How were European forts or castles built in overseas lands?

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,710
Sydney
#21
the castle of the discovery age had of course administrative purpose too
that was a constant in medieval castle that they were residence and place of refuge against the greatest danger ,
irate local tax payers ,

Certainly a local supply of good stone was very desirable , up to being one of the parameter for the choice of the site

one could mention the walls of the Breton city of St Malo made of very tough granite
in 1944 the US troops taking the city from some SS had to fire heavy howitzers point blank on the walls to make a breach

inversely in 1247 As Salih Ayyub had wagons of hard limestone projectiles transported from Beersheva to destroy the walls of Ashkelon castle
they were made from the local crumbly stone and gave way after less than a day bombardment
 
Jul 2009
9,916
#22
I used to volunteer with the NPS at the Castillo de San Marcos, a stone fort the Spanish built in St. Augustine Florida. The fort is a full fledged artillery fortification on an Italian trace with four bastions, a ditch and a fine glacis and covered way.

The engineer was a Spaniard named Ignazio Daza. The fort was built of local coquina stone and skilled labor came mainly from Cuba and unskilled labor mainly by the local Indians.

Following is a link to an article on the fort I wrote for the Fortified Places website

Fortified Places > Fortresses > Castillo de San Marcos, St Augustine
Great link and good information. I would emphasize though that early Spanish fortifications in the 'New World' were mostly either of earth or wood. Many were 'Trace Italienne,' but St Augustine was not rebuilt with masonry until very late in the 17th century. All that is understandable as early Spanish coastal settlements, or strategic points, were not under serious threat until around 1585-1600. It is possible that late 16th century Spanish royal bankruptcies were in part caused by increased expenditure on fortifications on the Spanish Main. Hawkins and Drake and Christopher Hatton cost Spain a lot of money.
 
Jan 2018
384
Sturgeon Lake Mn.
#23
It is possible that late 16th century Spanish royal bankruptcies were in part caused by increased expenditure on fortifications on the Spanish Main. Hawkins and Drake and Christopher Hatton cost Spain a lot of money.
Indeed, it was because of the English threat that San Juan and Cartagena were so strongly fortified, and both cities saw off English attacks. And had Havana been more capably fortified the English probably couldn't have captured it in 1762.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,710
Sydney
#24
Edward I came close to bankruptcy , building his ( marvelous) Welsh castles ,
building with stone is very slow and costly , while a earthen fort with palisade can be erected in weeks with very little need for architectural knowledge

I'm interested in other countries fortification , the Incas seems to have used stepped terraces ,
the Japanese quite low walls and water ditches ( earthquakes ?)
Chinese were more into high walls and square cities ( excluding the great wall )
the Indus Muslims and Turks follows the same layout as the medieval ones , with the same problem due to the late appearance of cannon
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,544
Portugal
#25
Jan 2018
384
Sturgeon Lake Mn.
#26
Many (actually most) artillery fortifications that appear at first glance to be stone or brick are actually earthen with a masonry revetment. The Dutch, having the money to maintain purely earthen fortifications often didn't bother with the masonry or used little of it.
 
Oct 2017
152
Australia 🇦🇺
#27
Yes, the castles & forts of the Age of Discovery.

I’m surprised to learn how stones used for constructing forts, castles & other overseas infrastructure were often imported from Europe as ballast. Didn’t imagine that would be very practical. That must either require a lot of ships, or frequent back & forth trips to & from Europe, or a combination of both. Then again importing stone may have been much more practical than carrying stone from distant quarries without railroads, especially through jungle in undeveloped places, they might even have to clear paths through jungle to do that, which couldn’t have been very easy at all. I would imagine that the availability of fresh water would have been of more importance than suitable rocks/quarries to planning fort location then. The forts & castles might have began as relatively small as well. I imagine that many if not most forts would have started off wooden, perhaps even if to test whether it would work out with stone later.

I would love to study more about engineering & technological history. Btw how would y’all like to upvote my post on having a section on that for Historum, wonder why there isn’t.
 
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Oct 2017
152
Australia 🇦🇺
#28
All of the cut stone and brick of Fortress Louisbourg (and most every other fort in New France) came as ballast in fisheries vessels (who returned to Europe with cod). The rubble-stone was quarried locally.
Wasn’t New France very vast in territory, making up a good big fraction of the area of North America & the Caribbean? Wouldn’t there have been plenty of quarries within that territory?

The Castle of “São Jorge da Mina”, in today’s Ghana, was one of the first European fortress build in the Modern Period/Age of Discoveries in 1482.

To build the Castle the Portuguese sent in ships all the stone already prepared from Portugal.

Wikipedia as a relatively good article about it: Elmina Castle - Wikipedia

The Portuguese build many fortress around the world in the Modern Period, in the African Coast, in India, Brazil, etc. Often local labour and local materials were used.
I’m surprised to learn that Elmina castle was built entirely with European stone & laborers. Wouldn’t it have been easier for the Portuguese king to have requested local stone & labor from the local chief? Must’ve been Very well & confidently planned out then.

Hasn’t West Africa historically been nicknamed the White Man’s Grave?
 
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Oct 2017
152
Australia 🇦🇺
#29
Cape Coast castle - wasn’t that one of the largest slave castles on Africa? Anyone can share much about how that was built?

Are there really a total of around 40 slave castles built on West Africa, not any more than that? Wonder how they were built, must’ve been varied I’d imagine.

When President Obama visited Ghana’s Cape Coast Castle in July, 2009, he remarked that “it reminds us of the capacity of human beings to commit great evil.”
 
Last edited:
Mar 2014
6,632
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
#30
I would have imagine New France would be more than big enough for there to be plenty of local quarries.
But a shortage of labour. I don't know how many people would be employed in a typical stone-cutting operation, but I suspect it's significant and probably highly skilled as well.

On top of that, New France was a sink-hole of institutionalized corruption. Anything at all produced locally cost many times more than the same item imported from Europe. Items would be purchased at cut-rate prices, re-sold at grossly inflated prices to corrupt middle-men, then re-purchased as needed by the Crown at even greater prices. In the worst cases, such as during the Seven Years War, things like food would be literally seized from the populace, re-sold, re-sold again, then sold BACK to the populace at ruinous rates. Prices in New France were at least seven times greater than in France.
 
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