In 1439 [Nov 12 - Dec 21], major et communitas [de Plymmouth] (mayor and commons) were granted, by Henry VI, (In year 18 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Plymmouth (Plymouth Town Wall)
Ac quod predicti major et communitas, heredes et successors sui, burgum predictum firmare et muris lapideis includere et circuire, et turres in eisdem muris pro fortificacione et defensione ejusdem burgi de nove construere et edificare, necnon eofdem muros et turres kernellare et batellare valeant licite et impune. And that the aforesaid mayor and commons, their heirs and successors, can lawfully and without punishment strengthen the aforesaid borough and enclose and surround it with stone walls, and newly construct and build towers in the same walls for the fortification and defence of the same borough, and also crenellate and fortify the same walls and towers.
Granted at Westminster. Grant by Petition of Parliament.
Borough Charter. Defence was not unimportant on the Devon coast (pirates as much as French raids) but clearly civic pride the real issue here. Royal patronage and association was also important and the whole charter was renewed again, in parliament and probably at some expense, early in the reign of Edward IV, with a preamble that Henry VI was 'not by right king of England'
Original source is;
_The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England,_ Vol. 11 Henry VI 1432-1445 p. 278 Curry, A. (ed), 2005, 'Henry VI, 1439 November, Text/Translation', in The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, ed. C. Given-Wilson et al., item 32. Internet version, accessed on 24/04/2009. (Scholarly Digital Editions, Leicester) Horrox, R. (ed), 2005, 'Edward IV, 1463 April, Text/Translation', in The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, ed. C. Given-Wilson et al., item 48. Internet version, accessed on 24/04/2009. (Scholarly Digital Editions, Leicester)
(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) p. 170n201, 188
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.