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Hull Castle

Hull Castle

Cartographer: Unknown

Medium: Ink on vellum

Date: 1542

Shelfmark: Cotton Augustus I.ii

Item number: f.49

Length: 36.9

Width: 152.4

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript Map

This is a map showing part of the defence fortifications at Hull. It dates from 1542, the year that the plans for the defences were decided. The town of Hull, located on the east coast of the country near the Anglo-Scottish border occupied a position of strategic importance as it provided a base for war against Scotland or Catholic Europe. Surveys and fortification of large sections of coast was carried out 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.
The fortifications at Hull consisted of two large trefoil shaped ‘blockhouses’ or ‘bulwarks’ at opposite ends of the harbour, with a ‘castle’ between them. Connecting these fortresses was to be a crenellated wall almost half a mile long running parallel to the river. This would protect against overland attack from the east, or naval invasion from the Humber. This plan shows the south bastion and the section of straight wall which connected it to the castle. Radiating arrow slits and a garderobe are shown. It is likely that the scheme was the work of John Rogers, a master mason employed by the King as a military engineer, as the bastions were of a similarly distinctive form to those recently built under his instruction at Guines. Stone was obtained by the demolition of Meaux Abbey seven miles to the north and also possibly from St Mary’s Church in Hull. In 1543 total costs of the fortification were given as £21,056 5s. 6d. In 1552 fortifications were handed over to the town by Edward VI’s government in order to avoid the high maintenance costs and subsequently they fell into disrepair.

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