Two years after the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror and his army marched north to put down a general uprising (The Harrying of the North). Arriving at Lincoln he quickly put into action the demolition of 166 houses to make way for a 40 foot high motte in the south east corner of the Roman walled city. On this motte he erected a timber fortress surrounded by a timber palisade. This castle was part a plan to secure his lines of communication and strengthen his hold on the country by building a series of castles within one day’s march from each other. There was an unusual feature of this castle; it had another motte close by also toped with a timber tower. The only other castles with two mottes being Lewes, York and,
it is believed by some, The Tower of London.
The first constable of this castle was Colsuen, a local Saxon, and soon after sheriff Thorold held his courts within the castle precincts and it was his daughter Lucy, it is thought, began fortifying the
original tower, hence the name, Lucy Tower.
By 1115 the office of castle constable was in the hands of Robert de la Haye and it was about this time the stone shell keep and stone walling was built, replacing the old timbered constructions.
In the Autumn of 1140 the castle became a major feature in the civil war when Empress Matilda’s army siezed the castle and the city. King Stephen soon recaptured it but Matilda’s supporter, Ranulph de Gernons, 4th Earl of Chester made a daring escape during the night. Once safe he persuaded Robert, Earl of Gloucester, a bastard half brother to Matilda, to return to Lincoln with an army of 10,000 men. This they did, taking the city and capturing King Stephen into the bargain.
In 1155 Henry II was crowned here. It was again the scene of action c1217 when King Louis VIII of France laid siege to the city until William Marshal put the French to flight.
From here on the castle played no further major part in medieval military history, apart from being successfully stormed by Lord Manchester and his Parliamentary forces in 1644. Shortly afterwards the castle was slighted and some of the battlements were pulled down.
The castle is now owned by Lincolnshire County Council and is open to the public.
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