Gwyned - Wales
To read the story of the creation of this castle, is to understand just how determined King Edward I. was in trying to subdue the Welsh. However, this, like all other static fortresses, had limited advantage and could be eventually taken by a long siege.
After the death of Llywelyn in December 1282, the first and last prince of all Wales, at Builth and the capture of the Welsh castles of Cader Idris and Dolwyddelan, the way was open for Edward’s northern forces to advance down the Conwy valley and for him to commence building his fortresses. April 1283 saw 512 infantry, under King Edward’s Savoyard lieutenant Sir Otto de Grandison, march to Harlech where building work was begun. 20 stone masons and quarriers came with packhorses to carry their tools, followed by, in July, another 15 masons and carpenters. By the summer of 1286 nearly 950 men were employed; 227 masons, 115 quarriers, 30 smiths, 22 carpenters and 546 labourers. Taking charge of the design and building operations was the military engineer and fellow Savoyard, James of St. George.
During the Wars of the Roses the castle was held by the Lancastrians and was their last stronghold, withstanding a seven year long siege, the longest in British history.
During the civil war it was also the last royalist stronghold against the Parliamentary forces. Surrendering on 16th March 1647, over a year after King Charles had been captured.
The castle was duly slighted.
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