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The keep at Provins encirled by a low wall

In medieval castles the chemise (etym. fr. shirt) was typically a low wall encircling the keep, protecting the base of the tower. An alternate term, more commonly used in English is mantlet wall.

In some cases, entry to the keep was only accessible from the chemise (i.e. at the first floor level). Numerous examples exist of highly varied form, including the heavily fortified chemise of Château de Vincennes, or the more modest example at Provins, both in France. Some chemises are suggested to have been developed from earlier motte and bailey defences, though they may not usually be referred to as chemise.

In later fortification, a chemise is a wall with which a bastion or any other bulwark of earth, is lined; for its greater support and strength.


  • Mesqui, Jean (1997). Chateaux-forts et fortifications en France. Paris: Flammarion. p. 493 pp. ISBN 2080122711.  

This article incorporates content from the 1728 Cyclopaedia, a publication in the public domain.


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