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Protruding battlement with machicolations (opening between G and B)

The Maschikuli (plural: Maschikulis , East Franconian also Maschikeles ; from French mâchicoulis , this derived around 1402 from the Middle French macher “crush”, “crush” and coulis “liquid” or col “neck”) is an on the outer wall of medieval fortifications such as Castles , fortresses or city ​​fortifications between two consoles (corbels), recessed throw or cast opening. It occurs in rows on a projecting battlement or on the underside of a weir gate . The Maschikulis are accessible from the defender's side in the form of vertical floor shafts in front of the foot of the cantilevered wall.


Torra di l'Isuledda, Corsica

Maschikulis were used for vertical defense against attackers at the foot of the wall. In contrast to defensive walls or towers flush with the outside, in which the defenders leaned over the parapet of a battlement window and were at that moment uncovered, battlements with machicolations to the front offered complete protection against enemy fire.

Throwing stones of various sizes could be thrown down at the attackers by the machicolations. The use of boiling liquids such as water or oil is also mentioned in some sources. In today's research, however, the latter is viewed as an exception: In the case of hill castles , drinking water obtained from cisterns or wells was essential for survival, especially in the event of a siege, and was therefore hardly an option as a weapon ( the situation may be different with water castles ). Oil or pitch was expensive or very laborious to produce, which is why it is doubtful that it was poured down on the attackers in buckets. Much more effective and archaeologically better documented, however, is the medieval use of pitch for the production of incendiary arrows .

In medieval fortifications, individual machicolations were often set up as latrine bay windows (toilets). The bay window then received a seat board on the inside, usually with an oval cutout, which rested on a parapet wall on the room side. If several floors in the same wall had to be equipped with it, they were staggered one below the other. During a defense of the defense structure, the latrine bay was easily converted into defense equipment.


Maschikulis at Mondavio Castle (Italy)

Like the battlements , the machicolations were a special part of stately architecture as a defensive building element. There were different designs and decorations of machiculis. Often several corbels, each protruding a little further, are stacked on top of one another, the free-standing lower edges were often rounded off. In Italy, elongated consoles with a steep angle were fashionable. The gaps between the consoles could be bridged by a straight stone beam or by a small, brick arch . The entire variety of forms of medieval architecture was also used for the arch shape.

After the castles had lost their defensive function due to the invention of the cannon , lined-up machikulis were used in the early modern period as purely decorative elements on castles and stately homes. They often resemble an arched frieze . They can be found as ornaments on many neo-Gothic buildings from the 19th century that can be assigned to historicism up to industrial buildings.

Related terms

Maschikuliturm of the fortress Marienberg , Würzburg

The hurdles , sinkholes, machicolations and murder holes, which are related but not identical to the machiculi, also fulfill a similar function .

Senkscharten are diagonally extending through the wall embrasures , which also serve the vertical defense. The field of fire that can be controlled in this way does not, however, extend all the way to the base of the wall, but lies in front of the wall. Outwardly, sinkholes can be designed in a similar shape to machiculis, and there are transitional shapes between the two.

The machicolation is in contrast to Machicolation not the bottom of a collared stem, but leads diagonally through the wall, and rarely occurs in rows. It is a special form of the military guard. In the older literature, machiculis are sometimes described with the ambiguous term "Pechnasenkranz".

The murder hole is a vertical thrown or cast opening that is located in a gate vault .

See also


Web links

Commons : Machicolations  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Maschikuli  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations



  1. ^ Paul Robert: Le Petit Robert , Paris 1976, under the heading.
  2. ^ Albert Dauzat, Jean Dubois, Henri Mitterand: Nouveau dictionnaire étymologique et historique , Librairie Larousse 1971.