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"Castellated" redirects here. Battlement_sentence_0

For the hardware item, see castellated nut. Battlement_sentence_1

"Embattled" redirects here. Battlement_sentence_2

For heraldic term, see embattled (heraldry). Battlement_sentence_3

A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of city walls or castles, comprises a parapet (i.e., a defensive low wall between chest-height and head-height), in which gaps or indentations, which are often rectangular, occur at intervals to allow for the launch of arrows or other projectiles from within the defences. Battlement_sentence_4

These gaps are termed "crenels" (also known as carnels, or embrasures), and a wall or building with them is called crenellated; alternative (older) terms are castellated and embattled. Battlement_sentence_5

The act of adding crenels to a previously unbroken parapet is termed crenellation. Battlement_sentence_6

The function of battlements in war is to protect the defenders by giving them something to hide behind, from which they can pop out to launch their own missiles. Battlement_sentence_7

A defensive building might be designed and built with battlements, or a manor house might be fortified by adding battlements, where no parapet previously existed, or cutting crenellations into its existing parapet wall. Battlement_sentence_8

A distinctive feature of late medieval English church architecture is to crenellate the tops of church towers, and often the tops of lower walls. Battlement_sentence_9

These are essentially decorative rather than functional, as are many examples on secular buildings. Battlement_sentence_10

The solid widths between the crenels are called merlons. Battlement_sentence_11

Battlements on walls have protected walkways (chemin de ronde) behind them. Battlement_sentence_12

On tower or building tops, the (often flat) roof is used as the protected fighting platform. Battlement_sentence_13

Etymology Battlement_section_0

The term originated in about the 14th century from the Old French word batailler, "to fortify with batailles" (fixed or movable turrets of defence). Battlement_sentence_14

The word crenel derives from the ancient French cren (modern French cran), Latin crena, meaning a notch, mortice or other gap cut out often to receive another element or fixing; see also crenation. Battlement_sentence_15

The modern French word for crenel is créneau, also used to describe a gap of any kind, for example a parking space at the side of the road between two cars, interval between groups of marching troops or a timeslot in a broadcast. Battlement_sentence_16

Licence to crenellate Battlement_section_1

Main article: Licence to crenellate Battlement_sentence_17

In medieval England and Wales a licence to crenellate granted the holder permission to fortify their property. Battlement_sentence_18

Such licences were granted by the king, and by the rulers of the counties palatine within their jurisdictions, e.g. by the Bishops of Durham and the Earls of Chester and after 1351 by the Dukes of Lancaster. Battlement_sentence_19

The castles in England vastly outnumber the licences to crenellate. Battlement_sentence_20

Royal pardons were obtainable, on the payment of an arbitrarily determined fine, by a person who had fortified without licence. Battlement_sentence_21

The surviving records of such licences, generally issued by letters patent, provide valuable evidence for the dating of ancient buildings. Battlement_sentence_22

A list of licences issued by the English Crown between the 12th and 16th centuries was compiled by Turner & Parker and expanded and corrected by Philip Davis and published in The Castle Studies Group Journal. Battlement_sentence_23

There has been academic debate over the purpose of licensing. Battlement_sentence_24

The view of military-focused historians is that licensing restricted the number of fortifications that could be used against a royal army. Battlement_sentence_25

The modern view, proposed notably by Charles Coulson, is that battlements became an architectural status-symbol much sought after by the socially ambitious, in Coulson's words: "Licences to crenellate were mainly symbolic representations of lordly status: castellation was the architectural expression of noble rank". Battlement_sentence_26

They indicated to the observer that the grantee had obtained "royal recognition, acknowledgment and compliment". Battlement_sentence_27

They could however provide a basic deterrent against wandering bands of thieves, and it is suggested that the function of battlements was comparable to the modern practice of householders fitting highly visible CC-TV and burglar alarms, often merely dummies. Battlement_sentence_28

The crown usually did not charge for the granting of such licences, but occasionally charged a fee of about half a mark. Battlement_sentence_29

Machicolations Battlement_section_2

Main article: Machicolation Battlement_sentence_30

Battlements may be stepped out to overhang the wall below, and may have openings at their bases between the supporting corbels, through which stones or burning objects could be dropped onto attackers or besiegers; these are known as machicolations. Battlement_sentence_31

History Battlement_section_3

Battlements have been used for thousands of years; the earliest known example is in the fortress at Buhen in Egypt. Battlement_sentence_32

Battlements were used in the walls surrounding Assyrian towns, as shown on bas reliefs from Nimrud and elsewhere. Battlement_sentence_33

Traces of them remain at Mycenae in Greece, and some ancient Greek vases suggest the existence of battlements. Battlement_sentence_34

The Great Wall of China has battlements. Battlement_sentence_35

Development Battlement_section_4

In the European battlements of the Middle Ages the crenel comprised one-third of the width of the merlon: the latter, in addition, could be provided with arrow-loops of various shapes (from simply round to cruciform), depending on the weapon being utilized. Battlement_sentence_36

Late merlons permitted fire from the first firearms. Battlement_sentence_37

From the 13th century, the merlons could be connected with wooden shutters that provided added protection when closed. Battlement_sentence_38

The shutters were designed to be opened to allow shooters to fire against the attackers, and closed during reloading. Battlement_sentence_39

Ancient Rome Battlement_section_5

The Romans used low wooden pinnacles for their first aggeres (terrepleins). Battlement_sentence_40

In the battlements of Pompeii, additional protection derived from small internal buttresses or spur walls, against which the defender might stand so as to gain complete protection on one side. Battlement_sentence_41

Italy Battlement_section_6

Loop-holes were frequent in Italian battlements, where the merlon has much greater height and a distinctive cap. Battlement_sentence_42

Italian military architects used the so-called Ghibelline or swallowtail battlement, with V-shaped notches in the tops of the merlon, giving a horn-like effect. Battlement_sentence_43

This would allow the defender to be protected whilst shooting standing fully upright. Battlement_sentence_44

The normal rectangular merlons were later nicknamed Guelph. Battlement_sentence_45

Indian Subcontinent Battlement_section_7

Many South Asian battlements are made up of parapets with peculiarly shaped merlons and complicated systems of loopholes, which differ substantially from rest of the world. Battlement_sentence_46

Typical Indian merlons were semicircular and pointed at the top, although they could sometimes be fake: the parapet may be solid and the merlons shown in relief on the outside, as is the case in Chittorgarh. Battlement_sentence_47

Loopholes could be made both in the merlons themselves, and under the crenels. Battlement_sentence_48

They could either look forward (to command distant approaches) or downward (to command the foot of the wall). Battlement_sentence_49

Sometimes a merion was pierced with two or three loopholes, but typically, only one loophole was divided into two or three slits by horizontal or vertical partitions. Battlement_sentence_50

The shape of loopholes, as well as the shape of merlons, need not have been the same everywhere in the castle, as shown by Kumbhalgarh. Battlement_sentence_51

Middle East and Africa Battlement_section_8

In Muslim and African fortifications, the merlons often were rounded. Battlement_sentence_52

The battlements of the Arabs had a more decorative and varied character, and were continued from the 13th century onwards not so much for defensive purposes as for a crowning feature to the walls. Battlement_sentence_53

They serve a function similar to the cresting found in the Spanish Renaissance architecture. Battlement_sentence_54

Ireland Battlement_section_9

"Irish" crenellations are a distinctive form that appeared in Ireland between the 14th and 17th centuries. Battlement_sentence_55

These were battlements of a "stepped" form, with each merlon shaped like an inverted 'T'. Battlement_sentence_56

Decorative element Battlement_section_10

European architects persistently used battlements as a purely decorative feature throughout the Decorated and Perpendicular periods of Gothic architecture. Battlement_sentence_57

They not only occur on parapets but on the transoms of windows and on the tie-beams of roofs and on screens, and even on Tudor chimney-pots. Battlement_sentence_58

A further decorative treatment appears in the elaborate paneling of the merlons and that portion of the parapet walls rising above the cornice, by the introduction of quatrefoils and other conventional forms filled with foliage and shield. Battlement_sentence_59

See also Battlement_section_11


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