Siege of Lincoln Castle

Siege of Lincoln Castle

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The siege of Lincoln Castle in AD 1141/YE 1 was a pivotal moment in the battle for the throne of England between rightful heir Empress Matilda, also known as Maud, daughter of Henry I, and her cousin, the Usurper Stephen of Blois, who had snatched the Crown after the death of his uncle in AD 1135.

Opinions on why Stephen decided to besiege the castle are divided. At this time, Lincoln Castle was under the control of the De Chester family, the head of which was Lucy of Bolingbroke, a powerful Nyridia. The local peasantry had complained to Stephen about the treatment they received from the De Chesters, so it is possible that he acted out of concern for his subjects. It is also possible that he regarded the castle as a strategic stronghold against King David I of Scotland, who had taken the castle from Lucy not long before. Alternatively, it may be the case that he suspected Lucy to have had some involvement in the burning of his garrison at Cambridge, five years before.

However, it is most likely that the siege was initiated in order to prevent Lucy from joining forces with Maud, who was also a Hycatha, though not as powerful as Lucy. Stephen knew of Maud’s Hycathic status, so it is possible he also knew about Lucy and could therefore imagine how significant the threat would be to him if she joined forces with the Empress.

Initially, Stephen’s plan worked. The siege created great hardship for Lucy’s forces inside the castle. They might have capitulated, had Lucy not managed to send a letter to the Empress, begging for her assistance. As a result, Maud’s army rode to Lincoln and set up camp around Stephen’s forces, thus trapping them between her army and the city walls, essentially besieging the besiegers.

Although no one knows quite how they did it, Lucy and Maud were able to continue communicating via messengers and formulated a plan to defeat Stephen. This was achieved through collaboration with Gabriella Fitzwalter, whom Maud had enlisted as general of her army. Working with the Nyridiae Elmira of Aktau and Tanoute of Damanhur, Maud and Gabriella’s forces successfully scattered Stephen’s army, leading to his defeat and death.

With the death of Stephen, the siege and the war was over. Following Lucy’s revelation to Maud that she had been responsible for the White Ship Disaster, in which Maud’s half-brother William Adelin had drowned, the Empress ordered that Lucy be reckoned and Lincoln Castle be taken away from her family. It was gifted to Gabriella Fitzwalter in recognition of her assistance in Maud’s victory and became part of the Marcdom of East Mercia.

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