Medieval castles in the Dutch central river Area: Towers of power?

Medieval castles in the Dutch central river Area: Towers of power?

By Jan Van Doesburg

Concilium medii aevi, Vol. 14 (2011)

Wijenburg Castle. located in the Netherlands

Introduction: Castles were amongst the most dominating features of the European medieval landscape, especially in those parts which are relatively flat such as the Netherlands, where they were visible from many miles away.

In the Middle Ages the Dutch landscape was dotted with castles of different shapes and sizes. A rough estimate indicates that there must have been least 2500 medieval castles, of which about a quarter still exist today. Castles were however not evenly distributed. There were regional differences in the number of castles. The provinces of Noord Brabant, Friesland and Guelders had in the Middle Ages for example hundreds of castles. On the other hand the number of castles in the provinces of Drenthe and Noord Holland were fairly limited. The same goes for the distribution of certain types of castles, such as mottes. In some areas, such as the provinces Friesland, Zeeland, Limburg and parts of South Holland, they are abundant while in others like Utrecht, Noord Brabant and Drenthe they are relatively scarce.

In some areas large-scale reclamations coincide with the construction of numerous castles. This is especially the case in areas in the province of Utrecht.

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This leads one to consider if there is a possible connection between the two. It is also unclear why so many castles were built in reclamation areas in Utrecht whereas this was not the case in other similar areas in the rest of the Netherlands?

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