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By Marc Morris

Medieval Britain used to be ruled by way of its kings, and its kings ruled the land with their castles.

But what have been these castles? have been they fortresses? Palaces? Or symbols in their proprietors strength, and in their correct to rule.

In this stimulating number of articles and essays, the best-selling historian and broadcaster Marc Morris solutions these primary questions - and plenty of extra.

He explores a few of Britain’s favorite castles, comparable to Framlingham, Goodrich and chateau Acre, and the castle-building campaigns of recognized kings like William the Conqueror and Edward I. And he addresses matters corresponding to the origins of the cult of St George, the altering function of the medieval English earl and the riddle of the Winchester around desk. articles – one on Edward I’s popularity, one other on Lanercost Priory – seem right here for the 1st time.

Dr Marc Morris is a best-selling historian and broadcaster. In 2003 he offered the six-part television sequence fortress and wrote its accompanying e-book. His different books comprise a significantly acclaimed biography of Edward I, an exceptional and bad King, and an immense new heritage of The Norman Conquest

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Yet, in view that she used to be the king’s granddaughter, the fit proved tough to dissolve, and successive popes refused to supply a divorce. The earl’s case used to be now not helped via his infamous means with the women: he had not less than mistresses, and later confessed to having had an affair together with his wife’s aunt, a decidedly loose-living nun. Earl John ended his days residing with a undeniable Isabella Holland, observed in his will as ‘my companion’. via those a variety of liaisons he had not less than six little ones, yet none via his spouse. hence, while he died in 1347, his tremendous property glided by legislations to his valid yet far away family members. fortress Acre, the place generations of his kin had saved corporation with kings, fell fast into destroy. And so handed the Warennes, one of many maximum dynasties in medieval England, their fortune gained with the sword, yet misplaced via lust and love. five. Goodrich fortress Colonel John Birch (1615-91) may perhaps boast a powerful CV – war-hero, flesh presser, someday wine-merchant – yet he may possibly good have failed an interview with English background, in particular had he been quizzed approximately Goodrich fort. ‘I humbly conceive it's useless,’ he wrote to parliament in 1646, ‘and a very good burden to the country’. As his letter to the home made abundantly transparent, the colonel was once fascinated with having the citadel pulled down. We should be grateful that his suggestion used to be no longer undefined: Goodrich nonetheless stands this present day, perched excessive above the banks of the River Wye in Herefordshire, and is without doubt one of the most interesting houses in EH’s care. even as, one has to sympathize slightly with Birch’s damaging urges, for in 1646 the citadel had given him a whole lot of difficulty. That yr had obvious the belief of the English Civil warfare (the first one, at any rate), in which the colonel and his Parliamentarian comrades had spent loads of effort and time attempting to wrest keep watch over of Goodrich, and different castles love it, from the arms in their royalist rivals. To take on Goodrich itself, Birch had not just been pressured to install the standard array of trenches, tunnels and cannon; moreover, he had additionally been obliged to have a brand new weapon, nicknamed Roaring Meg, made specially for the celebration. A squat little bath of malevolence, Meg used to be no longer a cannon yet a mortar-piece, designed to lob 200lb grenades over the castle’s partitions and among its defenders. Unsurprisingly, as soon as she have been entire and taken out to play, the garrison at Goodrich quickly made up our minds it used to be time to give up. Having long gone to such lengths, Birch and his colleagues have been worried to not need to repeat the event, and observed flattening castles because the resolution to their challenge. regrettably for them, in spite of the fact that, yet fortunately for us, outright demolition additionally proved to be tricky, due to the time and prices concerned. in any case the Parliamentarians needed to content material themselves with partial destruction – a procedure they known as ‘slighting’. Castles that have been slighted had their defensible elements knocked down or undermined so they couldn't be held in destiny.

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