In the Middle Ages the castle was an important military and administrative centre, essentially utilitarian in its design and in the purposes it served. Because it played so central a role in medieval history, and because the wealth of material is so great, the author has concentrated on English seiges undertaken in the period from the Norman Conquest to the War of the Roses. This includes many dramatic actions fought on the continental dominions of the English Crown such as Chateau Gaillard and Rouen. Drawing from contemporary records and his own inpsection of sites, Philip Warner's narrative explores the skills of the architect, the engineer and the miner, as well as the courage of troops and their commanders.
Philip Warner (1914-2000) enlisted in the Royal Corps of Signals after graduating from St Catherine's, Cambridge in 1939. He fought in Malaya and spent 1,100 days as 'a guest of the Emperor' in Changi and on the Railway of Death, an experience he never discussed. He was a legendary figure to generations of cadets during his thirty years as a Senior Lecturer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Yet he will arguably be best remembered for his contribution of more than 2,000 obituaries of prominent army figures to The Daily Telegraph.