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The Tower Of London Essay

1530 words - 6 pages

The Tower of London arose as a result of the fight concerning who would succeed King Edward the Confessor as the next King of England. King Edward had initially promised William I, the Duke of Normandy, that he would have the throne upon King Edward's death. However, upon his deathbed, he was persuaded to relinquish the throne to his brother-in-law Harold, Earl of Wessex, who was English. This enraged Duke William, who led his army into England from France to obtain what he considered was his rightful throne. He easily defeated Earl Harold at the Battle of Hastings and was crowned King of England on Christmas Day. However, Duke William-who was now called King William the Conqueror-was in a country that was largely hostile toward him. In order to provide protection for himself, he built wooden forts across the country. Realizing that he needed a more permanent structure to show the English he was there to stay, and in case of a large attack, he decided to build a fortress to protect himself.
On the north bank of the Thames, he commenced the building of this fortress with a large stone tower that would become known as the White Tower. This site, in the southeastern corner of London, was optimal for numerous reasons. The Romans had already built over five kilometers of fortified stone walls in their ancient city of Londinium.1 One of the stronger parts of the wall came to that area of the Thames. Therefore, William the Conqueror needed only to dig two ditches and fill them with water for the other two sides of his fortress-the Thames and the Roman wall already served as two of the sides. In addition, this hill overlooked London, thus making it a perfect place from which to repel enemies. The Tower was completed approximately twenty years later, during the reign of William the Conqueror’s third son-King William Rufus. The Tower of London continued to be greatly expanded for the next two hundred and fifty years.
The Tower of London has seen many wars and attacks throughout history. The first attack upon it occurred in 1191. While King Richard I was on crusade, he designated management of the Tower to his chancellor William Longchamp, who also led an expansion of the Tower. Richard's younger brother felt threatened by this, as it lay in the way of him seizing the throne, and so decided to lay siege to the Tower. Though the Tower's defenses held up, Longchamp was eventually forced to surrender when the food in the Tower ran out. The Tower has played roles in several other wars. When Henry III was fighting for his throne in 1216, one of his first goals was to recapture the Tower from his enemies, which he did in 1217. Henry III also twice used the tower as a fortress from which to repel rebellions. The Tower also was converted to a shelter for King Richard II and his family during the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, during which the Tower was even temporarily taken. Richard and his brother were able to safely hide themselves before the tower was taken;...

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