The History of the Tower of London - 1200's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1200's. In 1210 King John took up residence in the Tower. A moat was dug outside the City of London wall. In 1216 legend has it that King John lost the Crown Jewels, which were kept in Westminster Abbey, in quicksand. Work continued on the additional Tower of London defences. 1216 to 1272 saw the reign of King Henry III. He immediately started on a strategy to reinforce all of the royal castles, including the Tower of London. At first the fortifications were strengthened and Royal accommodation was extended in the White Tower which was substantially rebuilt with a new Great Hall and kitchens. In 1236 further building plans were initiated with his chief architect Henry de Reyns together with John of Gloucester and Robert of Beverley. Ten new towers, gateways and drawbridges were added. The moat was extended and successfully flooded with water from the River Thames.
The Welsh Prince Gruffydd was imprisoned between 1241 - 1244 and he fell to his death in a bid to escape. King Edward I continued the castle building initiated by his father Henry III and, with his chief architect and builder Master James of St George, building massive Concentric Castles in England, Scotland and Wales. Several new towers were built and the Crown Jewels were moved from Westminster Abbey to the Tower which served as a treasury.
The History of the Tower of London - 1300's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1300's. The Tower of London played a crucial role during the dangerous reign of King Edward II between 1307 - 1327 and was used a royal refuge and to maintain royal authority. In 1324 Roger Mortimer, the first Earl of March, lead the barons in a rebellion against the King . He was incarcerated in the Tower but managed to escape to France, followed by his lover, Isabella of France, wife of Edward II and Queen of England! Roger Mortimer was eventually condemned without trial and hanged at Tyburn. During 1348 - 1349 the terrible Black Death ravaged England killing nearly one third of the population - in London it was much worse and the population almost halved to 30,000. More fortifications, towers and a new gatehouse were added. The upper parts of the Bloody Tower were also re-built. The 'Great Tower' began to assume its modern name, as "La Blanche Tour" - the White Tower after yet another coating of whitewash. In 1381 the Tower under Siege by English peasants. The fourteen year old King Richard pacified the peasants in Blackheath. The peasant leaders Wat Tyler and John Ball were killed. King Richard II was condemned as a tyrant in 1399 and Henry IV was proclaimed King the next day.
The History of the Tower of London - 1400's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1400's. The mentally unstable and pious Lancastrian King Henry VI and his headstrong and ambitious wife Margaret of Anjou were imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1465 until 1470. Henry was briefly restored to power in 1470 and returned to reside in the Tower on the 21st May. The last Lancastrian king was murdered in the Wakefield Tower, whilst he was at prayer, the following day. He was probably murdered on the orders of Edward IV. England entered the period of civil disorder and political instability known as the Wars of the Roses. Edward IV was a notorious womaniser - his affairs led to claims of illegitimacy and ultimately led to the murder of his sons - The Princes in the Tower. Richard III seized the throne in 1483. A Lancastrian rebellion rose against the Yorkist Richard and on he fell in the Battle of Bosworth Field to Henry Tudor in 1485. Henry VII cemented his succession and settled the friction between the Yorkists and Lancastrians by marrying the Yorkist heir, Elizabeth of York. Henry VII built the last permanent royal residential buildings at the Tower of London.
The History of the Tower of London - 1500's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1500's. King Henry VIII marries Katherine of Aragon. In 1512 the original chapel of St Peter Ad Vincula was burned down and re-built. Gun emplacements were improvised and the roof of the White Tower needed to be strengthened to take the weight of cannon. Extensive building and repair work to the Royal Lodgings were undertaken. The White Tower's most famous features, the onion-shaped domes on the turrets, were added complete with weather vanes. The reign of the notorious King Henry VIII saw the Tower of London enter its most bloody period of history. In 1533 Henry divorced his first wife, Katherine of Aragon and broke with the Church in Rome. The Tower expands the role of prison for a large number of religious and political prisoners. Sir Thomas Moore and Bishop Fisher of Rochester were executed for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII as head of the English Church. On January 25th 1533 Henry married Anne Boleyn and on May 23rd 1533 Anne lead a procession from the Tower of London to Westminster Abbey for her coronation. By 1536 Anne Boleyn was arrested and tried for treason, adultery and incest in the Great Hall of the Tower of London. She was then executed on Tower Hill. Anne's body and head were buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula. Within 24 hours of Anne Boleyn's execution, Jane Seymour and Henry VIII were formally betrothed. On the 30th of May, they were married but Jane dies a premature death after giving birth to Henry's son. In 1540 Henry VIII marries Anne of Cleves but the marriage is annulled. Thomas Cromwell is blamed, imprisoned in the Tower, then executed on Tower Hill. Just a few months later 49 year old Henry married 19 year old Catherine Howard but by February 1542 Catherine Howard executed for adultery. On 12th July 1543 Henry marries Katherine Parr, his sixth wife, who had a near brush with death she was linked with 'heretical' religious reformers including the tragic Anne Askew who was tortured on the rack in the tower.
Henry VIII dies in 1547 and his young son, Edward V takes the throne. Thomas Seymour is imprisoned in the Tower, then beheaded on Tower Hill then the young King's protector, the Duke of Somerset, and his confederates met their death at the Tower. Edward dies of tuberculosis and he leaves the throne to 'the Lady Jane and her heirs male.'
Lady Jane Grey becomes Queen for just Nine Days, is quickly deposed and executed at the Tower of London. Bloody Mary takes the throne and many Protestants are imprisoned and executed. Princess Elizabeth is imprisoned in the Tower for eight weeks and Archbishop Cranmer, Bishops Ridley and Latimer, are condemned to death for heresy, imprisoned in the Tower before being burned at the stake at Oxford in 1556.
Queen Elizabeth I takes the throne and Robert Devereux (1566-1601), Earl of Essex is executed on Tower Green
The History of the Tower of London - 1600's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1600's. In 1603 James I arrived at the Tower on the day of his arrival in London from Edinburgh and stayed there for several nights. In 1613 Sir Thomas Overbury, poet and courtier, was poisoned in the Tower. Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded in Old Palace Yard in 1618. In 1625 Charles I takes the throne but in 1642 Civil war broke out between King and parliament. In 1643 the Tower was seized from the King by parliamentarians and it remained in their hands throughout the Civil War (1642-49) during which time a permanent garrison was installed at the Tower of London. On 30th January 1649 Charles was beheaded on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall, London. The Crown Jewels were ordered to be broken up as being symbolic of the 'detestable rule of kings'. In 1660 Charles II and the Royal House of Stuart Restored and replacements for the lost Crown Jewels were purchased at a cost of nearly £13,000. Major improvements to the Tower's defences were made and batteries of guns were set in place along the walls and the arsenal was expanded. The function of the Tower declined as a state prison declined and the Office of Ordnance took over responsibility for most of the castle. In 1671 Colonel Thomas Blood and his men tried to steal the Crown Jewels from the Martin Tower. 1688 The Catholic James was deposed and replaced by by his Protestant daughter and son-in-law, Mary II and William III, who became joint Sovereigns. In 1689 Hanging Judge Jeffreys died in the Tower - he had sentenced 320 at the 'Bloody Assizes' to be executed or transported to the Penal colonies
The History of the Tower of London - 1700's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1700's. The Monarchy no longer used the Tower as State apartments so showed little interest in the castle but in 1780 the Tower held its only American prisoner, former President of the Continental Congress, Henry Laurens.
The History of the Tower of London - 1800's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1800's. The Royal Menagerie left the Lion Tower in 1834 to become the London Zoo. Most of the Lion Tower was demolished soon after, although the Lion Gate still remains. The first official guidebook to the Tower was published. The Grand Storehouse burned down during a great fire at the Tower and many weapons were destroyed. In 1848
Revolution swept across Europe and in London the Chartist movement delivered a petition to Parliament asserting the rights of ordinary people. Fear that a revolutionary mob might storm the Tower prompted a final refortification of the Tower. Anthony Salvin, a Victorian architect, was appointed in 1851 to 'restore' the Tower to a pseudo-medieval form so it could be opened to the public.
The History of the Tower of London - 1900's
Facts and information about the History of the Tower of London during the 1900's. 1914 - 1918 heralded the First World War and a bomb fell in the moat of the tower. 11 German spies were shot in the tower. Army officer, and Traitor, Norman Baillie-Stewart was the last British citizen held for any length of time in the Tower of London. The Second World War and bomb damage to the Tower severely damaged or destroyed many buildings. On 14 Aug 1941 the last prisoner of the Tower of London, Corporal Josef Jakobs, a German spy, is executed. In 1942 Hitler's Deputy Fuhrer of Nazi Germany, Rudolf Hess, was imprisoned in the Kings's House for 4 days. In 1952 the Kray twins were held in the Tower for 4 days for failing to report for national service, making them amongst the last prisoners of the Tower of London.