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Battle of Hastings

Duke William of Normandy left St.Valery in Normandy with about 600 ships and 10-12,000 men on Sept 27th in 1066.

William and his barons had been recruiting and preparing the invasion of England since early spring of that year. He was a seasoned general and master tactician, using cavalry, archers and infantry and had fought many notable battles. Off Beachy Head, his ship, the Mora, arrived ahead of the fleet.. William waited and ate a hearty breakfast. As his fleet straggled into place behind him they moved eastward to the first sheltered bay to provide protection for his armada. Pevensey and Bulverhythe were the villages on each promontory. Pevensey, to the west, was protected by an old Roman Fort and behind the fort there was much flat acreage to house his large Army. To suggest this landing was not pre-planned, is not in keeping with the preparatory time taken by William, or his track record. There had been much intelligence gathering in the past few months.

The bay, wide enough for maneuverability of this large fleet, was flat shored. William is said to have fallen on the beach, grasped the sand, and declared "This is my country" or words to that effect. Next, the ships were disembarked without resistance. They included 2,500 horses, prefabricated forts, and the materiel and equipment was prepared for any contingency. The ships shuttled in and out of the bay with the precision of a D Day landing. A Fort was built inside Pevensey Roman Fort as an H.Q, while the army camped behind it. William and FitzOsborn scouted the land He was unhappy with the terrain but it had proved to be a satisfactory landing beach. Taking his army around Pevensey Bay he camped 8 miles to the east, north of what is now known as Hastings all of which was most likely pre-planned. He camped to the east outside the friendly territory of the Norman Monks of Fecamp who may have been alerted and were waiting for his probable arrival. William waited. Perhaps he was waiting to know of the outcome of the battle to the north. In those two weeks William could have marched on London and taken it. He was obviously waiting for something?

Harold, far to the north in York at Stamford Bridge, was engaged in a life and death struggle against his brother who had teamed up with the Viking King Hadrada to invade England. Whether this was a planned Norman tactic, part of a pincer movement north and south, is not known, but students of Norman and Viking history might find it very feasible. The timing of each invasion was impeccable, and probably less than coincidental. Harold managed to resist the invasion to the north and killed both commanders. He was advised of the landing to the south by William.

Bringing the remnants of his Army south, Harold camped outside London at Waltham. For two weeks he gathered reinforcements, and exchanged taunts, threats and counterclaims to the Crown of England with William. Finally he moved his army south to a position about six miles north of where William waited.

Perhaps one of the most devastating events preceeding the battle was Harold's sudden awareness that he had been excommunicated by the Pope, and that William was wearing the papal ring. It is most likely this had been arranged by fellow Norman Robert Guiscard who had conquered most of southern Italy and was patron of the Pope who was indebted to him for saving the Vatican. Harold's spirit flagged. William was leading what might perhaps by called the first Crusade. The whole world was against Harold.

William moved up to Harold's position and set up in what was then the conventional European style. Archers, infantry and cavalry in the rear. A set piece, each assigned to their own duties. .

Harold waited. He and his brother Gyrth arranged a mass of men along a high ground ridge 8 deep, 800 yards long . A fixed corridor of tightly wedged humanity. Strategically, given the relative equipment of each side, it was hopeless from the start. To William it was almost a formality. Harold's men were hemmed in by their own elbows. William, with total mobility, held his Breton, Maine and Anjou contingents to the left of the line, the Normans the main thrust, the Flemish and French to his right. The flanking movements paid off. How long the battle took has varying estimates. Some say as little as two hours. Some as long as six hours. The latter seems more reasonable simply because of the numbers involved.

This battle would later be called Senlac, a river of blood. It demolished most of the remnants of the Saxon fighting men of the Island at very little cost to William.

It is very doubtful if Harold was shot in the eye with an arrow from over the ranks of his front line. He was probably run through by William's lance, accompanied by three others who were in at the kill, and who savaged him brutally.

Thus began a three century Norman occupation of England, Wales and Scotland, and later Ireland. It all started at Pevensey.

Cinque Ports

From the French word "cinque" meaning five. The Cinque Ports were part of this countries defences from the 11th century to at least the 15th. The purpose of such ports were for the production of warships for the country. The ships produced were constructed for the state and their makers were given consideration when paying tallage or ship tax. The ports were under the charge of a warden, known as the Warden of the Cinque Ports. Although the significance of the cinque ports is no longer, the title of Warden still exists on a purely honoury basis.

Located along the southern coast of England, the initial ports were Dover, Sandwich, Romney, Hythe and Hastings. These original five Cinque Ports were known as the Head Ports. They were later joined by others, for example - Located and Rye which were known as Antient Ports. Even though they were officially acknowledged as Cinque ports from the 11th century, their history dates back to the time of Alfred the Great whose ship building program, some may consider to be the forerunner of the Royal Navy. As time went by, the number of cinque ports expanded to over thirty which would have included just about every south eastern coastal ship building village.

Cluniac Order

A medieval organization of Benedictines centred at the abbey of Cluny, France. Founded in 910 by the monk Berno and Count William of Aquitaine, the abbey's constitution provided it freedom from lay supervision and (after 1016) from jurisdiction of the local bishop. With its independence thus guaranteed, Cluny became the fountainhead of the most far-reaching religious reform movement in the Middle Ages. During its height (c.950-c.1130) it was second only to the papacy as the chief religious force in Europe. Hundreds of priories were attached, and many Benedictine abbeys were reformed, some joining the Cluniac obedience. In all, nearly 1,000 houses located in many countries were under obedience to the abbot of Cluny. Many Cluniac monks became bishops and through provincial synods were thus able to spread reform in church life throughout Europe. Churches were built, the liturgy was beautified, and schools were opened. Cluny stoutly supported the popes (and was itself under papal protection) and served vitally in the great reform program of Pope Gregory VII. Cluniac zeal diminished in the 12th century and the monastic reforming initiative was taken up by the Cistercians. The French Revolution suppressed the remnants of the order and partially destroyed the abbey at Cluny.

Conisbrough Spellings

Before the invention of the English Dictionary, many words were spelt differently dependent upon which part of the country you came from. Place names are doubly a problem, not only have you different people writing down the name in different places at different times through history, but also that person had probably heard the name second or third hand with several different dialects in between.

The following complicated looking list was drawn up by Henry Ecroyd Smith for his book, "The History of Conisborough Castle with Glimpses of Ivanhoe-Land" in 1887 (note the extra "o" in Conisbrough). It is up to the reader of this page to discover if these are actual references or Smith's own interpretation.

Ancient British Anglo-Saxon Date of Record Authority
- Coenburgh 7th Century Bede
Kaer Conan, "Urbem Conani". Konigsburgh, Conansburg, Kunniggesburh. ? Laymon's version of The Brut.
Kaer Conan. Cunningburg. 1130-50 Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Kaercorrei, Kaerkonan. - ? Roger of Wendover.
- Cuningesburh. ? Cotton MS. Calig.
- Cunuzesburh, Coningesberc 9th Century Test. Wulfric Spott.
- Cunningesburch. 10th Century Godiva's Donation to Coventry.
- Coningsburg. 11th Century Domesday Book.
Caer Conan. Cuningeburg, Conisburg. ? Archbishop Usher.
Caer Cynan. Konigs-burg. ? Brut-y-Tysilio.
Caer Conan. Coninsburg. 1770-90 Thomas Pennant.
- Cyninges-tune, Hengest's-dune. 787 Saxon Chronicle
Burg-Konan (of rhyme). Kiningesburghe. 13th Century Peter Langtoft.
- Connigngesbourrowe 1577 Hollinshed.
- Kiningsburgh 1160-1200 Earl Hamelin's Latin Charter for the Chapel.
- Conesburg c.1345 Earl John's Will.
- Conysborowe 1522 List of Officials.

Great Northern Rising

Of the military events of William I the most terribly memorable is his campaign in the north in 1069 when he mercilessly devastated the whole district beyond the Humber with fire and slaughter, so that from York to Durham not an inhabited village remained, and the ground for more than sixty miles lay bare and uncultivated for more than half a century afterwards. The order established was that of death, famine and pestilence completing what the sword had begun.


An early English judicial official of the king who, unlike all other officers of the central administration, was not a member of the king's official household. The justiciarship originated in the king's need for a responsible subordinate who could take a wide view of the affairs of the kingdom, act as regent when the king was abroad, and on other occasions take charge of those matters with which the king had no time to deal. From the very nature of his office his position was superior to that of any household officer.

Although William I (1066-87) was known to have appointed men to hold such authority while he was in Normandy, their offices had always ended on his return to England. During the reign of Henry I (1100-35) an increase in administrative specialization is thought to have lent his Justiciarius some authoritative position among royal judges. It was under Henry II (1154-89), however, and particularly after the chancellor and chief minister Thomas Becket was removed from the scene, that the justiciar became the most important man in the kingdom after the king.

As the volume of judicial work grew each year because of the popularity of Henry II's reforms, the justiciar presided over the bench of judges at Westminster, organized the judicial circuits, heard difficult pleas, gave advice to judges on innumerable points of law, and toured the country to see that the administration was properly conducted. When the king was abroad, the justiciar also raised money for the king's needs and saw that peace was maintained. The loss of Normandy in 1204, however, resulted in the king's spending more time in England, and the office began to lose some of its strength. Despite the fact that it regained appreciable power during the minority of Henry III, the office ceased to exist after 1261.

Motte And Bailey

The motte and bailey type castle was one of the first types of castles built. It was quick and easy to build, but still provided a moderate level of protection. The castle consisted of two basic parts; obviously they were the motte and the bailey. The motte was a large man-made mound of earth. A wooden palisade surrounded the top of it, and within it was a wooden keep. The bailey, of which there were sometimes two or three, was an area next to the motte that was also surrounded by a wooden palisade. A ditch that occasionally contained water surrounded this region. The bailey provided for additional space within the castle without the expense of a larger motte. The two sections were connected by a flying bridge that could be knocked out if the bailey was compromised. Common modifications for this type of castle were replacing the wooden palisades with stone walls and replacing the keep with a shell keep. Due to the fact that they were constructed mainly of wood and earth, none of these castles survive complete today. Several castles that were originally of the motte and bailey type, including Conisbrough Castle, were later modified to become other types.


A Seneschal was an official who acted for the Lord of the Manor, a steward.

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