I would like to know what is the name of the area within a trace italienne fortification, i.e. item 38 in the image here below (which unfortunately was omitted in Wikipedia):

enter image description here

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    Maybe it can guide someone in the right direction... in French, it is sometimes called place d’armes (parade ground). – F'x Jul 20 '11 at 14:54
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    Do you mind if I edit the image to make it more comprehensible? – Alenanno Jul 20 '11 at 15:22
  • @Alenanno: It's not my image. See Wikimedia Commons: nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Vestingwerken_schema.png – Benjamin Jul 20 '11 at 15:30
  • @F'x: Isn't Parade Ground the place for military drills? I'm looking at the term for the entire area where residences as well as commercial and military buildings stand, surrounded by the fortifications. – Benjamin Jul 20 '11 at 15:31
  • @Benjamin, yes yes I know, I meant if it was possible just to edit it for this question, not on Wiki, just here. Is it legit to do it, by the way? – Alenanno Jul 20 '11 at 15:34

I think this area is called a bailey. A bailey can refer to the courtyard or the defensive wall that surrounds it.

Or it might be considered a ward, since it is inside the curtain walls.

And apparently, a ward and a bailey are the same thing.

Or it seems that it can be called a parade ground, as @F'x indicated and in agreement with this diagram:

star fort diagram


I was talking about this with a Dutch friend and he helped me find this page, which identifies area 38 as the vesting or fortress. Additionally, the entry identifies the flat terrain within the bastion, fort, or fortress as the terreplein. However, this is apparently the Dutch definition, since the English definition of a terreplein is substantially different.

  • Is this used for forts of this kind, or just for motte-and-bailey? – alexg Jul 20 '11 at 16:18
  • @alexg I got bailey and ward mixed up. A bailey is not just for motte-and-bailey, though. – Kit Z. Fox Jul 20 '11 at 16:39
  • +1 I remember when this was asked, and I remember googling, wiki-ing, and everything else, to no avail. This is valuable info. – Daniel Sep 26 '11 at 0:19
  • I'm still not satisfied with the answers so far, although it's good progress. I don't agree with the "parade ground", because the parade ground is a specific place for military drills (and I have been able to check this on actual maps I've been working on). You can still identify remaining parade grounds today in forts as distinct from the fort itself. After looking more into Dutch fortification documents, it seems the term would be the "town" (stad). – Benjamin Dec 19 '11 at 22:25
  • @Benjamin But it is the same diagram you asked about. It is used on another page that identifies that exact area as the vesting. – Kit Z. Fox Dec 20 '11 at 1:43

A lot of these terms come from different languages and are used in different places for slightly different things.

It's hard to define the "inside" of castles because most of them are not neat, simple polygons. Some use natural cliffs as part of their structure, and most have several areas of defense. The basic idea was that beleaguered defenders in the outer areas could fall back in an orderly fashion to inner areas with their own perimeters; usually, the process was more chaotic.

Castles had to be operating trade, construction, and logistics centers most of the time, and this affected their defense design. For example, more gates make trade easier, but increase vulnerability. Having fewer gates improves security, but less trade and thus less money made means that a mercenary army cannot be hired to take the fight away from the castle altogether.

That said, the term I've read most often (in English language books) is "ward".

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