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Conway Castle f.54

Conway Castle f.54

Cartographer: Unknown

Medium: Ink and tempera on parchment

Date: 1539

Shelfmark: Cotton Augustus I.ii f.54

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript Map

This is a watercolour drawing of Conway castle in north Wales by an unknown draughtsman. It is likely that it dates from the 1539-40 period. Survey and fortification of large sections of coast took place at this time as Henry VIII feared 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.
In 1539 Conway castle was surveyed along with other North Welsh Castles resulting in reports which stated that Conway, Caenarvon and Harlech were indefensible and found to be ‘much ruinous and ferre in decay for lacke of timely reparacons’. It was suggested that the harbour entrances be fortified by artillery forts rather than altering the castles themselves by incorporating gun ports into walls designed for cross bows and catapults. The castles received rudimentary repairs and were accounted for by John Pakington and John Arnold, who spent £216 10s.8d during the next two years, employing Robert Burghill as surveyor and paymaster.

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