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Walter de Lacy, a trusted member of the household of William Fitzosbern arrived in England with the conquering army of William in 1066. Fitzosbern was rewarded for his loyal part in William's victory with an Earldom over the lands of Hereford. After three years of local resistance, Fitzosbern was able to claim his Earldom and planned to keep his new acquisition secure by developing a string of castles along the border of England and Wales. To assist in this plan, he followed the model of patronage and favour set by William the Conqueror himself and began to distribute areas of his lands to his trusted men, in order to keep their loyalty and support. Thus, Walter de Lacy, Fitzosbern's second in command seems to have acquired the lands of South Shropshire - and from there, he appears to be linked with the earliest developments around Ludlow Castle. Walter's sons, first Roger and then Hugh built the earliest surviving parts of the Castle that we can still see today, and the de Lacy family retained lordship until the end of the 13th century.
The Castle Fortress that the de Lacy's built, occupies a finely judged defensive position. Guarded by both the rivers Teme and Corve, Ludlow Castle stands prominently on high ground, able to resist attack from would be invaders from over the Welsh border. Stone was readily available, being quarried from the castle's own site, and water was obtained from a deep well - sunk from what is now the Inner Bailey, down to the level of the River Teme.
Treachery, Murder, Loyalty and Royalty : The Mortimers and the Throne
The Mortimer family also arrived in England in the wake of William the Conqueror in 1066, and originally held land at and around Wigmore, near Ludlow. Their story is a colourful picture of ambition, power, rivalry and various attempts to claim the throne. Most of them were called Roger or Edmund, which adds to the colour and confusion of their tale - but here are just some of the treacherous deeds the Mortimers instigated:-
Roger Mortimer (1287-1330) led the rebellion against the hopelessly inept Edward 1. However, Mortimer went too far; he was instrumental in the barbaric murder of Edward 1 (after the king had been forced into abdication) and although he ruled as a 'regent' by default of his adulterous affair with Queen Isabella, his licence to rule by other nobles of the rebellion was soon overstretched and they had him arrested and put to death at Tyburn Hill. Roger's exploits were later made famous by the play 'Edward 11', written in 1592, by Christopher Marlowe. He is portrayed at first as genuinely loyal to the concept of monarchy, but is debased by his own power and becomes a a callous and calculating traitor. Edmund Mortimer (1391- 1425) - made a failed attempt to win the throne by proxy. He persuaded his cousin, Richard Earl of Cambridge (descendant of Edward 11) to do the rebellious deed, but Richard failed and was put to death. Edmund - somehow - was spared...
Richard Plantagentet, Duke of York (1411-1460), made an attempt at the throne because his mother, Anne, was a Mortimer, and his father was the Earl of Cambridge. He was the leader of the Yorkists in what became known later as the Wars of the Roses. Richard was involved in various battles - one at Ludford, near Ludlow, but was killed in battle at Wakefield. His son Edward then became leader of the Yorkists; he won a decisive victory at Mortimer's Cross and marched to London to successfully claim the throne
The Battle of Wakefield took place at Sandal, Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, on 30 December 1460. It was one of the major battles of the Wars of the Roses. The opposing forces were a Lancastrian army, loyal to the captive King Henry VI, his Queen, Margaret of Anjou, and their infant son Edward, Prince of Wales on the one side, and the army of Richard, Duke of York, the rival claimant to the throne, on the other. York's army was destroyed and he himself was killed in the battle.