The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
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In 1141 July, Com Gaufredo Essexiae (Geoffrey de Mandeville) was supposedly granted, by Matilda, a Royal licence to crenellate super Lviam; Super Luiam (South Mymms Castle)
M(atildis) imperatrix H(enrici) regis filia et Anglorum domina, archiepiscopis episcopis abbatibus comitibus baronibus justiciariis vicecomitibus ministris et omnibus fidelibus suis Francis et Anglis totius Angliae et Normanniae salutem. Sciatis me reddidisse et concessisse comiti Gaufr(edo) Essexe omnia tenementa sua sicut Gaufredus avus suus aut Willelmus pater ejus aut ipsemet postea unquam melius vel liberius tenuerunt aliquo tempore in feodo et haereditate sibi et haeredibus suis, ad tenendum de me et de haeredibus meis.
Concedo etiam eidem Gaufredo quod novum castellum quod firmavit super Luiam stet et remaneat ad efforciandum ad voluntatem suam. Concedo etiam ei quod firmet unum castellum ubicunque voluerit in terra sua, sicut ei per aliam cartam meam concessi, et quod stet et remaneat.
... (Cronne and Davis)

Granted at Oxford.

Although this document has been considered by some as a licence to crenellate it is rejected as a licence.


A charter between Empress Matilda and Geoffrey de Mandeville, part of his 'king making' activities during the Anarchy, an similar grant (Round, p. 142) by King Stephen may predate Matilda's. The identification with South Mymms castles has been made but is not certain, an alternative might be the site of a possible motte at Bow, Middlesex. Although this charter gives regal blessing for a new castle it is not really, in a meaningful sense, a licence to crenellate, as does not use the terms licencia, or crenellate.

Original source is;

(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;

Mandeville, Geoffrey de, first earl of Essex (d. 1144)

Biographical source include;

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.