a bass guitar. (Contrary to Sid and Nancy, he whipped NME reporter Nick Kent with a bike chain.)

Nancy Spungen gave Sid Vicious his trademark chain/padlock necklace. (It was actually given to him by Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde.)

Sid Vicious was a terrible bassist who didn’t know how to play. (This is disputed. He never played bass prior to being hired for the Sex Pistols yet he was willing to learn. Yet, that’s not to say he didn’t have any musical talent because he was a drummer and singer before that point. Still, bass guitar wasn’t his forte and he’s said to be a better singer than Johnny Rotten though but hiring him as the lead singer wasn’t an option for manager Malcolm McLaren. Nevertheless, Sid’s dreadful bass playing had less to do with his talent as a musician and more to do with the fact he was assigned the wrong instrument.)

Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen had a suicide pact but Vicious reneged and stabbed Nancy in a heated argument. (This is how Nancy was killed in Sid and Nancy but we’re not sure what happened on the night she was killed though most people believed that Sid was responsible despite him telling different stories and later retracting his confession. I mean he was a long term drug addict with a history of violent behavior, including several arrests.)

Nancy Spungen introduced Sid Vicious to heroin. (Contrary to Sid and Nancy, Sid was already doing hard drugs before he met her. His mother was a drug dealer, too.)

Crime:

Michael Peterson (a.k.a Charles Bronson):

Michael Peterson was sent to prison for robbing a post office of £42 and some change. (Contrary to Bronson, the amount was £26.18.)

Northern Ireland:

The Troubles:

The Guilford Four:

Gerry and Giuseppe Conlon were taken to the same prison. (Contrary to In the Name of the Father, they were in separate prisons and never saw each other again.)

The real bombers of the two Guilford soldiers’ pubs were incarcerated with the Guilford Four. (Contrary to In the Name of the Father, they weren’t. Yet, they did confess at their own trial which exonerated them. Yet, as in the film, it was dismissed by the British authorities until the evidence that the police had lied about the Guilford Four’s “confessions” was revealed.)

There was an alibi witness for the Guilford Four. (There wasn’t. Rather the police falsified their interrogation notes to cover up the coercion they used to obtain their “confessions.” Let’s just say enhance interrogation techniques were involved. Yet, unlike in In the Name of the Father, this was discovered by another British police detective, not the Four’s lawyer.)

Miscellaneous:

Reebok was a popular shoe brand in 1972. (The first Reeboks were made in 1978.)

Visa and Master Card were in business in 1971. (Actually Visa wasn’t around until 1977 and Master Card was known as “Master Charge” until 1979.)

The smiley face logo was created in the late 1970s. (It was created in the early 1970s but it was passed its peak in popularity by the late 1970s though.)

1977 was the year of three Popes. (It was 1978.)

Disco music was the dominant music genre of the 1970s. (There was a lot music diversity during the 1970s with genres like Southern Rock, Country Rock, Punk Rock, J-Pop, Soul R&B, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Alternative Rock, New Wave, Soft Rock, Glam Rock, and Rap Music .)

Disco was just a fad. (In the United States maybe, but disco music stayed popular in Great Britain well into the 1980s influencing genres like New Wave, synthpop, and other styles. In Eastern Europe and Russia, disco lingered well into the 1990s and is still popular in Poland. Also, it’s been influential in other genres of music and has a following even if the culture associated with disco has died out. Still, be prepared to see disco shows during pledge season on PBS after the doo wop generation dies out.)