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Review - TV - Weird Weapons of the Middle Ages

History International hosts a wonderful video series called "Conquest", which often focuses on various weaponry used in history. This particular review focuses on the episode titled "Weird Weapons of the Middle Ages", which just touches a small portion of the interesting weapons and tools that were used during this period.

In this episode, the gang tries to combat a knight outfitted in plate armor with several odd weapons. The plate armor suit, weighing 60 lbs, is very solid and difficult to pierce except by sharp metal and within close range.


The Falchion was a single-blade sword that could slash against armor. It weighed between 5 and 8 pounds.




The mace was popular for close-range hits.





The flail, also known as the ball-and-chain, was an effective weapon if used carefully since the spike ball at the chain-end of the handle could hit the user.



Other weapons include hammer, ahlspiess (a spear), billhook, and a Godendag (club with spikes).


Want to see these in action? Check out the show on YouTube:
"Weird Weapons of the Middle Ages":
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Review - Book - The Age of Knights and Castles


Age of Knights & Castles (World Book Looks at)

Fabulous reference guide! Includes a wonderful timeline as well as details on fashion, knightly careers, how campaigns were fought, the construction and defense of castles, and more.

Review - Book - Archers, Alchemists and 98 Other Medieval Jobs...



An absolute must-have book for your medieval research! It is overflowing with information, including timelines. Jobs are organized by categories, such as "Castle Jobs", "Bread and Butter Jobs", "Life and Death Jobs", "Travel Jobs" and more. Each job is described in detail and includes synonymous terms.

Review - Book - The Healing Herbs


The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide To The Curative Power Of Nature's Medicines

Although this book isn't necessarily based on Medieval medicines, it is a wonderful resource for herbal and all-natural medicines and procedures as well as some information about the role of women in medicine. Also includes some information on the herbs that Native American medicine.

Review - Book - Medieval Medicine in Illumined Manuscripts


Medieval Medicine in Illuminated Manuscripts

This book contains fabulous examples of different medical techniques and practices used throughout the Middle Ages taken from actual manuscripts (illumined or illustrated). It also illustrates, through these manuscripts, the evolution of medicine -- from practices based on superstitions to methods based on scientific research (such as autopsies).

Research - Motte and Bailey Castles

Most castles were built in a Motte (hill) and Bailey (keep) system. The earlier castles consisted of dirt hills (either natural or man-made) upon which a timber castle structure was built, then a large timber fenced-in keep was built around that. Within the keep were other buildings, such as a blacksmith shop, a bakery, the stables, etc. Most systems were built near freshwater sources. For those too far from streams or rivers, a cistern was created to contain water. However, during sieges, this could lead to the demise or surrender of the inhabitants once the water ran low.

This site contains a good definition of the motte and bailey system:

http://www.castles.me.uk/motte-and-bailey-castles.htm



Excellent photos of mottes: http://www.castlewales.com/motte.html



Lots of links to examples: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Motte-and-bailey



Resource - Castles of Spain

This site lists several historic castles in Spain, including the well-known Alhambra which is mentioned in great detail in Philippa Gregory's book "The Constant Princess". It was built in the 9th Century in Arabic style.



http://www.europeupclose.com/castles-in-spain/



Visit this site for an interactive tour of the Alhambra:

http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/alhambra/flash/start.html

Resource - Historic Scotland

This is a terrific website to explore some of Scotland's Historic Events. Learn about festivals, events and properties.
http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/events

Want to learn more about St Andrew's Day, check this out:
http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index/places/events/st-andrews-day-2009.htm

Need more information or images, take a peek at their resource page:
http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index/learning.htm

Resource - Castles of Ireland

Even if you're not planning a trip to Ireland, this travel website is a wonderful resource.

Specifically, take a look at these historic castles:

http://www.discoverireland.com/us/ireland-things-to-see-and-do/culture-and-sights/history-and-heritage/castles/



There's also a convenient clickable map to find more resources.



Looking for ancient monuments for your Druids or Celts? Take a look at these fascinating pieces of history:

http://www.discoverireland.com/us/ireland-things-to-see-and-do/culture-and-sights/history-and-heritage/ancient-monuments/



Also check out:

http://www.europeupclose.com/irelands-historic-castles/

Resource - Historic Castles of Europe

Wonderful website listing thousands of castles throughout Europe.

Search for a specific castle or browse by region/country.

Checkout the "Useful Links" for interesting side pages to visit.



http://www.historiccastles.com/

Resource - Castles of Belgium Website

This website is a wonderful resource for castles built in Belgium. View pictures and details by location or family.

http://www.chateauxdebelgique.eu/Home.aspx?gclid=CKLk8fHKl50CFSTFsgodqlEd3g

Research - Materials Used in Castle Building

Castles were originally built of dirt and timber which did not withstand heavy-duty fighting or fire. There are several resources that point to early stone castles, especially in the Arab world. Stone was costly because it took a long time to quarry and it had to be hauled/lifted into place at the site. Skilled stone masons were highly paid and often travelled whereever their skill was required. Cutting stone was very laborous work - they used chisels, hand-picks, stone axes. A few castles had facades of bricks.



This is a nice site that lists some of the different stones that were used:http://www.castles-of-britain.com/castlesq.htm



Wonderful site showing the different materials:http://www.timetravel-britain.com/articles/castles/kenilworth.shtml

Research - Medieval Castles

Early medieval castles were very basic - usually built on a hillside (or even a man-made hill) in a motte and bailey format (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motte-and-bailey for examples).Castles were first built of wood then slowly were built of stone (which took longer to build and were more expensive).The advent of gunpowder and cannons at the end of the Middle Ages rendered stone walls useless; thus, castles evolved into elaborate palaces for the wealthy to live as opposed to being used as defensive units.



For interesting info, visit http://www.castlewales.com/life.html

Research - The Feudal System

The feudal system, as we know it, began to take shape with the decline of the Roman Empire. Land was considered very valuable and was often given as reward for loyal service or honor in military situations. Land was divided up and given to feudal lords who oversaw them and the resources. Sometimes these were divided further into smaller parcels. Each land owner was responsible for yielding crops and taxes to their lord (who in turn gave to his lord, etc). The vassal also owed his lord military service. It became common for manor lords to hire professional knights to go to war in their place.

For more interesting information about feudalism, check out http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/distance/hist151/feudal.htm

Welcome

I am currently working on several manuscripts, both contemporary and historical. In the mean time, please come on in and check out all my links and tidbits.