A View of the Keep and Part of the Walls of the Castle of Guines, France
Medium: Ink on parchment
This is a view of Guines Castle, seen from the town, looking north east. It is likely that it dates from around 1540.Guines was the main outpost of English authority in the Marches of Calais and as such was a place of strategic importance. The period in which this view was drawn is characterised by the threat of invasion of England and English outposts abroad. Francis I of France, and Charles V Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain signed a peace treaty in 1538. This union gave rise to the possibility that France and Spain may combine forces to invade England. France was England’s historical enemy and Henry VIII’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon, Charles V’s aunt, had offended the militantly catholic King of Spain.
These circumstances naturally raised concern over the safety of English outposts and Henry VIII began to divert large sums of money to the Marches of Calais for work on the fortifications.
Guines Castle was located to the north east of the town, separated from the town by a moat. Extensive works were being carried out on the castle during 1539-40 and in the summer of 1539 the townspeople were required give to eight weeks voluntary labour to the King for this purpose. Work included the cutting down of the towers to mount cannons and the repair of the keep, the widening of ditches and the addition of two new trefoil shaped bulwarks in the moat between the town and the castle. Richard Lee, a mason by trade was in charge of the works. It is likely that this plan was drawn to show the state of the defences before the major programme of work began as the new bulwarks are not shown.