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A Coloured View of the North Cliffs, Dover, Showing the "Bulwerck in the Clyff"

A Coloured View of the North Cliffs, Dover, Showing the

Draughtsman: Unknown

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1541

Shelfmark: Cotton Augustus I.ii

Item number: f.83

Genre: Manuscript Map

This is a pictorial representation of a cannon on a cliff which strongly resembles Dover. It dates from around 1541. The drawing shows a gun platform with three cannons, titled ‘The Bulwerck in the Clyff’. The construction of a harbour under the Western Heights in around 1500 meant that Dover Castle was too far away to provide sufficient protection for the expanding town and port and so an additional program of defence became necessary. This was one of several bulwarks constructed between March 1539 and midsummer 1540 that controlled landing in the harbour and the shallow bay opposite the town. They were made of earth revetted with timber, provided by the harbour works. The reason for these additional defences was Henry VIII’s fear of an invasion from the combined forces of France and Spain. In 1538 Francis I of France, and Charles V Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain signed a peace treaty. 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.

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