Why was a castle built and maintained in York?
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Why was a castle built and maintained in York? York castle has been standing since the beginning of the middle ages. It began as a simple, wooden Motte and bailey castle, gradually developing into a much stronger stone Motte and bailey. There are so many reasons why York castle was actually built and why it is still standing to this day. William the Conqueror famously invaded England in 1066 in the battle of Hastings; he then became king on Christmas day the same year. He gradually moved his way through England building Motte and Bailey castles in important locations, which is the reason York castle stands today, due to William wanting to solidify his power. In this essay I will explain in depth why York castle was actually built and maintained. The essay will analyse the location, power and overall reason for York castle to be built. Before the 1066 battle of Hastings, York was already a highly important place which because of its good long term background William had to control but was well outnumbered in England being only roughly 10,000 of his Normans to around 1-2 million others. This is why William needed to build so many castles across the country so he could control and over power the nation. The castles were a perfect solution for William as it showed the people in his key locations where they stood, as every day they had to look up to a high built castle knowing a Norman built it.
York's population soon grew and traders were coming from all over Europe. This could be the reason the Saxons then decided to remove the Vikings from York and re-claim it, although this happened York did keep all of its strong links with the Vikings. William the Conqueror in 1066 won the battle of Hastings, becoming king on Christmas day. The Romans, Saxons and Vikings effect on York were all the reason why William went to so much trouble just to take control of the city. If he wanted to gain power then this was his chance because of York's gradual rise of importance it was only going to go up from there. When him and his Normans became in control, York had its final rise in power; it increases in size, its population increased, it was trading goods from all over Europe, he dammed the river Foss as an extra defence, he rebuilt any castles, and strengthened all defences. This meant that William was the founder of the still standing York castle, as he wanted to show the Vikings that Normans now ruled York and although if William hadn't come to York there wouldn't be many rebellions anyway, the castle defended the Normans from any attacks that did occur. As the importance of York itself declined, the need of maintaining the castle declined also.
Military uses for the Castle went downhill and didn't return until the civil war, as it was turned into the military base. Although the castles uses came to a halt when the canon became a more popular weapon (as it could destroy the castle and its defences), the Bailey still existed on the law side of things, being used as prisons. The reason York castle was maintained so much was probably due to the change in uses so frequently, and even when military purposes did begin to stop, the museum took its place to represent what York was/is all about. Overall, York Castle was built to defend the city, and to bring in money. Money was made through the natural defences built, making it able for goods to be imported and exported from the city. Religion (due to the long term history), bought in more people from all over the world, therefore producing more trading links, and many more taxes, providing much more money for the city. Due to York as a city being important, the castle was upgraded to stone, which again upped the importance of the city. When the threat of attack disappeared, the use of the castle also lessened, and as the natural defences dried up, the transportation of goods stopped, meaning York lost its links with the trading market and as a city lost a lot of money. The purpose of the Castle has changed a lot over time, and now its only purpose being for tourists to look at the cities history.
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