Before the evolution of the castle, Europe was vulernable to any bloodthirsty marauder. But with the introduction of the motte-and-bailey "instant castle", invaders were checked, frontiers were held and life became more stable. Later, castles became part of conquerors' grand designs and to this we owe the great Crusader castles of Syria and the Edwardian castles of North Wales. This book explores the life and thought of the Middle Ages with particular emphasis on the influence of the castle, a military society with all its faults and virtues. Philip Warner, whose "Sieges of the Middle Ages" is also published as a Classic Penguin, looks at the people who lived in these castles: what they wore, what they ate, the chores they hated and the thoughts that motivated them. In doing so, he also draws parallels between life some 500 years ago and life today.