davDuring the summer, we went to the Isle of Wight on holiday.  This time, we visited Carisbrooke Castle, where Charles I was imprisoned after the Civil War.  It was, perhaps, the perfect time for me to visit, since I spent several days earlier in the summer running a summer school for Edge Hill University on Charles I and because in the new year I will be helping to teach on the Civil War module at Lancaster University.

It was also particularly interesting because we went on a day when there was a jousting event: The Battle for Good.  There were three jousting displays: the first was the Parade of Helms, to introduce the knights; the second a melee; and the final one a jousting tournament.  Even though it was a re-enactment, it helped to bring the place to life.  The outcome of each joust was not set – they were not acting but doing it ‘for real’.  One thing I noticed was the squires, who were among the horses during the melee to replace broken clubs.

digThere were all sorts of other activities on site, including music from Blast from the Past, Tudor games, stalls and hobby-horse ‘jousting’ for children, which made it much more interesting than it normally would be!  There was also a man talking about medieval crime and punishment – presumably someone who does this regularly for schools since it’s part of one of the GCSE curricula.  The music was excellent – I was highly amused to hear one of the musicians remark ‘selling’ their performance by crying “Come and hear why the Renaissance happened!”  Actually, we thoroughly enjoyed the instrumental pieces, but although I’ve got a couple of videos of the group in action, I don’t seem to have taken any photographs!

But of course, I had to visit the hall range, where Charles I was imprisoned from 22 November 1647 to 6 September 1648.  Although he was imprisoned, he was kept in some comfort and allowed significant freedoms, as was normal for noble prisoners during the period.  He was even allowed to keep many of his household with him. All this changed following the failure of his negotiations with both the Scots and the English Parliament.  His household attendants were sent away, but through secret messages, arrangements were made for Charles to escape captivity and flee the island by boat.  On the night of 20 March 1648, he attempted to climb out of his bedroom window, but he got stuck in the bars and the escape plot was foiled. He was then moved to a more secure bedroom, where another escape plan failed on 28 May when it was betrayed.  He left the castle in September, when he was moved to Newport to facilitate negotiations with Parliament.