At the start of this period, war was primarily a matter of plunder, destruction and skirmishing. The difficulties inherent in an attack on even minor fortifications simply intensified this. Ravaging undermined the economic base of the castle-owner and the morale of its garrison. The presence of a castle which could afford shelter to the defeated in battle added to the disincentives of risking men and political capital in the open field. This situation enabled substantial families who settled away from the centres of power of the great to maintain a degree of independence, by raising castles which increased their authority over the neighbouring countryside.