Siege of Hertford Castle in the spotlight at professor’s talk

PUBLISHED: 11:18 10 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:18 10 April 2016

Hertford Castle

Hertford Castle


A talk marking the 800th anniversary of the siege of Hertford Castle has been organised in the county town.

Hertford CastleHertford Castle

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the siege of Hertford Castle.

To mark the milestone, Hertford Town Council has organised a talk by a leading academic on the subject.

Acclaimed author and Professor of Medieval History at King’s College London, Professor David Carpenter, will talk about the siege on Wednesday, April 27.

This free of charge event will take place at the St Andrew’s Church Centre, which is just a stone’s throw from the Grade I listed castle.

800th Anniversary of the Siege of Hertford Castle800th Anniversary of the Siege of Hertford Castle

Professor David Carpenter is a leading authority on the history of Britain in the Central Middle Ages.

He has published a much-acclaimed new book, Magna Carta, in the Penguin Classics series, described as “a landmark in Magna Carta studies”.

He is also the author of The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284, a volume in the New Penguin History of Britain.

Councillor Jane Sartin, chairman of Hertford Town Council’s development and leisure committee, said: “Relatively little seems to be known locally about the Siege of Hertford Castle, so to have Professor Carpenter visiting the town to share his knowledge of the event in this 800th anniversary year is a wonderful opportunity for everyone with an interest in Hertford’s rich history.”

Hertford CastleHertford Castle

Visitors will be able to learn more about the military blockade during the talk.

The castle was besieged between November 12 and December 6, 1216, by Louis, eldest son of the King of France, to whom the rebel barons had offered the throne to after King John’s rejection of Magna Carta.

It was defended by Walter de Goderville, one of the King’s Norman captains.

At first sight, Hertford Castle seems to have been a failure, for the castle was surrendered to Louis on December 6.

In this talk, David Carpenter shows that the struggle over Hertford has nonetheless great significance.

The claims to the castle cherished by the great baron Robert FitzWalter, claims rejected by King John, help to explain why he became a leading rebel.

The fact that Louis needed nearly a month to take the castle gave hope to the cause of the new young king, Henry III, King John having died in the month before the siege.

The fact that the castle fell, however, showed Henry III’s governors that they could not win by military means alone.

Hence they accepted what King John had earlier rejected and issued a new version of Magna Carta.

November 1216 saw both the siege of Hertford and the revival of Magna Carta, so the two events are closely linked.

Professor Carpenter’s new book Magna Carta will be available to purchase on the evening, and the author has kindly offered to sign the publication.

Proceeds from the sale of the book at the event will be donated to the Mayor of Hertford’s Charity, the British Heart Foundation.

Visitors should arrive for the talk at 7.15pm, for a 7.30pm start.

There is no need to register to attend the event and everyone is welcome.

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