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The Tower of London was Edward III's point of departure for war, and to it he sent many prisoners. After Neville's Cross, in 1346, David Bruce and 50 Scots nobles were shut up within its walls. In the same year Edward took Caen and dispatched to the Tower the Constable of France and 300 wealthy Normans. Ten years later the victory of the Black Prince at Pointers brought new prisoners, including the King of France, five princes, and 100 nobles.

The magnificent coronation procession of Richard II perhaps inspired the plundering of the Royal lodgings by the populace during Wat Tyler's rebellion. About this time the Tower first received prisoners convicted as the result of religious dissension - Lollards, with Chaucer, tradition says, among them.

Richard's troubles ended in retreat to the Tower and resignation of the crown to his cousin Bolingbroke, and from the same grey walls the splendid coronation procession of the new King set out.

The next great influx of foreign captives to the Tower came after Henry V.'s success at Agincourt the later Wars of the Roses filled the dungeons with English prisoners, Lancastrian defeats at Barnet and Tewkesbury were followed by the murder of Henry VI in the little oratory of Wakefield Tower and the death of the Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV according to the popular legend, in a butt of Malmsey wine.

Next page: Executions in the Tower




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