CHAP. XIV. OF CASTELS AND HOLDS.
IT hath béene of long time a question in controuersie, and not yet determined, whether holds and castels néere cities or anie where in the hart of common-wealths, are more profitable or hurtfull for the benefit of the countrie? Neuertheles it séemeth by our owne experience that we here in England suppose them altogither vnnéedfull. This also is apparent by the testimonie of sundrie writers, that they haue béene the ruine of manie a noble citie. Of Old Salisburie I speake not, of Anwarpe I saie nothing more than of sundrie other, whereof some also in my time neuer cease to incroch vpon the liberties of the cities adioining, thereby to hinder them what and wherin they may. For my part I neuer read of anie castell that did good vnto the citie abutting theron, but onelie the capitoll of Rome: and yet but once good vnto the same, in respect of the nine times whereby it brought it into danger of vtter ruine and confusion. Aristotle vtterlie denieth that anie castle at all can be profitable to a common wealth well gouerned. Timotheus of Corinthum affirmeth, that a castle in a common wealth is but a bréeder of tyrants. Pyrhus king of Epire being receiued also on a time into
Athens, among other courtesies shewed vnto him, they led him also into their castell of Pallas, who at his departure gaue them great thanks for the fréendlie intertainment; but with this item, that they should let so few kings come into the same as they might, least (saith he) they teach you to repent too late of your great gentlenesse. Caietanus in his common-wealth hath finallie no liking of them, as appéereth in his eight booke of that most excellent treatise. But what haue I to deale whether they be profitable or not, sith my purpose is rather to shew what plentie we haue cf them, which I will performe so far as shall be néedfull?
There haue béene in times past great store of eastels and places of defense within the realme of England, of which some were builded by the Britons, manie by the Romans, Saxons, and Danes, but most of all by the barons of the realme, in & about the time of king Stephan, who licenced each of them to build so manie as them listed vpon their owne demeasnes, hoping thereby that they would haue imploied their vse to his aduantage and commoditie. But finallie when he saw that they were rather fortified against himselfe in the end, than vsed in his defense, he repented all too lace of his inconsiderate dealing, sith now there was no remedie but by force for to subdue them. After his decease king Henrie the second came no sooner to the crowne, but he called to mind the inconuenience which his predecessour had suffered, and he himselfe might in time sustaine by those fortifications. Therefore one of the first things he did was an attempt to race and deface the most part of these holds. Certes he thought it batter to hazard the méeting of the enimie now and then in the plaine field, than to liue in perpetuall feare of those houses, and the rebellion of his lords vpon euerie light occasion conceiued, who then were full so strong as he, if not more strong; and that made them the readier to withstand and gainesaie manie of those procéedings, which he and his successours from time to time intended. Herevpon therefore he caused more than eleuen hundred of their said castels to be raced and ouerthrowne, whereby the power of his nobilitie was not a little restreined. Since that time also, not a few of those which remained haue decaied, partlie by the commandement of Henrie the third, and partlie of themselues, or by conuersion of them into the dwelling houses of noble men, their martiall fronts being remooued: so that at this present, there are verie few or no castels at all mainteined within England, sauing onelie vpon the coasts and marches of the countrie for the better kéeping backe of the forren enimie, when soeuer he shall attempt to enter and annoie vs.
The most provident prince that euer reigned in this land, for the fortification thereof against all outward enimies, was the late prince of famous memorie king Henrie the eight, who beside that he repared most of such as were alreadie standing, builded sundrie out of the ground. For hauing shaken off the more than seruile yoke of popish. tyrannie, and espieng that the emperour was offended for his diuorce from quéene Catherine his aunt, and thereto vnderstanding that the French king had coupled the Dolphin his sonne with the popes neece, and maried his daughter to the king of Scots (whereby he had cause more iustlie to suspect than safelie to trust anie one of them all as Lambert saith) he determined to stand vpon his owne defense, and therefore with no small spéed, and like charge, he builded sundrie blockehouses, castels, and platformes vpon diuerse frontiers of his realme, but chieflie the east and southeast parts of England, whereby (no doubt) he did verie much qualifie the conceiued grudges of his aduersaries, and vtterlie put off their hastie purpose of inuasion. But would to God he had cast his eie toward Harwich, and the coasts of Norflolke and Suffolke, where nothing as yet is doone! albeit there be none so fit and likelie places for the enimie to enter vpon, as in those parts, where, at a full sea they may touch vpon the shore and come to land without resistance. And thus much brieflie for my purpose at this present. For I néed not to make anie long discourse of castels, sith it is not the nature of a good Englishman to regard to be caged vp as in a coope, and hedged in with stone wals, but rather to meet with his enimie in the plaine field at handstrokes, where he maie trauaise his ground, choose his plot, and vse the benefit of sunne shine, wind and weather, to his best aduantage & commoditie. Isocrates also saith that towres, walles, bulworkes, soldiers,
The best kéepers of kingdemes.
and pientie of armour, are not the best kéepers of kingdomes; but freends, loue of subiects, & obedience vnto martiall discipline, which they want that shew themselues either cruell or couetous toward their people. As for those tales that go of Beston castell, how it shall saue all England on a daie, and likewise the brag of a rebellious baron in old time named Hugh Bigot, that said in contempt of king Henrie the third, and about the fiftith yeare of his reigne:
If I were in my castell of Bungeie,
Vpon the water of Waueneie,
I wold not set a button by the king of Cockneie,
I repute them but as toies, the first méere vaine, the second fondlie vttered, if anie such thing were said, as manie other words are and haue béene spoken of like holds (as Walling-ford, &c:) but now growen out of memorie, and with small losse not heard of among the common sort. Certes the castell of Bungeie was ouerthrowen by the aforesaid prince, the same yeare that he ouerthrew the walles and castell of Leircester, also the castels of Treske and Malesar, apperteining to Roger Mowbraie, and that of Fremlingham belonging likewise to Hugh Bigot, wherof in the chronologie following you may read at large. I might here in like sort take occasion to speake of sundrie strong places where camps of men haue lien, and of which we haue great plentie here in England in the plaine fields: but I passe ouer to
The Wandles in time past were called Windles.
talke of any such néedlesse discourses. This neuerthelesse concerning two of them is not to be omitted, to wit, that the one néere vnto Cambridge now Gogmagogs hill, was called Windleburie before time, as I read of late in an old pamphlet. And to sale the truth I haue often heard them named Winterburie hilles, which difference may easilie grow by corruption of the former word: the place likewise is verie large and strong. The second is to be séene in the edge of Shropshire about two miles from Colme, betwéene two riuers, the Clun or Colunus, and the Tewie otherwise named Themis, wherevnto there is no accesse but at one place. The Welshmen call it Cair Carador, and they are of the opinion, that Caractatus king of the Sillures was ouercome there by Ostorius, at such time as he fled to Cartimanda quéene of the Brigants for succour, who betraied him to the Romans, as you may sée in Tacitus.