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Defensive features of Beaumaris Castle

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Introduction

Defensive features of Beaumaris Castle The main feature of this castle, quite evident from any cursory look, is the concentric nature of its defences, even taking into account that its strongest parts are the two gatehouse-complexes, the north and the south. But even within this scheme, we can see a number of other features which reinforce the effectiveness of the defences both concentric and linear - i.e. those which would have to be approached and overwhelmed in a line or sequentially. Let's go back in time. Let us assume that we are a Gwynnedd-Nationalist force of about 1,000 men and teenage boys over 13, and about 50 to 100 horsemen, and a couple of stone-throwing-machines, approaching the castle from the side where the dock is. It's all we can hope to raise in a summer, from the 1,500 farmsteads and hutments that comprise the heart of our Principality, and the men and boys will have to go home in mid-August in any case to harvest what passes for our fields and to "do" the animals for the winter. Lllewellyn has melted his four gold and silver cups into coin, and mortgaged his best manors to Aaron of Lincoln for �1,000 for five years (an eighth of what it is said that the enemy Castle at Harlech even cost, that was finished four years ago) ...read more.

Middle

We'll take one engine and throw burning pitch-soaked hay at them for a bit. It will stick to anything and will at least be inconvenient and painful and will take up their attention ad time. Meanwhile, some suicidal fellows, whom we have been plying with strong ale for some hours now, will assault the front gate directly and with ladders, from pontoons, while others try to climb up ladders onto the "gunner's walk" overlooking the dock. If we could sweep the defending staff off the walls for about 20 yards either side of the front gate, we might be able to get 50 men over the water to rush the "Barbican" - which is the "defended killing-ground" just in front of the main gatehouse. Of course, plunging fire, arrows, stones, heated quicklime and scrap-metal from the top of the main gatehouse building, not to mention the swords and axes of the defenders on the wall when we get up to them, will be our main enemy, but God is On Our Side and we should not fear death in these circumstances, for the souls of those of our men and young boys who fall will be transported directly past Purgatory and straight to heaven. So now we are sitting uncomfortably on the outer wall and we hold a quarter of it precariously, and we overlook the Barbican where a good fight is still going on in front of the main Portcullis! ...read more.

Conclusion

We face the outer portcullis and we have already lost 37 dead and 120 more-or-less-wounded in an afternoon, and 18 horses. That's about a sixth part of our force out of commission and we have only been here five hours. We've held onto about a quarter of their outer wall and we are still under fire from either end and from the towers inside and from the gatehouses, which we stand no chance of carrying away whatever. We can bring up no water for our men, who are all gasping, nor more arrows and missiles except what we can collect of theirs and re-use. We shall simply have to evacuate our positions as fast and as cleanly as we can, taking those of our les-badly-wounded with us whom we can carry, and putting the rest whom we cannot, out of their misery as painlessly as possible. The same goes for the English wounded among them, or else I suppose we could leave them for their friends to help as best they can. Our small State simply can't support this kind of loss-rate of its manpower, against the English, who are far more numerous and far-better-funded in the longer term. We shall simply have to come to an accommodation with them about whose Writ runs in the Islands as a whole, and whose runs here under the best circumstances that we can get. ...read more.

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