In 1404 Feb 6, the King's lieges lately dwelling at Plymouth were granted, by Henry IV, (In year 5 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Plymmouth (Plymouth Town Wall)
Licence, with the assent of the council, for the king's lieges lately dwelling at Plymmouth within the towns of Sutton Vautort and Sutton Priour to fortify these towns and the port of Plymmouth with a wall of stone and lime and make and crenellate fortalices, towers and other defences there for the defence of the same and the adjoining country. By p.s. (CPR)
Feb. 12. Westminster. Commission to John, prior of Plympton, the abbot of Tavestoke, the abbot of Bokelond, Robert Hill the elder, Oto Chambernon, John Gorges, Richard Piperell, William Bentelegh,William Bogherewe, William Venour and Henry Bone to take stone-cutters, carpenters and other artificers for the fortification of the town of Plymmouth and the port there with a wall of stone and lime and the making and crenellation of fortalices, towers and other defences. (CPR)
Granted at Westminster. Grant by privy seal.
Single grant of murage in 1378 may not have resulted in much work, but town given large grants of money in 1463 and 1485. A licence to crenellate was granted to 'the King's lieges lately dwelling at Plymouth' in 1404 followed a few days later (12 Feb 1404) by a Commission empowered "to take stone-cutters, carpenters and other artificers for the fortification of the town of Plymmouth and the port there with a wall of stone and lime and the making and crenellation of fortalices, towers and other defence." Here the licence to crenellate may be being used to motivate the construction of serious defences although clearly the commissioners would have the actual authority to build.
(In fact, the original source given is usually a transcription/translation
of what are precious medieval documents not readily availably. It should be
noted that these transcription/translations often date to the nineteenth or
early twentieth centuries and that unwitting bias of transcribers may affect
the translation. Care should also be taken to avoid giving modern meaning to
the medieval use of certain stock words and terms. Licentia is best translated as 'freedom to' not 'permission'.)
Significant later sources are;
Coulson, C., 1995, 'Battlements and the Bourgeoisie: Municipal Status and the Apparatus of Urban Defence' in Church, Stephen (ed), Medieval Knighthood Vol. 5 (Boydell) p187 Higham, R. A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 146 King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 124n43
More information about licences to crenellate can be found here.
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Record created by Philip Davis. This record last updated on Sunday, October 4, 2015.