The much anticipated summer film Maleficent will hit movie theaters around the world on May 30. The story is based on the classic 17th century fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, in which a lovely princess is tragically struck down by an angry old witch. Starring in the movie is Angelina Jolie, who plays the evil witch. Older generations might remember that Sleeping Beauty was kept in a magically guarded castle surrounded by a near-impenetrable enchanted forest. Here are some other examples of medieval tactics that evolved into the home security measures we see today:

Curtain walls

Curtain walls were castles’ first line of defense against an approaching army. Built several stories high and reinforced with stone and wood, these walls were meant to delay the breach until soldiers could man their stations and utilize other castle defense systems. Some castles had curtain walls that were made between six and 20 feet thick.


Spread along the wall were castle towers which gave the loyal soldiers the advantage of higher ground. After generations of sieges, castle builders discovered that towers with round walls were more resilient to the heavy stones launched by trebuchets and traditional catapults.

Portcullis and barbican

Castles were meant to withstand days, weeks and even months of sieges. Essentially, the only vulnerable points was the main entrance to castle grounds, and even this section was heavily fortified. The barbican was the part of the castle that included a drawbridge and arrow slits. Another feature of the barbican was the portcullis, a latticed grille comprised of wood and metal that would block the entryway in the event of an attack on the castle. The ropes that held the portcullis up could easily be slashed, causing the gate to crash down on advancing enemy soldiers


If a lord or nobleman of the castle feared attackers on horseback, he would create a moat to work in conjunction with the curtain walls. Moats were often dug as deep as 30 feet and filled with thick wooden stakes. If the enemy was bold enough to cross the moat and reach the castle walls, a hail of arrows and boiling oil from towers would rain down upon them.