From the 11th century to the end of the Middle Ages, stone castles and later brick castles were built all over England, Wales, Scotland & Ireland as a form of defence and to show off wealth and power.
Apart from the building themselves there are written accounts of what life was like in a medieval castle. One of the best descriptions is in a series of letters between members of the Paston family who lived in Norfolk in the 15th century. You can find out about them and lots more about other castles here.
You can also find out more about castles on the BBC Bitesize website,
Some of the most important castles during the Wars of the Roses were:
Richard II was imprisoned and died here after Henry IV usurped his throne.
In 1454 Henry Duke of Exeter was a prisoner here and in 1460 the Lancastrian leaders stayed here before the Battle of Wakefield.
Later the castle belonged to Richard Duke of Gloucester (who became Richard III). He stayed here several times and in 1483 he sent three of his enemies to be executed at Pontefract: Anthony Woodville, Richard Grey and Thomas Vaughan.
Henry VI was born here and it was Edward IV’s favourite castle. Edward built a chapel here for the Knights of the Garter and held a feast here on St George’s Day each year. Both of these kings are now buried in that chapel.
Every king and queen stayed here before their coronation and they often lived here when they needed to be in London. After the Battle of Northampton in 1460, many Lancastrians tried to keep safe here while the Yorkists took over ruling the country.
Henry VI was imprisoned here from 1465 to 1470. In 1470 Queen Elizabeth (Woodville) was planning to have her baby here but had to leave in a hurry when she heard that a Lancastrian army was coming and her husband, Edward IV, was escaping out of England. The next year, when Edward IV returned, Elizabeth and her children moved back to the Tower. Then they were besieged here by Thomas Neville. He was defeated by the queen’s brother, Anthony, Earl Rivers. Henry VI had been made a prisoner in the Tower again and he died there, probably murdered on Edward IV’s orders.
Two of the Tower’s most famous residents were Edward IV’s sons, Edward V and Richard Duke of York. They were staying here to be ready for Edward V’s coronation but then their uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester, was made king instead. They were never seen outside of the castle again and became known as the Princes in the Tower. Henry VII imprisoned their cousin, Edward of Warwick, here for 14 years before executing him. The princes’ sister also died here – she was actually Henry VII’s queen, Elizabeth of York, and she was staying in the royal apartments of the castle.
If you enjoy online jigsaws you can find several here of castles.