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Defending a Castle (Castles)

Castle defenders were usually outnumbered. However, castles were designed to give the defenders every possible advantage that allowed them to last as long as possible in the event of a siege.

Castles frequently had enormous amounts of food in the granaries. This was proportional to the castle's population. In the event of an invasion, the gates were locked and frequently a siege took place. We will talk about the immediate defenses castles possessed against assaults. We also have more information about Castle Attackers.

The main defense a castle possessed was its numerous walls. These walls could be very thick and tall - depending on those who built the castle. From the alleys, archers could easily shoot arrows against the invaders below. Therefore, archers and later on fire weapons were the most effective form of castle defense - and the real advantage castles offered. The height benefit as well as the battlements allowed archers to fire up to 12 arrows per minute and easily take cover while the enemy fired. Additionally, many castles had other counter-offensive mechanisms such as catapults and ballistae.


Moats were an important addition to castles. They successfully stopped most siege towers, ladders and tunnels from reaching the walls - not to mention the drawbridge which completely stopped invaders.

Even if the attackers managed to destroy the castle's walls with siege engines, the moat resulted to be a severe advantage as swimming under heavy fire was out of the question. More importantly was the moat's protection against diggers. As it can be noted in the Castle Attackers article, a common way to destroy walls or enter an enemy castle altogether was with tunnels. Moats proved very effective to completely stop such tactics and therefore, a castle with moat was almost impossible to assault. Some castles had two or more gates that had a drawbridge which was lifted only during wartime and during the night.


Bigger castles often had many defensive advantages. When the attackers dug a tunnel, the defenders could easily spot it with water and then pour more water on it until it collapsed. If done properly, the defenders could also dig a counter-tunnel and fight underground as they had the advantage of their side being closer to the surface.

Many castles had siege engines capable of destroying the enemy's siege weaponry. If a castle had catapults and ballistae, few enemies dared to attack it directly as battering rams and siege towers were an easy target.

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