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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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The Function of Sovereign Castles in Schleswig and Holstein: An Examination on the Basis of Castle Bond Certificates (ca. 1460–1480)


Frederic Zangel

Abstract: The essay examines the function of sovereign castles in Schleswig and Holstein. For this purpose the castle bond certificates of King Christian I of Denmark are taken into account. The observation shows that these castles were not only fortifications, but also economic and administrative centers as well as residences.

Bonds are of great importance for the history of castles as well as for their examination. Even though these changes of ownership were only temporary in the first place, they would have had an impact on the building stock and the territorial affiliation of castles if the bond was not repaid. As legal transactions, bonds motivated the creation of documents which give significant insights into the history of the ruling houses, their territory and its castles. Furthermore, castle bond certificates provide information on participating protagonists and their legal positions.1

For the sovereign, the bailment of castles was fraught with problems as it implicated at least a temporary loss of sovereignty and gains.2 A short-term lack of money was the main reason for the sovereign lord to become a debtor on the long run. But even for the bondholder the bailment could have negative consequences. The impact of the bailment of castles on the history of reign, the relationships of sovereign and nobility as well as the constitutional process will not be the focus in the following, since these issues have been the main subjects of previous research.3 The first main question ←83...

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