Bishop takes Castle

decades passed, the original motte and bailey was added to - with bigger and sturdier buildings, still in wood - until there was something more recognisable as a castle.

But, in the early 1100's, this wooden building burnt down.

By this time, military priorities had changed. The locals were now pretty firmly under the Norman heel, but peace hadn't broken out. Rather, the emergent ruling classes of England were in more danger from each other, as power struggles broke out amongst the Barons and various would-be monarchs.

Wooden castles were little protection against increasingly well-armed neighbours, so, all over England, Wales and beyond, strongholds were built in stone - stout and high and beginning to take on the shape we recognise as a mediæval castle.

Bishop Roger of Salisbury built the one in Devizes.

Roger wasn't just any old cleric. He was Henry I's right hand man - extremely powerful, extremely rich (it didn't hurt his finances that he handled Henry's).

Roger was responsible for introducing the Exchequor to English governance. Originally, the Exchequor was a simple checkered cloth, draped over a table in the King's treasury. It was used as a mediæval equivalent of a calculator - assessing taxes and balancing it against expenditure.

By the time Roger got around to rebuilding Devizes castle - in 1138 - Henry had died (of "a surfeit of lampreys"), and left England in a constitutional mess.

Henry had spent most of his reign forcing his Barons to accept his daughter Matilda (known as Empress Matilda (or Maud), because of her marriage to Holy Roman Emperor Henry V) as heir to his throne, and then, at the last moment, switched his preference to his cousin Stephen. This set the scene for a long and bloody civil war, during which England became a very dangerous place to be - especially if you didn't have several feet of stonework between you and your enemies.

Roger didn't stint on the stone, or anything else. He used Devizes Castle to demonstrate his financial power, as well as his military might. By the time he was finished, Devizes was reckoned (by Roger, at least) as the most splendid castle in Christendom.

But soon, everything started to go wrong for Roger.

King of the Castle King of the Castle King takes Bishop King takes Bishop
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