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The History of Medieval Brick

Medieval  Castle building sets were some of the first lines of sets to be introduced into the building space, way back in 1978, the same year the iconic minifigure was introduced. The first set in this line to be introduced, the 375 Castle, was built of very basic yellow bricks and green bases, and built a rather large fortress of towers and walls. Coming with 4 brick-built horses and several knights, this iconic set kickstarted a long and fruitful exploration into medieval and castle lines which continues to be released and designed by official makers and MOC creators to this day.

Multiple waves of sets between then and now have been released, expanding the lore and quality of bricks used to build these sets, but common themes can be identified throughout these waves, namely striking fortresses, medieval buildings like houses and windmills, armies of knights, their accompanying horses, and a clearly designed enemy to battle.

Inspirations for Medieval Lines

The typical medieval branding is heavily based on a romantic interpretation of mid-late middle age Europe, with heavy inspirations taken from “Medieval” England. When people reference what they see to be a “medieval” inspired setting, much is drawn from the High Middle Ages period that lasted from 1000-1250AD. The key tropes from this period inspire the general themes we still see today in depictions of medieval settings, and strike to the heart of brick-built models which have been produced since the 70s.

The agricultural revolution of the high Middle Ages brought with it an increase in the use of horses, a revolution in the efficiency of farming, and the adoption of technologies such as the windmill, waterwheel, and heavy plow. These technologies are iconic staples of medieval depictions and have been featured in various brick built sets and mocs across the years from very early on credit Right: Phil Crowfield – https://www.flickr.com/photos/philcrowfield/8737831043/

 

The increase of trade and commerce throughout the high Middle Ages as the population boomed is also captured in medieval depictions. Mercantilism – a growing economic model from the late Middle Ages to the early-modern period began to boom as trade routes and export markets were becoming established through this period of increased production. The climb out of the early Middle Ages/dark ages period saw an exponential rise in population and economies, and markets, merchants and trade workers became increasingly noticeable as icons of this period. Blacksmiths, bakers, market squares and roadside bandits have all made appearances in official and MOC sets all derived from this feature of the medieval period.

The political nature of the middle ages is a topic and historical legend which still inspires stories to this day. The feudal system and the code of chivalry were long-standing features of English and European medieval culture, and old legends continue to the modern-day in the form of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. The iconography of a kingdom – the castle, the army, the flag, have all been replicated and implemented into many themes across the decades.

Why Are These Medieval Lines So Memorable?

 

Created through folk tales and oral traditions in the high Middle Ages, the stories and legends which have been passed down to today’s culture. Superstitions and legends were powerful in these eras and led to many strong images which are still passed down today. Wizards, dragons and other mythical creatures were powerful representations in medieval folklore which have carried through to many modern lines. Furthermore, one of the earliest castle subthemes – the forestmen line – can be seen to have taken heavy inspiration from the Robin Hood legends of the late Middle Ages 

The Medieval theme is a long-established  theme and continues to grow in the official market as well as through MOC creations. The wide variety of bricks available have allowed extremely detailed and beautiful models to have been created. Many such MOCs can be found at medievalbrick.com, which help grow the alternative brick market and encourage the creation of amazing new detailed MOCs in this theme. 

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