Posted by: Audrey Thorstad | October 21, 2011

Castle Studies

Bodiam Castle, Sussex

So I have been back in merry ol’ England for almost 3 weeks now and I have already had two supervisions with both my PhD supervisors. So far I have looking at Bodiam Castle which definitely looks militaristic, however, a raging debate amongst scholars is abound on whether it could withhold against a siege or not. I am mainly working on ‘redefining’ the castle outside of the terms of purely military vs. purely domestic. The debate tends to be circular and shallow, so I’m trying to reinvent the way we look at castles (trying would be the keyword in this sentence). We can learn a hell of a lot more from a castle then if it could have withheld a siege in the 14th-15th centuries. Castles are beautiful buildings that can produce a range of emotions which I believe are one of their main purposes. Along with looking at individual castles I am looking at various aspects that encompass castles in general. At the moment I am looking at licenses to crenellate. These licenses have not truly been researched since there meanings are obscure and there seemed to be no real reason for obtaining one. However, they are well recorded in the Patent Rolls through the Middle Ages so in the next few weeks I shall be examining their language, range of usage and number of licenses given out over several centuries. Even though a lot of online databases seem to have tantrums quite often and give me various results each time I search I am so very thankful people (out there somewhere) are bringing history to the web. It makes it readily available and (usually) easy to access for anyone. To the very lucky, select group of people scanning Tudor State Papers online if you have a job opening please hire me. My envy for you is immense.

More Bodiam 🙂

The medievalists of Leeds Uni have re-re-re-started ‘medieval night at the pub’ on Thursdays. Yes, it has ‘re-started’, stopped and then re-started several times. But, we have been steady for several weeks now and we get quite a big group. We all claim to go out for a pint (or numerous pints) to ‘destress’ ourselves, however, you get a large group of people who love the Middle Ages and that is all we end up talking about. So even though we all leave ‘our work’ to (and I quote) “get away from it for a bit”, the only thing we end up talking about is what we are doing/researching at the moment. Would I have it any other way? Nope, definitely not. History is life for me and its nice finding people who feel the same.

I have not yet moved into an actual castle, but possibly 11 Rampart Road could be considered one if I bend the definition a bit…But my new house is absolutely amazing. My bed is bigger, my room is bigger, my flatmates are better. What more could one ask for? Nothing, I tell you, absolutely nothing. There are seven of us altogether, it seems like a lot, but we are all extremely busy most of the time so we see each other in passing, and relaxing in front of the TV [telly] at night. All seven of us are international students (for the most part), technically Lester is not because he is from Northern Ireland [part of the UK], but he isn’t from England so I count him as international. There is another guy from Greece and China, and one other American girl, a girl from France and one from Germany. Thus, all in all our house is pretty amazing.

The weather here is as gloomy as ever. When I first returned to England it was gorgeous out, all the flatmates even went out and had a picnic in the park next to our house. However, after that it rained for a good two weeks, and now it is definitely autumn out. The air and wind are chilly, the leaves have all changed and are falling off the trees. I have not yet wiped out the winter coat, but I took my mittens out of storage yesterday morning for the walk to the library.

Richard has been up to visit Leeds twice since I have been back and hopefully he will be coming up again around Halloween. The last visit was much needed since I was stressed out to the max [mostly because of my visa renewal and computer breakage]. We had big plans to go to a local castle one of the days, but we were both [okay, okay mainly me] were super tired/run down so  all we did was sit around in a PJs, drink tea, and watch TV. Although, to be honest, I didn’t want to do anything else, the weather did not co-operate all that much either. (Yes, I’m blaming the weather). We did get a chance to watch the Liverpool vs. Manchester United game in the Old Bar (the pub on campus) with some fellow medievalists which was exciting.

BREAKING NEW: I wrote 200 words yesterday. I most likely won’t end up using them in the actual thesis, but hey, 200 words is 200 words. But don’t think I haven’t been doing anything. Oh no, I have been researching for the past three weeks (27 pages of typed notes, numerous hours of looking through indexes of the Patent, Charter, Pipe, Parliamentary and any other rolls you can think of, 2 supervisions, and copious amounts of hours pondering the castle form[1]) and finally felt comfortable enough to write down my thoughts on Bodiam Castle.

Until next time, keep learning and keep exploring.


Ah, and my new address goes as follows:

11 Rampart Road, Woodhouse, Leeds, UK, LS6 2NU <<I like mail. Hint. Hint.

[1] A reference to Plato’s idea of the form. If you don’t know what I’m talking about read Plato’s Republic, or I suppose ask me since I like talking about it. But I highly advise reading Plato’s Republic, it’s amazing. And yes, I’m rambling in my footnote. And yes, I did just footnoted my blog.


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