The castle was the focal point of the feudal order and, along with the Gothic cathedral, the architectural expression of medieval society. Using the imposing Chepstow on the Welsh border as their paradigm, the authors recreate in vivid detail the lives of those who dwelt within its walls and regulated the day to day existence of the villeins and freemen who depended on the castle lord for protection and for their livelihood. Structurally its round towers, drawbridge and battlements were built to resist attack from the world beyond. Economically, the castle was as self-sufficient as possible, the lord's household supporting its own bakers, brewers, candlemakers, tailors, grooms, clerks, armed knights, musicians, falconers and chaplain. From the castle the lord administered a variety of judicial and fiscal functions; custom and tradition regulated his rights and responsibilities just as it did the privileges and duties of his dependents. By concentrating on the everyday aspects of household management, the seasonal rhythms of planting and sowing, the holidays and recreations of lords and peasants, the Gieses succeed in making a remote and unfamiliar world accessible. Not a scholarly work but one which should appeal to those with a casual interest in the medieval panoply.