The Offensive and Defensive Innovations and Technologies of Dover Castle and the French Invasion of 1216 A.D.

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The Offensive and Defensive Innovations and Technologies of Dover Castle and the French Invasion of 1216 A.D.
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius

“Located upon the southeastern tip of England lay the castle of Dover, situated to guard the shortest crossing between France and England. The story of Dover Castle starts in 1179 A.D., when England controlled a large part of France‘s modern day territory. Although not at war in any official capacity during this period, the relationship between the England and France is highly strained and immensely tense during this period.

The site of Dover Castle is an ideal location for a fortification, perched high and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and flanked by steep slopes upon the east and west sides, and jagged talcum cliffs toward the south. Unlike most castles, Dover Castle has two defensive layers of walling before reaching the center fortress.

The architect of Dover Castle was Maurice, the finest engineer in England during the era, but his age, birthplace, and other details have been lost to history. Maurice was paid an extremely high wage of d8 (8 pence) per day, 6x that of a craftsperson, which equates to $24.33 as of 2017 when accounting for inflation. It should be noted, this value may be inaccurate as data could only be researched dating back to 1270 A.D. In return however, Maurice had to design and build King Henry II a castle which served two unique functions, that of a luxurious palace during times of peace, and that of an impenetrable fortress during times of conflict.

Maurice’s first challenge was to source building materials for Dover Castle, which was a major problem as the ground beneath Dover Castle is talc, a soft rock which is completely unsuitable for building as it breaks apart very easily. Because of this, Maurice gathered rock from across the English empire including Kentish ragstone which was used until the 19th century to make roads because of its durability and white stone from Caen (pronounced “con”) in Normandy, France which during the period was part of the English empire. Blocks with smooth cleavage lines were used to build castle walls and rubble was used as a filler, recycling rock which otherwise would go to waste.”

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