Templar Architecture - dummies

By Christopher Hodapp, Alice Von Kannon

Part of The Templar Code For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The Templars were ambitious builders who modeled much of their architecture after Byzantine examples. The following list shows elements of Templar architecture and explains their uses:

  • battlements: A castle wall’s defenses, consisting of the walk wall along the top ridge, protected by the parapet.

  • concentric: This style of castle, favored by the Knights Templar, features a series of outer walls surrounding the castle. Attackers breaching one wall would find themselves suddenly trapped in a narrow alley confronting yet another inner wall.

  • donjon: A French word for the keep; not a dungeon as we know it today.

  • garderobe: The one thing everybody needed, the community toilet. It was a hollowed-out area in the castle wall, with a chute down to the moat or sewer pit.

  • gatehouse: The entry to the castle, usually secured by a drawbridge and a portcullis, and often defended by towers or turrets on either side of the entrance. The gatehouse is the easiest entry, the weakest link to all the castle’s defenses, and therefore usually the most heavily fortified.

  • Great Hall: The primary social center of the castle. The Great Hall served as a ceremonial reception room and dining hall.

  • keep: A strong, central tower, either square or round; the place of last resort to hole up in when all other defenses have failed. Round towers were easier to defend with fewer blind spots, but square towers provided more conveniently shaped interior rooms.

  • moat: A ditch surrounding the castle. It was filled with water if water was handy. There was no need for crocodiles to keep waders and enemies out, because the moat was usually full of the castle’s sewer. P.U.

  • murder holes: Openings in the ceiling of the front gate, used for dropping large rocks, firing arrows, or pouring boiling liquid on the enemies’ heads.

  • parapet: A crenellated wall of high and low vertical indentations, so archers could fire from the wall and then hide, simply by moving to one side or the other.

  • portcullis: The gate, usually made of iron, that could be slid down behind the drawbridge entryway.

  • postern gate: A secret back gate to the castle, usually well camouflaged. Used for sneaking troops out to surround the enemy or to let spies and scouts come and go.

  • towers: Large, defensive structures placed at corners or strategic positions along the castle’s walls. Towers could be square, round, or D-shaped. Round exterior walls meant greater visibility all around and were harder for attackers’ ladders to rest against.

  • turret: A small, round tower. In some castles, turrets protruded from the walls of the keep so archers could shoot down on enemies.

  • ward: The castle’s interior courtyard; sometimes called the bailey.