Castle Features: Machicolations: Chateau Gaillard, Conwy Castle, Crac des Chevaliers
The nature of siege warfare meant military and residential spaces were often one and the same, giving women numerous opportunities to participate as combatants in the defense of their homes.
Undermining, or sapping, is the ancient siege technique used against the walls of a fortification. In the Middle Ages, the strategy was adopted and developed in response to the advent of stone castles in Western Europe.
Open communication lines were essential components of the design of many medieval fortifications.
The advent of castles meant that sieges got longer and longer, and supplies became a more acute problem. Rather than taking a fortification through direct assault, more and more besiegers turned to blockades aimed at starving the inhabitants into submission.
Attackers often blockaded fortifications in order to cut off people inside from supply lines and communication with relief. Many castles and cities had underground tunnels dug that could be used for bringing water inside, storage, or communication.
As both castles and cities constituted fortifications that combined military functions with residential spaces, sieges necessarily involved the noncombatant residents, including women and children.
Since sieges, whether of castles or cities, featured assaults on places that were both military and residential centers, women were inevitably caught up in this type of warfare.
Castles and fortified cities combined military and residential functions. When a besieging army breached a settlement’s defenses, combatants and civilians alike suffered the enemy’s wrath.
In the Middle Ages, walls were essential as a first line of defence for castles and cities, and both were augmented with gates, towers, staircases, passageways, ditches, moats and other water defences to maximize their efficacy.