Variability in Perspectives on Current Issues in Social Sciences

by Daniel Bešina (Author)
Edited Collection 174 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • The evolution and formation of small settlements in Europe, with an emphasis on the territory of Slovakia
  • The importance of cultural heritage in education
  • A contribution on the historical demography of Kysuce based on the example of the village of Oščadnica
  • The development of the choreographic production of folklore ensembles in the Slovak folklore movement from the point of view of period dance esthetics in the second half of the 20th century
  • Significant nurses and their activities in the Slovak National Uprising
  • Significant figures of the municipality of Pered during the interwar period
  • Resumé
  • List of Tables
  • References


Social and human sciences are currently in a special position. On the one hand, they are subject to frequent doubts and mistrust while on the other hand, there is a view that the 21st century will be a century of social and human sciences, addressing their importance in solving key cultural and social issues of humanity. These disciplines, by means of their own research methods, acquire information that helps them to understand the world and the place of man in it; they make a significant contribution to the formation of cultural memory or represent a means of orientation in the varied pictures of the world.

In our social cognitive and evaluation connection to reality we can observe the decreasing interest in human and social sciences. However, the rejection of the importance of human sciences is based on a fundamental misconception of facts. Society’s education and culture is a prerequisite for the economic level of each country. Innovation is not only a matter of technical importance, it is equally important to understand human cultural behavior in the broadest possible context.

The publication contains a number of variable views on selected topics from social, human and historical sciences that demonstrate the relevance of the research in the area under consideration. Due to the variety of topics in this publication, it is possible to encompass the widest possible area of interest and to contribute to the completion of a more complex state of research in the subject area. The authors of the publications are PhD students of the Department of Archaeology, the Department of Ethnology and Folklore, the Department of History and the Department of Culture and Tourism Management at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra.

Daniel Bešina

The evolution and formation of small settlements in Europe, with an emphasis on the territory of Slovakia

Abstract: The chapter presents the development of small medieval fortifications in a wide area of Europe. The development of medieval fortifications is briefly followed from the early Middle Ages to the Middle Ages. The problem is gradually narrowed down to the territory of Central Europe and finally, the development of medieval fortifications in the territory of Slovakia is more closely addressed.

Keywords: Middle Ages forts, terminology, motte, castles, nobility

The concept of medieval feudal settlements of a specific structural and functional form usually coincides with the concept of the castle, which is characteristic of the Gothic period. But upon closer observation it is clear that as a formation a medieval settlement is a significantly differentiated type of architecture. The structure of settlements depends on the time of creation, the type of feudalism and, of course, the function and importance of the settlement (Hejna 1965, 513). The most famous medieval fortifications were based on long-term socio-organizational and military needs. In general terms, they can be described as feudal settlements. From these facts, feudal settlements can be considered representative, administrative, organizational, military and economic units of monarchical institutions, and secular and ecclesiastical nobility.1

The form of the settlements was influenced by landscape. Situational placement depended on terrain morphology, usually based on the decision of the architect, who took into account contemporary customs and plans for settlement construction. The establishment of feudal settlements is associated with a phase in the social differentiation process in which a ruling class was created and its development was justified by the permanent land ownership of a growing number of wealthier vassals.

In terms of architecture, the development of manor houses usually derived from ancient traditions, prehistoric traditions applied in the domestic environment and, finally, simple experience that was a result of the effort to maximize the relief to protect the structure.2

It may be concluded that the basis of the mentioned building traditions was formed in the Frankish, Norman and Ottonian environment. At the end of this evolution and formation there were the medieval castles and rural settlements of the medieval nobility. The territory, when it came to the creation of feudal settlements, can be defined geographically from northern France across the Rhine into western and central Germany. Territory in southern Italy and Britain can be described as particular peripheral enclaves. In the earlier professional theses of researchers, antique influence was valued and emphasized. More recent results of archaeological research show a significant proportion of domestic traditions in the formation of medieval fortified settlements. Ancient tradition was rather limited to its own structural character of settlement. Domestic building traditions had already been developed in the initial formation of settlements, in terms of the definition of situation and form, and in the method of fortification and internal layout. The essence of local building traditions should be the subject of exploration throughout the European environment. Individual layers of the nobility had already appeared in the prehistoric period (Copper Age and later Bronze Age) and to them was closely connected differentiation from other emerging sectors of society. This led to the formation of divided settlement areas emphasizing higher social status.3

From an architectural point of view, the beginnings of European feudal settlements are usually searched for in Roman architecture, particularly in military and, partly, in civil architecture. The Roman military built structures at the borders of the empire. These smaller fenced points of the borders are in the expert sources described as “turris”, “burgus” and “castellum”. The terms refer to constructions of different form.

The term turris refers to a guard tower structure, which was a very important element in most of the border fortifications in Europe, Asia and North Africa.4 Another structure of the Roman borders was the burgus. Unlike the guard tower turris, it represented a larger element in the defense system, but on the other hand, it is not possible to confuse it with the castellum.5 In connection with the above-mentioned terms, the problems of the Roman military fortification of the castellum type can be briefly outlined. Originally, they were fortified with a mound and wooden construction or without fortification, and of various sizes ranging between 0.6 and 6 hectares. They were built according to the classical patterns of “castro” camps, but differed in the size of military unit located inside. Roman civil architecture played a role too – specifically the “villa rustica”, a type of administrative rural settlement that was fortified with stone walls or by a mound.6

The impact of certain types of Roman military constructions on the formation of feudal settlements cannot be excluded. Importance and impact should be sought primarily in the sphere of architecture, particularly in terms of building technologies. Theories supporting the dominant influence of Antiquity have one serious weakness. Between the period of Roman building activities in Europe and the beginning of European feudal fortifications, we do not have enough knowledge about the direct impact or evolution of architecture.

This is the period between the 4th and 10th centuries AD, when there was serious political and social change (the disappearance of the western Roman Empire, and the great migration). In the archaeological research there is not enough information, especially about forms of settlements. Some continuity can be demonstrated in the sepultures, cult temples and fortifications of Roman military camps on the Rhine and Danube borders. Significant and fluent continuity can be seen in present-day France and Spain, arising from the old Roman “civitates”, religious centers housing the seats of bishops. During the reign of the Merovingian dynasty, the first known royal settlements were formed on the ruins of camps.7

Previously, it was mentioned that more intensive research on fortified settlements and deeper interest in the issue place an increasing emphasis on prehistoric building traditions in the formation of feudal settlements. These beginnings we can find already in the late Stone Age. From the end of the ancient period, one cannot fail to mention the influence of Celtic structural elements acting on both sides of the Roman border. It may be concluded that there was influence and exchange of building traditions between Celtic and Roman culture. Celtic society was considerably differentiated – it had its own ruling class with their own settlements. In connection with the Celtic environment, Romanization also appeared in the fortified courts of the Celtic nobility. In this context, it is important to mention the rural abodes of the Irish environment, called “crannogs”, situated on an artificial dam in marshy areas. From the same provenance came “raths”, which represented settlements on upland sites fortified with a mound and ditch. From the southern German region, we have the “Viereckschanzen” fortified residence of tetrahedral shape, probably of Celtic origin. Due to their small amount of settlement diversity, they have rather an iconic significance.8 Germanic architecture would become part of certain types of feudal court in the form of Germanic hall construction. This was a longitudinal one-room space, and it is noteworthy that this appeared in the British Isles along with the Anglo-Saxon invasion.

This type of construction became part of the fenced courts in the pre-Romanesque period. From the coastal areas of northern Europe also comes the structure called a “wurta” (or warten, terpen). They were mostly situated on flat terrain. The origin of wurta is from prehistoric times, where it was possible to see the building of artificial dams and this phenomenon lasted until recently. Wurta settlements had a rural character; therefore they cannot be cited as an example of feudal forms of fortification. Situational forms, such as an artificially screeded hill, which could be affected by certain buildings of the lords’ settlements mostly in the Anglo-Saxon and Frankish context, cannot be overlooked.9

An individual group with considerable influence was the Saxon castles. In the area of Saxony, along with the large castles, there were smaller structures, frequently built with brick and with a circular layout with buildings around the perimeter. The central courtyard of the internal area was open and different from the karolinska castles in terms of the flatness of the area.10 Saxon castles provide a more complete and important type of settlement. They were built on inaccessible terrain and builders emphasized the strong outer walls. The fortifications were built on an embankment with a wooden construction. The origins of the Saxon castles date back to the period of war between Saxons and Charlemagne and their appearance corresponded with prehistoric building traditions.

Saxon castles are an important and characteristic group of buildings, the existence of which lasted until the 11th century. This group of fortified settlements were, mainly in the older literature, considered as essential in the placement and construction of settlements in the territory inhabited by Slavs, bordering the Carolingian and later Ottonian Empire.11 German researchers (Müller-Wille, 1966) concluded, based on years of research that among the Saxon castles there were two basic groups in the area of Saxony and Thuringia, as well as central Europe.


ISBN (Book)
Publication date
2019 (December)
Small settlements Cultural heritage Demography Folklore Word War II Significant figures
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 174 pp., 3 tables.

Biographical notes

Daniel Bešina (Author)

Daniel Bešina works as a lecturer at the Department of Museology, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra (Slovakia). In his academic work, he focuses on research on landscape-historical monuments and new modern computer technologies in the research and presentation of monuments. His teaching activities include the methodology of research on prehistoric and historical landscapes.


Title: Variability in Perspectives on Current Issues in Social Sciences