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Warwick Castle, England

Warwick Castle, England (Known places)

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Tags: castle (129 pics)

Warwick Castle was founded in 1068 (946 years ago) and was rebuilt and updated a number of times. Today it combines castle ruins, largely of the fourteenth century with one of the finest great houses in England. Two small projecting towers, which date to the late fifteenth century are said to have built as artillery platforms. Note the landscaped park below the towers.

Warwick Castle rises like a precipice above the River Avon, it is of Norman origin. On this natural cliff William I founded a motte castle in 1068 (946 years ago), on lands seized from a nearby Saxon convent. A wooden tower built on the motte was evidently still there in the reign of Henry II, by which time a polygonal shell enclosure had been raised round the motte top. Only fragments of the shell enclosure now remain, incorporated in the rebuilt shell, which is of much later date.

Late in the fourteenth century, by which time some additional buildings such as the great hall and residential blocks had been put up in the bailey, the castle passed to Earl Beauchamp who initiated a fresh programme of works. These were substantially what can be seen today. They included restructuring the great hall and a range of other buildings on the south-east, a water-gate, and on the west front a high and stout defensive curtain leading from a gatehouse to a very tall polygonal tower, known as Guy's Tower, which is 39.4 metres (128 ft) tall.

The gatehouse is a remarkable building: a pair of towers above the doorway passage, which had portcullises and murder-holes. Projecting from the east side of the gatehouse is a tall rectangular building leading to another tower. This latter tower is 45.2 metres (147 t to ,six storeis, trilobed (or six-lobed if the smaller bulges are counted) and capped by a two-fold system of battlements with machicolation all round below the battlements. It is called Caesar's Tower. The three main storeys in the tower are each vaulted, and have stone fireplaces.

The castle is completed by curtain walling and further, much smaller, flanking towers. The wall at the west leads up the motte to the restored shell enclosure and down again southwards to the south range. The whole is thus a powerfully defended enclosure.

Overview

Warwick Castle is a medieval castle in Warwick, the county town of Warwickshire, England. It sits on a cliff overlooking a bend in the River Avon. Warwick Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 (946 years ago) within or adjacent to Anglo-Saxon burh of Warwick. It was used as a fortification until the early 17th century, when Sir Fulke Greville converted it to a country house. It was owned by the Greville family, who became earls of Warwick in 1759 (255 years ago), until 1978

From 1088 (926 years ago), the castle traditionally belonged to the Earl of Warwick, and it served as a symbol of his power. The castle was taken in 1153 (861 years ago) by Henry of Anjou, later Henry II. It has been used to hold prisoners, including some from the Battle of Poitiers in the 14th century. Under the ownership of Richard Neville – also known as "Warwick the Kingmaker" – Warwick Castle was used in the 15th century to imprison the English king, Edward IV.

Since its construction in the 11th century, the castle has undergone structural changes with additions of towers and redesigned residential buildings. Originally a wooden motte-and-bailey, it 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.

In the 17th century the grounds were turned into a garden. Warwick Castle was purchased by The Tussauds Group in 1978 (36 years ago) and opened as a tourist attraction. It is protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade I listed building.

Location

Warwick Castle is situated on a sandstone bluff at a bend of the River Avon. The river, which runs below the castle on the east side, has eroded the rock the castle stands on, forming a cliff. The river and cliff form natural defences. The castle is in the town of Warwick; when construction began in 1068 (946 years ago) four houses belonging to the Abbot of Coventry were demolished to provide room. 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 comparative size, cost, and importance, and rebuilt in stone by Clinton – which is about 8 kilometres (5 mi) to the north. Warwick Castle is about 1.6 kilometres (1 mi) from Warwick railway station and less than 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) from junction 15 of the M40 motorway; it is also close to Birmingham International Airport.

History

Before the castle

An Anglo-Saxon burh was established on the site of the future Warwick Castle in 914; legend has it that the construction of the fortifications was instigated by Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great. The burh she established was one of ten which defended Mercia against the marauding Danes. Its position allowed it to dominate the Fosse Way, as well as the river valley and the crossing over the River Avon. Although the motte in the south west of Warwick Castle is called "Ethelfleda's Mound" it is in fact part of the later Norman fortifications, rather than an Anglo-Saxon relic.

Military institution and power symbol

After the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror established a motte-and-bailey castle at Warwick in 1068 (946 years ago) to maintain control of the Midlands as he advanced northwards. A motte-and-bailey castle consists of a mound – on which usually stands a keep or tower – and a bailey, which is an enclosed courtyard. William appointed Henry de Beaumont, the son of a powerful Norman family, as constable of the castle. In 1088 (926 years ago), 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 (861 years ago), 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. According to the Gesta Regis Stephani, a 12th-century historical text, Roger de Beaumont died on hearing the news that his wife had handed over the castle. Henry later returned the castle to the Earls of Warwick as they had been supporters of his mother, Empress Matilda, in The Anarchy of 1135–54.

During the reign of King Henry II (1154–89), 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 in the Beaumont family until 1242 (772 years ago). When Thomas de Beaumont, 6th Earl of Warwick, died the castle and lands passed to his sister, Lady Margery, countess of Warwick in her own right. Her husband died soon after, and while she looked for a suitable husband, the castle was in the ownership of King Henry III. When she married John du Plessis in dec. 1242 (772 years ago), the castle was returned to her. During the Second Barons' War of 1264–67, William Maudit, 8th Earl of Warwick, was an inactive 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 (750 years ago). The walls along the northeastern side of the castle were slighted so that it would be useless to the king. Maudit and his countess were taken to Kenilworth Castle and held until a ransom was paid. After the death of William Mauduit in 1267 (747 years ago), 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 (702 years ago), 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 Jun. 1312 (702 years ago). A group of magnates lead by the Earl of Warwick and Thomas Plantagenet, 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 (a form of fortified gateway), and a tower on either side of the reconstructed wall, named Caesar's Tower and Guy's Tower. The Watergate Tower also dates from this period.

Caesar's and Guy's Towers are residential and may have been inspired by french models (for example Bricquebec). Both towers are machicolated and Caesar's Tower features a unique double parapet. The two towers are also vaulted in stone on every storey. Caesar's Tower contained a "grim" basement dungeon; according to local legend dating back to at least 1644 (370 years ago) it is also known as Poitiers Tower either because prisoners from the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 (658 years ago) 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 – gates made from wood or metal. The towers of the gatehouse were machicolated.

The faηade overlooking the river was designed as a symbol of the power and wealth of the Beauchamp earls and would have been "of minimal defensive value"; this followed a trend of 14th-century castles being more statements of power than designed exclusively for military use.

The line of Beauchamp earls ended in 1449 (565 years ago) when Anne de Beauchamp, 15th Countess of Warwick, died. Richard Neville became the next Earl of Warwick through his wife's inheritance of the title. During the summer of 1469 (545 years ago), Neville rebelled against King Edward IV 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 the king. Neville was subsequently killed in the Battle of Barnet, fighting against King Edward IV in 1471 (543 years ago) during the Wars of the Roses. Warwick Castle then passed from Neville to his son-in-law, George Plantagenet. George Plantagenet was executed in 1478 (536 years ago) and his lands passed onto 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 had a claim to the throne and was imprisoned first by Edward IV, then Richard III, and finally by Henry VII. He was held in the Tower of London until he was executed for high treason by Henry VII in 1499; Edward was the last Earl of Warwick of the title's first creation.

In the early 1480 (534 years ago) King Richard III instigated the building 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 (528 years ago).

When antiquary John Leland visited the castle some time between 1535 (479 years ago) and 1543 (471 years ago), he noted that:

... the dungeon now in ruin standeth in the west-north-west part of the castle. There is also a tower west-north-west, and through it a postern-gate of iron. All the principal lodgings of the castle with the hall and chapel lie on the south side of the castle, and here the king doth much cost in making foundations in the rocks to sustain that side of the castle, for great pieces fell out of the rocks that sustain it.

While in the care of The Crown, Warwick Castle underwent repairs and renovations using about 500 loads of stone. The castle, as well as lands associated with the earldom, was in Crown care from 1478 (536 years ago) until 1547 (467 years ago), when they were granted to John Dudley with the second creation of the title the Earl of Warwick. When making his appeal for ownership of the castle Dudley said of the castle's condition: "... the castle of its self is not able to lodge a good baron with his train, for all the one side of the said castle with also the dungeon tower is clearly ruinated and down to the ground".

Warwick Castle had fallen into decay due to its age and neglect, and despite his remarks Dudley did not initiate any repairs to the castle. Queen Elizabeth I visited the castle in 1566 (448 years ago) during a tour of the country, and again 1572 (442 years ago) for four nights. A timber building was erected in the castle for her to stay in, and Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, left the castle to the Queen during her visits. When Ambrose Dudley died in 1590 (424 years ago) the title of Earl of Warwick became extinct for the second time. A survey from 1590 (424 years ago) recorded that the castle was still in a state of disrepair, noting that lead had been stolen from the roofs of some of the castle's buildings including the chapel. In 1601 (413 years ago) Sir Fulke Greville remarked that "the little stone building there was, mightily in decay... so as in very short time there will be nothing left but a name of Warwick".


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