Great Castles Logo and Dunstanburgh Castle

Chronological Timeline of Castle Related Events


Hadrian's Wall - Construction of Hadrian's Wall begins in northern England as a defensive fortification marking the northern most tip of the Roman Empire. It stretches from coast to coast for 73 miles, but it is not marking the border of England and Scotland. The western edge is less than a mile from Scotland, however the eastern edge is 68 miles south of Scotland near Newcastle upon Tyne. A good portion of Hadrian's Wall is still visible today and is a popular tourist attraction and UNESCO World Heritage site in Northern England.

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Legions of Romans depart Britain, led by Constantine III, making their way to Gaul where armies of Suevi, Alans, and Vandals have amassed as they head south. This marks Rome's withdraw from Britain, and the start of the Dark Ages and the legends of Uther Pendragon and King Arthur.

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627 - April 12th:

King Edwin of Northumbria is converted to Christianity by Paulinus of York, the first Bishop of York.

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1035 - July 3rd:

William becomes the Duke of Normandy and reins until 1087.

1042 - June 8th:

Edward the Confessor becomes King of England, one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England, following the death of King Harthacnut and with the support of Earl Godwin.

1043 - April 3rd:

Edward the Confessor is crowned King of England at Winchester Cathedral.

1066 - January 5th:

Edward the Confessor dies without an heir. Harold Godwinson claims the throne, but many believe the throne was already promised to Duke William of Normandy. This sparks controversy and eventually leads to the Battle of Hastings later that year and Norman conquest of England.

1066 - January 6th:

Harold Godwinson is crowned King Harold II of England. Harold will be the last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England and the first of only 3 kings of England to be killed in battle.

1066 - September 25th:

The Battle of Stamford Bridge: King Harold II (Harold Godwinson) of England defeats a Norwegian Army led by King Harold Hardrada of Norway and his own brother Tostig Godwinson near York, ending the Viking Age in England.

1066 - September 27th:

William the Conqueror and his army set sail from the mouth of the Somme River in France and head to Pevensey Bay in the south of England. Stowed away inside his Viking style ships are prefabricated wooden castle walls that he will erect in Pevensey and Hastings upon his arrival.

1066 - October 14th:

The Battle of Hastings - William the Conqueror defeats the English led by King Harold II who dies in battle. This begins the Norman Conquest of England as well as the beginning of the Castle Age as motte and bailey castles are built all over England, starting in Pevensey and Hastings.

1091 - October 17th:

The London Tornado of 1091 - A tornado, thought to be the strength of an F4, strikes London. London Bridge is demolished as well as over 600 wooden houses in London. The Church of Mary-le-Bow is also heavily damaged. It is the earliest reported tornado in Britain.

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1170 - December 29th:

Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights, Reginald Fitzurse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton, who interpreted words spoken by King Henry II to mean he wished Becket killed. The knights fled north and took refuge in Hugh de Morville's Knaresborough Castle after committing the murder. There are many accounts of what Henry said with the most likely being:

"What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?"

1187 - July 4th

The Crusades: The Battle of Hattin - The Muslim armies under Saladin defeat the Christians led by the King of Jerusalem, Guy of Lusignan, who was taken prisoner.

1189 - September 3rd:

Richard "The Lionheart" Plantagenet is crowned King Richard I of England at Westminster Abbey.

1199 - March 25th:

Richard the Lionheart is wounded while besieging the castle of Chateau Chalus-Chabrol in France. Richard was walking around the weakly defended castle's perimeter without his chain mail on when he was stuck in the shoulder near his neck by a Richard The Lionheart crossbowmen's arrow. He unsuccessfully tried to pull the arrow out on his own, then called on a surgeon who removed bit but also mangled his arm in the process. Richard has the crossbowmen brought to him, and in an act of mercy forgave the boy and ordered that he be set free. Richard would die from this gangrenous wound soon after.

1199 - April 6th:

King Richard I dies from an infection following the removal of an arrow from his shoulder.

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1207 - October 1st:

Henry III is born at Winchester Castle. He is of the House of Plantagenet and the son of King John and Eleanor of Provence. Henry will later reign has King of England for 56 years.

1217 - May 20th:

First Barons' War: The Second Battle of Lincoln - Fought at Lincoln Castle, English forces under William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, defeat French troops commanded by Thomas, the Comte du Perche.

1239 - June 17th:

Edward I is born at the Palace of Westminster to Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.

1264 - May 14th:

The Battle of Lewes – Henry III is captured and forced to sign the Mise of Lewes, making Simon de Montfort the de facto ruler of England.

1272 - November 16th:

Prince Edward becomes King Edward I while traveling during the Ninth Crusade, upon the death of his father King Henry III. It will be almost two years before Edward returns to England and assumes the throne.

1296 - March 30th:

Edward I of England sacks the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed during a conflict with Scotland.

1297 - September 11th:

The Battle of Stirling Bridge - The Scots, led by William Wallace and Andrew Moray, defeat the English near Stirling Castle in Scotland.

1298 - July 22nd:

The Battle of Falkirk - Edward I of England defeats William Wallace and the Scottish Army near Falkirk. William Wallace resigns as Guardian of Scotland shortly after the battle.

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1300 - July 22nd:

Edward I stays at Brougham Castle in Cumbria during one of his Northern campaigns of the Anglo-Scottish Wars.

1301 - February 3rd:

Edward of Caernarfon becomes the first English Prince of Wales. Song of Edward I, he would later become King Edward II.

1304 - July 20th:

Edward I seizes control of Stirling Castle in Scotland by using the War Wolf; believed to be the largest trebuchet ever built. The Scots try to surrender the castle when they see the massive structure being assembled, but Longshanks decides to finish the assembly and see how well it works before accepting the surrender. Part of the castle's curtain wall is destroyed in quick order by the siege weapon.

1305 - August 23rd:

Sir William Wallace is hanged, drawn and quartered for High Treason at Smithfield in London.

1306 - June 19th:

The Battle of Methven - Robert Bruce’s Scottish troops are defeated by English forces led by the Earl of Pembroke.

Knights Templar

1307 - October 13th:

Hundreds of Knights Templar are arrested in France under order of King Phillip the Fair. They will later be charged with heresy after confessing under torture and burned at the stake.

1310 - May 11th:

Fifty-Four members of the Knights Templar are charged with heresy and burned at the stake in France.

1314 - June 23rd:

The Battle of Bannockburn - Scotland's forces led by Robert the Bruce defeat the English led by King Edward II, during the first War of Scottish Independence. Edward II flees the battle and retreats to Dunbar Castle before returning to England by ship.

1321 - July 5th:

Joan of England (Joan of The Tower), daughter of King Edward II of England and his wife Isabella of France, is born in the Tower of London.

1328 - May 29th:

Philip VI is crowned King of France.

1328 - July 17th:

King David II of Scotland is married to Joan of The Tower at Berwick-upon-Tweed in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Northampton.

1329 - June 7th:

Robert The Bruce

King Robert I of Scotland (Robert The Bruce) dies at the manor of Cardross, near Dumbarton Scotland after suffering for some years from aliments. His body lies in Dunfermline Abbey, but he requested that his heart be removed and carried into battle "against God's foes":

"I will that as soone as I am trespassed out of this worlde that ye take my harte owte of my body, and embawme it, and take of my treasoure as ye shall thynke sufficient for that enterprise, both for your selfe and suche company as ye wyll take with you, and present my harte to the holy Sepulchre where as our Lorde laye, seyng my body can nat come there."

His son David becomes King David II of Scotland at the age of 5 years old.

Robert The Bruce's heart is taken by Sir James Douglas in accordance with his wishes but Douglas is killed in battle still carrying the heart in a silver casket. The heart is returned to Scotland and buried at Melrose Abbey.

1331 - November 24th:

David and Joan are crowned King and Queen of Scotland at Scone.

1346 - October 17th:

The Battle of Neville's Cross - King David II of Scotland is wounded and taken prisoner by Sir John Copeland. David is delivered to King Edward III who imprisons him in the Tower of London. He is later moved to Windsor Castle and then to Odiham Castle in Hampshire. He will be a prisoner for 11 years in all.

1356 - September 19th:

 Edward The Black Prince

Hundred Years' War: The Battle of Poitiers - The English, led by Edward, the Black Price, defeat the French army and capture the King of France, Jean II. In a letter to the people of London shortly after the battle, Edward wrote:

"It was agreed that we should take our way, flanking them, in such a manner that if they wished for battle or to draw towards us, in a place not very much to our disadvantage, we should be the first ... the enemy was discomfited, and the king was taken, and his son; and a great number of other great people were both taken and slain."

1362 - September 7th:

Joan of The Tower dies at Hertford Castle at the age of 41 and is buried at the Grey Friars Church in London.

1371 - February 22nd:

King David II of Scotland dies unexpectedly at Edinburgh Castle at age 46 and is buried in Holyrood Abbey. He is the last male descendent of the House of Bruce.

1393 - January 28th:

King Charles VI of France is nearly killed when several dancers' costumes catch on fire during a masquerade ball. This event became known as the Bal des Ardents (Ball of the Burning Men).

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1400 - February 14th:

Richard II dies at Pontefract Castle in West Yorkshire England, presumably of starvation.

1415 - October 25th:

Hundred Years' War: The Battle of Agincourt - The outnumbered English army led by King Henry V defeat the French on Saint Crispin's Day due in large part to the English longbow and the narrow width and muddy conditions of the battlefield.

1419 - January 19th:

Hundred Years' War: The city of Rouen surrenders to Henry V of England. This completes Henry's reconquest of Normandy and makes Normandy part of English rule for the first time in 200 years.

1421 - December 6th:

Henry VI, son of King Henry V and Catherine of Valois is born at Windsor Castle. He is of the House of Lancaster, a branch of the House of Plantagenet.

1422 - August 31st:

King Henry V of England dies of dysentery while on campaign in France, leaving his 9 month old son to be crowned King Henry VI of England.

1430 - May 23rd:

Joan of Arc

Hundred Years War: The Siege of Compiègne - Joan of Arc is captured by the Burgundians while leading an army to relieve Compiègne. She is then sold to the English.

1431 - May 30th:

Joan of Arc is burned at the stake for heresy in Rouen France by an English dominated tribunal.

1455 - May 22nd:

Wars of the Roses: The First Battle of Albans - The Wars of the Roses begins with the First Battle of St Albans where Richard, Duke of York, defeats and captures King Henry VI of England.

1461 - March 29th:

Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Towton - Yorkist troops defeat Lancastrian forces in one of the largest battles on English soil.

1470 - November 2nd:

Edward V is born at Westminster Abbey in London.

1471 - April 17th:

Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Barnet - Yorkist troops led by Edward IV soundly defeat the Lancastrians led by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick who had previously supported the House of York.

1471 - May 4th:

Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Tewkesbury - Just weeks after Barnet, Lancastrian forces are again defeated soundly by Edward IV and Yorkist troops. Many Lancastrian nobles, including Edward, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, are killed in battle or executed thereafter.

1478 - February 18th:

George, Duke of Clarence is executed in private at the Tower of London after being convicted of treason against his older brother, King Edward IV of England.

1485 - August 22nd:

Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Bosworth Field - The last major battle of the Wars of the Roses. It is here that Richard III is killed in battle, ending the Plantagenet dynasty and rule by the House of York. Henry Tudor is crowned King Henry VII on nearby Crown Hill and thus begins the Tudor dynasty.

1491 - June 28th:

Henry VIII of England is born at Greenwich Palace and is second in line to the throne of England behind his older brother Arthur. When Arthur dies at the age of 15, Henry becomes the heir apparent. He is of the House of Tudor.

1497 - June 17th:

The Battle of Deptford Bridge (Also know as the Battle of Blackheath). Forces under King Henry VII defeat Cornish troops led by Michael An Gof.

1499 - November 23rd:

Perkin Warbeck, pretender to the throne, is hanged for allegedly attempting to escape from the Tower of London. He was a pretender to the English throne during the reign of Henry VII (Henry Tudor), claiming to be Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York. Richard was one of the two young Princes held in the Tower of London as children, never to be seen again.

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1509 - April 21st:

Henry VII of England and the first King from the House of Tudor dies of tuberculosis and his buried at Westminster Abbey. His son, Henry VIII, ascends to the throne of England upon his death.

1515 - January 1st:

King Francis I ascends to the throne of France. Francis reigned during the Renaissance and early in his reign, had the Chateau de Chambord built in the Forest of Chambord, France.

1531 - February 11th:

King Henry VIII is recognized as the supreme head of the Church of England.

1533 - June 1st:

Anne Boleyn is crowned Queen of England.

1536 - May 2nd:

Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, is arrested on charges of adultery, treason and witchcraft and imprisoned in the Tower of London. She will be executed by beheading in 17 days.

1536 - May 19th:

Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, is beheaded at the Tower of London after being charged with committing adultery and treason.

1547 - February 20th:

Edward VI is crowned King of England at the age of nine at Westminster Abbey. Edward is the son of King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour.

1540 - January 6th:

King Henry VIII marries Anne of Cleves. She is Henry's fourth wife. The marriage only lasted from January 6th till July 9th and was annulled. Anne was granted a generous settlement by the King and would live to see the Coronation of Mary I, outliving the rest of Henry's wives.

1540 - July 28th:

Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, is executed on Tower Hill on charges of treason and heresy on orders from Henry VIII. Cromwell was held prisoner in the infamous Tower of London for just over a month prior to his execution by beheading.

1541 - December 10th:

Thomas Culpepper and Francis Dereham are executed for having affairs with Catherine Howard, Queen of England and fifth wife of Henry VIII. Francis Dereham was hanged drawn and quartered for his accused transgressions that occurred prior to Catherine becoming queen and Henry's wife. Thomas Culpepper was shown mercy by the King and only beheaded. Their affair occurred during her reign and during a royal trip to York and Pontefract Castle where an infamous letter from Catherine to Thomas said to have been written where she states:

“I never longed so muche for thynge as I do to se you and to speke wyth you, the wyche I trust shal be shortely now,” and “my trust ys allway in you that you wolbe as you have promysed me..."

1547 - January 28th:

King Henry VIII of England dies, making his nine year old son Edward VI the first Protestant King of England.

1558 - November 17th:

Queen Mary I, Bloody Mary

Queen Mary I, known as Bloody Mary for her persecution of Protestants, dies of influenza at St. James's Palace. Elizabeth becomes Queen Elizabeth I of England upon her half-sisters death, marking the beginning of the Elizabethan era.

1559 - June 30th:

King Henry II of France is mortally wounded in a jousting match against Gabriel de Montgomery.

1561 - August 19th:

Mary, Queen of Scots, returns to Scotland after spending 13 years in France.

1568 - May 2nd:

Mary, Queen of Scots, escapes from Loch Leven Castle in Scotland.

1571 - September 7th:

Sir Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, is arrested for his role in the Ridolfi plot to murder England's Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.

1587 - February 8th:

Mary, Queen of Scots, is executed at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire England on suspicion of being involved in the Babington plot to murder her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. She was buried at Peterborough Cathedral and years later reinterred in Westminster Abbey near the tomb of her cousin, Elizabeth I.

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1601 - September 27th:

Louis XIII is born at the Chateau de Fontainebleau and is the eldest child of King Henry IV of France and Marie de' Medici; making him the Dauphin or heir apparent to the throne of France. He is of the House of Bourbon.

1605 - November 5th

Guy Fawkes is discovered beneath the House of Lords in London, protecting a stockpile of gunpowder to be used to blow up the House of Lords in a planned attempt to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne. Guy is arrested and tortured at the Tower of London, where he later confesses and identifies his co-conspirators, all who are drawn, hanged and quartered.

1606 - January 27th

The trial begins of Guy Fawkes and other conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot. They will be found guilty and executed by being hanged drawn and quartered over the few days following the trial. Guy Fawkes jumps from the scaffolding, avoiding being hanged, but breaks his neck in the fall and dies. His body is still quartered and sent to the four corners of England.

1610 - May 14th:

Louis XIII ascends to the throne in Rue des Grands Augustins at the age of eight and a half, one hour after his father's assassination.

1610 - October 17th:

Louis XIII is formally crowned King of France at the age of 9 years old in Rheims. Although suspicious of him, Louis leans heavily on his Prime Minister, Cardinal Richelieu, to help govern the Kingdom.

1615 - June 4th:

The Siege of Osaka. Osaka Castle in Japan is taken by forces led by Tokugawa leyasu.

1625 - March 27th:

Charles I is crowned King of England, Scotland and Ireland. He also claims the title of King of France.

1628 - September 30th:

Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, dies after being stabbed 4 weeks earlier by his manservant who felt cheated in his masters will. He was stabbed at Warwick Castle, where he lived, and now his ghost haunts one of the towers, now called the Ghost Tower.

1643 - May 14th:

King Louis XIII dies at the age of 41 in Paris France and is buried at Saint Denis Basilica.

1644 - October 27th:

The Second Battle of Newbury (The English Civil War) - Combined Parliamentarian forces battle Royalists led by King Charles I. This is an indecisive battle with the Parliamentarians gaining some tactical advantages. After the fighting stopped for the day, Charles realized his army would not withstand another attack the next day so they retreated north that night, leaving his wounded and most of his guns and baggage at Donnington Castle. The next day Parliamentarians attack Donnington Castle which is easily defeated.

1653 - December 16th:

Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He and the Parliamentarian Army are also responsible for partially destroying lots of castles in England to make them indefensible by the Royalists during the English Civil War.

1654 - June 7th:

Louis XIV is crowned King of France.

1671 - May 9th:

Disguised as a clergyman, Thomas Blood attempts to steal the Crown Jewels of England from the Tower of London.

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1718 - November 30th:

King Charles XII of Sweden dies during a siege of Fredriksten Fortress in Norway. Charles was killed by a projectile that pierced one side of his head and exited the other. This has been a subject of great debate as some believe the projectile was shot from the fortress by his enemies while others attest that someone in his own army was the culprit. His body has been exhumed three times over the centuries to try and solve the mystery.

1739 - February 23rd:

While being held at York Castle, John Palmer is identified to be none other than the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin, by his former school teacher who recognizes his handwriting in a letter. Turpin would later stand trial for stealing horses and be hanged at the gallows at the Knavesmire in York.

1745 - November 8th:

Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and an army of 5000 invade England. This army would later participate in the Battle of Culloden.

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1869 - September 5th:

The foundation stone for Schloss Neuschwanstein is laid. It will take over two decades to complete most of the castle, as some buildings will never be built as construction is halted soon after King Ludwig II's controversial death. Schloss Neuschwanstein is one of three castles built by Ludwig II, with plans for a fourth never being realized. King Ludwig said in a letter to famous composer Richard Wagner about Neuschwanstein:

Schloss Neuschwanstein

" It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights' castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there one day... you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world. It will also remind you of Tannhäuser and Lohengrin... "

1886 - June 13th:

King Ludwig II of Bavaria dies. His body is found in the waters of Lake Starnberg and his death is ruled a suicide, but rumors remain to this day that he was murdered.

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1923 - April 26th:

Future King George VI marries Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at Westminster Abbey in London. Elizabeth is the daughter of Lord Glamis and was raised at Glamis Castle in Scotland.

1992 - November 20th:

Windsor Castle catches on fire after a spotlight in the Queen’s private Chapel sparks and ignites a nearby curtain; causing extensive damage. The castle is restored over the next few years.

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2013 - February 4th:

Richard III

Archaeologists confirm that a skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park is none other than that of King Richard III of England. Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.