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Historian studying castle building studying castle building Paper

How much can a historian studying castle building in the middle ages learn from source A? The scene that source A sets is a very calm and relaxed one. The drawbridge is open, there are people socialising freely and there does not appear to be any military presence so it seems the castle is not at war. This source is a modern day artist’s impression of how the fountain courtyard would have been in 1460.

From this painting, we can assume that this was a very palatial part of the castle and it helps us to understand what kind of people lived here i.e. a rich and noble family. On the subject of a military attack, this part of the castle would have been very poorly defended. Some of the features in this picture like big windows and a grass floor (in rainy battles knights would get clogged up in it) show it to be more of a family garden than a well defended stronghold.

What source A doesn’t tell us is what its actual purpose was. Was it for playing games on, training soldiers on, holding tournaments on, maybe even a garden for the guests of the castle? However if that is so, why use up so much space? This space could have been used for protecting the castle even more. The fact that it was built in a time of peace may be the reason why that is, but even so a few more defences would not go amiss. Even though, a historian studying castle building can learn a great deal from this source, how they placed the windows, the style of architecture used and also what they thought was priority to have in a castle at this time.

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Question 2a Why was the picture in source B published? The picture in source B (Ivan Lappers imaginary reconstruction of the great hall) was published in 1993. The reason why it was published I think was to give modern day historians studying Raglan Castle an image in their mind of how the great hall may have been in that day and age. The reason why I think this is that the picture itself seems very accurate and when you look at the ruins you can see a resemblance to this picture. Another reason I think this picture has been published is for uses in guide books for visitors and studiers of the castle. This would give them an idea of how the castle used be while they are walking in the ruins, helping them to visualise a picture of the time. It is especially detailed in the roof structure.

Question 2b Does source C make you more likely to believe what is shown in Source B? Source C (an account of table arrangements in the great hall in the 17th century) at first glace seems accurate, the reason being that it states in source C that “tables laid; two in the hall” and this is accurately represented in the picture as there are two tables set on the floor, and one on a raised platform. It gives detailed description of the groups of people seated on the tables all of which is correct by the picture also. This account does make me more likely to believe what is shown in source B as when cross-referencing both sources I find that they both support each other and both are accurate in picture and in text form.

Question 3 Are you surprised by how the Victorian paintings show Raglan Castle? (Source D) After seeing Raglan Castle in various pictures and paintings other than this one, I am very surprised by how the Victorian paintings show Raglan. However, looking at a picture taken in that time (located on page 23 of the guidebook) I can see the resemblance between the castle and the painting. By the time this picture was painted Raglan castle had fallen into ruin, and was overrun by ivy.

It was also a popular tourist attraction, hence the people in the pictures. Also considering the type of art that was popular at the time it wasn’t rare to exaggerate certain features and also focus on one main area of the castle, often just sketching in others without looking at it properly. This is shown in the picture, as the castle in question looks nothing like raglan, the only resemblance is the gatehouse, however this is accurate.

The people shown in that certain picture look like they are having a day out at this ruin; this gives a relaxed feel to the picture. There are two men enjoying a game of bowls on a green outside the castle and families socialising underneath the gate. This would have been because Raglan was a very popular tourist attraction as I mentioned earlier. It would have been a very calm and happy environment. It also shows the castle covered in ivy as is supported in the picture on page 23. However, the Raglan shown in this picture is very different to the Raglan of the 1600’s and the Raglan of today.

Question 4 Study sources E and F. Do these sources prove that Raglan was built as a fortress? Source E (the picture of Raglan Castle painted by Alan Sorrell). This modern day painting shows Raglan as a very well defended stronghold and is very unlike other paintings that depict Raglan as a more palatial building. This picture shows Raglan as a very busy place with soldiers running around and smoke billowing out of chimneys; it also makes it seem like a very intimidating place.

The artist who drew this picture would be imagining Raglan around the 1600’s during the siege of Raglan. This is clear as there seems to be soldiers on horseback fighting against each other in the right corner and a siege machine of some sort being wheeled out in the gatehouse. When compared to against the plan of Raglan (source F) this picture does seem very accurate and does give the feel that Raglan did have some military defences. However I do not think that it proves Raglan was built as a fortress, whereas it may not be falling without a fight the facts are it was eventually beaten. I think that a purpose built fortress would have been able to withstand a siege and this castle didn’t.

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