Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


6.3.08
  Another Tower in York

This one - today known as Clifford Tower - we can thank William the Conqueror for. Well, not the tower as we see it today, but the first installment of a motte and bailey castle he had built in 1069. Since William and his Normans weren't the most popular guys in the area, the wooden, earth wall fortified castle saw a lot of action and some destruction and rebuilding in the following years.

Clifford Tower, York

The castle was still a timber construction when King Henry II received King William's homage for Scotland in 1175. It was in 1244, with a big bunch of Scots milling at the borders (again), that King Henry III visited the castle and ordered it to be rebuilt in stone. It took some 20 years to accomplish; the bailey received a curtain wall and two gateways, and the motte was crowned with a stone keep, then called King's Tower.

A model of the tower, displayed inside the keep

King Edward I used the castle to keep his treasury while campaigning against the Scots in 1298, and so did his son Edward II in 1322. Ed II had problems not only with the Scots but with assorted rebels in his own realm. He defeated some of them at the Battle of Boroughbridge and had them executed at York. One, a Sir Roger Clifford, was hanged in chains outside the King's Tower which then was named Clifford's Tower. It's not clear whether he was hanged and the body displayed that way, or whether he was hanged there by his wrists to slowly die and rot which would be a writer's choice (*grin*). Whatever way, it was a demeaning punishment for a nobleman. Maybe Alianore knows more about the incident.

Clifford Tower, inside view

Our dear Queen Isabella has been to York, as did her daughter-in-law Philippa who married Edward III in the York Minster in 1328. During those times, the castle served as administrative seat, but already in 1358 the heavy stone keep was damaged because the ground gave way.

Another shot of the tower, this time against the sun

In 1484 the castle was in such poor repair that King Richard III ordered parts to be replaced, but since he didn't find a horse in the battle at Bosworth, his orders were never executed.

(Continued here)
 
Comments:
Gabriele: Clifford was wounded at the battle of Boroughbridge on 16 March 1322, and forced to surrender. A week later, he and John, Lord Mowbray were dragged to the Tower in York and...here's where I'm not totally sure of the answer to your question. :-) The Bridlington chronicler only says 'they were hanged in chains'.

Two years later, a group of bishops petitioned Edward II in parliament to have the bodies of the twenty-odd men executed in 1322 taken down and buried - finally. Maybe this means that Clifford was hanged, umm, normally, and his body left hanging in chains for a couple of years. He was very young, by the way - only 22. I sometimes wonder why he got the honour of having the Tower named after him, and not Mowbray! :)

It was humiliating treatment for noblemen, but at least they didn't suffer as much as Bartholomew Badlesmere, given the full traitor's death at Canterbury a few weeks later.
 
Dang chroniclers, can't they be a bit more specific. :)

Thanks for the reply. No wonder there is a confusion how to read that passage: hanged and then displayed in chains outside the tower, hanged while in chains (I think most victims are bound for that, or was it an extra humiliation?), hanged in chains outside to die.

Maybe Clifford had the Young and Wounded pity card. Was he handsome as well? :)
 
"his orders were never executed" Unlike himself :-)
 
Gabriele,

Those are great pictures. Imagine, a sunny day in England.

Thanks for sharing.

Linda
 
Was he handsome as well? :)

I like to think so... :-)
 
Lol Carla, poor Richie, he really should have brought a second horse. :)

Linda, I actually had luck with the weather, it only rained one afternoon in ten days. And that sunny afternoon came after the dreary morning in Segedunum. :)

Alianore :-)
 
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Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction and Fantasy author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a writer of Historical Fiction and Fantasy living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


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