Essay: History assignment Oxford and Warwick Castle

We have been to Oxford with school from 9th-13th of February. It was a beautiful trip and we also learned a lot about the history of buildings in Oxford and Oxford. Oxford was a beautiful place so was Warwick too. We have been to Warwick Castle on Wednesday the 11th. Warwick Castle was a beautiful and very informative castle, and that’s why I’m doing my history assignment about it.

10th, 11th and 12th century

The built of Warwick Castle started in 914 when Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, ordered the building of a ‘burh’, or an earthen rampart to protect the small hill top settlement of Warwick. This is now called the Ethelfleda’s mound. Then in 1068, after that the Normans captured England, William the Conqueror establishes a motte-and-bailey fort, consisting of a large earth mound with timber stockade around both the top and base. He built this fort to keep the control of the midlands. William appointed Henry de Beaumont, the son of a powerful Norman family, as constable of the castle. In 1088 Henry de Beaumont was made the first Earl of Warwick (which is a very prestigious title in the history of the United Kingdom). Henry de Beaumont built the Church of All Saints in the castle by 1119, but the Bishop of Worcester removed it in 1127-28, because he thought a castle wasn’t a good location for a church.

In 1153, the wife of Roger de Beaumont, second Earl of Warwick was tricked into believing that her husband was dead, and therefore surrendered control of the castle to the invading army of Henry of Anjou, later King Henry II. They say Roger de Beaumont died because his wife handed over the castle. Henry later returned the castle to the Earls of Warwick as they had been supporters of his mother. The castle was used to lock up prisoners.
In the time that King Henry II was the ruler which was from 1154 till 1189, the motte-and-bailey was replaced with a stone castle. This new phase took the form of a shell keep with all the buildings constructed against the curtain wall. During the barons’ rebellion of 1173-74, the Earl of Warwick remained loyal to King Henry, and the castle was used to store provisions.

13th century

In 1242 Thomas the last de Beaumont Earl of Warwick, died without an heir and the castle and estates were passed to his sister Margaret, and her husband John Du Plessis.

In 1260, the wood in the castle construction has been replaced into stone. In 1263 Margaret who was married to John Du Plessis was childless and the title changed hands once more, this time to her cousin William Mauduit. Unwisely Mauduit sided with the King in the Barons War, which was from 1264 until 1267. During this war, in 1264, Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester and leader of the rebellious barons, attacked the castle, with success. The walls along the north-eastern side of the castle were slightly so that it would be useless to the king. Mauduit and his wife were taken to Kenilworth Castle and held until a ransom was paid. On his death Mauduit was succeeded by his nephew William de Beauchamp. That’s where the dynasty started which lasted 148 years and brought Warwick Castle to the heights of its fortune.

14th century

In 1312, at a time of heightened political tension Guy de Beauchamp seized Piers Gaveston, the king’s lover, and brought him to Warwick Castle. He was tried for treason and was sentenced to death. In the late fourteenth century several major changes were made to the castle including the great hall and domestic ranges, a water gate, improvements to the main gatehouse and the barbican in front of it in 1330-60. Two Beauchamp Earls were called Thomas. Each one was responsible for one of the large towers that were erected on the outer walls. Caesar’s Tower came first in 1350, the time in which also Dungeon was constructed. Second came Guy’s Tower in 1395, with a height of 128 feet (… meters). Guy’s Tower was named after an earlier Earl of Warwick, Guy de beauchamp. Caesar’s Tower was even taller with a height of 147 feet (… meters). Both of the towers were much taller that the outer walls. In 1397, two years later after Guy’s Tower was completed, Thomas de Beauchamp confessed to treachery and was exiled to the Isle of Man by Richard II. Only when Richard was usurped by Henry IV in 1399 did Thomas reclaim his inheritance.

15th century

In 1431 Richard de Beauchamp supervised Joan of Arc’s trial for supposed heresy, and her subsequent execution by burning in the market place at Rouen in northern France.

Henry de Beauchamp, had grown up as a companion to the boy King Henry VI, and in 1445, the king made his childhood friend the first Duke of Warwick. But he was also the last, the title dying with him in the very next year, and the castle passed into the hands of his sister Anne Beauchamp who married Richard Neville in 1449. During the Wars of the Roses, Neville helped to depose both Henry IV and Edward IV, winning himself the title

‘The Kingmaker’.

In the end Richard and Edward became enemies and in 1471 the Kingmaker was killed at the battle of Barnet. After Richard’s death the castle passed into the hands of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence as he had married Richard Neville’s eldest daughter. George was executed in 1478 and the castle passed to his young son Edward. As a optional heir to the English throne Edward was arrested and placed in prison and later executed in 1499. At this point the castle became royal property during the reigns of both Henry VII and Henry VIII.

16th century

In 1540 improvements included a new roof for the kitchens, reinforcement of the south front, the building of Spy Tower and an extension to the State Rooms for a royal visit. The first visit was in 1566 when Queen Elizabeth visited the country, though also the castle. In 1572 she brought again a visit, for four days long. A timber building was erected in the castle for her stay in, and Ambrose Dudley, third Earl of Warwick, left the castle to the Queen during her visits.

17th century

In 1604, James I presented the now dilapidated castle to Sir Fulke Greville. (The title Earl of Warwick, however, was conferred upon Lord Rich in 1618 and it remained in his family until 1759), and in 1628 Greville, was murdered by a discounbted manservant. In 1642, during the civil war, royalist soldiers were imprisoned in the Dungeon, one of them scratched a note onto the dungeon wall. Another royal visit took place in 1695, when King William III visits Warwick Castle.

18th century

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was commissioned to landscape the gardens in 1750. 9 years later, in 1759 Francis Greville successfully petitioned for the title Earl of Warwick, so reuniting earldom and the castle once more. In 1763 the state dining room was completed by leading English craftsmen. Conservatory was built by local mason, William Eborall, in 1786.

19th century

Queen Victoria lunched at the castle in 1858. In 1871 fire sweeps through the Private Apartments, damaging the Great Hall before being controlled. In 1890 Countess of Warwick kept Menagerie, this island was used to keep Japanese deer, a flock of Chinese geese, an emu assorted raccoons, an ant bear and a baby elephant. The mill was covered to an electricity generating power plant, providing electric lighting for the castle and power for an electric launch and car.
20th and 21st century

In this century there were virtually no changes made to the castle, the only changes made were that the castle became more cultural and touristic, like the Victorian Garden was restored and Tussaud’s Group bought Warwick Castle. But also Kingmaker opened and another royal visit was made.
Warwick Castle has lots and lots of history, and I think it’s really interesting. Lots of new buildings, different ‘earls’ etc. I enjoyed the visit to Warwick Castle, but in the castle itself I didn’t get lots of information about the castle. I honestly think that I learned more from this assignment than from the visit to Warwick Castle itself.


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