The Castles of Henry VIII
Author/Artists: Peter Harrington, illustrated by Brian Delf


Osprey Publishing


$16.95 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 64 pages,  7 x 9 inches, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-84603-130-4

Continuing with their excellent Fortress series, number 66 is on the castles that were developed and built in England during the reign of Henry VIII. As many of you know, Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church in order to divorce his first wife so that he could marry another. This was to provide a male heir to the throne. Of course, this angered Rome to no end and due to the power of the church, Henry feared invasion to restore Rome's dominance in England.

To this end, he had a series of forts and castles build along what he felt would be the planned invasion route. Basically, southern and eastern England. All this took place in the mid-16th Century, and is really the last of the great castle building episodes in the British Isles.

As today, there were budgetary constraints as to just what could be built, so none of these castles are really massive when compared to centuries before. They are also basically designed for artillery, as that was the common thinking of the day. With the show movement of ships of the time, it was felt that basing cannon along the coast was the best way to deter or defeat an invasion fleet.

These structures were built as part of a combined defense that included massive earthworks as well. Of course, these earthworks have succumbed to time as have many of the coastal castles, some of which are currently completely submerged thanks to coastal erosion.

This book looks into the design and development of these forts, including the principles of defense that were common during their construction in the 1530s/40s. Then there are sections on tours of the sites, what they were like to live in, and how they performed during the later Spanish War and the British Civil War. Many of these castles are still extant today. Most are under the protection of the English Heritage or National Trust, though some are privately owned.

The book is further enhanced by the excellent illustrations of Brian Delf as well as photographs of the current sites and period drawings and artwork depicting various castles.

It is a superb book on the subject and one that I can recommend to you without reservation.

September 2007

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