The movement towards civilization throughout the post-medieval United Kingdom affected architecture quite strongly. This change, whether conscious or subconscious, was an effort to rise above the barbaric attitudes of medieval life. A large portion of this movement can be attributed to the rise in literacy rates amongst the populace regardless of the station and the ability for those, who were not of an elite background, but were looking for opportunities to increase their social status (Johnson 1999). Unfortunately, much of the documentary evidence is towards elite positions, while viewpoints of subaltern groups towards elite structures were lost regardless of the rising literacy rates, as documentary evidence was still the purview of the elite. While an increase in literacy did help to create a stronger sense of community and social belonging, this did not help in leveling the playing field between classes. In fact, in the end, this created even more rigid and social hierarchies (Palmer 2009).
Elite structures, during the Renaissance in the late 15th and early 16th century, also began seeing an adopted architectural design. Renaissance humanism facilitated bringing an enhanced identity to the elite. In a Kant like fashion, the emphasis was put on reason as opposed to experiencing in word and architecture. It was not until the late 16th century that elite buildings began to exhibit a wittier architectural leaning. There are clear delineations between defensive and residential structures that, just a couple centuries ago, were far more muddled. However, the castle continues to remain and stand for elite identity regardless of time, place, or political allegiance (Johnson 1999).
There are several effects of construction of castles. There have been, throughout time, changes in methods of warfare, both offensive and defensive technologies. Evidently, this would have had a large effect on castle construction. Eventually, castles, or what we recognize as castles, became obsolete and took on a more residential or tourist-based existence.
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Archaeologists could clearly see that the motte and bailey construction occurred repeatedly throughout Europe, as this was the most defensive position a castle could acquire during the time. While these sites might fall into decay over time, their locational value remained consistent.
After dating a particular site, the data are applied directly. For instance, from the early to mid 12th century, there were specific standards required by the government. This addition is what defined the difference between a castle and a residence in the eyes of the government, regardless of its defensive properties (Painter 1935).
When investigating a site through field studies, many commonalities can be found. However, while investigating, care must prevail both to material finds and just as importantly to those artifacts or architectural standards that may be missing (Buchli and Lucas 2001). The distinction between residence and castle as a defensive structure is very technical. While a house is fortified, this does not necessarily give credence to its existence as a castle (Newman 2001).
The need for castles endured throughout the early 16th century as fortification in castles did not rely entirely upon its physical defensive capability. Psychological armaments were performed in the form of religious additions to the castle structures. Building chapels near gates or within the structure itself was a direct spiritual attack on their enemies.
Since many castles occupied land not only rich in defensive capabilities but also rich in potential agrarian production, towns began to sprout up around castle sites. Therefore, many castles ultimately had to protect the continuously developing town that surrounded it. As both a symbol and a fortification role were applied during the Middle Ages, one could see an overlap between a castle as a fortification and a communal enclosure (Wheatley 2001).
Castles also began to adapt their defenses against growing military technologies, such as artillery, which made brick walls ineffectual as a defense structure. Curtain or reinforced walls began to become necessary to slow attackers (HAE 2012). Vitrification was made to strengthen walls, as seen throughout Scotland. Structures, such as fortified tower houses, however, most likely served a more ornamental purpose; though this was also an attempt at increased military defensive strategy.
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The creation of new fortresses between a castle and an invading army made a maze, within which an enemy would have to weave through these outposts in order to assault the primary castle (Painter 1935). Additionally, for a local king or baron, the more fortresses retained, the more control over a region was gained.
There are some challenges that the elite faced during the post 1550 era. During the post-1550 era, elites found themselves affected by challenges to their position. This was a clash in culture caused by differences between humanism and Protestant thought Late medieval identities were rife with symbols placed upon the body of the elites, as a connotation of social rank (Johnson 1999). As time has passed from the early modern period to the present days, a humbler age has developed. The stripping of overt symbolism and the advancement of nonprofessionals in society through labor changed the landscape of the elite society. No longer was it possible to find symbols of status on an individual as fashion began to take a keener role in expression over uniformity (Johnson 1999).
Such changes to elite structure all through the landscape as landowners began to enclose and claim property whether the land was for production or not. It became necessary for property owners to take advantage of the income that squatters could provide (Wordie 1983). Earlier, the land was generally communal; it was a part of the Crown or a part of a larger estate (Rainbird 2008). Under a new administration, it fell upon the elites to handle encroachment upon their land with applying means that were more diplomatic. These squatters were not, per se, invaders, and charging fines was the most profitable and worthwhile use of land (Rainbird 2008).
In order to conclude issues in this paper, it is vivid that castles remain to be built and re-built in the early modern period for a variety of reasons. As witnessed recently in North America, where the recreation of a Kyoto style Japanese castle or palace was available in the Hills of Hollywood, California, and was later changed to a restaurant (Yamashiro 2012). Castles, affected by changes in society, warfare, and cultural identities have adapted too many historical stressors over time; and while their usefulness has waned, their mythic and romantic qualities have remained to this day.