"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on February 28, 2017 by Sioux under General


In 1216, a rebel group of barons had risen against King John and secured themselves in London, where they invited Prince Louis of France, the eldest son of Philip Augustus, to assume the crown. When he landed in England on the 21st May 1216 with John fleeing ahead of him; Canterbury opened its gates to his army. Rochester Castle fell after a short siege, and the French prince entered London in triumph on 2nd June.


After securing London, his army marched west to take Winchester. Louis also now had support of Alexander, the king of Scotland, and Llywelyn, Prince of North Wales. Winchester fell within a month, along with other important neighbouring castles. Once England’s two main cities were under his control, Louis turned his attention to capturing Dover Castle, important because of its proximity and closeness to France, providing a crucial observation point for cross-channel sightings. According to historical records, when Louis arrived in Dover he spent several days with his army camping in and around the town. The castle was not yet under siege and the garrison took the opportunity to parade itself in full armour outside the barbican of the main castle gate.

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The north gate, which was breached during the siege was converted into an underground forward-defence complex (including St John’s Tower), with new gates being built into the outer curtain wall on the western (Fitzwilliam’s Gate) and eastern (Constable’s Gate) sides.  During the siege, the English defenders tunnelled outwards and attacked the French, thereby creating the only counter-tunnel in the world. This can still be seen in the medieval works.

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The siege started in mid-July, and although Louis’ army had some                                                                           success breaching the walls, they                                                                           were unable to take the castle and, after many unsuccessful attempts,                                                                     Louis agreed to a truce in October                                                                               

of the same year. Not long thereafter, King John died, leaving Henry III, aged 9, to succeed him. Attempts were made to persuade the garrison to acknowledge the French prince as king instead of the young Henry, but the offer was rejected and Louis left for London after spending nearly three months at the gates of Dover Castle.

The re-enactment was very well done, and a load of fun for spectators as well as participants. Medieval style villages were set up around the castle walls, with participants in costume throughout the weekend.


Tables were set up with food and drinks, exactly as it may have been at the time. I had as much fun watching the re-enactment as I did watching the spectators.


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4 responses to “Day tripping #3 – Dover Castle – the siege”

  1. Chez says:

    Can just imagine what it must

    have been like.

  2. Ursula Evans says:

    so much history. Must have been a fun day

  3. Paul says:

    Resembles scenes from Vikings?

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