« НазадПродовжити »
The first four Constables of the Tower are stated to have held, as by virtue of the office, a portion of land that had formerly appertained to the priory of the Holy Trinity; which land, situate in East Smithfield, they turned into a vineyard; an asumption which in Stephen's time was relinquished in favour of the church. Under Geoffrey de Magnaville, its fourth constable, the Tower was fortified against Stephen: but the struggle with the usurper proved ineffectual, and the intrepid constable was ultimately compelled to surrender.
In the reign of Henry I. Ralph Flambard, Bishop of Durham and favorite of William Rufus, was committed to custody in the Tower-seemingly as a peace-offering, on the part of Henry, to the citizens, whom he wished to conciliate; for the part which Flambard had taken in the tyranny and exactions of the preceding reign had rendered him highly unpopular. But our national fortress does not appear in this instance to have possessed the character for strength which it soon after attained: for during a most jovial imprisonment, the light-hearted captive received a rope, concealed in a vessel of wine: with the wine be held an extra carouse, in which his jailors joined with such hearty good will, that they were soon reduced to a state of insensibility; upon which, the crafty prelate"fastened the rope to the middle column of his window, let himself down, and escaped to Normandy.
The Tower was further improved by the celebrated Thomas a Becket, chancellor to Henry II. In the succeeding reign, during the absence of Richard I. in the Holy Land, an important addition was made by Longchamp, Bishop of Ely: that warlike and ambitious churchman maintained this position against John and his partisans, and “ enclosed the Tower of London with an outward wall of stone embattailed, and also caused a deep ditch to be cast about the same, and thought to have environed it with the Thames." Longchamp was ultimately dispossessed of the Tower, but was permitted to retire to the priory of Bermondsey; from thence he stole to Canterbury, and in the disguise of a female hawker, escaped from that place to Dover; where, sitting by the sea-side, and waiting for a boat, he is said to have been accosted by some fishermen's wives, enquiring the price of his wares: he could only answer with a burst of laughter: this Chancellor of England—this Bishop of Ely, said to have been even born in England, could not speak a single word of English !-a curious instance of the extinction of the native language amongst the rude nobility of that period.
In the year 1215, the great struggle ensued between John and his barons: the city surrendered to the latter, and siege was laid to the Tower, which held out until the signing of the great CHARTER, but was then delivered in trust to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a given time, as security for the royal fulfilment of certain conditions attached to the celebrated code. John, in the mean time, conciliated the pope, and used the
thus regained, in endeavouring to shake off the yoke imposed upon him by the barons: a fierce civil war ensued; the aid of the French was called for against the royal party, and the Tower placed in the possession of Prince Lewis: but the death of John, the loyalty of the English to his youthful successor, with a series of disasters, induced Lewis to give up this and other fortresses.
Henry III. now in possession of the Tower, perceived its weakness as a fortress: he therefore directed his attention to the strengthening of its bulwarks, especially towards the west; operations which were regarded with considerable jealousy by the citizens of that period. As Henry made the Tower his chief residence, he also added to its internal comfort and beauty as a palace; indeed, in the subsequent years of this monarch's reign, he had frequently to resort thither for safety, until the result of the battle of Evesham crushed the power of those who had opposed him. This monarch appears to have possessed a taste for the fine arts; as it is in connection with his reign that mention is made of the Chapel in the White Tower, which he decorated with paintings, sculpture, &c.
But although the Tower was thus invested with the splendour of a palace, it became more than proportionately formidable as a state prison; and for ages after the commencement of the thirteenth century, scarcely a year transpired that did not witness the incarceration of some distinguished individuals within its walls. In this reign, the faithful servant and adviser of preceding monarchs, the high-minded Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, underwent a course of the most cruel persecution. Twice was he dragged from the altar to which he had fled for sanctuary, to be immured in the dungeons of this fortress: and although succeeding events did enable him to close his days in peaceful obscurity, yet the affecting story of his misfortunes stamps the character of Henry with infamy. In this reign Griffin, the unfortunate Welsh prince, delivered (with others) as a hostage into the king's hands, broke his neck in an attempt to escape from the Tower.
Edward I. is supposed to have made the last additions of importance to the Tower: he added to its fortifications and enlarged the ditch by which they are surrounded. Of this period we shall have occasion to speak hereafter.
Edward II. shewed no partiality for the Tower as a residence although he occasionally retired to it for security; and upon
that principle, in 1322, when he marched towards the borders of Wales, he placed his queen, children, and household in this fortress, during which time, the queen gave birth to a princess, who from that circumstance was named Jane of the Tower.
Upon the deposition and murder of this ill-fated monarch, his son, Edward III. was carefully secluded from public affairs, by the policy of his mother, the infamous Isabella, and her coadjutor Mortimer. But Edward soon proved himself superior to their control: he inherited the spirit of his grandsire, and this future scourge of France burst forth in thunder on his foes, and Lord Mortimer, the partner in Isabella's guilt, expiated his treasons upon the gallows. The glories of this monarch's reign, filled the Tower prisons with illustrious chiefs and princes, Scottish and French; amongst whom were David, king of Scotland, and John, king of France.
The succeeding reigns, those of Richard II. and the usurper Henry IV. afford but a melancholy contrast to that of their victo rious predecessor: the accession of a minor to the throne, upon the decease of Edward, opened the flood-gate of rebellion; and a protracted scene of civil strife ensued, which threw into shade the memory of former glories; and the Tower, instead of continuing a palatine-prison of the kings, princes and nobles of foreign enemies, became crowded with the partisans of rebellion, and ultimately afforded a dungeon to the unfortunate Richard himself. In the fourth year of this unhappy reign, on the insurrection headed by Wat Tyler, the insurgents possessed themselves of this citadel, burst into the royal chambers, offering outrage to the king and his mother; seized upon the Archbishop of Canterbury, (Simon of Sudbury) dragged him to Tower-hill, where they cruelly slaughtered him. Stow thus relates the horrid deed:“The archbishop seeing death at hand-with comfortable words, (as he was an eloquent man, and wise beyond all wise men of the realm ) spake fairly to them. Lastly, after forgiveness granted to the executioner that should behead him, he kneeling down, offered his neck to him that should strike it off; being stricken in the neck, but not deadly, he putting his hand to his neck, said thus, “ Aha! it is the hand of God!” He had not removed his hand from the place where the pain was, but that being suddenly stricken, his fingers' ends being cut off, and part of the arteries, he fell down, but yet he died not, until being mangled with eight strokes in the neck and in the head, he fulfilled most worthy martyrdom."
The crown, obtained “more by force than lawful succession or election,” sat but uneasily on the head of Henry IV. and the turbulent spirit of the times, consequent upon his usurpation, continued the Tower more a prison for those concerned in domestic strife than foreign war. We must not, however, pass over this reign without allusion to James of Scotland; who, becoming a prisoner in the Tower, was the third Scottish king confined within its walls in the course of a single century.
In the reign of Henry V. the hero of Agincourt, the Tower again became crowded with French prisoners of distinction; and many were afterwards removed to the castles of Flint, Rotblan, Conway, and other places: but nothing turther of interest oocurs to us, in connexion with our subject, during that reign.
Of events connected with succeeding reigns we shall speak in another part. We will now proceed on our visit to this ancient memorial of the past.
The government of this fortress is entrusted to the following officers, viz.—the Constable, which being regarded an office of great honour and importance, has been generally conferred on men of high rank and influence; a Lieutenant, Deputy-Lieutenant, Fort-major, Chaplain, Physician, Apothecary, GentlemanPorter, Yeoman-Porter, Gentleman-Jailor, four Quarter Gunners, and forty Warders: as one of the warders will have to accompany the visitor, as a guide, a short account may be here introduced relative to the origin of that body. On the death of his father, Henry VIII. retired to the Tower for the sake of privacy, and for the formation of an administration; during which time he was attended by his Yeomen of the Guard. Upon his departure, he left fifteen of them in the Tower, and their name was changed to that of Warders: but it does not appear that they were allowed the same distinction of dress with those who attended the coyal person, until the succeeding reign; for we learn, that the Duke of Somerset, (protector in the time of Edward VI.) during his first imprisonment, approving the diligence of their attendance, promised them, that if set at liberty, he would procure them the privilege of wearing "the king's clothe, as the Yeomen of the Guard did.” Somerset obtained his liberty and kept his promise; for he caused the Warders of the Tower to be sworn extraordinary of the Guard, and to wear the same uniform, which has been continued to the present day. This office was formerly obtained by purchase; but that regulation was altered in 1826; and vacancies are now filled up
of subordinate rank in the army, whose good conduct has rendered them deserving of such distinction.
The visitor enters the Fortress at that point where formerly stood “the Lyons' Gate;" so called from the court adjoining having been formerly occupied by the Royal Menagerie. It was originated by Henry III. in about 1254, for the reception of
some wild animals presented to him by foreign princes. This department was enlarged by succeeding monarchs, and considerable sums (for the period) set apart for the maintenance of its ferocious inmates. King James I. upon visiting the Tower at the commencement of his reign, entertained himself and a portion of his court with a combat between one of the lions and three dogs, one only of the latter survived the conflict: James is said to have regarded sports of this description with peculiar relish a trait in his character which provokes contempt, when his own constitutional timidity is taken into consideration. This menagerie was at one time of considerable extent; but during the latter period of its existence, it had greatly fallen off in attraction, and its contents were, a few years back, transferred to the Zoological Gardens.
The next gate in our progress is that of the Middle Tower, which, with the gate on the farther side of the moat, (the Byward Tower) were strongly fortified, and each provided with a double port-cullis. These Towers, with all those of the Outer Ward, were increased and strengthened in the reign of Henry III. A narrow street, dividing the Outer from the Inner Ward, still retains the name of Mint-street: the houses in this street (which extends itself round the fortress) were formerly inhabited by officers employed in the ancient coinage, * but now chiefly occupied by the military, a nuble structure having been erected, to the north of Little Tower-hill, for the Mint department, with houses for its respective officers.
On the left is the Bell Tower, so called from its containing the alarm-bell of the garrison. This was the prison of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, who was imprisoned and executed on account of his refusal to acknowledge the supremacy of Henry VIII. Some idea may be formed of the rigour to which state-prisoners in this period were subjected, from a letter addressed by this venerable prelate to Secretary Cromwell:
Furthermore, (he writes) I beseech you to be a good master unto me in my neoessity: for I have neither shirt nor suit, nor yet other clothes that are necessary for me to wear, but that be ragged and torn too shamefully; nevertheless, I might easily suffer that, if they would keep my body warm: but my diet also, God
The first gold (says Howell in his Londinopolis) that was coined in the Tower, was in the reign of Edward III. and the pieces were called Florences, of the value of 6s. 8d. Perceval de post being master of the Mint at that time. All great sums before were used to be paid by the weight, as so many pounds or marks of silver, or so many pounds or marks of gold, but they bore no stamp: the lesser payments were in starlings, which was the only coin then current and stamp'd, which were pence so called; and they had their antiquity no further than from the reign of Henry II. Nevertheless, the Saxon coins before the Conquest, were pence of fime silver, somewhat weightier and better than the latter starlings, and the most probable reason that is given, why it was called starling money was, because in the ring or border of the penny there was a star stamped.