Were medieval English guns dangerous to use?

Soon after beginning my PhD research into the development of early English gunpowder weapons, I started work at the Westgate Museum in Winchester. The museum is one of two surviving medieval gates to the city and has two fine late fourteenth century gun ports. On my first day, whilst being trained by another member ofContinue reading “Were medieval English guns dangerous to use?”

Royal and Urban Gunpowder Weapons in Late Medieval England

Dan Spencer, Royal and Urban Gunpowder Weapons in Late Medieval England (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2019) https://boydellandbrewer.com/royal-and-urban-gunpowder-weapons-in-late-medieval-england.html Now that my book has been out for a few months, I feel the time is right for me to provide an overview of its contents in case anybody is curious. The project was inspired, as so manyContinue reading “Royal and Urban Gunpowder Weapons in Late Medieval England”

Document ordering at The National Archives

The recent outcry about changes to document ordering at The National Archives has led me to reflect on my experience of using the archive. It is by far my favourite archive in the country and I have really enjoyed making use of it. It has a huge collection of records dating from the Middle Ages toContinue reading “Document ordering at The National Archives”

Windsor Castle and the Epiphany Rising of 1400

(An engraving of Windsor Castle, Berkshire, dating from 1658 by Wenceslas Hollar, from Wikipedia) At the beginning of 1400 an attempt was made to overthrow Henry IV by a group of disaffected nobles.[1] The attempt was made on 4 January when the king and the court were celebrating the Christmas festivities at Windsor Castle. TheContinue reading “Windsor Castle and the Epiphany Rising of 1400”

Edward I at Conwy Castle on Christmas Day 1294 and the Madog ap Llywelyn Rebellion

On Christmas Day 1294 King Edward I was at Conwy Castle in north Wales. He was attended by many members of his nobility and household. It would ordinarily be expected that this would be a happy occasion with the king being able to enjoy residing in one of his grand new castles in Wales, whichContinue reading “Edward I at Conwy Castle on Christmas Day 1294 and the Madog ap Llywelyn Rebellion”

The Rhys ap Maredudd Rebellion and the Siege of Dryslwyn Castle in 1287

By 1283 Edward I of England had succeeded in conquering Wales, with the native Welsh dynasty of the house of Gwynedd all but wiped out. Yet the English conquerors were forced to contend with years of rebellions by the Welsh. One of these uprisings was led by Rhys ap Maredudd who took up arms againstContinue reading “The Rhys ap Maredudd Rebellion and the Siege of Dryslwyn Castle in 1287”

The Siege of Stirling Castle in 1304

(Stirling Castle) The film Outlaw King begins with a vivid depiction of the siege of Stirling Castle in 1304, a key event in the First Scottish War of Independence. A huge trebuchet is shown throwing a flaming projectile over the walls to smash the defenders into submission. The film uses the surrender of the castleContinue reading “The Siege of Stirling Castle in 1304”

A Survey of Oswestry Castle in 1397

(Oswestry Castle) Oswestry in Shropshire was once an important border castle in the Welsh Marches. Its situation on the top of a natural mound meant that it would have dominated the surrounding landscape, with its main feature being a great tower (otherwise known as a keep). However, the systematic destruction of the site in theContinue reading “A Survey of Oswestry Castle in 1397”

Ten Interesting Facts About Castles in Wales

Beaumaris Castle Beaumaris Castle in Anglesey was one of the castles built by Edward I after his conquest of Wales in the late thirteenth century. Construction work began in early 1295 with many hundreds of men employed on the project and huge quantities of stone, timber and other supplies sent to the site. Over theContinue reading “Ten Interesting Facts About Castles in Wales”

Kidwelly Castle and the Owain Glyn Dŵr Rebellion

For a time in the early fifteenth century it seemed a real possibility that the Welsh rebel leader Owain Glyn Dŵr would succeed in fully driving the English out of Wales and would realise his ambition to be Prince of Wales. The failure of his rebellion was due in large part to the success ofContinue reading “Kidwelly Castle and the Owain Glyn Dŵr Rebellion”