The Online Library of Knowledge

Castles & knights

Life in a castle

A lord addresses the castle's servants.A lord addresses the castle's servants.A castle was the residence for the lord, his family and his followers, while his guards, the castle’s peacetime garrison, manned the battlements. The lady took charge of the castle while the lord was away. Among their servants, who were all under the control of the chamberlain, were ladies-in-waiting, the lady’s personal assistants, and pages, who served at meal times and ran errands.

A castle's servants at workA castle's servants at work
The lord's family and chief servantsThe lord's family and chief servants

Castle residents

The castle was the family home of a nobleman or baron and his wife, the lord and lady of the castle. Among their servants, who were under the control of the chamberlain, were ladies-in-waiting, the lady’s personal assistants, and pages, who served at meal times and ran errands.

Defenders of the castleDefenders of the castle


The constable, also called the castellan, the lord’s second-in-command, was in charge of the garrison, the soldiers who defended the castle. Knights swore allegiance to the lord. They fought alongside hired soldiers, men-at-arms and archers. Each knight was served by a squire, a young trainee knight. The herald delivered the king’s messages.

Many castles belonged to the king, so for much of the time he—along with his many servants—was not in residence. These castles were mostly occupied by his deputies, officials appointed to raise taxes and punish wrongdoers in the neighbourhood.

© 2019 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile