Late Medieval Castles is a companion to Anglo-Norman Castles (2003), a volume that brought together a series of historiographically significant articles on castles and castle-building in the period from the Norman Conquest to the early thirteenth century. The format and themes of the present collection are broadly comparable with the earlier book, but with the focus on those castles dating to the period c.1250–1500.
In the course of bringing Anglo-Norman Castles to publication the somewhat arbitrary cut-off date of c.1225 seemed unsatisfactory for a number of reasons. On a practical level, there were highly relevant articles that could not be included because the subject matter fell outside the chronological range of the volume. A more scholarly concern was the fact that a number of issues pertinent to castle-building in the eleventh and twelfth centuries could not be satisfactorily addressed without reference to subsequent developments in the thirteenth and fourteenth. Allied to this, a focus on Anglo-Norman building (no matter how justifiable in historical terms) does perhaps contribute, albeit unwittingly, to the erroneous idea that the eleventh and twelfth centuries are the most important centuries for castle-building, a time when the ‘true’ castle is to be found, and that the period that follows, particularly after 1300, is something of an anti-climax. The present volume should therefore be seen as a continuation of the broad themes discussed in the introduction to Anglo-Norman Castles, with the aim of pursuing them in a late medieval context.
In the years since 2003 there have been a number of important publications in the field of castle studies, and castles continue to be a source of controversy and to provoke debate. Despite the fact that the availability of some secondary material has been made easier through electronic access, I have been consistently reminded by academic colleagues that a compilation such as this is worthwhile, both for the student reader and those seeking a path into the specialist secondary literature. This author at least also believes that there is value in bringing together in one place a series of important contributions that have defined the subject and which also illustrate a diversity of approaches.