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. These gaps are termed "crenels" (also known as carnels, embrasures, or wheelers), and the act of adding crenels to a previously unbroken parapet is termed crenellation. Thus, 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. The solid widths between the crenels are called merlons (also cops or kneelers). A wall with battlements is said to be crenelated or embattled. Battlements on walls have protected walkways (chemin de ronde) behind them. On tower or building tops, the (often flat) roof is used as the protected fighting platform.
1 Etymology 2 Licence to crenellate 3 Machicolations 4 History 5 Development 6 Ancient Rome 7 Italy 8 Middle East and Africa 9 Decorative element 10 See also 11 Notes 12 Sources 13 Further reading 14 External links
The term originated in about the 14th century from the
9th-century BC relief of an Assyrian attack on a walled town with zig-zag shaped battlements
Battlements have been used for thousands of years; the earliest known
example is in the fortress at
Cutaway diagram of a tower of
Château de Pierrefonds
In the European battlements of the
Gradara Castle, Italy, outer walls 13th-14th century, showing on the tower curved v-shaped notches in the merlons
Loop-holes were frequent in Italian battlements, where the merlon has
much greater height and a distinctive cap. 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. This
would allow the defender to be protected whilst shooting standing
fully upright. The normal rectangular merlons were later nicknamed
Middle East and Africa
^ Larousse Dictionnaire Lexis de la Langue Française, Paris, 1979; Collins French Dictionary Robert ^ Goodall 2011, p. 9. ^ a b c d Davis 2007, pp. 226–245. ^ Coulson 1982, p. 72. ^ Coulson 1982, p. 83.
Balestracci, D. (1989). "I materiali da costruzione nel castello
medievale". Archeologia Medievale (XVI): 227–242.
Coulson, C. (1982). "Hierarchism in Conventual Crenellation". Medieval
Archaeology. 26: 69–100.
Davis, Philip (2007). "English Licences to Crenellate: 1199–1567"
This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (July 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Coulson, Charles, 1979, "Structural Symbolism in Medieval Castle Architecture" Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 132, pp 73–90 Coulson, Charles, 1994, "Freedom to Crenellate by Licence - An Historiographical Revision" Nottingham Medieval Studies Vol. 38, pp. 86–137 Coulson, Charles, 1995, "Battlements and the Bourgeoisie: Municipal Status and the Apparatus of Urban Defence" in Church, Stephen (ed), Medieval Knighthood Vol. 5(Boydell), pp. 119–95 Coulson, Charles, 2003, Castles in Medieval Society, Oxford University Press. Coulson, Charles, Castles in the Medieval Polity - Crenellation, Privilege, and Defence in England, Ireland and Wales. King, D. J. Cathcart, 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (Kraus)
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18th century and earlier
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Bridge castle Circular rampart Concentric castle L-plan castle Motte-and-bailey castle Quadrangular castle Ringfort Ringwork Tower castle