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Castles as European Phenomena

Towards an international approach to medieval castles in Europe. Contributions to an international and interdisciplinary workshop in Kiel, February 2016


Edited By Stefan Magnussen and Daniel Kossack

Castle research witnessed a revival in recent years, and new theoretical and methodological approaches have massively changed our perception of medieval castles. But despite the fact that this renaissance is observable all over Europe, research is still mostly subject to regional perspectives. In 2016, a workshop was hosted at Kiel University, Germany, in order to address these recent developments and stimulate international scientific discourse. It was especially designed to provide a platform for young scholars. With its 11 contributions, the volume provides a vivid picture of current castle research in different areas of Europe, from Italy to Latvia and the Levant to Denmark.

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Castles as European Phenomena – An Introduction to the Volume


Stefan Magnussen and Daniel Kossack

Research on castles witnessed a significant revival during recent years, accompanied by new theoretical and methodological approaches that brought new findings and paved the way for new interpretations. Often, castles are no longer simply understood as refuges for lords and adjacent residents, but rather as complex institutions with a variety of dimensions. They are no longer only an isolated institution, but one of many aspects of a complex interwoven and eclectic landscape, in which they unify a variety of administrative, economical and residential functions. And this is not only true for specific regions in, for instance, England, France or the Holy Roman Empire, but for many regions across different states of modern Europe.1 But despite this vivid renaissance and the many similarities across these regions, research is still mostly subject to regional or, rather, national perspectives, which complicates a comprehensive approach to castles in Europe.2 Very often, important publications are (if at all) published in one of Europe’s many different languages, limiting its perception and findings to a group of scholars capable of reading them. While this might only be a minor issue for publications written in French or German, languages regularly spoken in the realm of academia, this poses a larger problem for publications in much less common languages, like, Latvian, Danish or Croatian. Hence, modern boundaries often determine scholarly research areas, which might lead to counterfactual perspectives.3

During past decades, several emerging institutions and organizations, with the explicit objective...

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