By Don Nardo
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43 With the size of the cannons and their shot now making up for their limited explosive force, it became possible to demolish castle walls. It took a mere two days, for example, for a German prince’s big guns to destroy a castle during a siege in 1414. A growing WORDS IN CONTEXT number of fortresses across Europe met a similar fate in the decades that followed. The biggest shock of all bombard: General name to numerous Europeans came in the pivotal year 1453, of a class of very when the Ottoman Turks used their large cannons to large medieval devastate the huge and supposedly invincible walls cannons made protecting the great Christian city of Constantinople mostly in the (now Istanbul, Turkey).
24 Thus, seeing the new motte and bailey at Berkhamsted, along with other castles rising nearby, the nobles in London realized they were outmatched. They soon surrendered to William without a fight. It appears that England’s new Norman ruler had planned all along to eventually replace most of his motte and baileys with stronger, more permanent stone versions. This advanced castle-building program began in the last decades of the eleventh cenWORDS IN CONTEXT tury and influenced builders across Europe.
As a result, late medieval France lost several battles because its commanders, often cavalrymen themselves, were guilty of poor judgment. An example is the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. That year England’s king Henry V invaded France, and masses of French knights and other soldiers converged on the intruders, vowing to crush them. The French were certain of victory partly because they outnumbered the English 33 more than two to one. In addition, when the armies faced each other on the battlefield, the French knights saw that a major portion of Henry’s forces consisted of infantry, including large numbers of longbowmen.