Tuesday, June 11, 2013

All About Everything - Week Of June 11, 2013

This Week's Topic: Warwick Castle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Warwick Castle (Listeni/ˈwɒrɪk/ worr-ik) is a medieval castle developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068. Warwick is the county town of Warwickshire, England, situated on a bend of the River Avon. The original wooden motte-and-bailey castle was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century. During the Hundred Years War, the facade opposite the town was refortified, resulting in one of the most recognisable examples of 14th century military architecture. It was used as a stronghold until the early 17th century, when it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I in 1604. Sir Fulke Greville converted it to a country house. It was owned by the Greville family, who became earls of Warwick in 1759, until 1978 when it was bought by the Tussauds Group.


The Warwick trebuchet

The trebuchet at Warwick Castle is the largest catapult in the world.
In June 2005, Warwick Castle became home to one of the world's largest working siege engines. The trebuchet is 18 metres (59 ft) tall, made from over 300 pieces of oak and weighs 22 tonnes (24 short tons).[57] The machine, which was made in Wiltshire, is situated on the riverbank below the castle. It takes eight men half an hour to load and release,[58] the process involves four men running in 4 metres (13 ft) tall wheels to lift the counterweight, weighing 6 tonnes (7 short tons) into the air. It is designed to be capable of hurling projectiles distances of up to 300 metres (980 ft) and as high as 25 metres (82 ft) and can throw projectiles weighing up to 150 kilograms (330 lb).[58] On 21 August 2006, the trebuchet claimed the record as the most powerful catapult of its type when it sent a projectile weighing 13 kilograms (29 lb) a distance of 249 metres (817 ft) at a speed of 260 kilometres per hour (160 mph), beating the previous record held by a machine in Denmark.[59]

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My final term of college, I took a class called England's Castles. It sounded more interesting than it actually was. It was taught by this tiny little British guy who sometimes brought his dog, and sometimes brought his wife, to class. Most of his lectures involved detailed descriptions of how castle walls were fortified (curved walls = good, corners = bad).

One day, Little British Dude announced that a third of our final grade would depend upon a 17-page term paper written about a castle of our choice. The catch? We had to cite all our research, and none of that research could come from the internet. I decided on Warwick Castle, and I managed to get a bunch old, antique, ready-for-the-dustbin books on the subject via Inter-Library Loans. I wrote the paper, and I'll be darned if at least three of those 17 pages weren't made up of citations. 

Minor Fact: The overuse of the term "motte-and-bailey" that term led me to name my cat Baylie. True story.

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