Adulterine Castles

1135-1153

After the death of Henry I in 1135 there were two claimants to the throne; Henry's daughter Matilda (Maud) and his nephew Stephen. During the interminable struggle for the throne between supporters of King Stephen and Queen Maud (1135-53), a number of barons built unauthorized castles in an attempt to exert their control over their territory and at the same time to defy the authority of the crown. Tradition required that a nobleman must have royal approval to crenellate an existing fortification or create a new castle, but these adulterine castles were created completely without royal permission.

When the conflict between Stephen and Maud was resolved in 1153 by settling the inheritance on Maud's son, Henry, Stephen began the process of systematically destroying these unauthorized fortifications. After Stephen's death the following year, Henry (now Henry II) carried on the task of demolishing the adulterine castles one by one, and at the same time reinforcing royal authority.

Time period(s): Medieval

Tags: castle   Henry II   King Stephen   Queen Maud   Stephen and Maud  

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