Siege of Arundel Castle

Siege of Arundel Castle

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The siege of Arundel Castle occurred in 1139, during the Clash of the Cousins battle for the throne of England between rightful heir to the throne Empress Matilda, also known as Maud, Hycath daughter to Henry I, and her cousin the Usurper Stephen of Blois, who had stolen the Crown after the death of his uncle in 1135.

Arundel Castle was the home of Maud’s stepmother Adeliza of Louvain, who offered refuge there to Maud shortly after her arrival from France. The legitimate heir to the throne, as named by her father Henry, Maud was a perpetual threat to Stephen and it is likely he intended the siege as a means of breaking her.

Stephen’s forces surrounded the castle for several months, making life inside the castle extremely difficult. With food and resources becoming scarce and morale low amongst her people, Maud knew she would have to take decisive action.

Why exactly the siege ended is a subject of heated debate. Non-Hycathic historians assert that Stephen, who was known for his courteous and generous behaviour around women, simply bowed to the requirements of chivalry and let Maud go, believing her to be of little threat, female intelligence not being highly regarded at the time, and preferring to focus his troops on the campaign of her half-brother Robert of Gloucester in the southwest. However, several written accounts suggest a different reason to do with Hycathic influence.

It is known that Stephen and Maud met inside Arundel Castle in late 1139. Stephen’s behaviour following this meeting was unusual, with reports stating he spoke of bloodletting and transformations. These eyewitness testimonies have led many to believe that Maud used Hycathic shapeshifting magic to persuade him.

Whatever the reason may have been, the siege ended with Maud and her army being allowed to leave the castle unhindered.

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