Friday, 2 September 2011

Kenilworth Castle - Seige Day 1173 (re-enactment)

Preparations for Battle between Henry 2 and his son Henry The Young King

























We join the castle as it prepares for battle.

King Henry 2 had a son, and the land is in revolt in favour of the son. Henry the elder was having trouble in Normandy and was threatened with invasion from the Scots.

(King Henry was the one married to Eleanor of Acquitaine and who did for Thomas Becket.)

In the custom of the Capetian Kings of France, whose heirs apparent were crowned during their own lifetime, in order to avoid succession disputes, Henry (the son) was crowned as joint king when he came of age. However, because he was never king in his own right, he is known to history as "Henry the Young King", rather than Henry III. As the king's sons matured, it was expected that Henry would inherit the throne from his father,

(above right: I couldn't resist a photo of this little darling dressed for the part)


So, in Kenilworth, the Earls of Norfolk and Leicester have seized the opportunity of unrest in Normandy and with a threatened invasion from Scotland, to besiege all the Royalist castles in the Midlands.  The Castle is being defended by Geoffrey De Clinton.







(There were 6 re-enactment groups performing for the afternoon seige and it was fun to wander around their encampments beforehand to find out what life would have been like for those involved in the battle.  Above is a photo of a fox fur. There were a lot of furs on display, and were used extensively for warmth and clothing.  The players slept in the tents under reindeer skins and I was told it was beautifully warm.)

Right: a falcon used for hunting food.  It could catch prey up to the size of a rabbit.


And so, the attack begins. The Perriers (like a small trebuchet and much easier to wheel around) are being loaded. The arm is winched by ropes to ground level before being fired. This is followed by a hail of arrows from the archers which sailed easily over the walls to claim their victims.


(On the right is a picture of one of the stone balls found at the castle on one of the latest archeological digs. I've put my hand in the picture for scale.

For the re-enactment, they fired many missiles, but they were of the grapefruit variety not stone!)

After the initial attack by seige catapults, and arrows,  the Earls of Norfolk and Leicester combine forces to storm the walls and erect seige ladders to climb the walls. They try to break through the door but it's held fast.


Casualties as the Earls men are pushed back and fall to the ground (which they did quite literally, being caught in blankets)

Preparations for battle also include tunneling under ground so that explosives could be laid at the foundations of the walls. These would be fired so that the wall is "undermined" and collapses. We saw smoke but the attempt was obviously a failure.



Reinforcements from the Earls arrive to support the attempt over the wall.

Success the walls are breached! Hand to hand fighting ensues.

It looks as if all is lost in the castle.

But then, in the nick of time the Cavalry arrive and storm the attackers.


The two enemies stand facing each other.

And charge.
Battle ensues with hand to hand fighting amongst the knights.

Much thudding of hooves and cheering results in the cavalry winning and the Earls admitting defeat. They are shown mercy and allowed to join the kings troops.

So endeth the seige of Kenilworth.

And enormous fun it was too. A lot of shouting and hard work....not at all like the telly!

The knight/really a lady, in the bottom picture is heading straight for me, but I ducked so avoided being a kebab.


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