|Return to Castle Warwick|
Attacked in 1264, besieged in 1642 and damaged by fire in 1871, the castle has nevertheless gloriously survived the ever-changing fortunes of history. The origins of Warwick Castle can be traced back to the Saxon fortification which Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, used to defend against the invading Danes. The first castle to appear on the site was a wooden motte and bailey constructed in 1068 at the command of William the Conqueror. By 1220, the Castle had undergone a major transformation, as stone replaced wood as the principal building material. A ‘shell keep’, a circular tower with thick, crenellated walls and fighting platforms for its soldiers, topped the mound which was defended by a 7.6m stone curtain wall which surrounded it. Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, a massive rebuilding programme transformed Warwick Castle yet again. Two colossal towers that still dominate the east of the castle; imposing itself on the river was Caesar’s tower with its stepped base; and to the right was twelve-sided Guy’s Tower. On 2nd March 1450, Henry VI conferred on Richard Neville, the husband of Anne de Beauchamp, the title Earl of Warwick. History was to know him better as Warwick the Kingmaker. The Wars of the Roses, which began in the early 1450’s and ended with the battle of Bosworth in 1485, were a prolonged struggle for supremacy between the Houses of York and Lancaster. Neville’s family connections made him a Yorkist. He held a command at the Battle of St Albans in 1455, which ended in defeat for the Lancastrians and with the capture of the hapless Henry. By 1461 the Yorkists had won the 1st war of succession and Edward, son of the Duke of York ascended the English throne. As a reward for his help, Warwick rose to a position of great power.