Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bamburgh Castle - Part I

I have, once more, discovered another gem, a jewel of history of which I had previously been completely unaware. My dear mother sent me a link saying that there was a cool castle that I would like to see, so I went and looked at it and, being intrigued, decided to do a blog post about it. When I decided this, I had no clue that it would have such an amazing history.

I speak of Bamburgh Castle.
Bamburgh Castle (pronounced /ˈbæmbrə/ BAM-brə ) is located on the coast England at Bamburgh in Northumberland. I have noticed that wherever there is a fortress of some sort, very often the land that it is on has been occupied for several thousands of years. Bamburgh is no exception: in (roughly, I suppose) 12,000 - 4,000 BC nomadic hunter-gathers roamed the land, and in 800 BC The Votadini, one of Britain's first organized tribes lived at the natural fortress of Bamburgh. (Is is a very high, rocky mound by the ocean, it sounds cold and windy to me but I guess they liked it. And they probably had to be "organized" so the didn't freeze to death.)

During the Roman conquest, in AD 43 - AD 410, Bamburgh was occupied by solders. And in in 547, Northumbria, then known as Bernicia, in the heart of Anglo Saxon England, was the largest and most powerful of seven kingdoms. The 6th century Kings of Northumbria chose for their Royal capital Bamburgh, due to its formidable position 150 feet above the sea and by a natural harbor. The called this city Din (Fortress) Guayrdi.

In 607 King Ida (a good king, I suppose) died and the fortress fell into the hands of Aethelfrith. My dear mother cracks up every time I say his name, and tharth thaying thilly thingth. The Venerable Bede, a monk and England's first historian, likens Aethelfrith to a "ravening wolf." Due to the fact that Aethelfrith caused much mayhem and destruction, he was given the name Flesaurs, meaning The Destroyer. Aethelfrith gave the fortress to his wife, Bebba, and it was renamed Bebbanburgh after her. Its present name, Bamburgh, originates from this, but you probably guessed that.

Fortunately, in 634, Oswald, Aethelfrith's son, became Northumbria's new king after his father's death. Oswald, very unlike Aethelfrith, was a Saint King, a moral and generous man who built a monastery, converted his people to Christianity etc... He was the first to do this, really, so Northumbria is often called "the cradle of Christianity.''

But, alas, Oswald was slain in battle in 642 by his old enemy, King Penda of Mercia. After his death, things didn't go too well: 700-800 was The Bloody Century. Long story short: lots of people were killed, lots of little war lords ran each other through, etc... And the Northumbria Kingdom started to fall. And on top of it all, in 993, The Vikings came and started killing every one, burning buildings, and all those other unfriendly things that Vikings do. The Kingdom of Northumbria fell even more. Then, in 1066, William the Conqueror came and more people got killed. (Oddly enough, there were still people left
to get killed.) Anglo Saxon earls were replaced by Normans, and Bamburgh was used as a base while they went to go attack Scotland.

William Rufus, the Red King (called so due to his hair color and unfortunate personality, very irritable, you know.) the third son of William the conqueror, caused lots of problems for Bamburgh in 1095. He tried to take the fortress from Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria, that didn't work. William must have been unhappy about this: he started building a "Malvoisin," ("evil neighbor") a wooden tower alongside Bamburgh. Mowbray made an attempt to escape through a secret tunnel (cool, huh?) but he got captured and was made a prisoner (not cool). Mowbray's brave young wife (dude cool), Matilda and his nephew Morel continued to defend the castle (way dude cool). But, alas, William Rufus declared that he would blind Mowbrey unless Bamburgh yields. So, Matilda gave up the castle and Henry I took ownership of Bamburgh.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nehaj Fortress

Nehaj Fortress

I had absolutely no clue how it should be pronounced, but, thanks to Google, I learned that, in Serbo-Croatian,
aj is said ay as in kayak. And the h is the ch/ck sound in loch. So, nay-ch-aye would be my best guess. If its wrong I apologize greatly.

Now that that is out of the way, I might as well tell you about it. Nehaj Fortress is located in Senj, Croatia ( 44.986°N 14.903°E). As those of you who read By Castle and River know, I have a strange sort of fondness for Croatia, and I was wanting to do a post on a castle from there. They have some
really cool-looking castles, by the way.

So, I looked around and I found Nehaj.

A view from one of the windows. I love the cream buildings with the orange tile roofs.

Nehaj Fortress was built in 1558, under the command of Ivan Lenkovic, captain and general of the Croatian army, and Captain Herbert the 8th, to provide defense against the Ottoman-Turks.

The fortress is 18 meters (roughly 59 feet) tall and 23 meters (roughly 75 feet) wide. It is square; the corners point to the four corners of the world.

It is a museum now, open to the public.

It has a very good website, despite a few typos. It has lots of information, complete history, a neat photo gallery with pictures of the aria surrounding the fortress, and lots of other stuff:

I like this place better, it is clearer and easier to read, but the sites say basically the same thing:

This one is very good, it has different information and is easy to read:

And so, in doing a blog post, I find yet another place I want to visit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mont Saint-Michel

For purely sentimental reasons.

You see, I have no castle that I am particularly fond of to do for my first, official post. So, I will do Mont Saint-Michel, as it was the subject of the first blog post that I ever did on my other blog.

The odd thing is, Mont Saint-Michel is not even a castle. Really, it is a commune. (A sort of a city in France, basically just a small community.) So I guess that is might pass as a citadel.

As with most historic structures, Mont Saint-Michel (Saint Michael's Mount.) was built slowly over a several generations, but the first bit of it was built in 709 by Aubert of Avranches, or, St. Aubert, Bishop of Avranches. This fact as very often accompanied by this tradition: The Archangel Michael came to Aubert and told him to build a shrine on the islet, "Mount Tombe." Aubert refused, was told again and refused again. This went on till Michael burned a hole in Aubert's head, with his finger. Then Aubert built it. A strange story, I know, but it is their tradition, and it seemed necessary to me to add it.

And before this, in the sixth and seventh centuries, the Romano-British occupied the island. For Island it is, as I mentioned, a little over half a mile of the coast of France, in Normandy, in the English Chanel.

In 1017, monastery, was built and a village grew at the base of The Mont. Both the Abby and the town were, and are, I should say, fortified. The abbey, and I suppose the village likewise, was, or, are, built with stones brought at low tide from the mainland coast. All during the 100 Years War The Mont was never captured, I think that is rather impressive.

My other blog post had many links to good websites about Mont Saint-Michel, but I think that this one is the best, , the history of the place is most interesting, I am just not overly good at giving an account of that sort of thing.

I love the design, the shape, the architecture, the layout of Mont Saint-Michel. I find everything about it so very cool: a monastery on the very top of a pyramid-shaped island, a beautiful stone village on the sides, a great wall all around them and for a moat, the ocean.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Citadel and Fortress...

Dunnottar Castle, Scotland

Greetings, Friend, and salutations. I have been bloging (I don't like that word.) for several months now, on my other, main, blog,
By Castle and River, which is devoted to almost all the things that I love. And now, as you see, I have a new, somewhat lesser blog, called Citadel and Fortress. It is devoted entirely to castles. I have high hopes that Citadel will be most informative and enjoyable. If this is starting to sound like a school text book, don't worry: it won't be.

Klis Fortress, Croatia

Citadel may look a bit pitiful right now, so, think of it as a little bird, a hatching with no feathers, yet. Give it time, my Friend, give it time and it will grow.

Mont Saint Michel Spire, France

Each post will be on a different castle and I hope,
hope that is, to do a post roughly once a week. I think I just realized why I didn't do an "introduction post" on my other blog: I'm not very good at it. Fear not, though; I am better at writing when I know what I am saying and I will know, mostly, what I am saying when I am doing my posts.