Warwick Castle, Warwickshire - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"
Warwick Castle is a medieval castle developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068. The original wooden motte-and-bailey castle was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century. During the Hundred Years War, the facade opposite the town was refortified, resulting in one of the most recognisable examples of 14th-century military architecture. It was used as a stronghold until the early 17th century, when it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I in 1604. Greville converted it to a country house and it was owned by the Greville family, who became Earls of Warwick in 1759, until 1978 when it was bought by the Tussauds Group.
The castle's position made it strategically important in safeguarding the Midlands against rebellion. During the 12th century, King Henry I was suspicious of Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick. To counter the earl's influence, Henry bestowed Geoffrey de Clinton with a position of power rivalling that of the earl. The lands he was given included Kenilworth – a castle of comparable size, cost, and importance, founded by Clinton.
An Anglo-Saxon burh was established on the site in 914; with fortifications instigated by Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great. The burh she established was one of ten which defended Mercia against the invading Danes. Its position allowed it to dominate the Fosse Way, as well as the river valley and the crossing over the River Avon. Though the motte to the south-west of the present castle is now called "Ethelfleda's Mound", it is in fact part of the later Norman fortifications, and not of Anglo-Saxon origin.
After the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror established a motte-and-bailey castle at Warwick in 1068 to maintain control of the Midlands as he advanced northwards. 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. He founded the Church of All Saints within the castle walls by 1119; the Bishop of Worcester, believing that a castle was an inappropriate location for a church, removed it in 1127–28.
In 1153, the wife of Roger de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Warwick, was tricked into believing that her husband was dead, and surrendered control of the castle to the invading army of Henry of Anjou, later King Henry II of England. According to the Gesta Regis Stephani, a 12th-century historical text, Roger de Beaumont died upon hearing the news that his wife had handed over the castle. King Henry II later returned the castle to the Earls of Warwick, as they had been supporters of his mother, Empress Matilda, in The Anarchy of 1135–1154.
During the reign of King Henry II, 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 II, and the castle was used to store provisions. The castle and the lands associated with the earldom passed down to the Beaumont family until 1242.
When Thomas de Beaumont, 6th Earl of Warwick died, the castle and lands passed to his sister, Margaret de Beaumont, 7th Countess of Warwick in her own right. Her first husband, John Marshal, died soon after, and while she looked for a suitable husband, the castle was in the ownership of King Henry III of England. When she married John du Plessis in December 1242, the castle was returned to her.
During the Second Barons' War of 1264–67, William Maudit, 8th Earl of Warwick, was a supporter of King Henry III. The castle was taken in a surprise attack by the forces of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, from Kenilworth Castle in 1264. Maudit and his countess were taken to Kenilworth Castle and were held there until a ransom was paid. After the death of William Maudit in 1267, the title and castle passed to his nephew, William de Beauchamp, 9th Earl of Warwick. Following William's death, Warwick Castle passed through seven generations of the Beauchamp family, who, over the next 180 years, were responsible for most of the additions made to the castle.
In 1312, Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall, was captured by Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick, and imprisoned in Warwick Castle, until his execution on 9 June 1312. A group of magnates led by the Earl of Warwick and Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, accused Gaveston of stealing the royal treasure.
Under Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl, the castle defences were significantly enhanced in 1330–60 on the north eastern side by the addition of a gatehouse, a barbican, and a tower on either side of the reconstructed wall. These towers were residential and may have been inspired by French models (for example Bricquebec). Both towers are machicolated and one Tower featured a unique double parapet.
The two towers are also vaulted in stone on every storey. One Tower contained a grim basement dungeon; according to local legend dating back to at least 1644 it is also known as Poitiers Tower, either because prisoners from the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 may have been imprisoned there, or because the ransoms raised from the battle helped to pay for its construction. The gatehouse features murder holes, two drawbridges, a gate, and portcullises. The towers of the gatehouse were machicolated.
Richard Neville, the Kingmaker, became the next Earl of Warwick through his wife's inheritance of the title. During the summer of 1469, Neville rebelled against King Edward IV of England and imprisoned him in Warwick Castle. Neville attempted to rule in the King's name; however, constant protests by the King's supporters forced the Earl to release King Edward IV. Neville was subsequently killed in the Battle of Barnet, fighting against the King in 1471 during the Wars of the Roses.
Warwick Castle then passed from Neville to his son-in-law, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence. George Plantagenet was executed in 1478, and his lands passed onto his son, Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick; however, Edward Plantagenet was only two when his father died, so his lands were taken in the custody of The Crown. He was placed under attainder, and so could not inherit the throne, by King Henry VII of England, being held by the King for fourteen years in the Tower of London until he was executed for high treason in 1499, supposedly for conspiring to escape with the 'pretender' Perkin Warbeck.
In the early 1480s, King Richard III of England (the other son-in-law of Neville) instigated the construction of two gun towers, Bear and Clarence Towers, which were left unfinished on his death in 1485; with their own well and ovens, the towers were an independent stronghold from the rest of the castle, possibly in case of mutiny by the garrison. With the advent of gunpowder, the position of Keeper of the Artillery was created in 1486.
In the 17th century the grounds were turned into a garden. The castle's defences were enhanced in the 1640s to prepare the castle for action in the English Civil War. Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke, was a Parliamentarian, and Royalist forces laid siege to the castle. Warwick Castle withstood the siege and was later used to hold prisoners taken by the Parliamentarians.