Castle, a strongly fortified residence. Castles developed in western Europe in the late 10th century as the private strongholds of kings and noblemen and played an important role in the feudal system. Castles were built not only in Europe, but also in the Middle East (during the Crusades) and in parts of the Far East.
A strong castle adequately garrisoned and supplied could be defended for a long time against medieval siege weapons such as the battering ram and the catapult. Even the artillery of the 15th century, while fairly effective against the thin walls of towns, was ineffectual against castles. Only the development of improved cannon doomed the castle as a fortress. The last sieges of castles took place during the English Civil War in the 17th century.
An aura of glamour surrounds the idea of castle life. In reality, however, a castle was a comfortless place. The interior was dark, damp, drafty, and poorly ventilated. The furniture was crude. Soldiers and servants often slept on straw on the floor. Castle life was desirable only in contrast to life in the wretched huts of the peasants and serfs in the village outside the walls.
Many castles have survived to this day. Notable examples include the Tower of London and Windsor Castle in England, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, the AlcÃ¡zar in Spain, ChÃ¢teau de Pierrefonds in France, Heidelberg Castle in Germany, Krak des Chevaliers in Syria, and the White Heron in Japan.