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Magnificent entrances and undignified exits: chronicling the symbolism of castle space in Normandy

Magnificent entrances and undignified exits: chronicling the symbolism of castle space in Normandy

By Leonie V. Hicks

Journal of Medieval History, Vol. 35:1 (2009)

Abstract: Recent years have seen an increase in the number of studies on the symbolism of the castle, particularly in relation to lordship. Such studies are interdisciplinary in nature and often employ the language of the use of space in order to determine how castles functioned and how they were perceived. This article considers what the chroniclers of eleventh- and twelfth-century Normandy meant by castle space. This analysis can help us to determine how space was used, its connection to ideas about social relationships, including gender, and the chroniclers’ purpose in including the events they described in their narratives. Many of the episodes described by the chroniclers relate to ideas about the authority and legitimacy of both men and women. As such the spatial setting of the castle is a means of holding up good examples of how authority should be exercised as well as illustrations of what happens when people either fail to uphold that authority or appropriate it in an illegitimate manner.

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