By Marc Morris

"Castle" is a wide-ranging background of a few of the main brilliant structures in Britain. It explores a few of the country's most renowned and best-loved castles, in addition to a few little-known nationwide treasures. the tale starts off within the eleventh century, whilst castles have been brought to Britain, and results in the seventeenth century, once they have been principally deserted. it's, in a few respects, an epic story, pushed by means of characters like William the Conqueror, "Bad" King John and Edward I, who, by way of construction and besieging castles, formed the destiny of the country. whilst, notwithstanding, it's a extra homely tale, concerning the adventures, struggles and pursuits of lesser-known contributors, and the way each element in their lives used to be wrapped up within the castles they outfitted. As Marc Morris indicates, there's extra to castles than drawbridges and battlements, portcullises and arrow-loops. Be it ever so grand or ever so humble, a citadel is initially a house. it may well glance difficult and defensible at the outdoors, yet at the inside of, a citadel is all approximately luxurious and creature comforts. within actual castles, we do no inevitably locate cannons and matches of armour, yet we do realize nice halls, large kitchens, deepest chambers and chapels - all rooms that have been as soon as sumptuous and indulgent, and which made those constructions excellent apartments for his or her vendors. to appreciate castles - who equipped them, who lived in them, and why - is to appreciate the forces that formed medieval Britain.

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Finally, besides the fact that, via plotting his restoration, John used to be paving how to his personal downfall. the price of development an alliance to strike again opposed to the French king used to be huge, immense, particularly since it was once John’s misfortune to rule at a time while inflation used to be inflicting costs (of mercenaries, for instance) to leap. With expanding frequency, John handed the prices directly to his English matters, implementing ever higher and extra common taxes, fining them huge sums of cash for trivial offences, and significant large quantities of money in go back for not anything greater than his grace and favour. in a short time, John controlled to create a state of affairs the place the folks who didn’t wish him accountable outnumbered those that did – a perilous situation for any political chief. In a few respects, besides the fact that, the uprising that the king confronted in 1215 used to be no longer solely his personal fault. either his father and his brother had ruled England in a lot an analogous type, increasing their energy on the cost of the ability in their barons. One very obvious approach of measuring their good fortune is via their castles. at the beginning of Henry II’s reign in 1154, purely round 20 in keeping with cent of all castles within the state have been royal. the 2 many years prior to Henry’s accession had noticeable a proliferation of non-public castles (mostly motte and baileys) outfitted with out the king’s consent. considered one of Henry’s first activities as king was once to reserve (and, the place worthy, to compel) the destruction of such fortifications. additionally, Henry and his sons, as we've seen, outfitted new castles – giant, outstanding stone towers like Newcastle, Scarborough, Orford, and Odiham. by the point of John’s dying, the ratio of royal castles to baronial ones had altered significantly; virtually part the castles in England have been in royal arms. Castles, consequently, offer an outstanding index of the king’s energy opposed to the facility of his barons. it really is obtrusive that the rebels introduced long term grievances reminiscent of this to the negotiating desk in 1215, simply because John attempted to handle them in Magna Carta. ‘If someone has been dispossessed with out criminal judgement from his lands or his castles by means of us,’ the king stated, ‘we will instantly repair them to him. ’ yet John went directly to upload that his matters should still make allowances for a person who were equally dispossessed ‘by King Henry our father, or King Richard our brother’. Such hair-splitting, despite the fact that, overlooked the elemental fact of the problem, which used to be that Henry and Richard have been easily larger kings than John. They have been expert warriors, whereas he used to be condemned for his cowardice. even supposing he proved a able administrator (John can be dynamic and effective whilst it got here to gathering taxes), he was once a foul supervisor, undeserving to command the loyalties of his major topics, not able to examine or channel their objectives, and asymmetric in his distribution of rewards. so much of all, John used to be simply a nasty man. He sniggered while humans talked to him. He didn’t retain his notice. He was once tight-fisted and untrusting. He even seduced the other halves and daughters of a few of his barons.

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