October 18, 2021

Fortification and sovereign powers (1180-1340): Fortified architecture and territorial control in the 13th century

The 13th century was a special period in terms of territorial expansion of the main principalities in Europe and in part of the Mediterranean world. For these sovereign powers, control of territories through networks of fortresses was a necessity, faced with populations that were not really in the control of the dominant elites, or claims by other sovereign powers. Replacing the sites of the former power, these fortified complexes were meant to have a military, administrative and also symbolic role to embody the new masters of the territory.

For these expanding sovereign powers and sometimes in confrontation with each other, coherent – and often centralised – management of the territories required a streamlining of processes, which led to the creation and development of increasingly efficient administrative tools, both centrally and regionally. A consequence or an accompaniment to the phenomenon, we observe the development of a new type of fortified architecture, the exact reflection of this new organisation of power and the concerns of their sponsors. Thus, large fortified complexes were formed, like the castles and towns of Philip II in the northern half of France; the fortresses of Edward I of England in Wales; the superb palace-castles of Frederick II in Italy and Sicily; the royal fortifications of Carcassonne and Corbières; and many others, in Aragon, Flanders, Castile, Bohemia, all the way to the Latin states of the East.

This international conference aims to compare the latest research in the field in order to understand the similarities of these sovereign administrative and architectural policies across Europe, their interactions in a context of confrontation, but also their particularities and their differences, depending on the political, geographical and artistic contexts of each one, while examining the issues of circulation of models and concepts. To achieve this, the meeting will have to focus on a pragmatic and concrete vision, based on the history of the sources as well as on the analysis of the architecture, but also on the understanding of the geography of the terroirs and the urban factor. To better understand the phenomena at work, the purely monographic aspect will be abandoned in favour of synthesis and cross-cutting analysis communications. It will therefore be the opportunity to compare the views of historians, geographers, architects and archaeologists.

The conference will take place from November 18-21 at the Cité de Carcassonne, France.

More information can be found in the full program here.

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