Post 4: Memories for a Lifetime

Great Britain has been amazing! I don’t regret coming here at all, in fact I only regret that I can’t stay here any long. After taking our night class I had a pretty good understanding of medieval architecture, but it wasn’t until I experienced these amazing structures in person that I really got a feeling for just how grand they are. I mean the castles alone were enough to make your jaw drop, but with the beauty that the cathedrals added it was a worthwhile experience. My favorite part of this trip was honestly going around the cities and meeting as many people as I could. I felt this was the best way to get a real life look into the English, Welsh, and Scottish culture. It was also really easy to meet these people because generally I felt that they were abundantly inviting. There were plenty of times that we went to a pub and right as we walked in people would stop and talk about where they were from and asked us the same. Today is our last day here and I would say that we left on the best note possible. Today we went to the London Natural History Museum and it is literally the best museum I have ever seen in my life. They had everything and just when you thought it was over you’d move on to the next fascinating exhibit. They had my two favorite science thing in there, outer space and the amazing beast from 200 million years ago the dinosaurs. Well as I think back on my trip there is a few things I would change, but I will never forget the amazing memories I made. Thanks to everyone who helped make them either here in England or back home supporting me.

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Post 1: Great Britains Rivalry

As of today we have been here for almost four weeks and it has been quite the experience. I have learned so much about the rich history of Great Britain and I have found much of it to be much more interesting then I first inquired. I am fascinated in the hatred that many people out side of England have for the English. Even when going to the pub you will find that many of the locals in Scotland and Wales don’t like the English. Many of the ones that I have talked to have explained that it is a respect thing and they have never really had the respect they deserve from the English. The worst thing that you could do is call someone from Scotland English! They hate it and that goes the same for the welsh. I was under the understanding that both of these countries were over the mistakes that were made in the olden days, but as I have travelled through I have found that they are still kind salty. Also with everything going on politically in this country I think many of the people that hold a grudge for their ancestors are coming out of the woodwork. I am really glad that we got to meet the Scottish and Welsh before the English to get a real interaction from these people. Even with all the hatred I believe that no matter what these counties will always have each others back and I truly believe that they talk bad, but it is more of a rivalry rather then a pure hatred.

Official Post 3: The Gems of Wales

On Sunday, May 14, we went to Caerphilly castle in Cardiff and it was amazing to say the least! I can’t even put into words how big this castle was. It made every other castle we have seen look like a town house in comparison. This castle is 30 acres including the artificial lakes surrounding it. It was one of the most extravagant castles built in its time and was a key stronghold used in the Welsh revolt against the crown. The town of Cardiff fell, but the castle was never actually breached. This comes as no surprise because the castle is set up to be an impenetrable fortress. After the war there was no need to keep up with the maintenance of the castle and many of the walls began to collapse until the Bute family bought it in order to revive this treasure in 1770s. This family owned it and restored it through the 1940s and did many restorations including filling the lakes and further support the walls. As we walked through the castle the only thing that we couldn’t see was the murder holes, but more then likely this was from the reconstruction to help support the walls they needed to be covered. One of my favorite aspect is one that may surprise people , but I was really interested in the wall on the south east side that is leaning 10 degrees away from the castle. I am really surprised that this wall even has the integrity to hold its weight, and I will be shocked if I come back in twenty or thirty years and it happens to still be standing.
– [x] After the Caerphilly castle we went back to Downtown Cardiff to see the amazing Memorial Stadium. This stadium is now known as the Principality Stadium is we’re many of the national rugby games are played for Wales. On average they have about 12 rugby games played there which is a ton considering that the stadium has real grass that must be up kept and eventually killed at the end of the season. This seems like a lot of work, but if you see this stadium you will understand that it is worth it. The field is one of the best I have seen and this is because even though they use real grass they use light machines to give the grass the needed light and well Wales is wet enough generally they don’t need to water the field.  When we were here they were preparing  for a huge soccer game between the two club teams of Spain and Italy. This didn’t really mean anything to me because I don’t watch soccer at all , but everyone else made it seem like it was a superstar match up and our guide said that this will be they biggest even the stadium has ever hosted. I thought this was really cool because we went into the locker room and saw the warm ups for these teams. As far as the architecture it is a very narrow pitch in the stadium due to the location as there is another rugby stadium next door. This also caused the design to generally stay the same and the north wall had to stay where it was or it would have knocked down the other stadium with it.

Post 2 The Trek Through Heart of Scotland

– [ ] We started our trip bright and early at 8:30 am. The class may have been moving a bit slow this morning, but luckily we had James to help wake us up on our long trip through the heart of Scotland. Our first stop was at the amazing Stirling Castle located in Stirling. The castle was built in the 12th century and played a significant role in many of the wars in Scotland including the war for independence. The castle was built in a very strategic way as three of the sides are a cliff and any apposing regiments would be forced to trek up the hill toward the main gates with which there were three visible turret towers used to defend. One of the stories that I found most interesting from our tour was the story with King James II. He was a very proud King and to ensure his power he invited William 8th Earl of Douglas to his castle for supper, but the king had another plan to kill him. This was a trap and King James with a platoon of men stabbed William forty seven times. While inside the castle we went through the palace of the castle where many of the beds and original paintings resided. This was really fantastic to see because it really gave us a cool layout of the bed counters and dining halls. Lots of the paintings had a symbolic meaning to previous houses of the castle, but unfortunately I don’t remember what they were. Next, we made our way to the museum found inside the castle. This was very cool as it was filled with lots of Scottish war history. Lots of the things were journals from the soldiers in the trenches of World War II. Stirling was used as a training base for these soldiers and many of them it allowed them to dive deep into there Scottish history of extra motivation. When looking our in the distance on the walls of the castle you would have to be blind to miss the incredible William Wallace monument standing tall in the town. This was the tower where William Wallace watched over his army’s preparing for war. It is one of the many beauties seen from the castle walls. While we were in Stirling we went to the Holy Rude, rude meaning cross, found roughly 5 mins from the castle and this was a Gothic church with a very basic structure compared to the one proceeding. I was interested in the stained glass and how it was done, and after further looking in I determined that it was done by a change in the mineral base as the glass was heated. The next cathedral that we went to was the Dunblane Cathedral which was another gothic cathedral with a much bigger foundation. The pillars were enormous in this cathedral and I could not even imagine how they built such an amazing building without our modern technology. Although when looking at these cathedrals it is important to remember that constant renovations happen through the years which is why this cathedral had a gothic feel while being built in the Roman era.

Beaumaris Castle

In April of 1295 Beaumaris Castle started to be built and was the last castle developed under the rule of King Edward I. He wanted it built there after he had conquered Wales area. In 1294 Madog ap Llywelyn rebelled against English rule and this caused a brief and bloody war that led to King Edward I taking control. At first, the castle was not going to have an outside wall, but the foundation was laid by the architect.  It was built on a marsh which is why it is the french builder called in “Beaux Marais” which translates to “beautiful marshes.” The architect’s name was Savoyard mason Master James of St. George and his goal were to construct the most perfect concentric castle. Beaumaris was the port of registration for all the vessels in northern Wales and this was the main way for the castle to receive revenue. This was much needed as the cost for the castle in 1300 was just shy of eleven thousand euros. At this point, the castle wasn’t even built and it was projected to be another couple thousand to finish the castle. In 1400 a revolt broke out in North Wales against the previous power of England led by a man called Owain Glyndwr. The castle was captured by the rebels in 1403 but was quickly taken back in 1405 by the royal forces. When 1539 rolled around the castle was in pretty bad shape as many of the rooms leaked and it was difficult to repair them without many funds being given by the royal family. It was reported that at this time the castle was hardly able to protect anything especially with only eight to ten small guns and forty bows. The castle was unable to be used as protection from the Scottish empire and by the time 1609 came the castle was labeled as an utterly decaying castle. It wasn’t until the English Civil War where this castle’s location was a prime spot to have a fortress. After the war, the castle was stripped of its valuable lead and defenses leaving the castle to “die.” In 1807 Lord Tomas Bulkeley bought the castle for a very cheap price as he was a resident of the castle and wanted to let everyone see its beauty. Beaumaris Castle was never fully built, but many say that if it was it would have been much like Harlech Castle. All the stone that made up the castle had been found from the surrounding area including the limestone that is very randomly seen on the walls. The castle has a moat and the main entrance to the castle was a gate on the side by the sea. There was originally 300 firing positions for archers and 164 slits. Many of the stones that were used to build the original walls were taken in the civil war which is why many of the stones have different shades on them.

Abroad Round 2

I am so excited to go back to Europe! When I fist went to Europe I was unable to enjoy many of the great things they had there, such as beer, whiskey, and honestly many of the foods we ate weren’t the traditional food from the culture. I really hope that this time I am able to enjoy many of these things and indulge fully in the culture. I have never been to a castle so I am super excited to actually see one in person. I have some pretty high expectations for the castles as far as the architecture we learned from our class. I really hope that this trip we don’t spend as much time in cathedrals as we did in my last one. I know this class is called castles and cathedrals, but the last one I went on was purely cathedrals and after a while became rather boring. I am really excited to see the differences in livestock situations in England. I am really familiar with the situation in Iowa so it will be fun to see the differences. I have never stayed in a hostel so it will be interesting to see how it is living in them. I have heard it is much like living in a dorm room so I’m sure I’ll be used to it. Finally, I am most excited to be in London. I have heard so many good things about London and I can’t wait to see the city in person. 

Henry III

As assigned to me I further looked into the dynamic king of England known as Henry III, or as Henry of Winchester. Henry III was king of England, lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine from about 1216 until his death in 1272.Henry III was given the throne at the young age of nine. Henry fought in the religious war of the First Barons’ War. His forces, led by William Marshal, defeated the uprising in 1217. Although the battle was won many of the rebels were ignoring the laws set forth by King Henry III. This caused lots of tension with the loyalist of King Henry III causing them to maintain independent control of their castles. In 1230 King Henry tried to reconquer the provinces of France that his father before him had once ruled. His efforts showed no accomplishment as two years later King Henry was forced to sign a treaty. The final results of the endeavor left the kingdom in a very unhealthy state. King Henry III was well known for investing much into his kingdoms castles and palaces rather than traveling like many of his previous kings. King Henry married Eleanor of Provence and together they had five children that he threw many religious parties for. King Henry was not fond of the Jews and because of this he made many laws that crippled the Jews ability to trade and survive in England. Jews were considered property of the crown and were generally used as cheap labor and people that could easily be taxed. This along with many wars brought on by his arrogant need to rule all the surrounding lands caused him to become a very unfavorable king and hated by many of the kingdoms people. Many of the people claimed that Henry III was merely disregarding their constitution that is stated in the 1225 chapters. This caused a civil war to break out and gave France the perfect opportunity to seize the land of Britain while they were to distracted with their own problems. Even with Henry’s III problems he still was able to strengthen his bond with the surrounding lands like Wales. King Henry III made many military campaigns to Wales to ensure their conquering. Eventually the Treaty of Woodstock was signed granting King Henry as the ruler. After the many internal wars Henry III was forced to reside to Paris where he signed a piece treaty with King Louis. King Henry III didn’t return to England until 1260 where he continued his royal rule where he left off. After many baron wars Henry III was finally ready to start the rebuilding period around 1266. As Henry’s last years seemed to be coming closer and closer Henry focused more on bring peace to his kingdom rather then war. Around 1272 Henry became very ill and commanded that his first born Edward return to the kingdom in fear of a revolt occurring. Luckily Henry gained his strength back enough to control his land until 1274 when he died with his wife Elenor by his side.

Why have castles?

Honestly going into this class I knew nothing about castles and really the only interaction I had with a castle was the one I saw in Harry Potter. Little did I know that in England alone there is about fifteen thousand castle sites whether that be full castles or old locations. Castles have many different applications, but as of now they are almost rendered useless due to the advancement in civilization. Now castles are mostly used to house expensive antiques, and as a historical landmark to teach the younger generations(us). One of the biggest reasons castles were developed by the lords of England was to protect them during times of war. Although many of the original castles, that were made of wood, are no longer there due to the fact that they were not very effective in actually defending the residents. When the stone age started to bloom people started to build the castles we see today. Although they still weren’t the best at this time because they still lacked in the tools needed to construct such a powerful fortress. Once the castles evolved into a necessary warfare weapons it caused improvements to be something that had to be done, not just for luxury. One key improvement made to castles was the addition of turrets for extra protection. Quoins were primarily used for decoration, but this is the primary place to put lookout towers. These towers could be used to locate enemies trying to sneak into the premises, and see battle formations in the opposing troops. Moats were used many times to surround the castles and this allowed only one entrance into the castles besides the postern. This gave a big advantage to the castles allowing them to isolate themselves. The drawbridge was the main entrance to the castle and this is where in many of the good defense castles they put many traps like death holes and murder holes. These could take out many enemies as a last resort. As the age of war started to decrease, it was apparent that these castles were meant as trophies for the conquering lords. Some of them would tear them down and replace them with a more elegant castle made from the rubble of the previous castle. Once the times of concurring were done it was observed that these castles were used to start early settlements and places of business. The castles that were placed in different areas that could not be industrialized, they became places of prayer and agricultural dependency. Owning a castle is the ultimate class barrier that was set in place to separate the privileged upper class from the weak and poor lower class. For many years these families owned castles or gave them to their relatives. This very quickly became too expensive of a luxury to afford and these castle evolved into what they are used for today. I am personally very excited to see these amazing castles and see in person how they have evolved into today’s castles.

Seeing the world one class at a time

I really love traveling and I have been waiting patiently for my next chance to pack a weeks worth of clothes and see the amazing culture of Europe. When I had initially went to Europe I was only fifteen and I could hardly drive let alone enjoy the true culture that was offered. Now six years later I finally am given the opportunity to enjoy many different things such as the different styles of beer, wines, and hopefully fine dining. When we went earlier I was unable to try these things because of my age restriction and the group we went with for school was not okay with indulging in the amazing food that European countries have to offer. We mostly ate at fast food restaurants because of the convenience. I do hope that we will be allowed amply time to see the true nature and culture of Great Britain and Wales area because honestly I am so excited. I wish I would have gone to other abroad programs that Wartburg offers because I am afraid that me being a third year will be unable to see as much as the world as I hoped to by this time. After school I don’t believe I will have the chance to go anymore.