Review of Castles of Europe: From Charlemagne to the Renaissance

Castles of Europe - William Anderson - Medieval Castles - Medieval Europe - Middle Ages History - Medieval HistoryCastles of Europe: From Charlemagne to the Renaissance
By William Anderson, Photographs by Wim Swaan
Copyright 1970 – Paul Elek Productions, London; Random House, USA

Castles of Europe: From Charlemagne to the Renaissance is an older book — at least the edition I own — and you’ll likely have to find a used copy if you want to buy it. While nearly forty years old, this book really has some wonderful photographs of medieval castles throughout Europe. The pages are large, and some of the photographs take up the entire page in sharp detail. There are also plenty of illuminations and castle diagrams to study.

The book is broken out into ten chapters, spanning various regional architectural designs of castles down through the centuries of middle ages history. These chapters include:

  1. The Origins of the European Castle (e.g. – Byzantium, the knights of Charlemagne, the Vikings)
  2. Castles in an Age of Conquest (the Normans conquest of England, the motte-and-bailey castle, German castles in the 11th century, the first Crusade)
  3. Castles of the 12th and 13th Centuries — Soldiers, Masons, Ladies, and Lovers (the knights, arms and armor, day-to-day life)
  4. Capetians and Angevins (Castles in the Holy Land, Henry II, Castles in 13th century England, Spain and Portugal)
  5. Hohenstaufens and Communes — German, Austrian, Swiss, and Italian Castles of the 12th and 13th Centuries)
  6. Warfare, Courts, and Castles in the 14th and 15th Centuries (the castle in a changing world, towns and technology)
  7. French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese Castles of the 14th and 15th Centuries (includes The Hundred Years War)
  8. Castles of Eastern, Central, and Mediterranean Europe in the 14th and 15th Centuries (Teutonic Knights, the Hussite wars, castles of the Netherlands)
  9. Kings, Cannons, and Gunpowder
  10. Changes and Transformations – the Later History of the Castle

In addition to photographs, illuminations, and diagrams, Castles of Europe also has plenty of middle ages history text surrounding the life of a castle : people, events, battles, etc. It is a thick volume of work, some 302 pages including the notes at the end. Its physical size is approximately half an arm in length.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

10 thoughts on “Review of Castles of Europe: From Charlemagne to the Renaissance”

  1. That’s a steal.

    There are several editions to this book that come up when you do a search on Amazon. The book I own was published in 1970 with a reference to both Elek and Random House Publishers. I’m not positive the link I have is the exact same copy since there’s no cover photo and I can’t look inside, but it was the closest one I could find to my edition. Regardless, there shouldn’t be many differences I wouldn’t think.

  2. The book arrived yesterday and it is HUGE. I hadn’t expected it to be so thick. This was a used copy, but there’s minimal wear–tear in the cover sleeve, binding a little loose mid-section–but nothing too bad.

    I haven’t had much of a chance to do more than flip through it, but it looks to be an engaging experience. I’ll probably read a little at a time as well as use it as an occasional reference for my writing.

  3. yes, they look just fine. There’s an assortment of color and b/w.

    It says “First American Edition”, copyright 1970. The cover looks a bit older (based on the flowery script) than the one you have above. 😉

  4. My cover is different from the one above too. It shows a different castle on the front. I’m not sure which castle it is. Looks to be German.

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