Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


21.10.07
  Plesse Castle Tour - The Outer Defenses

The Plesse, as the castle is called by the locals, is a fine example of a typical Mediaeval castle. Though pretty large for the area, it is not as formidable as fe. Edinburgh and Stirling in Scotland, the Norman castles in Wales, or the Wartburg in Thuringia, but it's also less tourist infected. The manor of the lord has been reconstructed and holds a restaurant, but it's closed on Mondays, so I chose a Monday to visit the place.

Let's follow Jannes the Black, mercenary in some undefined late Mediaeval army, on his adventures:

We carried our armoured bodies up the hill and attacked the outer gate. A weasely man our captain had paid let the drawbridge down for us, though his comrades didn't like the idea. But after some fighting we managed to get in. The guys trying to scale the walls failed miserably, though. A lot of them lies dead in the moat, impaled on wooden spikes. I've always prefered gates.

Outer gate seen from the inside

We pressed through the first gate and came into a corridor between the outer curtain wall to the left and the chalk cliff and inner curtain wall that protects the bailey to the right. It's not a nice place to get stuck, a wall and a steep slope on one side, and the inhabitants of the castle throwing all sorts of interesting objects on the attackers from the other. But it's my job and there should be good booty. Ouw, that was a stone hitting my helmet. My ears ring.

Curtain wall corridor with arcades, seen from the bailey wall

The way is left-winding to expose the unprotected right side which makes our shields pretty useless. Always the same old trick.

We got our swords and pikes out and went for the inner gate. Only a few men can attack at the same time, and some guy is pouring hot liquid out of those windows. I think I'll stay in the second row this time, booty or no. Don't want to get roasted.

Second gate with gatehouse

Those of our poor lads who crawled up the slope in a flanking attack had gotten shot by crossbow bolts from the arcade embrasures in the outer curtain wall. We managed to wipe the men manning them off, but it was too late. Clever chaps built them so they could defend the slope and the area in front of the outer gate. Not that it would have been easy to scale the wall anyway, it once was much higher than on the photo. And you can't get trebuchets up this damn mountain, much less find a place to set them up.

Closeup of an embrasure in the arcades

But we got the enemy, finally, though our captain fell while fighting in front of the second gate. We have the outer ward now, but not the bailey. And even if we'll manage to breach the second line of defenses, the family of the lord and the surviving retainers can withdraw into the keep.

Hey, is that a monk scurrying out of the scriptorium in an attempt to gain the bailey gate? As if the garrison would let him in now, with us milling in the outer ward. Nice catch, he can deliver us the lord's books so we can find out how much gold the man has, and where. Damn, Matthes has found the storage house with the beer. He'll be useless for the rest of the assault.

Note:
We don't know for sure if the Plesse has ever faced a major assault, but we do know it was never taken and destroyed.
 
Comments:
Great post and photos, Gabriele. I laughed about the beer.
 
Those are GORGEOUS ruins!!
And so well restored. I'd love to be able to explore them. Ah well - maybe some day!
 
Lol, thank you Shelley. History can be a dry matter and I think I need to liven it up a bit.

Sam, they're really geat. And pretty quiet on a Monday afternoon.
 
That looks like a wonderful place to play hide-and-seek! :)

"throwing all sorts of interesting objects on the attacker"

And that gives me Monty Python flashbacks... Fetchez la vache ;)
 
Great post. Wonderful photos, especially the pics of the outer gate and the curtain wall. I could be wrong but I think I saw some plotbunnies. :)
 
Celedë, I bet you could. Maybe I should bring my niece when she's visiting. Though if she's anything like my brother and me, she'll be on the walls in no time.

Ann, there are always plotbunnies hiding in those ruins. The churches are pretty safe, but not the castles. ;)
 
I really enjoy your castle tours, and the great details. And, nice photo of you. d:

By the way, about three weeks ago I finished watching the final season of ROME, and I was trying to remember if I'd asked you about it--did it show in Germany?
 
Ah, those are seriously beautiful pictures, Gabriele.
~yearn~
 
Thank you, Debra.
Yes, the first series of Rome was shown in German TV. I had a few issues with it, but less than with the usual Hollywood take on the history of Rome (Gladiator, King Arthur, Lost Legion).

Bernita,
autumn is my favourite season, and while the light makes taking photos a bit tricky, if they come out well, they're more beautiful than summer pics.
 
Nice touch about the beer. Will the rest of you be joining Matthes (so the owners can counter attack while you're all drunk?) :-)
 
It's an idea, lol. But I suppose you'd like to see the rest of the castle, so we better try and get in. :)
 
Gabriele

That is an excellent description of a Castles defenses.
 
Thank you, Hank.
 
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Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


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