Machicolations are floorless stone boxes on castle ramparts, used for pouring boiling oil on unwelcome guests. Richard the Lionheart saw them in action on crusade in Syria, and felt impelled to have them fitted in his new top-of-the-range £12,000 castle in Normandy, Château Gaillard. The Château was built (1196–98) on a crag overlooking the River Seine to Richard’s personal specification to defend his Norman possessions from the equally bellicose French king, Philip II. But in 1204 Philip captured the Château after a six-month siege (a group of knights evaded the machicolations by climbing up the latrine-chute, then wound down the drawbridge). During the 100 Years’ War the Château was successfully captured no less than four times, finally falling to the French in 1453, after which it gradually fell into disuse, before Henry IV of France ordered its destruction (1599).
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