Another in the occasional series on “London Settings for Shakespeare’s Plays” …
The Tower of London (Henry VI Part I; Henry VI Part II; Henry VI Part III; Richard II; Richard III)
The Tower of London was originally built under William I, William II and Henry I in the late eleventh to earliest twelfth century, between 1076-1101 (keep), and added to by Henry III in the late thirteenth (inner curtain wall), Edward I in the late thirteenth to early fourteenth (outer curtain wall), and a succession of later kings and queens, many of whom used it as a royal residence, through to the seventeenth. The chapel of St Peter ad Vincula within is arguably of even older, Saxon origin.
The Tower features in the earliest known painting of London, by an unknown artist, dating to the late fifteenth century, and commissioned to illustrate a book of poems written by Charles, Duc d’Orleans, who was imprisoned here for twenty-five years after his capture at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
Hundreds were imprisoned here over the centuries; and scores tortured, and/or executed, in a variety of horrible ways. One wonders how much better a world it would have been if all the imaginative effort expended in devising means of inflicting suffering had instead been channelled elsewhere.