Saturday, 13 September 2014
I've been having a discussion on Facebook about fighting women, starting off with the recent Viking study and broadening out from there. So I thought I'd share this medieval picture of a woman defending her castle again, to remember Nicola de la Haye at Lincoln, defending the castle against the French who invaded when King John died.
And here's Brampton Bryan Castle, which was defended during the English Civil War under the command of Lady Brilliana Harley, while her husband was serving as an MP in London. They were Puritans in the middle of Royalist territory, and before the castle was attacked, neighbouring Royalists had stolen livestock from the Harley farms, and stopped Lady Brilliana from getting the rents from her tenants by forcing the tenants to pay directly to the Sheriff of Hereford, the Royalist Fitzwilliam Coningsby.
In 1643, the castle was besieged for three months, the Royalist forces only withdrawing when they were needed at Gloucester. The castle was defended by around 50 troops and 50 civilians, commanded by Lady Brilliana. There were around 700 Royalist troops, and their bombardment of the castle with cannon left the building roofless, though only one death among the defenders is reported. Around one tenth of the attacking force were either killed or injured.
After the siege was lifted, Lady Brilliana sent 40 troops to raid the Royalist camp at nearby Knighton.
Later in the year, though, she died of pneumonia. The following year the castle was besieged again, this time defended by the Harley's doctor, Nathanial Wright, who eventually had to surrender. The castle by this time was even more badly damaged, and was burnt by the victorious Royalist forces.
She was also a noted letter writer, keeping her husband in London informed of the political situation in Herefordshire and the surrounding area.