Bodiam Castle - Background


Edward Dalyngrigge was a younger son, hence deprived of his father's estates through the practice of primogeniture. He had to made his own fortunes. By 1378, he owned the manor of Bodiam by marrying into a land-owning family. From 1379 to 1388, Dalyngrigge was a Knight of the Shire for Sussex and one of the most influential people in the county. By the time he applied to the king for a license to crenellate (build a castle), the Hundred Years' War had been fought between England and France for nearly 50 years. Edward III of England (reigned 1327–1377) pressed his claim for the French throne and secured the territories of Aquitaine and Calais. Dalyngrigge was one of many Englishmen who travelled to France to seek their fortune as members of Free Companies – groups of mercenaries who fought for the highest bidder. He left for France in 1367 and journeyed with Lionel, Duke of Clarence and son of Edward III. After fighting under the Earl of Arundel, Dalyngrigge joined the company of Sir Robert Knolles, a notorious commander who was reputed to have made 100,000 gold crowns as a mercenary from pillage and plunder. It was as a member of the Free Companies that Dalyngrigge raised the money to build Bodiam Castle; he returned to England in 1377.

The Treaty of Bruges (1375) ensured peace for two years, but after it expired, fighting resumed between England and France. In 1377 Edward III was succeeded by Richard II. During the war, England and France struggled for control of the English Channel, with raids on both coasts. With the renewed hostilities, Parliament voted that money should be spent on defending and fortifying England's south coast, and defences were erected in Kent in anticipation of a French invasion. There was internal unrest as well as external threats, and Dalyngrigge was involved in suppressing the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. The manor of Bodiam was granted a charter in 1383 permitting a weekly market and an annual fair to be held. In 1385, a fleet of 1,200 ships – variously cogs, barges, and galleys – gathered across the English Channel at Sluys, Flanders; the population of southern England was in a state of panic. Later in the year, Edward Dalyngrigge was granted a licence to fortify his manor house.

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