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Motte and bailey

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A Motte and Bailey castle is a medieval system of defence in which a stone tower on a mound (the Motte) is surrounded by an area of pleasantly habitable land (the Bailey), which in turn is encompassed by some sort of a barrier, such as a ditch. Being dark and dank, the Motte is not a habitation of choice. The only reason for its existence is the desirability of the Bailey, which the combination of the Motte and ditch makes relatively easy to retain despite attack by marauders. When only lightly pressed, the ditch makes small numbers of attackers easy to defeat as they struggle across it: when heavily pressed the ditch is not defensible, and so neither is the Bailey. Rather, one retreats to the insalubrious but defensible, perhaps impregnable, Motte. Eventually the marauders give up, when one is well placed to reoccupy desirable land. [1]

In a real mott and bailey the whole of the bailey could be defended with arrows shot from the mott. Retreating to the mott and letting marauders plunder the bailey was done but only as a last resort when hard pressed. "There were many buildings inside the bailey including stables, storehouses, bakeries, kitchens, houses, and quarters for soldiers." Would a real mediaeval community have accepted losing livestock, provisions and so much more lightly? [2] [3]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Motte and Bailey Doctrines by Nicholas Shackel
  2. Motte and Bailey Castles
  3. Motte and Bailey Castles

Adapted from a deleted RationalWiki article

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