Castles of Northwestern Bohemia in the Middle Ages

Milan Sýkora



The oldest royal and nobility castles appear in Northwestern Bohemia in the 2nd third of the 13th century. Builders mainly use castles with a Bergfried and a palace or with a donjon, regular castle dispositions remain limited to the environment of royal cities. However, the growth in construction of nobility castles did not occur until the reign of John the Blind, when many of them were built as fief castles. During the 14th century we can observe different tendencies in the construction of castles. There are more sophisticated mansions, where a large palace stands as the main building. In the last quarter of the 14th century we can already observe decline in the use of defensive components. The direction of the castle architecture towards comfortable settlements was disrupted by the Hussite wars and the massive development of firearms. During the war years in Bohemia, an ingenious architecture was being created using both passive and active defence means, which spread throughout Europe and formed one of the sources of inspiration for modern bastion fortresses. After the Hussite wars, we see tendencies aimed at improving the quality of residential and representational components.     The purpose of this article is not only to present the complicated beginnings of castles in north-western Bohemia (today’s Ústí region), but also to attempt to describe the development trends of castle architecture until the late Middle Ages. In his work, the author focused on the description and interpretation of several key objects and on the outline of general trends.

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