Castles: Britain's Fortified History

Castles: Britain's Fortified History

Castles have always been romanticized, especially in Britain. They have been incorporated into folklore, witnessed bloody battles, played host to the great and the good, and been kept alive in the imagination by the world’s great writers and artists. Historian Sam Willis looks at Britain’s castles from weapons of conquest to fuel for literature and national identity.

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Castles: Britain's Fortified History on BBC Select

Episode 1: Instruments of Invasion
The castle became a potent weapon used by unruly barons to challenge the monarchy.

The castle arrived as an instrument of invasion but soon became a weapon used by unruly barons to challenge the Crown. In this revealing documentary, Sam Willis looks at the history of the British castle from the Normans in 1066 to the myths surrounding King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table in Tintagel and the longest siege on English soil at Kenilworth Castle.

Episode 2: Kingdom of Conquest
The story of Edward I who turned to castles and catapults to vanquish the Welsh and Scots.

One English ruler left an indelible mark on the castle: Edward I. As this gripping history documentary explores, Edward spent vast sums to construct some of the most fearsome fortresses ever built, used to impose England’s will on the Welsh. But when Edward turned his attention to Scotland, laying siege to their castles with great catapults, things didn’t go so well for him.

Episode 3: Defense of the Realm
How castle ruins took on a unique appeal, embodying a nostalgia for an age of chivalry.

Castles, once used to wage war, instead became palaces used to impress monarchs such as Elizabeth I, or ruins that instilled a sense of nostalgia for an age of chivalry in the British psyche. But, as this exciting history documentary reveals, just as castles seemed to have lost their defensive function, the English Civil War erupted, a tumultuous period that changed Britain forever.

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