The Weekly Quill — Investors Storm the Castle

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The Quill Intelligence 2022 Residential Real Estate Outlook

‘Tis the season for joyously revisiting your favorite films with the next generation. We hope the holidays include the brilliantly written happy exemplified in Rob Reiner’s 1987 classic, The Princess Bride. Though “Inconceivable!” may be the most repeated of the one-liners, it’s “Have fun storming the castle!” that most delights. Portrayed to perfection by nine-time Oscar winner Billy Crystal, this is the line that Miracle Max and his wife caustically scream at the main character Westley, a.k.a “Farm Boy,” who’s just been brought back from the “mostly dead” to the “sort of alive”, and is intent on rushing off, or being carted off, to rescue his true love from Humperdinck’s castle.

Director Reiner was shrewd to secure the setting of the stately Haddon Hall, started in the 11th century, by Peveril, the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror. It’s the best-preserved medieval castle and has also been the set of other motion pictures such as Jane EyreThe Prince and the Pauper and Elizabeth. Even better, it’s solid as a brick and imposing as such, that’s for sure. No, you correctly surmise – the structure remains as solid as the Lower Carboniferous Eyam Limestone Formation near Derbyshire where it stands.

As historically important as Haddon is, at roughly 37,500 square feet, neither it nor any other fortified stone edifice can compare to that of Poland’s Malbork Castle, which cannot even be measured in feet. Construction was completed in the early 1400s by the Teutonic Knights of the German military. As difficult as it is to fathom, the outermost castle walls enclose 52 acres, or 2,265,120 square feet, 60 times that of Haddon, or for a more realistic comparison, four times the enclosed area of Windsor Castle. One can only imagine how operationally brilliant the head cook was given Malbork once housed 3,000 “brothers in arms in its three separate castles – the High, Middle and Lower Castles – which were separated by multiple dry moats and towers.

As for the brick used to construct the behemoth, the impetus was pragmatic as the region lacked quality building stones. That doesn’t mean the foundation was not rock solid, which was essential to the castle standing up to invaders. Per Amusing Planet, “The first four to seven feet of all the walls were constructed with river boulders, infilled with smaller stones. Bricks were made and baked on site in the outer yard using mud from the riverbanks. Later, brick construction was shifted to the opposite bank of the river. Stone was used sparingly, but only for decorative elements, particularly in the church and chapter house entrances. It is estimated that between seven to thirty million bricks were used in its construction.”

Ultimately for those Knights, a combination of greed and a lack of vision saw them tossed out on their Teutonic arses. It came down to 15th century Prussia’s economic coming of age while the Knights stubbornly refused to follow. They imposed arduous customs and charged egregious fees for the privilege of trading grain, which was so 14th century. The pushback was inevitable and at the root of the Thirteen Years’ War which culminated in the Polish Army’s seizure of Malbork in 1457. Polish kings would occupy the formidable castles for the next 300 years.

The idea of uprisings against unfair taxes harkens the predicament in which Federal Reserve officials find themselves today. Middle income earners in the United States are being ruined by inflation ignited by a toxic combination of monetary and fiscal policy run amuck. Food, energy, living the iLife, and especially housing costs are experiencing price pressures not seen since the Carter administration. For those who rent, a reset when their leases come up for renewal after signing at rock bottom levels in the heat of the pandemic will be quite the rude awakening. And buying a home has never been so unaffordable in 45 years of data kept by CoreLogic. On the flip side, while foreclosures are not problematic, nor should they be, rental evictions have picked up and will continue to rise if the child tax credit is allowed to expire.

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