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The texts and images vehiculated by the medieval mind are profoundly symbolic and their symbolism can be manifest in various ways. When it comes to the image of the castle in visual representations we unavoidably come across the kind of symbolism of parts representing the whole (pars pro toto). In other words, the criterion of selecting the visual representations of castles was not dependent on the entirety of the castle shown in the picture, I included in the selection towers, fragments of walls, gates and other components of a medieval castle that were shown. As a consequence, my shortlist comprises large cities such as Constantinople. This selection generosity (that could be viewed as objectionable by some) is backed by Duby’s definition of the medieval city according to which the city is “a castle much stronger than the other castles.”





Substantiation: castles in illuminations in historiographic manuscripts of the fourteenth and fifteenth century France  11

What should be understood by “castle” 14

Castles and walled towns of the West and the East. The medieval city. 20

The question of ‘vision’ 24

Methodology and research questions 25

Primary sources: the writing of history and illuminations 37

Primary sources: medieval historians 39

Primary sources: examples of manuscripts 41

Textual primary sources 45

Secondary literature. 46


Aigues-Mortes (Gard) 58

Alençon (Orne) 60

Amiens (Somme) 61

Angers (Maine-et-Loire) 64

Argentan (Orne) 64

Auray (Morbihan) 67

Avignon (Vaucluse) 69

Bayeux (Calvados) 72

Bayonne (Pyrénées Atlantiques) 73

Bellême (Orne) 75

Bergerac (Dordogne) 77

Bordeaux (Gironde) 78

The region around Bordeaux. 83

The region around Bordeaux. Blanquefort (Gironde) 86

The region around Bordeaux. Blaye (Gironde) 87

The region around Bordeaux. Bourg-sur-Gironde (Gironde) 90

The region around Bordeaux. Saint-Emilion (Gironde) 91

Bourges (Cher) 92

Bouvines (Nord) 95

Bricquebec and Valognes (Manche) 96

Caen (Calvados) 97

Calais (Pas-de-Calais) 100

Cambrai (Nord) 103

Châlons-sur-Marne (Châlons-en-Campagne, Marne) 106

Château-Gaillard (Eure) 108

Cherbourg (Manche) 109

Chinon (Indre-et-Loire) 110

Cocherel (Eure) 111

Compiègne (Oise) 112

Cravant (Yonne) 117

Dieppe (Seine-Maritime) 117

Evreux (Eure) 118

Falaise (Calvados) 123

Fougères (Ile-et-Vilaine) 125

Harfleur (Seine-Maritime) 128

Hennebont (Morbihan) 129

Honfleur (Calvados) 131

Jargeau (Loiret) 133

La Ferté-Alais (Seine-et-Oise) 135

La Réole (Gironde) 135

La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime) 137

La Roche-au-Moine (Savennières, Maine-et-Loire) 141

La Roche-Guyon (Val-d’Oise) 142

Limoges (Haute-Vienne) 145

Lisieux (Calvados) 147

Mans (Sarthe) 148

Mantes (Yvelines) 152

Maupertuis (Vienne) 153

Meaux (Seine-et-Marne) 155

Melun (Seine-et-Marne) 158

Montargis (Loiret) 159

Montereau (Seine-et-Marne) 162

Montguyon (Charente-Maritime) 164

Muret (Haute-Garonne) 164

Nantes (Loire-Atlantique) 168

Orleans (Loiret) 170

Paris 174

Pontoise (Val-d’Oise) 180

Pont Saint-Esprit (Gard) 183

Pré-de-la-Bataille (near Rouen) 183

Quimperlé (Finistère) 184

Reims (Marne) 186

Rouen (Seine-Maritime) 190

Saint-Jean-d’Angély (Saintonge) 198

Sens (Yonne) 198

Soissons (Aisne) 200

Soubise (Charente Maritime) 203

Taillebourg (Charente-Maritime) 203

Tartas (Landes) 205

Tournai (nowadays in Belgium) 206

Tours (Indre-et-Loire) 207

Troyes (Aube) 211

Verneuil (Verneuil-sur-Avre) 213

Vézelay (Yonne) 215

Vire (Calvados) 217

Vouillé (Vouillé-la-Bataille) 217


Jerusalem.. 223

Constantinople. 231

Means of transport to/from Constantinople. 234

The other castles of the Eastern Mediterranean. 237

Damietta. 238

Acre. 246

Travellers to/from Acre. 249

Crusader Castles and the Transfer of Ideas 250

Castle Networks of the East 252

Castles of south-eastern Europe. 253

Nicopolis 253

Nissa/Nish. 257

Belgrade and Sûr 258

The Near East 258

The networks proper 260

The Greek Isles 270

Cyprus – Limassol and Nicosia. 270

The Dodecanese – Rhodes 271

Networks of faith (religious networks) 274

Episcopal cities 274

Monk-knights tying the knots of castles networks 275


Illuminated castles and their documentary relevance. 277

Architectural realism as military realism.. 278

The architectural style and structure of French medieval castles 278

Weaponry and armour realism.. 284

Other buildings inside the curtain walls 285

Clothing realism.. 285

Poor documentary relevance. 285

Realism and scenes of domestic life. 285

Stereotypical representations of castles 286

Illuminated castles and ideology. 287

Castles as reinforcement of authority. 289

Castles and coronations 290

Castles and territoriality dominance. 294

The social function of castles 295

Castle building policy. 296

Castles as war background. 298

Castles, communes and states 301

Castles and politics 303

Castles and royalty. Castles and famous people. 305

Ideology and prestige: from castles to illuminated manuscripts 307









Substantiation: castles in illuminations in historiographic manuscripts of the fourteenth and fifteenth century France

The time span selection (fourteenth and fifteenth centuries) has to do with a shift in how writing and images were perceived in the Middle Ages, the former being viewed as “an empowering mode of communication.”[1] Images had known their prime in the tenth and eleventh centuries which meant the occurrence of the three-dimensional images.[2] There followed a multiplication of images spurred by the increase in the number of written manuscripts which makes Baschet compare the medieval Christian West to a world of images.[3] The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries – the late Middle Ages – witness the emergence of a new theory of vision reliant on Aristotle rather than that of St. Gregory.[4] Images are no longer the Bible of the illiterate for in the Late Middle Ages the illiterate have books and while the writing remains Latin at times, the images can be assimilated to a new lingua franca which could be linked to the new vernacular languages.[5] The same opinion is imparted by Jérôme Baschet in a more recent work of his, for different reasons though.[6] Baschet identifies two factors that manifest a particular bearing on the flourishing of images in the relevant time interval. One such factor is the prevalence of a spatial logic, of a certain organization of space and of the objects contained therein which the images help polarize. The other is the duality corporeal-spiritual which relates to the status of an individual and which ultimately asserts the predominance of clergy over lay people.[7]The choice of my object of study has been a question of backgrounds and foregrounds. Castles represent a background in the miniatures that are themselves a background of written texts. In these conditions, my choice can be expressed as a two-fold foregrounding: firstly, to foreground the illumination/image over writing and secondly to foreground castles (inanimate) over any scene of medieval life (animate). An alternative view of the matter would be: the heading of this section captures the castles as the centre of a receding vault (the mise-en-abime effect since castles are incorporated in illuminations which, in their turn, are part of manuscripts) and my task would be to reverse the receding vault, to turn it into a protruding vault to thus highlight castles.

The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries came as a serendipitous selection for a time interval for yet another reason which is related to France in particular: it was then that, in spite of the adverse circumstances (the Hundred Years’ War), the international Gothic style emerged and imposed France on top of the European artistic production. At the same time, more and more people could afford to commission the writing and painting of books; this was no longer a privilege of only the royalty but also of the nobility and the clergy, of the urban bourgeois and city councillors. Furthermore, the fifteenth century witnessed the transition from illumination to painting.[8] The two centuries coincide with the duration of the Hundred Years’ War which triggered complex consequences, mostly political and ideological, that transpire through the representations of the castles in the corpus of study.

Once again, as far as the choice of the time span is concerned, I deemed the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to be suitable for my research on account of my previous studies in medieval castles of the same time interval: I refer to my MA thesis entitled Late Medieval Moldavian Castles: Functions, Images, Perceptions defended in June 2003 at the Central European University, Budapest. This is also the apogee of the medieval castle which is reflected by the co-existence of many forms of what could be termed as castles that came down from the early Middle Ages as well. Consequently, a study of their images has more chances of being comprehensive as horizontally reflecting a larger castle typology and more profound for the investigation can take you vertically back in time to, say, the eleventh or twelfth centuries.

The manuscripts that are the primary sources hereof are those that may serve as historiographical material: chronicles and travel accounts. In order to qualify as primary sources, the illuminations therein must have been produced in France or by French illuminators. Here there is a discussion that there were illuminators born in France who worked first in France and then in Bruges, for instance. And then there are other illuminators that may have been Flemish but who activated in France; the Flemish are otherwise credited with more realistic renditions and not being afraid of the evil and the ugly.[9] Let us consider a couple of examples: some artists like Loyset Liedet, considered a Flemish artist, were born in France but created their works in France and then in Bruges, Belgium. Others like the Master of Froissart de Philippe de Commynes are considered French even if he worked first in Paris and thereafter in Bruges. I chose to be more inclusive and selected both categories. All the more that art historians speak about a Franco-Flemish milieu in Paris in the late Middle Ages.[10]

Many of the illuminations in my corpus of study were crafted in lay workshops that developed in the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries (and onwards) whose clients (commissioners) were universities, courts, learned noblemen. The workshop of the duke of Berry rallied French, Flemish and Italian artists. The masters were members of professional associations, known as guilds, for instance Bruges hosted a book manufacturers’ guild in the fifteenth century.  As for the workshops, they were family businesses during the late Middle Ages, run by a master helped by his family members, one journeyman and an apprentice who used to spend five to seven years in his master’s workshop to complete his apprenticeship. Masters usually had pattern books that contained motifs to be transferred in illuminations and used in changing variations. Only a few illuminators constantly came up with new designs for miniatures and other decorations. Some even used printed figures as models.[11]

However, since my primary sources are French illuminations, one should begin studying them at Paris – where, beginning with the thirteenth century, the royal court of France resides. This would give rise to a painting that would be significant not only to France but to Europe itself. This is the birthplace of the international Gothic style that would dominate Europe around 1400. Up to 1420 all eyes are turned to Paris for manuscript painting. What moved painting to the provinces was the Hundred Years’ War and the glory of Paris faded while the spotlight shifted to such provincial centres as those of Val de Loire, Tours, Angers, Nantes, Amiens, those of Berry, Bourgogne, and Savoie.[12] Moreover, artists started travelling across the kingdom.[13]

What should be understood by “castle”

The texts and images vehiculated by the medieval mind are profoundly symbolic and their symbolism can be manifest in various ways. When it comes to the image of the castle in visual representations we unavoidably come across the kind of symbolism of parts representing the whole (pars pro toto).[14] In other words, the criterion of selecting the visual representations of castles was not dependent on the entirety of the castle shown in the picture, I included in the selection towers, fragments of walls, gates and other components of a medieval castle that were shown. As a consequence, my shortlist comprises large cities such as Constantinople. This selection generosity (that could be viewed as objectionable by some) is backed by Duby’s definition of the medieval city according to which the city is “a castle much stronger than the other castles.”[15]


Chaque cité est un enclos, des portes que l’on ferme soigneusement le soir, des murailles que l’on modernise, par ces perfectionnements rapides qui favorisèrent l’architecture militaire aussi bien que celle des églises. C’est un château plus fort que les autres […] La ville est citadelle parce que les richesses qu’elle contient sont tentantes, facile à prendre, parce que ceux qui détiennent en ces murs le pouvoir savent bien que c’est le lieu des perceptions les plus fructueuses, et qu’il faut protéger cette ressource […][16]


I am using the terminology castles/walled towns herein as this is what you see in the representations chosen as corpus of study although being fully aware of the fact that a castle and a city are not one and the same thing, even though there may have been “heavily fortified complexes” or “castle complexes” that developed into cities.[17] For the ultimate goal of the castle/walled town in the Middle Ages is war.

David M. Nicholas analyses the ‘terminology of urbanisation’ quoting various sources. Since the demography surged in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, many settlements merged determining an increasing lack of precision with regard to the terms used to refer to cities. Villa (rural estate) and burgus/burg (suburb) are now employed to denominate cities. Germany prefers the use of Stadt whereas in the Low Countries we record an interesting use of burgus as the area “in front of and inside the castle complex.” This use of the term burgus shows how the town evolved from the castle and/or castle complex.[18]

Another serviceable piece of information in this respect is derived from the history of Cambrai. Castellanus was the person in charge with the guard of the episcopal quarter (castellum) at Cambrai during the communes (1077, 1102-1107), the castellum being itself a fortification within the then-fortified city of Cambrai. He was also the bishop’s first lieutenant in temporal matters.[19]

Scholars such as Ellenblum find it superfluous to try to define the settlements of the Franks in the twelfth century. To him, it goes without saying that examples such as Acre, Antioch, Jerusalem are fortified towns whereas Crac des Chevaliers, Margat, Belvoir should be termed castles.


“In many castles (such as Ibelin, Miiliya, Gaza, and elsewhere), the ‘fort’ formed only part of the settlement complex, which included a nonfortified rural neighbourhood (burgus) adjacent to its walls. In these cases, is there any point in treating the castle and the burgus as two separate geographic entities, terming one a castle and the other a village?”[20]


Therefore, Ellenblum proposes the term ‘complex’ for such places that consist of a castle plus the surrounding village. He also reproduces the approach taken by Joshua Prawer who distinguished between:

  1. Half-built cities (narrowed cities such as Jerusalem, Ramlah or Gaza, where the Franks resided only in parts of such cities)
  2. Enlarged cities (such as Nablus, Jaffa, and Acre which were extended by additions to their already existing burgi)
  3. Castral burgi (restored castles which were added burgi/small cities)[21]

As far as the tradition of castle building is concerned, it would be useless to review the many debates and arguments that have animated the world of castellology. However, Ellenblum has a way of summarising them that is of avail:


“The prevailing consensus among most of the scholars (including those mentioned above and including the author of the present book) is that some of the Frankish architectural traditions and building skills were brought from their countries of origin, and particularly from Norman and French-ruled regions and that the Crusader castles are but one stage in the development of the European castles. It is common also to claim that the Franks further developed their earlier castles, based on Norman traditions of castle building, and later brought the newly acquired knowledge back to the West. The Crusader castles are therefore regarded as the instigators of the later developments in Norman, English, and French castle building.”[22]


And strictly referring to the kingdom of France, Gilles Le Bouvier postulates a classification whose basic unit is the province, followed by the city (cité) defined as the seat of a bishop which distinguishes itself from the castle/fortified town (chasteau, ville forte) through the very lack of such bishopric.[23] One of the defining elements of a castle was the curtain wall. In France, there was an evolution of curtain wall building which debuted in the north-western parts in the latter half of the eleventh century and cities such as Cambrai had had their curtain wall raised by 1100. But as a general rule, most French cities mostly built walls in the twelfth and particularly in the thirteenth centuries. Let us enumerate some examples. Two suburban quarters were encircled by a curtain wall between 1117 and 1135 at Amiens. In Normandy, Rouen, Poitiers and Angers were fortified in the mid-twelfth century. As far as Bordeaux was concerned it was not until the fourteenth century that the City and the bourg-Saint-Eloi were walled together.[24]

What the primary sources say with respect to the castles/ walled towns included in the corpus of study is significant as to how medieval people perceived the space they lived in. I noticed that Les Grandes Chroniques de France made use of two terms to identify a castle: “la ville et le chastel de Guynes”[25] or the “ville de Nantes … et coment le chastel et tout fu recouvré,”[26] or “et vint droit au chastel de Rouen par l’uys de derrière, sans entrer dans la ville.[27] This is a very relevant statement that a castle should be simultaneously a city and constitutes justification enough for the selection of the representation in my corpus of study. However, some localities are ‘ville,’ for example ‘la ville de Mante.’[28] In another primary source, William of Tyre speaks about the ‘ville cherie de Dieu, Jerusalem;’[29] or ‘Jerusalem, cité de Dieu’[30] refers to Jerusalem as a ‘metropole’[31] – metropolitan see. These are only a couple of examples, but it would probably take another PhD thesis to focus on a proper statistical analysis of how various towns/castles/places are referred to in various illuminated manuscripts.

One’s conventional understanding of castle might be further defied and enlarged by a concept which found its materialisation in France: castelnau (new-castle, chateauneuf, castet). They were fortified villages created near older castles, particularly in southern France, from the 1000s to 1300; their development was either natural or artificial, i.e. supported by the local lord (encouraging people to settle down and work on their domains through the grant of economic and juridical advantages).[32]

In England the grant of the licence to crenelate one’s residence could lead to such residence being called a ‘castle.’ They ended up being called ‘castles’ either by their lords or by ‘popular acclaim.’[33] It is therefore at times the mere addition of a military architectural element typical of castles that entails the inclusion in the class of castles.

Many historians have noticed how the castle was an essential ingredient in a military system, for instance the Norman one which extended from northern France to England.[34] The idea of military system relates to that of network which I will discuss further on in terms of castle networks and how such networks are rendered in illuminations.

Therefore, I trust I made proof by relying on a variety of sources of how encompassing could the idea of castle be for the people of the Middle Ages and how this also augmented the number of castles/cities whose images I chose to select for the corpus of study hereof. It would have been a pity to reduce such a generous notion by narrowing it to a mere essence specific to a particular discipline such as, for example, military history. Academic research requires precision, and with precision and accuracy I collected all these understanding of the concept of medieval castle; it does not entail tunnel-vision.

In addition, I should point out that I came across a number of representations of construction of cities and destructions of fortifications. I will illustrate both actions with illuminations from manuscript Latin 4915 of Mare Historiarum by Johannes de Columna. It is rare that we find visual documentary evidence of the demolition of fortification that is why Latin 4915 folio 401 is all the more precious by revealing the slighting of Jerusalem in 1219; furthermore, the folio bears an important political significance since the walls and towers of Jerusalem fall under the destructive Muslim power – this happened during the Fifth Crusade. On the other hand, folio 57 is peculiar in that it shows the construction of a city, any city in the western medieval world, with some specific features: 1. the location – on the meander/bend of a river; 2. the city as a conglomerate of houses, towers, walls, cathedral/church (one may note the richness of architectural details and military defence features: the houses have lucarnes; the towers are circular and have taluses, machicolations, arrow slits, some have pepper-pot roofs, others have hoardings, the hoarding and the roof being rendered in dark yellow – the colour of the materials of which they were built, that is, wood; in the centre, arising from the multitude of houses and towers, the cupola and spire of what must be a cathedral). Folio 56v renders the construction of Marseille, the distribution in this illumination resembling the one in folio 57; the unfinished Marseille has, however, more defensive elements: a visible crenelated curtain wall and twin towered gates. Folio 256 comes with the completion of a city beyond the Mediterranean and of the fascinating East: Constantinople. Its exquisite and beautiful defences are all in place, what is left to be finished is the Christian emblem: the cathedral which protrudes from amongst the runt defences and houses. It is not surprising that the supreme defence is that of God, not the earthly fortifications which are dominated in terms of size by the cathedral. The images of the city in the folios mentioned above converge to the general conceptualisation of the city as a complex and larger castle that has outsized its limits.

Mention should be made of the central topographical role of the cathedral in the episcopal town in Western Europe. The cathedral was central to the town in the first urban network but its centrality came to be menaced by the development of monastic communities, the promotion of ex-centric pilgrimage sites, the demographic evolution and the surge of small and average towns of a second urban network. Against this factors, measures were taken to re-establish the cathedral as a hub or urban life: processions to the profit of the mother-church, balanced spatial distribution of relics of bishops, valorisation of the cathedral through the Gothic construction yard, the cathedral becomes the necropole of bishops.[35]

Castles and walled towns of the West and the East. The medieval city.

Freedom is one criterion that distinguished western towns from eastern ones in the Middle Ages, particularly starting from the thirteenth century. In the West, the population of towns were free people dealing with artisan production and trade; the legal regimes of such towns were therefore different from those of surrounding areas. Such towns could be found in Bohemia, Hungary and Poland, for the West borderline followed the divide between the Latin and the Greek church. By contrast Byzantine towns, including those of the Balkans but excluding the Adriatic littoral, were subject to control by the central government, which made them undistinguishable from the adjacent countryside in terms of legal status.[36]

What is a medieval city depends on several standards, the first of which is demography. A population of 10,000-50,000 was deemed sufficient to place a settlement in the category of large towns and by the 1500 the top five large cities of Europe (over 100,000 inhabitants) looked like this: Naples, Venice, Milan, Istanbul and Moscow. Paris came in sixth.[37]

Another criterion in defining a city/town generally used by historians is the terminology: what terms were used to refer to castles/castle-cities/walled towns in the primary sources throughout the Middle Ages. If we consider medieval documents drafted in Latin, civitas and oppidum occur to refer to city/town (the former) and country town (an intermediate category between city and countryside – the latter). The former designated a fortified place surrounded by walls whereas the latter was unfortified.[38]

In terms of origin, medieval towns proved quite heterogeneous for the origin of their evolution may have been human settlements by the court of a king, bishop, lord, markets along commercial routes, communities of miners, administrative centres. With respect to the legal status of towns, a necessary requirement for their formation was that their inhabitants should have agreed by sworn oath to form a corporation (Lat. universitas), which conferred upon the town a recognized status that enabled the defence of their rights. Their rights were guaranteed by charter by whoever owed the respective territory.[39] Nonetheless, the nature of the corpus of study selected rules out such criteria as population, origin, legal aspects, though they may be touched upon with reference to the castles of France for they point out to some (dis)similarities.

Most medieval castles/walled towns were built on former Roman castra or cities but there are significant differences between the two categories of urban fortifications.[40] Therefore scholars often speak about continuity v. discontinuity; however, of late, this term has been replaced by ‘transition.’[41] Stefano Gasparri proposes several factors that influence the physical aspect medieval towns as compared to their Roman/ancient counter-parts: 1. The end of aristocratic evergetism (the practice of aristocracy to spend a part of their wealth for the benefit of the community; 2. The spread of Christianity; 3. The war; 4. The de-monumentalisation of towns; royal intervention.[42] Two of these factors in particular, namely the spread of Christianity and the war are of interest in the current research for not only did they affect the physical appearance of the castles/walled towns that are subject hereof but they also engendered networks of such castles/walled towns. Gasparri also mentions the resemblances of the Mediterranean cities: unlike those of northern Europe, these cities are ancient ones. He notes that towns are typical of such countries as Italy, meridional Gaul, Spain while north of the Loire the Roman urban heritage seems poorer.[43] Nonetheless, one can always find exceptions to such generalisation: for instance, the territory of Flanders is well-known for being highly urbanised and therefore rich.[44] When it comes to the Orient and North Africa (still the borders of the Mediterranean), one may notice new towns replacing the old ones, Gasparri exemplifying by Tunis taking Carthage’s place.[45] Another characteristic of the Mediterranean cities would be their closer connection with their surrounding countryside than the cities of the North.[46]

The origin of the medieval European city is the residence of nobles, princes or wealthy churchmen. A confirmation of such origin lies in the fact that “most cities were still dominated in the eleventh century by the fortified complex of the town lord and often the strongholds of persons high in his entourage.”[47] It is well-known that castles were residences of nobility combining a political and defensive function[48] to which the commercial one was added as cities became central places of goods exchange. [49] All the three functions tie castles/walled towns in joint structures of various dimensions, forms, across frontiers. For example, the beginning of the thirteenth century saw the development of a large Mediterranean market for northern woollen cloth and as the Near East demanded silver Europeans thrived on selling woollen cloth for spices and other luxuries.[50] Commercial networks of castles/walled towns operated well if the members of the network secured privileges for trading different goods. In other words, a city could maintain itself if it had a privilege for a merchandise other than a neighbouring town.[51] Conflicts arising from the allotment of privileges and goods traded could lead to the annihilation of a network.

Throughout the Middle Ages, religion was vital to everyone in various ways. While some view the medieval castles as a grain of the feudal fragmentation, the idea of creating networks of castles or urban networks based on religious ties should not be neglected. For the crusade was intended from the very beginning as an antidote to the fragmentation of the Western powers which, from a modern perspective, seem to have been then decimated by internal wars, such as that between the Plantagenets and the Valois in France, or the fight between Aragon and Castille in Spain, to quote just a couple of examples; all these wars led to a ‘atomisation of political authority in Europe and the Mediterranean.’[52]

The vital factor of Christian religion in fashioning the image of the medieval castles/walled towns in Europe is reinforced by the emergence or instauration throughout the Middle Ages of the episcopal type of town. As early as the sixth century bishops occupied most Roman civitates that would later on become cities. This led to the building of many churches within and outside their walls, churches that attracted new population to settle down in those areas. The conclusion is obvious: churches prevailed over secular traditions when it came to urbanization in the Early Middle Ages. Consider the relevant examples below:[53]


No Temporal framework City Number of religious foundations
1. Merovingian period Metz 28
2. Paris 16
3. Reims 22

A pre-existent Roman castrum was most of the times crucial in the evolution of a castle/walled town. Most such settlement in Gaul were polynuclear, that is made up of a fortress surrounded by bourgs, bourgs which in their turn developed around shrines or trade. Relevant examples are: Limoges, Rouen, Orleans and Bordeaux.[54]

Beyond these cross-border networks, the basic one was that which preserved the integrity of power be it seigneurial, kingly, imperial. A good example that comes to mind is the Byzantine Empire which owed its enduring defensive strategy to its fortresses, many of which guarded its frontiers.[55]

The question of ‘vision’

My preference for the term ‘vision’ instead of the commonly used ‘representations’ is connected to the fact that, from what I have come to know so far in this matter, illuminators may have not actually seen the castles/walled towns they were commissioned to paint in any way other than in their mind’s eye. Therefore, in order to paint the castle/walled town in their illuminations, first they have to ‘envision’ it, that is to see it in their mind. Thus they could be assimilated to the class of medieval people who had ‘visions’: saints, monks, nuns, saint kings. And it should be recalled that in the Middle Ages visions were equated with reality, a future reality. Vision was somewhere in between sight or view and dream but certainly on the right way to truth. Vision transcended sight, was a faculty higher than the mere visual perception. Soon, once I started reading secondary literature, I discovered my stubbornness in using this term, notwithstanding negative comments, was justified as you will see below. To give an example, Pierre of Lusignan has a vision before starting his Alexandrian crusade.[56] In Part III mention will be made of Constantine’s vision.

Other medieval historians have felt the need to employ the term vision. Patrick Boucheron notes that the frescoes painted by Lorenzetti on the walls of sala della Pace in the Palazzo Publico of Siena show ‘visions of the city (visioni) rather than a view of the city (veduta).’[57] He notes the distortion of several architectural landmarks of Siena (the Dome, the campanile and the Porta Romana) which are not due to artistic licence. The explanation lies elsewhere, consequently Boucheron has to quote Hans Belting: «D’abord décrire la cité idéale, ensuite affirmer que la ville de Sienne est une cité idéale.»[58]

Baschet postulates that one could not possibly operate a split between image and those experiences that pertain to imagination (dream, vision, mental image).[59] For the image is to him, as well as to the medieval man, the medium in which material and spiritual conjoin; this places the image at the core of Christian anthropology and at the heart of the divine.[60]

Methodology and research questions

The basic level of this study is a comparative analysis of representations of castles in various illuminations among themselves or with what they must have been in reality. Like any analysis, it should have some reference points, the first of which would be the delimitations of the term “castle”. A natural reflex would be to give a definition of the term starting from disciplines such as history of art/architecture, military history, archaeology.

If we were to take an object-oriented approach,[61] we would have to answer a different question: what can you do with a medieval castle? What operations are characteristics to it? The answer to this question is to be found in the very illuminations that I selected.

It is usually recommended that the significance of the issue one is going to study should be checked in a recent synthetic work related to that topic.[62] My experience has taught me that you can peruse a lot of recent works which do not even touch or give you intelligent information about a certain topic whereas earlier works could turn up to be more well -structured and written by more erudite and brilliant researchers.

The following step in my research was to define my object of study. After successively restricting my corpus (which at first included castles painted even on ceramic objects) to illuminations I started classifying them geographically and then depending on the castle they presented. What was then to do with castles? I proceeded with examining the figures: how many images show what castle. Statistics were relative, however. Other researchers had used numbers in their analyses.

Based on a quantitative or sociological approach of the medieval castle in the same fashion that in the 1980s a movement was created to equally comprise quantitative codicology and the sociology of the medieval book, which implied writing a history of the book by using statistical analysis on large data samples,[63] I then (I began my study with the castles of the East) took into consideration a study of the documentary relevance of the said illuminations from the three perspectives enumerated above: urban confines, travellers, means of transport. Then I approached the documentary relevance of the corpus of study in terms of military history and political history. Thus each of the urban confines outlining the medieval castles of France, the West and the Eastern Mediterranean appeared as a facet of a polyhedron in accordance with the new influences carried over by post-modernism into historiography.[64]

A historian must always rely on a book, a testimony, a monument, for short, an authority (auctoritas).[65] I did not have such an authority, or I had many authorities but in different areas of history: castellology, military history, political history, urban history. I did not seem to practice any of these consistently and there was no need to do that since I was dealing with examining the representation of the medieval castle as a polyhedron. My main task was to identify patterns and peculiarities of representation pertaining to the castles in the corpus of study. I feel compelled to add here one important note: I had included ‘art history’ in the enumeration above and deleted it for when it comes to castles/walled towns, most of their architectural features relate to defence/attack, which means they are military. Occasionally I made reference to windows and roofs, which may not be considered altogether military features, but in the case of castles/walled towns some of them could have been: the flat roof of towers became flat in order to allow the mounting of artillery, for instance.

There are currently a diversity of methods operating under the umbrella of castellology and this diversity is not at all regarded as a handicap. On the contrary, an eclectic methodology is beneficial provided that the approach thus taken is scientific and abides by the minimal rules: visibility of sources (either in footnotes or in a detailed bibliography) and the guarantee of access to basic information (either by their publication or by storing them in a public fund such as a university library, archives, documentation centre, digital database etc.).[66]

Furthermore, my research partakes of the new cultural history trend in that it studies a visual language (that of illuminations), representations (of castles) and practices (what to do with both of them) so as to facilitate the comprehension of the relations between symbolic forms and the social world (how the illuminations and castle representations therein were manipulated for various purposes). The new cultural history basically relies on case studies (see the analysis of each castle/walled town proposed by myself in Part II and Part III hereof), not on global theorisation.[67]

I have to confess my intention of commencing my demarche with the castles of the East, namely with Constantinople and I would not have been wrong in my attempt for certain researchers situate the emergence of the image in Byzantium, more precisely of a certain kind of image – the devotional image.[68] The term “devotional image” includes one of the functions of images in the Middle Ages, for there has been much debate about that. The image is part of an apotropaic practice that Christianity had spread all over Europe in the Middle Ages when it was common for people to order that churches and monasteries be build and adorned with images (either painted or chiselled in stone) to ensure the salvation of their souls and also of their families.[69] In addition to the devotional function, the medieval image also lends itself to the ornamental/decorative and didactic/moral functions, pointed out by Bede.[70] Like any other objects in the Middle Ages, images, and consequently settings such as castles, are part of hierarchies and therefore have to be perceived and analysed in the ensembles to which they contribute with their aesthetic and axiological meaning.[71] The illuminated page of a medieval manuscript has been compared to ‘hierarchised and complex organism’ for it has been noticed how image and text interrelate.[72] At times, the margins of the text, initially dedicated to glosses and images, may contain comments written by readers, which testifies for the reception of the medieval book.[73]

The tradition of thesis writing requires that a doctoral student focuses his/her research starting from a set a question turning thus the research into a quest for truth. The art of wording your research question, la mise en enigme[74] of your object of study, your whole endeavour resembling that of a guide that takes a visitor through all the rooms in a museum… the rigours of being a politically correct scientist. They all have to be complied with. I will not shirk from rules and please, let us step into my house/museum whose rooms I yet have to show you. I will be the writer and the reader of this thesis. This is not a regular house, but a funhouse for I believe any scientific effort should be accompanied by some degree of jocularity. What I see in the funhouse is many illuminations like cards flashed before my eyes and by turning them several times I start to notice similarities and differences between castles. Then, I try to find an order for them, to arrange and classify them into a typology that would aid me in posing the right questions and finding some answers.

But why should I stick to the metaphor of the house with many rooms? It does not belong to me. I could resort to the metaphor of the mosaic but that too is a beaten track. Another option could stem from linguistics[75] but so many and so much more famous workers in the field of social sciences resorted to it recently.[76] Regardless of whatever metaphor I may choose for the methodology of the current work and irrespective of the label(s) that may be applied to it by others, it has to be honest and articulated.

Let me come back to how my methodology evolved. Approaching the question of colours of medieval castles in the illuminations chosen as object of study was one of the stages in my methodological evolution and turned out to be a thorny issue on several accounts: 1. Documentary difficulties (the nature of the support, the work of time on colours) 2. Methodological difficulties (how to conduct an analysis of colours in a document with a multitude of questions arising: material, technical, chemical, iconographical, symbolical issues) 3. Epistemological difficulties (the danger of anachronism, that is of projecting our own perceptions and beliefs over artefacts that were the product of the Middle Ages).[77]

Another step in this evolution was noticing that some castles seemed to have been utterly non-realistic, that is, their rendering did not comply with the reality of the time. Such was the case of Constantinople. But the question of “realism” was discarded by Pastoureau long before I had started my work[78] for the medieval image does not take a photograph of reality. However, “realism” is a frequently used term when making reference to iconography of the late medieval France which is seemingly justified by the resurgence of the bourgeoisie and individualism. The word “realism” is the result of nineteenth-century aesthetics and it designates a literary and artistic movement opposing Romantic idealism. Back then, realistic came to equate the truthful and the authentic, the real, concomitantly.[79] Therefore, a more appropriate wording when referring to fourteenth- and fifteenth-century illuminations and their capacity to mirror a state of facts of those times would be authenticity, truthfulness, veracity. Three major issues define images at the end of the Middle Ages. One is their increasing power in the investigation of visual phenomena, the second is the enthusiasm towards images as gates to knowledge, and the third is a certain distrust for images may convey illusions.[80]

The final understanding that I came to with respect to the approach I took was that I could parallel the “sociological” one applied to codicology, as mentioned above: the study of norms of “behaviour” of manuscripts and of the explanatory factors thereof. According to this approach each book is treated as an artefact resulting from a determined social context and therefore its production and transformations are connected with a system of economic, cultural, functional factors.[81] Similarly, could the medieval castle as springing from the selected illuminations be studied as an artefact issued from a social context? Could I identify a system of economic, cultural, functional factors that was related to its production and transformations? Could such transformations be analysed in the illuminations in question?

Bozzolo and Ornato noticed that external events altered the weight of the factors inside the system that influenced the development of the production of manuscripts/books. As the cost of manuscript production shifts from collective institutions to individuals, the importance of the economic factor increases.[82] With illuminated castle representations, examples of such external events were the Crusades and the Hundred Years’ War, though one should always bear in mind the backlash of such alterations. The Hundred Years’ War in particular marked the transition of ownership of castles from individual noblemen to a new institution: the central royalty. Such transition was also provoked by the raising costs of construction and restoration works of fortifications. The increased costs of artillery augmented the expenditure with defences, therefore new solutions had to be employed: new taxes were levied by the central administration encumbering the inhabitants of walled towns.[83] The rallying of such towns and thereafter of entire provinces was necessary for the same purpose: defence against a common enemy. A new central bureaucracy was set up, and new positions were created on the job market. This is how new nation-states emerged at the end of the Middle Ages, the first of them being the English and the French. Then, new and larger fortifications meant large maintenance costs: costs with soldiers, costs with ammunition and weaponry, cost with construction materials. These were the adjustments needed when a factor inside the system changed its weighting. Ideological and cultural requirements raised the question of which parts of castles were to be represented in illuminations and how these parts were to be painted. In what illuminations was it possible to include a castle? What events should be painted in the shadow of the castle? Consequently, a constraint coming from the nature of the book appears to also have affected the illuminated castle representations, apart from the external historical events themselves.

Since the images I selected are illuminations from chronicles it seems sensible to examine their documentary value and whatever ideology lies behind them, because it is ideology that prevailed over realism in medieval representations.[84] The sociological approach opens the door for both issues: the documentary relevance and the ideology behind the illuminated castle representations mirror the various fluctuations of the economic cultural functional factors that affected the appearance of medieval castles. And even though the ideological perspective seems to have been dominant in the rendition of the castles I will demonstrate that illuminators were also able to preserve a close link between their paintings of the medieval castles and what castles really looked like.

The medieval castle was the result of a project that was born from the meeting between a client/customer and a master architect/painter, being therefore subject to both diachronic and synchronic variations. The castle representations mirroring real castles were influenced by economic and ideological factors dependent on social hierarchy and by cultural goals. The diachronic typology of the castle reflects the social and cultural shifts that are accompanied by a synchronic typology which is socially and culturally determined; the social typology of the castle hides cultural layers and inside a cultural typology one can perceive variations due to the commissioner’s social status.[85]

Since castles were part of illuminations one has to remember that the production of images in the Middle Ages cannot be dissociated from their social function of carrying over multiple messages – religious, political and moral – to illiterate people; this makes medieval images equally if not more important than writing.[86]

It was the toil of putting together the corpus of study and the participation in several conferences and, not in the least, my supervisor’s entreaties, that finally determined me to reduce the scope of my research though not the number of the images I would be working on (despite wise counselling from my supervisors). And I ended up approaching only the following issues:

  1. The documentary relevance of the castles painted in the illuminations in question will enable approaching the relation castle-reality from various viewpoints.
  2. The networks revealed by the castles represented.

III. The ideology behind the degree of documentary relevance and the networks of the castles represented in the corpus of study (how castles served politics from a political and military point of view).

The first issue – documentary relevance – boils down to the realism of the representations of the castle/walled town in question. But realism came into being much later than the fifteenth century, with the perspective and the calculus of proportions which destroyed the medieval symbolism. What can make the difference between realism and ideology (issues I and III) is, for example, size which renders the importance of the represented elements or a hierarchy.[87] Essentially realism refers to the reproduction of the material world, to visually translating what is perceived. Once the domain of perception is trespassed, symbolism is added to a representation which may not be altogether unrealistic. Therefore, symbolism enriches a representation.[88]

Given all these considerations, I proceed with an analysis of each castle/walled town represented in the selected corpus of study in order to emphasise one, two or all of the aspects above and how they are interconnected with different castles at different moments. The present study situates itself, as a consequence, at the confluence of history of art, political history, castellology, military history, making use of the tools employed by these encroaching sections of history in order to investigate this complex object of war – the castle – as shown in the said illuminations.[89] In order to tackle the three aforementioned issues, each description follows the thematic (religious, legal, military), hierarchical (the rank of one character that uses the represented castle as setting/background) and evental (historical or legendary) context[90] in which each castle/walled town appears in each illumination.

Why should one be concerned with the representations of castles/walled towns in late medieval France is yet another question that needs be addressed. My effort is part of a larger one already initiated by specialists who have pointed out that ‘medieval walled towns constituted much of the essential scaffolding for the construction of this modern national community. The networks of relationships within these urban communities and the ties of commercial trade and social exchange that bound them together along rivers and across the land represent perhaps ‘the most perdurable feature of France over the last millennium.’[91] I am preoccupied and intend to uncover the way castles/walled towns constituted a ‘scaffolding’ (a structure) for the ‘national community’ (some researchers use the term ‘national state,’ perhaps a bit anachronistically but rightfully because not all the structures or institutions of the state were born all at the same time).

  1. Wolfe identifies three stages of urban development in medieval France and I intend to trace how the first two are reflected by the castle representations in the illuminations that I selected for my corpus of study. These three stages are those discussed in the three parts of his book: part one – “The Walls Go Up (900–1325),” “The Walls Move Outward (1325–1600),” part three – “The Walls Come Down (1600–1750).”[92]

Given that I basically rely on visual sources and subliminally on textual ones, it will not be far-fetched to say that this study aims at being a painting and writing of history on the walls of France. For ultimately, the castles/walled towns in the illuminations studied are a version of the history of France.[93] My task is to outline this history going along the three coordinates already mentioned above while concomitantly staying alert so as to possibly uncover as many other avenues of research as possible. Hence, one of the limitations of my study: it may come across as not quite thorough at times, all the more that it had to be done within three years. Three years during which I had to compromise and study sideways in order to get access to the literature I needed for my object of study. And having touched upon this sensitive matter – limitations – allow me to complete their list as follows:

  • The sociological approach heavily relies on statistics, i.e. quantity; for that one needs a bulky corpus of study which may at times operate to the detriment of the study in depth (quality); moreover, statistics is relative, depen­ding on how many illuminations were digitized at a certain moment in time.
  • The alterity of the geography and history, given that I chose to study the castles of France and the Mediterranean basin and Middle East; it does not come in handy to investigate foreign issues, it can be costly and time-consuming, risky at times.
  • That leads to the fact that, despite the ready availability of the visual primary sources (the illuminations), archival primary sources and important secondary literature were difficult to find and access.
  • Then the very scope of the primary sources was so generous that it proved to be rather a temptation to sample answering various research questions (you will notice how the issues dealt with differ when describing the castles of France from the discussion of the aspects related to the castles of the East).
  • Fragmentation and decontextualization: this study takes its shape from bits and pieces – illuminations taken out of their textual context, from various medieval historiographic writings. Both factors seem to initially destroy the semantics of castle representations; however, their meaning is synthesized based on the theme of the representations.
  • Reliance on nineteenth-century or beginning of the twentieth century monographs or other historical works may contain obsolete data that could be invalidated by more recent research, but I do not expect the impact of such discrepancies to be high given that the corpus of study is made up of a multitude of items.
  • The large amount of information relative to various strata of the history of France going back even to Antiquity required the constant comparison of data in order to decide on a version of the facts; this made progress very slow and at times prone to errors.

The corpus of study

Although initially starting my journey with identifying as many representations of castles as I could, I ended up in gathering a corpus of images containing castles whose main feature was the illumination. For reasons of accessibility I preferred to focus on the digitised[94] illuminations of the Mandragore online database of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Since I had previously worked on late medieval castles, it only seemed natural that I continue my research within this time frame all the more that it mirrored the flourishment of the illumination in historiographical works. I deemed it wise to focus on historiographical manuscripts for they raised certain issues related to the correspondence text-illumination-reality that were less obvious in religious manuscripts.

The breakdown of the corpus of study is presented in two tables: one for the castles of the west and another for the castles of the east. Geographically, I chose to confine this study to France (for the castles of the west) and the Eastern Mediterranean (for the castles of the east), mention being made of the fact that what I understand by West and East overlaps with the medieval perception of this distinction: the West – mainly the regions dominated by the Latin Christendom, including Poland and the Hungarian kingdom and the East – the rest of Europe that is, the Greek Orient and the Middle East.[95] This medieval perception can be illustrated by the example of Philippe de Mezières who was very much aware of the division of the Imperium Romanum.[96] Centuries later John-Paul II would conceive the Latin Christianity, the West, as the western lung; it is therefore obvious that to the medieval mentality a sort of need for the East – the other lung – was shaped in order to justify the necessity to conquer an East whose heart was Jerusalem.[97] The medieval mentality created a body that had to enjoy its entirety in order function spiritually, intellectually, economically. The body was one of the most important symbols of the Middle Ages when it has perhaps the richest suggestive capacity. In the Middle Ages the body is, inter alia, a metaphor of the universe.[98]

Of the castles of the west, for the scope of this study, it was imperative to address the castles of France, which I did in the second part. It was imperative for they represent a monolithic model to be replicated in the castles of the west and of the east, as I explained elsewhere. As a consequence, I broke down the corpus of the castles of France in alphabetical order to facilitate the reader’s understanding and orientation. I could have approached the castles of France just as I did with the castles of the East: starting with the most salient one – in this case, Paris. But it would not have mattered at all, for Paris did not have the same significance at the time, it was not even the capital of France all the time throughout the surveyed time interval. The fact that I vacillated between the alphabetical presentation and a regional one is illustrated by the sole exception: Bordeaux and its region. There were two basic factors that ensured the coherence of such an approach. On the one hand, the fact that Bordeaux and most of the castles in the neighbouring region were close to one another and at times included in one folio (such as Castillon, St Emilion and Libourne); on the other, most of them were painted in the same manuscript (Français 5054 – Les Vigiles de Charles VII) which made them part of the same events (stages of the Hundred Years’ War). What I did was to allow myself to test a variety of perspectives applied to my corpus of study and I trust that my exception will be a pleasant interruption in the overall encyclopaedic treatment of the castles of France. As far as the presentation of each castle of France is concerned, the nature of the representations in the said illuminations has determined my peculiar approach to each one but always following the three guidelines to be found in the methodology (documentary relevance, ideology, networks). The sensation of fragmentation provoked by the alphabetical approach (as mentioned above) will, I anticipate, be further amplified by the fact that with each castle of France it was at times impossible to touch upon all the three aspects aimed at in the methodology part herein. This impossibility was caused by various limitations: not enough folios, not enough access to archives, the demolition of the castle which left no remains to be investigated.

Primary sources: the writing of history and illuminations

In a work examining time in Les Grandes Chroniques de France, Veronique Zara postulates that there is more to its illuminations than meets the eye. Noting such ‘anachronistic’ representations, Zara states that these illuminations are, apart from the text, a visual history like an extension to the written text; nonetheless such a visual history would evince a hybrid nature encompassing elements of the past and present altogether.[99] The lack of a historical perspective could explain the so-called anachronisms for the people of the Middle Ages saw only continuity in institutions and traditions, the past and present interlocked for the medieval writer.[100] Other specialists view illuminations not like fragments that complete the text but rather as adages that serve to ‘animate’ the text, to enliven it.[101] And this is true for the texts of chronicles are dry, often repetitive, some are lists of events, very few contain descriptions of places or of persons.

Manuscript illumination sheds light on the medieval conception of history writing and also upon that of nationhood. Often painting the same episode involved a change of perspective, of focus, a different interpretation of facts, of history for manuscripts were illuminated and re-illuminated.[102] Each manuscript edition was unique and slight so important details could have varied from one copy to another. There was variation behind a certain repetitiveness inherited from the tradition of religious manuscript illumination (bibles and psalters).[103]

The medieval illumination, also known as miniature,[104] served not only to the embellishment of manuscripts but also had a more practical purpose: the medieval books lacking a system of page numbering, the initial and marginal decorations and miniatures facilitated the reader’s orientation within the text. They offered aid in text comprehension, interpretation and memorisation. Illuminations as bookmarks were particularly important in scientific and scholarly books (e.g. legal treatises, encyclopaedias and historical volumes). The placement of the miniatures was also important: they were displayed as headings of the relevant chapters so as to function as a summary of the text that followed.[105] This is particularly visible in Français 5054 (Les Vigiles de Charles VII).

A draft annotated text and an instruction notebook to the illuminator and scribe cast a new light on the relation text-image in an illuminated manuscript. There are a few cases where instructions to painters were discovered, as well as to contracts for the production of such illuminated manuscripts.[106] For example, contracts for the production of legal manuscripts in early thirteenth-century Perugia and Bologna, were called locatio, and were concluded between a locator (funding party) who gives the conductor (scribe) the exemplar (manuscript to be copied), and provides the latter with paper, a down payment, and a stipulation for two additional payments. The bylaws of the University of Bologna provided that all the trades related to the book be strictly supervised. Book illumination (painting) is similarly regulated by commission contracts (prix-faits), which stipulate the condition of its manufacture and the price: description of the work to be executed (“subject, position of the images, colours, presence and quality of the gilding, preparation of the support, relationship to models seen by the funding party”).[107]

Primary sources: medieval historians

Since history was not a well-established discipline in the Middle Ages, it cannot be dissociated from the identity of the people having written it. Guenée classifies medieval historians in four groups. The first one chronologically and in terms of numbers is that of monks. The second consists of historians executing works on commission (court historians). The third group reunites historians-bureaucrats while the last one is reserved to amateurs.[108] No mention of illuminators as one can see.

The images of the castles cannot be disjoined from their context – namely the chronicle, the historiographical text. Yet, medieval historians tend to overlook precisely the description of places as they do not feel spatial position as indispensable.[109] The reason is that the sole ambition of medieval history is to be événementielle (evental, factual, descriptive).[110] And here intervenes the illumination: it offers an already imagined landscape which more often than not contains a castle. Even when descriptions make their way into the chronicle (this is the case of William of Tyr and Sebastien Mamerot, to quote just a couple of examples) they are stereotypical and brief.

The medieval chronicler is not concerned with finding out some truth about the past or with whether students will study history or not. Medieval historiographers started as theologians or philosophers intent on revealing God’s divine plan. This explains the popularity and the large number of universal histories that were drawn up in the Middle Ages. Since, as it seems, medieval historiography aimed at finding out universal truths not bound by time or place, universal history was the right type of history not confined to a certain time or place. Time and again historians/chroniclers would go back in time to the biblical origins of mankind to which they connected their histories.[111] Prior to and even during the fourteenth century, scenes in illuminations of chronicles rarely include the drawing of a building/place. But in the fifteenth century a setting materialized in a castle/walled town plus natural landscape, though stereotypical, become commonplace, which marks a shift in late medieval historiography: the need of anchorage in reality.

No other surprise was so pleasant than the discovery that these often despised pioneers of historiography practiced what has now become so fashionable – oral history, that is interviews with witnesses of the event. I would like to give the example of Guillaume de Tyr, who confesses: “I recall that I have often interviewed wise men and those whose memory of those times is still fresh, particularly with a view to using the information thus obtained in the present history. […] I found that the reports varied greatly in this matter.”[112] And the Christian historian finishes his debate in didacticism: “Thus opinions differed as to the responsibility for this detestable act, but I have been unable to obtain definite information on the subject. Whoever the guilty ones are, however, they may be sure that in due time they will obtain the reward which they justly deserve, unless, indeed, they seek forgiveness, when God, in His gracious mercy, may grant them pardon.”[113] To complete his research work, besides what he had learnt from others, William of Tyre relied on his personal experience.[114]

The object of my study (castles/walled towns) as represented in illuminations is linked with the walled towns in which the manuscripts containing such illuminations were produced. Although during the Middle Ages the clergy were the bearers of literacy and monasteries and cathedrals were the repositories of the products of literacy, towards the end of this age literacy and writing became increasingly important. Notaries, judges and politicians started writing their own historical works in Italian communes (Pisa, Genoa, Milan) beginning mid-twelfth century. This also happened in cities of France. A new historiography emerged that quested to create a history of the city, of the main events the city had gone through. The walled city forges its own history in a chronicle wherein figures of castles/walled towns are a recurrent landscape for the recounted events; the walled city builds its own ideology via chronicles.[115] Naturally the illumination in the medieval chronicle cannot escape the political influence of the commissioner, be that a representative of the temporal or religious power; however, there are ways in which painting can circumvent any authority: at its deepest level, the level of the formal construction of the image – increasingly the image organises itself around a spectator’s field of vision, which is a response to the ever amplified empiricism of the late Middle Ages (knowledge is perception and accident).[116]

Primary sources: examples of manuscripts

I initially envisaged giving a description of each manuscript used herein but that would have meant replicating already existing information available for free online in the database of Bibliothèque Nationale de France or I ended up choosing a few peculiarities related to some of the manuscripts whose illuminations have met the criteria of inclusion in my corpus of study. The reader will notice a disparity in the amount of description allotted to each primary source; such disparity is the outcome of how many works I managed to find on each primary source within the limited time span of the research. This is actually one of the limitations not only with respect to the presentation of the primary sources but also as far as the description of each castle is concerned.

William of Tyr – “the best historian of the kingdom of Jerusalem and the most widely-read and used by scholars”[117]

The few biographical data on William of Tyre have come down to us in a biographical chapter of Historia Ierosolymitana. According to it, William of Tyre was born in Jerusalem around the year 1130 and for twenty years he studied the liberal arts, theology and civil law in the West: Paris, Orleans and Bologna. He came back to Jerusalem in 1165 and his career advanced under King Amaury whose trusted servant William was until the former’s death in 1174. After that, his involvement in political fighting and intrigue was inevitable; however, despite the fact that some consider it irrelevant, he dedicated his Historia not to a king (having completed it ten years after Amaury’s death) but to his “Venerable brothers in Christ’, his fellow-prelates of the Church.”[118] The purpose of his writing is not to praise a dynasty but his homeland, to paint a pretty picture of the Latin East.[119] The inaccuracies related to chronology noticed by researchers may be partly explained by the long duration of the composition process (14 years from 1170 to 1184, as it seems).[120] The organisation of his history and the inconsistencies reveal William’s perception of history. One can identify the Christian influences in William’s Historia particularly in his description of Tyre.[121]

Les Grandes Chroniques de France

Commissioned during the reign of Louis IX and written in vernacular at the Saint-Denis abbey, a centre of French historiography, the chronicle recounts events from ca. 1270 to early fourteenth century. Considered by many a manifestation of Capetian ideology,[122] the chronicle cannot be dissociated from the philosophy first concocted by chroniclers and poets in the circle of Louis’s grandfather, Philip Augustus. This resulted in a philosophy of kingship whose representative Louis IX was, as an epitome of the Christian king – advocate of and participant in the Crusades. This new concept of kingship took the forms of ceremonials, artistic commissions and the Grandes Chroniques de France.[123] Their essential feature is therefore the fact of being a royalist text, drafted near Paris and for Paris audiences.[124]

Les Grandes Chroniques continued and reached the peak of a historiographical vernacular tradition represented by Pseudo-Turpin chronicle (c. 1200–30), the chronicle of the Anonymous of Chantilly (c. 1210-30), the Chronique des rois de France by the Anonymous of Béthune (before 1223), and the Abrégé de l’histoire de France of the Ménestrel of Alphonse of Poitiers (before 1260), which gave voice to regional and national histories dedicated to the lay audience unable to peruse the universal histories written in Latin.[125]

One of the manuscripts of Les Grandes Chroniques used herein is BNF Français 2813, a manuscript commissioned by Charles V (1364-1380) as a continuation of the previous history written at Saint-Denis about the Merovingians, Carolingians and Capetians. Viewed by specialists as “an authoritative manuscript influencing a generation of royal and courtly books,” it is an account of Charles’s and his father’s reigns.[126] The timely production of a manuscript unfolding the history of a new branch of the Capetians – the Valois – precisely when England was contesting the legitimacy of the Valois monarchs proves itself to be again a matter of ideology. Thus, the manuscript can be construed as Charles V’s political reaction to contemporary events. Writing a manuscript was a political act. Researchers have spotted three time-intervals during Charles V’s reign when it was manufactured: before 1375, before 1377 and after 1378. The existence of these stages allowed them to trace back the birth and development of a political programme. The three folios included in my corpus of study (266v, 414v, 439v) seem to belong to the second and third stages when the focus of the initial decorative programme shifted to mirror the political status quo.[127] Charles V is part of a royal patronage tradition being credited with an editorial policy. This is an important aspect to note for the editorial policy can be viewed as a non-neglectable component of the royal authority.[128]

Other two manuscripts of the Grandes Chroniques that I resorted to are BnF Français 10135 and BnF Français 2608 and they belonged to Charles VI, Charles V’s son. Drawing a parallel between these manuscripts, specialists noticed that the cycle of the life of Saint Louis was represented only in Charles V’s and Charles VI’s copies, a fact that revealed its peculiar purport to certain kings of France.[129]

Jean Froissart’s Chroniques

Froissart’s works are well-known as they have been subject to studies since the 1980s. His ensemble of Chroniques breaks with the literary tradition: Froissart is viewed as an inquirer par excellence, his is not a combatant writing his memoirs, nor someone who does field work, nor is he confined between the walls of a scriptorium, but he travels across counties meeting heroes, he asks for information, puts questions and in the end, he narrates the events. He was compared to a director staging chivalric exploits. His commissioners are English or Burgundian and he has to comply accordingly glorying the fight of heroes of the Hundred Years’ War as well as that waged by his commissioners.[130]

An example of his methodology is when he starts narrating the Breton war of succession. He clearly states that his purpose is to re-establish ‘historical truth’ about its actants which had been altered by jongleurs and chanteurs in their chansons and gestes. After having visited and gone through most of the Bretagne, and having undertaken and completed an inquiry with lords and heralds, Froissart is able to confer upon his work both authenticity and solid foundations, a work that he confesses to be the outcome of both entreaties from his commissioner who had paid for his endeavour and his own curiosity.[131]

Martial d’Auvergne, Les Vigiles de Charles VII

The full title of Martial d’Auvergne’s work is Les Vigiles de la mort de Charles VII, a work of 7000 verses drafted after 1472 in French. There are two extant manuscripts of this work:

  1. Chantilly, Bibliothèque et Archives du Château, 503
  2. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, français, 5054

I only had access to the latter whose illuminations are so well-known and used and quoted that it became almost banal. However, I trust my treatment of these illuminations is a bit off the track.

Jean Mansel, La Fleur des Histoires

Jean Mansel’s universal history, a very popular genre at the time, is estimated to have been compiled prior to 1454 upon behest from Philippe le Bon. The first part of his chronicle, made up of three books, starts with the Old Testament, the life of Jesus Christ, Roman history and so on up to the history of France (Charles VI). The second part drawn up in four books takes history up to Charles VII also integrating a text called Roman Histories.[132] Arlima does not mention a published edition of Mansel’s chronicle. I make use of folios of manuscript Français 56 herein.

Vincent de Beauvais, Speculum Historiale

Largely a part of the monastic literature, this universal chronicle written by a Dominican who appears to have borrowed the speculum genre from the Cistercians is part of a tradition of medieval books conceived as mirrors, consecrated in German by the term Buchspiegel, but more profoundly part of the Christian tradition particularly with St Augustine’s comparison of the Bible with a mirror (speculum Scripturae). The mirror is thus a symbolic tool of knowledge available to man so that he may find out the divine reality and also a way to self-knowledge. Inspired by Imago mundi by Honorius the Speculum Historiale was written at a time (twelfth-thirteenth centuries) marked by a two-fold conflict: 1. between theology and the monastic ideal; 2. between theology and scholastic conceptions.[133] For the purpose hereof I have selected illuminations from manuscripts Français 50, 312, 316.

Textual primary sources

Throughout this paper and in the discussion of each castle/walled town, I endeavoured to set a right balance between image and text. Where possible I used both illuminations and text from the same manuscript. At times, I equally deemed it suitable to resort to a manuscript solely for its text.  This is the case of the following source. Edited by Samaran and Quicheret, the History of Charles VII by Thomas Basin works as a textual contrast and accompaniment of the visual material contained in Les Vigiles de Charles VII. Born in Caudebec-en-Caux (on the Seine river, between Rouen and Honfleur, close to Jumièges) in 1412, in the family of a well-to-do merchants, he will be forced to lead a wandering life in Normandy and then in Brittany prior to returning to their home town. The Treaty of Troyes makes them ‘English.’[134] Educated at Paris, the future Canon[135] of Rouen and professor of Canon law at the University of Caen, Canon of Bayeux, general vicar of Rouen, to become, at the age of 35, bishop-count of Lisieux, appointed councillor to Charles VII, takes part in the rehabilitation of Joan of Arc, loses the bishopric of Lisieux due to the disgrace cast upon him by Louis XI, is appointed archbishop of Caesarea by Sixtus IV, this man with an incredible biography writes his History of Charles VII while exiled between 1471-1472. This work provides first-hand information and is more impartial than its continuation, the history of Louis XI. Thomas Basin’s confession, based on memories which he manipulates with prudence, is viewed as crucial by historians.[136]

Secondary literature

The incipit of the current research work benefited from my previous work done on late medieval Moldavian castles at first as and MA thesis[137] and later on as a constant preoccupation to update that work.[138] Those past efforts acquainted me with the domestic and international representative works in the field of castelollogy (mostly archaeology) that provided me with a solid foundation to approach castles in illuminations. In other words, I had already been familiar with the general issues covered by international researchers in dealing with real castles (perception, building programmes,[139] functionality,[140] landscape history,[141] castle politics,[142] the relation castle-society[143]) and the particular aspects of Romanian castles and cities dealt with by Romanian researchers[144] which now facilitated me an approach to illuminated castles.

The intention of approaching the representations of the castles painted by French illuminators in terms of documentary relevance could require some topographical knowledge. In this sense, Paul Niedermaier’s Genesis of Transylvanian Medieval Towns[145] was instrumental in providing me with a temporal framework and patterns of urban development. Some of their elements were to be found again in the analysis of many of the castles/walled towns in the illuminations in the corpus of study. While being more of a catalogue, the published PhD thesis by Lucia Anda Spânu on graphic representations of Romanian towns facilitated my orientation towards good organisation of my corpus of study and the preparation of my quantitative analysis.[146]

A somewhat peculiar approach is launched by Tadhg O’Keeffe for whom ‘the traditional narratives about the Irish castles’ are to be construed as the evolution of fortifications in Ireland. According to O’Keeffe, there is no cut and dry definition of the concept of ‘castle’ simply because it is not known what the defining criteria for a castle might have been in the Middle Ages. This point of view needs to be mentioned and reminded in the part of my study entitled ‘What should be understood by “castle.” O’Keeffe also reproduces one characterisation of castles proposed by David Sweetman: ‘Many so-called castles for instance in Scotland are merely ‘châteaux’ or grand houses of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and are not true castles because they do not have the defensive features of the medieval fortress. The castle is essentially feudal and is the fortified residence of a lord in a society dominated by the military.’ Sweetman’s remark relates to perception of castles versus châteaux, which does not only rely on a linguistic difference. To him, a castle is the real thing, the authentic medieval castle, whereas the château is a later adagio to a category. I doubt that such an opinion should be condoned with.[147]

Similarly, in putting together the pieces of the puzzle to construct the image of the medieval French castle, in particular, I made use both of urban monographies and articles of local historians (largely courtesy of BnF Gallica and Persée), since part of my task was to pin down the documentary relevance of the castle representations in the corpus of study. Thus, a lot of books in the bibliography hereof are entitled ‘Histoire de …’ while plenty of the articles quoted herein are extracted from local ‘bulletins’ or ‘archives’ of archaeological societies/associations. The histoire monographs published by Privat from the sixties to the eighties which I borrowed from the libraries of Université Bordeaux-Montaigne and the articles available in the Babord database of Université Bordeaux-Montaigne compensated for the lag and updated my background reading with essential well-written works.

For those castles painted as they were the background of the Hundred Years’ War, I relied mainly on La Guerre de Cent Ans by Georges Minois[148] which, as I noticed, is based on landmarks chroniclers such as Froissart, Le Bourgeois de Paris, Monstrelet and others. Though quoting only the text of such chronicles, I found the analysis and confrontation of these multiple sources very helpful. In addition, I commenced to understand how the histories of France and England were intertwined and how the French medieval castles were instrumental in their encroaching history.

The current research enriched my castelollogy background with the well-structured work of Kelly DeVries (an organised and articulated depiction of the core of medieval European castles),[149] Denis LePage’s thorough presentation of fortifications,[150] Coulson,[151] Jean Mesqui’s well-rounded description of the castles of France, Salch’s Atlas – an excellent catalogue and starting place of any investigation on any French castle. Another significant milestone that aided me in coming to grips with the historiography that comprised illuminated French castles and with the medieval world as a reality different from ours was the historiographical writings of Bernard Guenée and Pierre Courroux. Meant to complete each other, the two historiographical works are essential for the contemporary man’s understanding of how things happened in the Middle Ages and offer the advantage that both historiographers rely on sources originating not only in medieval France but also and broadly in the western Christendom viewed as a unit from the fourth-sixth to the fourteenth-sixteenth centuries.[152] In addition to that, Bernard Guenée provides a framework for my demarche: ‘Un groupe social, une société politique, une civilisation se définissent d’abord par leur mémoire, c’est-à-dire par leur histoire, non pas l’histoire qu’ils eurent vraiment, mais celle que les historiens leur firent.’[153]

Another cornerstone book was the Taschen edition of Sébastien Mamerot’s Passages Oultre Mer (see the bibliography for the complete reference) which also reproduced all the illuminations painted by Jean Colombe in Français 5594. Not only did this critical edition reproduce the illuminations mentioned above but it also accompanied them by a quote and an explanation, plus an enlarged detail. This book corroborated with a French and an English translation of Guillaume de Tyr’s Historia were instrumental for me in configuring the castellated space of the Frankish but cosmopolite Oultre Mer. They made it clear to me how copying and compilating was an act of preserving tradition and identity through collective memory.

La ville médiévale au Moyen Age by A. Chedeville, J. Le Goff, J. Rossiaud (Paris, Seuil) provided a systematic analysis of the defining features and factors affecting the medieval French town. The book records how French towns became for almost two centuries (from mid-twelfth century to around 1340) the symbol of the general flourishment of the country. Its authors estimate the towns were seats of power and the outcome of a social battle: whether communes or not they did not yet obey democratic rules. In addition, they also assimilate towns with particular structures for the curtain wall is the ‘material basis of urban identity,’ the gates regulate the inside-outside interplay, urban life is ordered (the ultimate example being the bastide) and polycentric (revolving around the church, convent, market, city hall).[154]

[1] It is important that this elevation of writing in relation to images, a justification we saw at the outset in the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, occurs in the twelfth through the fourteenth century, a period that most historians would agree was one of expanding literacy when the Church was enlarging its control of the human body and psyche through codification and textual tyranny. See Michael Camille, “The Gregorian Definition Revisited: Writing and the Medieval Image” in Jérôme Baschet et Jean-Claude Schmitt (ed.), L’image. Fonctions et usages des images dans l’Occident médieval, Actes du 6e International Workshop on Medieval Societies, Centre Ettore Majorana (Erice, Sicile, 17-23 octobre 1992), Cahiers du léopard d’or, 5, Paris, 1996 (hereinafter, Camille, Writing and the Medieval Image), p. 94.

[2] Jérôme Baschet, L’iconographie médiévale, Gallimard, 2008 (hereinafter Baschet, Iconographie), p. 11.

[3] Baschet, Iconographie, p. 13.

[4] Camille, Writing and the Medieval Image, p. 97.

[5] Camille, Writing and the Medieval Image, p. 98.

[6] Baschet, Iconographie, p. 14-15.

[7] Baschet, Iconographie, p. 14-15.

[8] Yves Bottineau-Fuchs, Peindre en France au XVe siècle, Actes Sud, 2006 (hereinafter Bottineau-Fuchs, Peindre), p. 10, 115.

[9] See Anja Grebe, “Book Illumination” in Franz-Josef Arlinghaus, Marcus Ostermann, Oliver Plessow and Gudrun Tscherpel (ed.), Transforming the Medieval World. Uses of Pragmatic Literacy in the Middle Ages, Brepols, 2006, pp. 89-102 (hereinafter Grebe, “Book Illumination”).  An influx of Flemish painters seems to have come to Paris during the reign of John the Good (as from 1348 approximately). Charles Sterling, La peinture médiévale à Paris, 1300-1500, vol. I, Bibliothèque des Arts, Paris, 1987 (hereinafter Sterling, La peinture), p. 19.

[10] According to specialists, a distinctive feature of this milieu was the illusionism. Sterling, La peinture, p. 104.

[11] Grebe, “Book Illumination.”

[12] Sterling, La peinture, p. 12.

[13] Bottineau-Fuchs, Peindre, p. 118.

[14] «Enfin, à ce symbolisme de l’écart, de l’inversion ou de la transgression s’ajoute souvent celui de la partie pour le tout, la pars pro toto. Lui aussi est de type sémiologique dans sa structure et dans ses manifestations. … Cette mise en scène de la partie pour le tout constitue dans beaucoup de domaines le premier degré de la symbolisation médiévale. … dans la remise d’une terre à un vassal, une motte, une touffe d’herbe ou un fétu de paille suffisent pour matérialiser cette terre; dans la représentation d’un lieu, une tour figure un château, une maison une ville, un arbre une fóret. Mais il ne s’agit pas seulement d’attributs ou de substituts cet arbre est vraiment cette fóret ; cette motte est entièrement cette terre concédée en fief ; ce sceau été pleinement la personne du roi … Le symbole est toujours plus fort et plus vrai que la personne ou la chose réelle qu’il a pour fonction de représenter parce que, au Moyen Age, la vérité se situe toujours hors de la réalité, à un niveau qui lui est supérieur. Le vrai n’est pas le réel. » Michel Pastoureau, Une histoire symbolique du Moyen Age occidental, Editions du Seuil, 2004 (hereinafter Pastoureau, Histoire symbolique), p. 23-24.

[15] Georges Duby, L’Europe au Moyen Age, Flammarion, 1984, pp. 104-105. This congruence castle-town was also noted in chivalric romances. See A. Chédeville, J. Le Goff, J. Rossiaud, La ville en France au Moyen Âge, Éditions du Seuil, 1980-1998, p. 16.

[16] Ibidem.

[17] See Kelly DeVries and Douglas Smith, Medieval Military Technology, University of Toronto Press, 2002, Chapter 9. “With the exception of a few castles built to defend the larger towns of the Holy Land, at Tripoli, Tortosa, Tyre, Beirut, Acre, and Jerusalem, most Crusader castles were built in the countryside,” state DeVries and Smith in chapter 9. They also mention “the construction of stone castles in London and Colchester” in the same chapter 9, consequently the term “castle” may apply/refer to what is now a town. However, most of the times the representations in question show curtain walls and towers, a metonymic image of Jerusalem and Acre, of Constantinople and Nicaea.

 [18] David M. Nicholas, The Growth of the Medieval City. From Late Antiquity to the Early Fourteenth Century, Routledge, 1997 (hereinafter Nicholas, Growth), pp. 90-91.

[19] Louis Trenard (ed.), Histoire de Cambrai, Presses Universitaires de Lille, 1982 (hereinafter Trenard, Cambrai), p. 46.

[20] Ronnie Ellenblum, Crusader Castles and Modern Histories, Cambridge University Press, 2007 (hereinafter Ellenblum, Crusader Castles), p. 85-86.

[21] Ellenblum, Crusader Castles, p. 74.

[22] Ellenblum, Crusader Castles, p. 68-69.

[23] Ernest Leroux (ed.), Gilles Le Bouvier, Le livre de la description des pays, 1908 (hereinafter Leroux, Gilles Le Bouvier), p. ii.

[24] Nicholas, Growth, p. 94.

[25] Paulin Pâris (ed.), Les grandes chroniques de France : selon qu’elles sont conservées en l’Eglise de Saint-Denis, vol. 6, 1836-1838 (hereinafter Pâris, GCF), p. 5.

[26] Pâris, GCF, vol. 6, p. 15.

[27] Pâris, GCF, vol. 6, p. 26.

[28] Pâris, GCF, vol. 6, p. 8.

[29] M. Guizot (ed.), Guillaume de Tyr, Histoire des croisades, tome 1, 1824 (hereinafter Tyr, Histoire des croisades), p. 4.

[30] Tyr, Histoire des croisades, tome 1, p. 47.

[31] Tyr, Histoire des croisades, tome 1, p. 406.

[32] Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage, Castles and Fortified Cities of Medieval Europe. An Illustrated History, McFarland & Company, 2002 (hereinafter Lepage, Castles), p. 251.

[33] Charles L.H. Coulson, Castles in Medieval Society. Fortresses in England, France and Ireland in the Central Middle Ages, Oxford University Press, 2003 (hereinafter Coulson, Castles), p. 83.

[34] Warren Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions On the Eve of the Norman Conquest, Oxford University Press, 1962, p. 140.

[35] Jean-Luc Fray, «Du ‘principal siêge’ à la concurrence. Cathédrales, villes épiscopales et structuration du réseau urbain au cours du Moyen Âge» in Histoire urbaine, 2003/1, pp. 55-66.

[36] Jean E. Sedlar, East Central Europe in the Middle Ages 1000-1500, University of Washington Press, 1994 (hereinafter Sedlar, East Central Europe), p. 109.

[37] Sedlar, East Central Europe, p. 109.

[38] The oppidum type enjoyed certain privileges that villages did not, it could be a market place or artisan centre. Sedlar, East Central Europe, p. 110.

[39] Sedlar, East Central Europe, pp. 110-111.

[40] Nicholas, Growth, p. 3-4.

[41] Stephano Gasparri notices that researchers nowadays avoid using the terms ‘decadence’ and ‘continuity’ on account of being too ideologically marked, preference being given to ‘transition’, a more cautious word. See Stefano Gasparri, « L’évolution des villes méditerranéennes en Occident, depuis fin du monde romain jusqu’á l’époque carolingienne » in Antoni Riera, Josep Guitart, Salvador Giner (ed.), Ciutats mediterranies : civilitzacio i desenvolupament. Villes méditerranéennes : civilisation et développement, Institut d’Estudis Catalans, 2015, (hereinafter Gasparri, « Villes méditerranéennes »), pp. 136-144.

[42] Gasparri, «Villes méditerranéennes».

[43] Gasparri, «Villes méditerranéennes».

[44] Flanders and Northern Italy are followed (but at great distance) by the Rhine and Danube valleys. See Nicholas, Growth, p. 179.

[45] Gasparri, «Villes méditerranéennes».

[46] Nicholas, Growth, p. 4.

[47] Nicholas, Growth, p. 88.

[48] “By 1100 many cities had walled the first suburbs around the nucleus, and by 1200 all large places on the continent had defences. Most cities grew enormously in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.” See Nicholas, Gworth, p. 92.

[49] Nicholas, Growth, p. 87.

[50] Nicholas, Growth, p. 172.

[51] Nicholas, Growth, p. 182.

[52] The crusade was also seen as a cure to the ills of Christendom, in particular the decay of its ruling powers. John France, “Philippe de Mézières and the Military History of the Fourteenth Century” in Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski and Kiril Petkov (ed.), Philippe de Mézières and His Age. Piety and Politics in the Fourteenth Century, Brill, 2012, pp. 283-293.

[53] Nicholas, Growth, p. 29

[54] Nicholas, Growth, p. 29.

[55] Sedlar, East Central Europe, pp. 199-200.

[56] M.L. de Mas Latrie (ed.), Guillaume de Machaut, La prise d’Alexandrie, Geneve, Imprimerie Jules-Guillaume Fick, 1877 (hereinafter Machaut, Alexandrie), p. 10.

[57] Patrick Boucheron, Conjurer la peur. Essai sur la force politique des images, Editions du Seuil, 2013 (hereinafter Boucheron, Conjurer), p. 83-84.

[58] Boucheron, Conjurer, p. 84.

[59] Baschet, Iconographie, p. 40.

[60] Baschet, Iconographie, pp. 14-16.

[61] Sinding-Larsen, Staale, “Categorization of Images in Ritual and Liturgical Contexts” in Jérôme Baschet et Jean-Claude Schmitt (ed.). L’image. Fonctions et usages des images dans l’Occident medieval, Actes du 6e « International Workshop on Medieval Societies » Centre Ettore Majorana (Erice, Sicile, 17-23 octobre 1992), Paris, 1996 (Cahiers du leopard d’or, 5), pp. 111-112.

[62] Bogdan Murgescu, Metodologia cercetarii istorice, prezentare sintetica, (ĂRII-ISTORICE-B-Murgescu, accessed 6 August 2018), p. 2.

[63] Conti, Aidan, Orietta Da Rold, Philip Shaw (ed.). Writing Europe 500-1450, Cambridge, D.S. Brewer, 2015, p. 7.

[64] Jaume Aurell, La historiografia medieval. Entre la historia y la literatura. Publicacion de la Universitat de Valencia, 2016, p. 110.

[65] Bernard Guenée, Istorie și cultură istorică în occidentul medieval, Polirom, 2019 (hereinafter Guenée, Cultură istorică), p. 108.

[66] Philippe Araguas, Dany Barraud. «Archéologie des résidences aristocratiques médiévales en Aquitaine», in Archéologie du Midi médiéval, Supplément n°4, 2006, Résidences aristocratiques, résidences du pouvoir entre Loire et Pyrénées, Xe-XVe siècles. Recherches archéologiques récentes, 1987-2002, pp. 13-22.

[67] Roger Chartier, «La nouvelle histoire culturelle existe-t-elle?», in Les Cahiers du Centre de Recherches Historiques, 31/2003, ( accessed on 20 April 2019).

[68] Hans Belting in a 1981 study quoted by Daniel Russo, “Les fonctions devotionnelles de l’image religieuse dans l’Italie medievale” in Jérôme Baschet et Jean-Claude Schmitt (ed.). L’image. Fonctions et usages des images dans l’Occident medieval, Actes du 6e « International Workshop on Medieval Societies » Centre Ettore Majorana (Erice, Sicile, 17-23 octobre 1992), Cahiers du léopard d’or, 5, 1996, p. 133.

[69] Dominique Rigaux, « Réflexions sur les usages apotropaïque de l’image peinte. Autour de quelques peintures murals novaraises du Quattrocento » (Reflections on the Apotropaic Usages of the Painted Image. On certain Mural Paintings of Novara in Quattrocento) in Jérôme Baschet et Jean-Claude Schmitt (ed.). L’image. Fonctions et usages des images dans l’Occident medieval, Actes du 6e « International Workshop on Medieval Societies »  Centre Ettore Majorana (Erice, Sicile, 17-23 octobre 1992), Cahiers du léopard d’or, 5, 1996, p. 158.

[70] «[…] pincturas sanctarum historiarum quae non ad ornamentum solummodo ecclesiae uerum et ad instructionem intuentium proponerentur […] uidelicet ut qui litterarum lectionem non possent opera domini et saluatoris nostri per ipsarum contuitum discerent imaginum.» D. Hurst (ed.), Bedae Opera Homiletica, I, 13, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina, t. 122, Turnhout, 1955, p. 93.

[71] Jean-Claude Bonne, «De l’ornementation dans l’art médiéval (VIIe-XIIe siècle). Le modèle insulaire» in Jérôme Baschet et Jean-Claude Schmitt (ed.). L’image. Fonctions et usages des images dans l’Occident medieval, Actes du 6e «International Workshop on Medieval Societies» Centre Ettore Majorana (Erice, Sicile, 17-23 octobre 1992), Cahiers du léopard d’or, 5, 1996, p. 220.

[72] Jacques Dalarun (ed.), Le Moyen Âge en lumière, Fayard, 2002 (hereinafter Dalarun, Moyen Age), p. 330.

[73] Dalarun, Moyen Age, p. 333.

[74] Cyril Lemieux, «Problematiser» in L’enquête sociologique, 2012, 27-51. Murgescu, Bogdan. Metodologia cercetarii istorice, prezentare sintetica, https://www.scribd. com/doc/ 36925615/METODOLOGIA-CERCETĂRII-ISTORICE-B-Murgescu, ccessed 6 August 2018.

[75] ‘Pour inviter l’historien à la prudence – et emprunter aux linguistes une phrase qu’ils emploient volontiers à propos du lexique – on pourrait dire que, dans la symbolique médiévale, les éléments signifiants (animaux, couleurs, nombres, etc.) n’ont, comme les mots, «pas de sens en eux-mêmes mais seulement des emplois.»’ Pastoureau Histoire symbolique, p. 25.

[76] Many authors in the realm of social sciences resorted to the term ‘grammar’and its derivates in order to point out their methodologies right from the title of their works. Fernand Braudel wrote a Grammaire des civilisations; the second volume of François Garnier’s Le Langage de l’image au Moyen Age is entitled Grammaire des gestes; in his work, Le Devoir et la grâce, the sociologist Cyril Lemieux puts forward a ‘grammar’ of human action.

[77] Pastoureau Histoire symbolique, p. 128-137.

[78] Pastoureau Histoire symbolique, p. 133.

[79] Jean Wirth, L’image à la fin du Moyen Âge, Paris, Les Éditions du cerf, 2011 (hereinafter Wirth, Image), p. 9.

[80] Wirth, Image, p. 13.

[81] Carla Bozzolo, Ezio Ornato, «Vers une approche «sociologique» du livre médiéval.» in Gazette du livre médiéval, 1/1982, pp. 7-9 (hereinafter Bozzolo & Ornato, «Approche sociologique»), ( num_1_1_894).

[82] Bozzolo & Ornato, «Approche sociologique».

[83] The fact that the cost of a standing army was high was noticed by Thomas Basin. He drew attention upon the fact that a permanent army relied on permanent and crushing taxes and levies which were set up in the 1430s. Georges Minois, La guerre de cent ans, Perrin, 2016 (hereinafter Minois, Guerre), pp. 494-495.

[84] The concept of ideology in association with illuminations/medieval representations was confirmed to me several times during my research. First of all, when investigating the symbols of colours in the Middle Ages, Michel Pastoureau notes that « Toute description, toute notation de couleur est idéologique, même lorsqu’il s’agit du plus anodin des inventaires ou du plus stéréotypé des documents notariés. Le fait meme de mentionner ou de ne pas mentionner la couleur d’un objet est un choix fortement signifiant, refletant des enjeux economiques, politiques, sociaux ou symboliques s’inscrivant dans un contexte precis.» Pastoureau, Histoire symbolique, p. 134. Another example is Stephane Gal who speaks about the «ideologies of the mountain». See Sephane Gal, Histoires verticales : les usages politiques et culturels de la montagne, XIVe-XVIIIe siècles, Champ Vallon, 2018.

[85] Bozzolo & Ornato, «Approche sociologique».

[86] Marta Madero, Tabula Picta. Painting and Writing in Medieval Law, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004 (hereinafter Madero, Tabula), p. 7.

[87] François Garnier, Le Langage de l’image au Moyen Age, tome I: Signification et symbolique, Editions Le Léopard d’or, Paris, 1982 (hereinafter Garnier, Langage de l’image), p. 67.

[88] François Garnier, Le Langage de l’image au Moyen Age, tome II: Grammaire des gestes, Editions Le Léopard d’or, Paris, 2003, p. 35.

[89] See also Claude Gaier, «Dire et faire la guerre au Moyen Âge», Le Moyen Age 2006/3 (Tome CXII), pp. 643-655.

[90] Garnier, Langage de l’image, tome I, p. 35.

[91] Michael Wolfe, Walled Towns and the Shaping of France. From the Medieval to the Early Modern Era, Palgrave McMillan, 2009, (hereinafter Wolfe, Walled Towns), p. 171.

[92] Wolfe, Walled Towns, p. v.

[93] The history of France can be read on the walls of its towns, even though most of these walls no longer exists. This is how Wolfe begins his book. See Wolfe, Walled Towns, p. v.

[94] This makes me a new kind of reader that could be subject to sociological enquiry: a reader of miniatures included in manuscripts, that is, a reader of parts of books (the illuminations are only parts of the books contained in manuscripts). ‘Reading’ in this restricted and finite context means interpretation, hermeneutics, of parts of various manuscripts that I brought together despite the peril of fragmentation. Otherwise, manuscripts had to be carefully perused for event the smallest details could aid my analysis. The books that I read were no longer the traditional paper books that you read from one cover to another but fragmented, split books whose parts popped up on my screen – all of them resembling opera aperta that you can open anywhere and read the pages in whatever order you prefer. See Roger Chartier, Les métamorphoses du livre: Les rendez-vous de l’édition: le livre et le numérique, Éditions de la Bibliothèque publique d’information, 2001, accessed on 19 April 2019, available at: <

[95] Bernard Guenée, Histoire et culture historique dans l’Occident médiéval, Paris, Aubier Montaigne, 1980 (hereinafter Guenée Histoire et culture), p. 11. This spatial configuration goes back to the third century A.D. (the division of the Roman Empire by Diocletian) to turn into a medieval dichotomy based on a political gap between the kingdoms created after 476 on the territory of the former Western Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire as heir of the Eastern Roman Empire. See Luminița Diaconu (ed.), Orient et Occident. Construction des identités en Europe médiévale, Editura Universității București, 2015, p. 8.

[96] Philippe Contamine, «Entre Occident et Orient. Philippe de Mezières (vers 1327-1405): itineraires maritimes et spirituels» in Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski and Kiril Petkov (ed.), Philippe de Mezières and His Age. Piety and Politics in the Fourteenth Century, Brill, 2012, pp. 19-39 (hereinafter Contamine, “Entre Occident et Orient”).

[97] Contamine, “Entre Occident et Orient”.

[98] Alexandru-Florin Platon, «Corpul politic» în cultura europeană. Din Evul Mediu până în epoca modernă (“The Body Politic” in the European culture. From the Middle Ages to the modern age), Polirom, 2017, p. 48.

[99] Veronique Zara, The ‘Grandes Chroniques de France’ and the Conception of Time in the Thirteenth Century, Proquest Information and Learning Company, 2005, p. 97.

[100] Beryl Smalley, Historians in the Middle Ages, Scribner, 1975, as quoted by Veronique Zara, The ‘Grandes Chroniques de France’ and the Conception of Time in the Thirteenth Century, Proquest Information and Learning Company, 2005, p. 105.

[101] Maria Alessandra Bilotta, «L’enluminure du Midi de la France dans le contexte des circulations culturelles méditerranéennes: un autre manuscrit juridique retrouvé enluminé à Avignon par l’atelier du Liber visionis Ezechielis (Arras, BM, ms. 499 [593])», in Belvedere Meridionale, 2/2015, pp. 72–91.

[102] Elizabeth Morrison and Anne D. Hedeman (ed.), Imagining the Past in France. History in Manuscript Painting (1250-1500), Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010 (hereinafter Morrison & Hedeman, Manuscript Painting), p. 7.

[103] Elizabeth Morrison, “From Sacred to Secular: The Origins of History Illuminations in France” in Morrison & Hedeman, Manuscript Painting, pp. 9-25.

[104] In the Middle Ages, the term was not employed as a diminutive but derived from the type of red pigment (‘minium’) also used for the red coloured script in manuscripts. One can distinguish various classifications of miniatures depending on their size, position, sequence, and framing: full-page miniatures, multi-scene pages (using several registers), and column miniatures (contained in the width of a column of writing). Grebe, “Book Illumination.”

[105] Grebe, “Book Illumination”.

[106] Jean-Bernard de Vaivre, Laurent Vissière, «L’écrivain et le peintre. Un cahier d’instructions inédit de Guillaume Caoursin pour la réalisation de l’exemplaire de dédicace de ses œuvres à Pierre d’Aubusson» in Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1/2012, pp. 469-501 (hereinafter Vaivre, «L’écrivain et le peintre»).

[107] Madero, Tabula, pp. 8-11.

[108] Pauline Bouchaud, Mélanie Fougre-Lévêque et François Wallerich, «Faire de l’histoire: introduction», in Questes, 36/2017, pp. 131-136. ( accessed on 12 July 2017)

[109] Guenée, Cultură istorică, p. 24.

[110] Guenée, Cultură istorică, p. 26.

[111] Gudrun Tscherpel, “World Chronicles,” in Franz-Josef Arlinghaus, Marcus Ostermann, Oliver Plessow and Gudrun Tscherpel (ed.), Transforming the Medieval World. Uses of Pragmatic Literacy in the Middle Ages, Brepols, 2006, pp. 287-312.

[112] William Archbishop of Tyr, A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea, vol. II, Columbia University Press, 1943, (hereinafter Tyr, History of Deeds), p. 193.

[113] Tyr, History of Deeds, vol. II, p. 194.

[114] Peter W. Edbury and John Gordon Rowe, William of Tyre. Historian of the Latin East, Cambridge University Press, 1988 (hereinafter Edbury, William of Tyre), p. 44.

[115] Franck Schweppenstette, “City Chronicles,” in Franz-Josef Arlinghaus, Marcus Ostermann, Oliver Plessow and Gudrun Tscherpel (ed.), Transforming the Medieval World. Uses of Pragmatic Literacy in the Middle Ages, Brepols, 2006, pp. 127-150.

[116] Wirth, Image, p. 359.

[117] Clément de Vasselot de Régné, “A Crusader Lineage from Spain to the Throne of Jerusalem,” in Benjamin Z. Kedar, Jonathan Phillips, Nikolaos G. Chrissis (ed.), Crusades, vol. 16, Routledge, 2017 (hereinafter Vasselot de Régné, “A Crusader Lineage”), pp. 95-114.

[118] Edbury, William of Tyre, p. 25.

[119] Edbury, William of Tyre, p. 25.

[120] Edbury, William of Tyre, p. 26

[121] Edbury, William of Tyre, p. 36. See also Tyre, History of Deeds, vol. II, pp.1-4.

[122] The decoration of the first copy of Les Grandes Chroniques took place shortly after the death of Louis IX in 1270, a time that was the apogee of the Capetians’s control of France which would soon (early fourteenth century) become the dominant power in Europe. Anne D. Hedeman, The Royal Image. Illustrations of the Grandes Chroniques de France, 1274–1422, University of California Press, 1991 (hereinafter Hedeman, Royal Image), p. 9.

[123] Hedeman, Royal Image, p. 1.

[124] However, there are studies that deal with the spread and reception of the Grandes Chroniques de France, due to Bernard Guenée’s conception of historiography whose scope he enlarged by including the audience, the public, the professional and amateur readers of chronicles. See Antoine Brix, «Aux marges des manuscrits. Éléments pour une étude de la réception des Grandes Chroniques de France», Questes, 36/2017, accessed on 02 May 2019 (

[125] Hedeman, Royal Image, p. 3.

[126] Hedeman, Royal Image, p. 95.

[127] Hedeman, Royal Image, pp. 95-96.

[128] Tesnière, Marie-Hélène, « Les Décades de Tite-Live traduites par Pierre Bersuire et la politique éditoriale de Charles V » in Hofmann, Mara and Caroline Zöhl, Quand la peinture était dans les livres, Brepols, 2007, pp. 345-352.

[129] Hedeman, Royal Image, p. 97.

[130] Christine Bousquet, «L’image de l’ennemi dans les chroniques au temps de la guerre de Cents Ans», in Jean Maurice, Daniel Couty, and Michèle Guéret-Laferté (ed.), Images de la guerre de Cents Ans, Presses Universitaires de France, 2002, p. 68.

[131] Siméon Luce (ed.), Chroniques de J. Froissart, tome II (1340-1342), Paris, 1870-1899 (hereinafter Luce, Froissart), p. xxxii.

[132] As per accessed on 6 June 2020.

[133] Einar Mar Jonsson, «Le sens du titre Speculum au XIIe et XIIIe siecles et son utilisation par Vincent de Beauvais », in Serge Lusignan, Monique Paulmier-Foucart, Alain Nadeau (ed.), Vincent de Beauvais. Intentions et receptions d’une oeuvre encyclopedique au Moyen Age, Cahier d’études médiévales (4), Bellarmin, VRIN, 1990, pp. 11-32.

[134] The author is fully aware that the castles of Normandy and Aquitaine in particular with their entire corollary (chroniclers) constitute a sensitive issue which may still be subject to debate between the French and the English historiographies. Without taking sides, the content of this work related to the aforementioned castles is based on works that were available to the author and not on political bias. In fact, the major concern of this work is to reveal documentary relevance and political maneuvering of such castles.

[135] Clergyman belonging to a cathedral.

[136] Jean-Louis Goglin, «Thomas Basin, témoin de la misère normande», in Annales de Nor­mandie, 2/1980, pp. 91-101 (

[137] Sabina Stanila, Late Medieval Moldavian Castles. Functions, Images, Perceptions. Unpublished, defended in June 2003 at the Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest.

[138] Sabina Stanila, “Medieval Moldavian Castles from the First Half of the Fourteenth Century to the Second half of the Fifteenth Century: Functions, Images, Perceptions” in Revista de Istorie Militara, 1-2/2015, pp. 55-68.

[139] John Steane, The Archaeology of Medieval England and Wales, Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1984; The Archaeology of Medieval English Monarchy, London, B. T. Batsford, 1993; The Archaeology of Power, Charleston, Tempus Publishing Ltd, 2001.

[140] David Austin, “Private and Public: An Archaeological Con­sideration of Things,” in Die Vielfalt der Dinge. Neue Wege zur Analyse mittelalterlicher Sachkultur, ed. Helmut Hundsbichler et al, Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1998, pp. 163-206.

[141] Aston, Michael, Interpreting the Landscape. Landscape Archaeology and Local History, London, Routledge, 1997.

[142] Otto Brunner, Land and Lordship: Structures of Governance in Medieval Austria, tr. Howard Kaminsky and James Van Horn Melton, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992. Herwig Ebner, “Die Burgenpolitik und ihre Bedeutung für die Geschichte des Mittelalters,” Carinthia I, 164, 1974, pp. 33-51.

[143] Erik Fügedi, Castle and Society in Medieval Hungary (1000-1437), Budapest, Akadémiai Kiadó, 1986.

[144] Lucian Chiţescu, Fortificaţiile Moldovei în secolele XIV-XVI – cetăţi voievodale şi fortificaţii orăşeneşti – Rezumatul tezei de doctorat, Bucureşti, Academia de Ştiinţe Sociale şi Politice a R.S.R., 1970; Gh. Anghel, “Cetăţile medievale ale Moldovei din timpul lui Ştefan cel Mare”, Apulum, 16, 1978, 239-259; M.D. Matei, Civilizație urbană medievală românească. Contribuții (Suceava până la mijlocul secolului al XVI-lea), București,  Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România, 1989; Denis Căprăroiu, Oraşul medieval în spaţiul românesc extracarpatic (sec. X-XIV), Târgovişte, Cetatea de Scaun, 2014; Laurenţiu Rădvan, Oraşele din Ţările române în evul mediu, Iaşi, Editura Universităţii Alexandru Ioan Cuza, 2011; Adrian Andrei Rusu, Castelarea carpatică: fortificaţii şi cetăţi din Transilvania şi teritoriile învecinate (secolele XIII-XVI), Cluj-Napoca, Editura Mega, 2005.

[145] Paul Niedermaier, Geneza orașelor medievale în Transilvania, Editura Academiei Române, 2016.

[146] Lucia Anda Spânu, Vechi reprezentări grafice ale orașelor din România, Editura Astra Museum, 2012.

[147] O’Keeffe, “Concepts of ‘castle’ and the construction of identity in medieval and post‐medieval Ireland,” Irish Geography, 34:1/2001, pp. 69-88.

[148] Georges Minois, La guerre de cent ans, Perrin, 2016.

[149] Kelly DeVries and Douglas Smith, Medieval Military Technology, University of Toronto Press, 2002.

[150] Lepage, Castles.

[151] Charles Coulson, Castles in Medieval Society. Fortresses in England, France and Ireland in the Central Middle Ages, Oxford University Press, 2003.

[152] The unity of the Latin Occident relied on the preeminence of the Roman pontif, Latin being their language and culture, sharing certain beliefs, ideas and readings. Guenée Histoire et culture, p. 11.

[153] Guenée, Histoire et culture, p.16.

[154] Anne-Marie Seronde-Babonaux, «La ville médiévale» in Espace géographique, tome 12, 3/1983. pp. 237-238 ( (hereinafter Seronde-Babonaux, «La ville médiévale»).