White Castle

White Castle is one of three castles, along with Grosmont and Skenfrith, that became part of the aptly named “Three Castles” lordship. This designation came about as part of the Norman conqueror’s attempt to ensure their control of the borderlands between Wales and England, particularly the road to Hereford. The castle was commissioned initially by William Fitz Osbern, the first Lord of Hereford, when it consisted of earthworks with timber defenses. After the wars with Wales starting in 1135, King Stephen consolidated the control of these three castles into a single lordship and had them rebuilt in stone. Control of the castle went back and forth between several owners, among them the powerful Burgh and Braose families, depending on the whims of whoever was king at the time. Hubert de Burgh, in particular, fell out with royal authority three times, Read more…

Empress Maud (Matilda)

Maud was the eldest, legitimate daughter of Henry I of England.  Her major claim to fame is that she warred for 19 years with Stephen of Blois, her cousin (both were grandchildren of William the Conqueror), for the throne of England.  This period of English history is known as ‘The Anarchy’. Maud resolved to take this path after the death of her brother, Henry, who went down with the White Ship in 1120 AD.  His death left King Henry with no legitimate sons (and up to twenty illegitimate ones).  In English law, illegitimate sons could not inherit, which left only Maud to take the throne.  While Henry was still alive, he tried very hard to get the barons to swear they would follow Maud.  Afterwards … Stephen felt that as a legitimate male, even if descended through his mother, Adela, Read more…

Anglo-Saxon Law (to 1066)

Anglo-Saxon law didn’t come to an end with the coming of William of Normandy in 1066, but it was definitely changed. Norman law was based in feudalism and heavily influenced by the Church.  Anglo-Saxon law had been developed over a long period of time and while influenced by Christianity in later centuries, was more egalitarian.  It was based on a system of courts, the main one being the ‘hundred court’.  “The hundred court met every four weeks, in the open if possible and usually at a prominent local landmark that gave its name to the hundred. The king’s reeve usually presided over the court. It had many functions, and was a mixture of parish council business meeting, planning enquiry, and magistrates’ court.  . . Edward the Elder decreed that the hundred courts were to judge the worthiness of every law-suit and Read more…