Comprising The Third Great Epoch In The History Of The Castle

Strongly attached to the place of his birth, Edward the Third, by his

letters patent dated from Westminster, in the twenty-second year of his

reign, now founded the ancient chapel established by Henry the First,

and dedicated it to the Virgin, Saint George of Cappadocia, and Saint

Edward the Confessor; ordaining that to the eight canons appointed by

his predecessor there should be added one custos, fifteen more canons,

and twenty-four alms-knights; the whole to be maintained out of the

revenues with which the chapel was to be endowed. The institution was

confirmed by Pope Clement the Sixth, by a bull issued at Avignon the

13th of November 1351.

In 1349, before the foundation of the college had been confirmed, as

above related, Edward instituted the Order of the Garter. The origin of

this illustrious Order has been much disputed. By some writers it has

been ascribed to Richard Coeur de Lion, who is said to have girded a

leathern band round the legs of his bravest knights in. Palestine. By

others it has been asserted that it arose from the word "garter" having

been used as a watchword by Edward at the battle of Cressy. Others again

have stoutly maintained that its ringlike form bore mysterious reference

to the Round Table. But the popular legend, to which, despite the doubts

thrown upon it, credence still attaches, declares its origin to be as

follows: Joan, Countess of Salisbury, a beautiful dame, of whom Edward

was enamoured, while dancing at a high festival accidentally slipped

her garter, of blue embroidered velvet. It was picked up by her royal

partner, who, noticing the significant looks of his courtiers on the

occasion, used the words to them which afterwards became the motto of

the Order--"Honi soit qui mal y pense;" adding that "in a short time

they should see that garter advanced to so high honour and estimation as

to account themselves happy to wear it."

But whatever may have originated the Order, it unquestionably owes

its establishment to motives of policy. Wise as valiant, and bent upon

prosecuting his claim to the crown of France, Edward, as a means of

accomplishing his object, resolved to collect beneath his standard the

best knights in Europe, and to lend a colour to the design, he gave

forth that he intended a restoration of King Arthur's Round Table, and

accordingly commenced constructing within the castle a large circular

building of two hundred feet in diameter, in which he placed a round

table. On the completion of the work, he issued proclamations throughout

England, Scotland, France, Burgundy, Flanders, Brabant, and the Empire,

inviting all knights desirous of approving their valour to a solemn

feast and jousts to be holden within the castle of Windsor on Saint

George's Day, 1345. The scheme was completely successful. The flower of

the chivalry of Europe--excepting that of Philip the Sixth of France,

who, seeing through the design, interdicted the attendance of his

knights-were present at the tournament, which was graced by Edward

and his chief nobles, together with his queen and three hundred of

her fairest dames, "adorned with all imaginable gallantry." At this

chivalrous convocation the institution of the Order of the Garter

was arranged; but before its final establishment Edward assembled his

principal barons and knights, to determine upon the regulations, when it

was decided that the number should be limited to twenty-six.

The first installation took place on the anniversary of Saint George,

the patron of the Order, 1349, when the king, accompanied by the

twenty-five knights'-companions, attired in gowns of russet, with

mantles of fine blue woollen cloth, powdered with garters, and hearing

the other insignia of the Order, marched bareheaded in solemn procession

to the chapel of Saint George, then recently rebuilt, where mass was

performed by William Edington, Bishop of Winchester, after which they

partook of a magnificent banquet. The festivities were continued for

several days. At the jousts held on this occasion, David, King of

Scotland, the Lord Charles of Blois, and Ralph, Earl of Eu and Guisnes,

and Constable of France, to whom the chief prize of the day was

adjudged, with others, then prisoners, attended. The harness of the King

of Scotland, embroidered with a pale of red velvet, and beneath it a

red rose, was provided at Edward's own charge. This suit of armour was,

until a few years back, preserved in the Round Tower, where the royal

prisoner was confined. Edward's device was a white swan, gorged, or,

with the "daring and inviting" motto--

Hay hay the wythe swan By God's soul I am thy man.

The insignia of the Order in the days of its founder were the garter,

mantle, surcoat, and hood, the George and collar being added by Henry

the Eighth. The mantle, as before intimated, was originally of fine blue

woollen cloth; but velvet, lined with taffeta, was substituted by

Henry the Sixth, the left shoulder being adorned with the arms of Saint

George, embroidered within a garter. Little is known of the materials

of which the early garter was composed; but it is supposed to have been

adorned with gold, and fastened with a buckle of the same metal.

The modern garter is of blue velvet, bordered with gold wire, and

embroidered with the motto, "Honi soit qui mal y pense." It is worn on

the left leg, a little below the knee. The most magnificent garter

that ever graced a sovereign was that presented to Charles the First by

Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, each letter in the motto of which was

composed of diamonds. The collar is formed of pieces of gold fashioned

like garters, with a blue enamelled ground. The letters of the motto are

in gold, with a rose enamelled red in the centre of each garter. From

the collar hangs the George, an ornament enriched with precious stones,

and displaying the figure of the saint encountering the dragon.

The officers of the Order are the prelate, represented by the Bishop

of Winchester; the Chancellor, by the Bishop of Oxford; the registrar,

dean, garter king-at-arms, and the usher of the black rod. Among the

foreign potentates who have been invested with the Order are eight

emperors of Germany, two of Russia, five kings of France, three of

Spain, one of Arragon, seven of Portugal, one of Poland, two of Sweden,

six of Denmark, two of Naples, one of Sicily and Jerusalem, one of

Bohemia, two of Scotland, seven princes of Orange, and many of the most

illustrious personages of different ages in Europe.

Truly hath the learned Selden written, "that the Order of the Garter

hath not only precedency of antiquity before the eldest rank of honour

of that kind anywhere established, but it exceeds in majesty, honour,

and fame all chivalrous orders in the world." Well also hath glorious

Dryden, in the "Flower and the Leaf," sung the praises of the

illustrious Institution:--

"Behold an order yet of newer date, Doubling their number, equal in

their state; Our England's ornament, the crown's defence, In battle

brave, protectors of their prince: Unchanged by fortune, to their

sovereign true, For which their manly legs are bound with blue. These

of the Garter call'd, of faith unstain'd, In fighting fields the laurel

have obtain'd, And well repaid the laurels which they gained."

In 1357 John, King of France, defeated at the battle of Poitiers by

Edward the Black Prince, was brought captive to Windsor; and on the

festival of Saint George in the following year; 1358, Edward outshone

all his former splendid doings by a tournament which he gave in honour

of his royal prisoner. Proclamation having been made as before, and

letters of safe conduct issued, the nobles and knighthood of Almayne,

Gascoigne, Scotland, and other countries, flocked to attend it, The

Queen of Scotland, Edward's sister, was present at the jousts; and it is

said that John, commenting upon the splendour of the spectacle, shrewdly

observed "that he never saw or knew such royal shows and feastings

without some after-reckoning." The same monarch replied to his

kingly captor, who sought to rouse him from dejection, on another

occasion--"Quomodo cantabimus canticum in terra aliena!"

That his works might not be retarded for want of hands, Edward in the

twenty-fourth year of his reign appointed John de Sponlee master of the

stonehewers, with a power not only "to take and keep, as well within

the liberties as without, as many masons and other artificers as were

necessary, and to convey them to Windsor, but to arrest and imprison

such as should disobey or refuse; with a command to all sheriffs,

mayors, bailiffs, etc., to assist him." These powers were fully acted

upon at a later period, when some of the workmen, having left their

employment, were thrown into Newgate; while the place of others, who had

been carried off by a pestilence then raging in the castle, was supplied

by impressment.

In 1356 WILLIAM OF WYKEHAM was constituted superintendent of the works,

with the same powers as John de Sponlee, and his appointment marks

an important era in the annals of the castle. Originally secretary to

Edward the Third, this remarkable man became Bishop of Winchester and

prelate of the Garter. When he solicited the bishopric, it is said

that Edward told him he was neither a priest nor a scholar; to which he

replied that he would soon be the one, and in regard to the other, he

would make more scholars than all the bishops of England ever did. He

made good his word by founding the collegiate school at Winchester, and

erecting New College at Oxford. When the Winchester Tower was finished,

he caused the words, HOC FECIT WYKEHAM, to be carved upon it; and the

king, offended at his presumption, Wykeham turned away his displeasure

by declaring that the inscription meant that the castle had made him,

and not that he had made the castle. It is a curious coincidence that

this tower, after a lapse of four centuries and a half, should become

the residence of an architect possessing the genius of Wykeham, and who,

like him, had rebuilt the kingly edifice--SIR JEFFRY WYATVILLE.

William of Wykeham retired from office, loaded with honours, in 1362,

and was succeeded by William de Mulso. He was interred in the cathedral

at Winchester. His arms were argent, two chevrons, sable, between three

roses, gules, with the motto--"Manners maketh man."

In 1359 Holinshed relates that the king "set workmen in hand to take

down much old buildings belonging to the castle, and caused divers other

fine and sumptuous works to be set up in and about the same castle, so

that almost all the masons and carpenters that were of any account

in the land were sent for and employed about the same works." The old

buildings here referred to were probably the remains of the palace and

keep of Henry the First in the middle ward.

As the original chapel dedicated to Saint George was demolished by

Edward the Fourth, its position and form cannot be clearly determined,

But a conjecture has been hazarded that it occupied the same ground as

the choir of the present chapel, and extended farther eastward.

"Upon the question of its style," says Mr. Poynter, from whose valuable

account of the castle much information has been derived, "there is the

evidence of two fragments discovered near this site, a corbel and

a piscina, ornamented with foliage strongly characteristic of the

Decorated English Gothic, and indicating, by the remains of colour

on their surfaces, that they belonged to an edifice adorned in the

polychromatic style, so elaborately developed in the chapel already

built by Edward the Third at Westminster."

The royal lodgings, Saint George's Hall, the buildings on the east and

north sides of the upper ward, the Round Tower, the canons' houses in

the lower ward, and the whole circumference of the castle, exclusive of

the towers erected in Henry the Third's reign, were now built. Among the

earlier works in Edward's reign is the Dean's Cloister. The square of

the upper ward, added by this monarch, occupied a space of four

hundred and twenty feet, and encroached somewhat upon the middle ward.

Externally the walls presented a grim, regular appearance, broken only

by the buttresses, and offering no other apertures than the narrow

loopholes and gateways. Some traces of the architecture of the period

may still be discerned in the archway and machecoulis of the principal

gateway adjoining the Round Tower; the basement chamber of the Devil

Tower, or Edward the Third's Tower; and in the range of groined and

four-centred vaulting, extending along the north side of the upper

quadrangle, from the kitchen gateway to King John's Tower.

In 1359 Queen Philippa, consort of Edward the Third, breathed her last

in Windsor Castle.

Richard the Second, grandson of Edward the Third, frequently kept his

court at Windsor. Here, in 1382, it was determined by council that war

should be declared against France; and here, sixteen years later, on a

scaffold erected within the castle, the famous appeal for high treason

was made by Henry of Lancaster, Duke of Hereford, against Thomas

Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, the latter of whom defied his accuser to

mortal combat. The duel was stopped by the king, and the adversaries

banished; but the Duke of Lancaster afterwards returned to depose his

banisher. About the same time, the citizens of London having refused

Richard a large loan, he summoned the lord mayor, sheriffs, aldermen,

and twenty-four of the principal citizens, to his presence, and after

rating them soundly, ordered them all into custody, imprisoning the lord

mayor in the castle.

In this reign Geoffrey Chaucer, "the father of English poetry," was

appointed clerk to the works of Saint George's Chapel, at a salary of

two shillings per day (a sum equal to 657 pounds per annum of modern

money), with the same arbitrary power as had been granted to previous

surveyors to impress carpenters and masons. Chaucer did not retain his

appointment more than twenty months, and was succeeded by John Gedney.

It was at Windsor that Henry the Fourth, scarcely assured of the crown

he had seized, received intelligence of a conspiracy against his life

from the traitorous Aumerle, who purchased his own safety at the expense

of his confederates. The timely warning enabled the king to baffle the

design. It was in Windsor also that the children of Mortimer, Earl of

March, the rightful successor to the throne, were detained as hostages

for their father. Liberated by the Countess-dowager of Gloucester,

who contrived to open their prison door with false keys, the youthful

captives escaped to the marshes of Wales, where, however, they were

overtaken by the emissaries of Henry, and brought back to their former

place of confinement.

A few years later another illustrious prisoner was brought to

Windsor--namely, Prince James, the son of King Robert the Third, and

afterwards James the First of Scotland. This prince remained a captive

for upwards of eighteen years; not being released till 1424, in the

second of Henry the Sixth, by the Duke of Bedford, then regent. James's

captivity, and his love for Jane of Beaufort, daughter of the Duke of

Somerset, and granddaughter to John of Gaunt, to whom he was united,

have breathed a charm over the Round Tower, where he was confined; and

his memory, like that of the chivalrous and poetical Surrey, whom he

resembled in character and accomplishments, will be ever associated with


In the "King's Quair," the royal poet has left an exquisite picture of a

garden nook, contrived within the dry moat of the dungeon.

"Now was there made, fast by the tower's wall, A garden faire, and in

the corners set An arbour green with wandis long and small Railed about,

and so with leaves beset Was all the place, and hawthorn hedges knet,

That lyf was none, walking there forbye, That might within scarce any

wight espy. So thick the branches and the leave's green Beshaded all

the alleys that there were. And midst of every harbour might be seen

The sharpe, green, sweet juniper, Growing so fair with branches here

and there, That as it seemed to a lyf without The boughs did spread the

arbour all about."

And he thus describes the first appearance of the lovely Jane, and the

effect produced upon him by her charms:

"And therewith cast I down mine eye again, Where as I saw walking under

the tower, Full secretly, new comyn her to plain, The fairest and the

freshest younge flower That e'er I saw, methought, before that hour;

For which sudden abate, anon did start The blood of all my body to my


Henry the Fifth occasionally kept his court at Windsor, and in 1416

entertained with great magnificence the Emperor Sigismund, who brought

with him an invaluable relic--the heart of Saint George--which he

bestowed upon the chapter. The emperor was at the same time invested

with the Order.

In 1421 the unfortunate Henry the Sixth was born within the castle, and

in 1484 he was interred within it.