Tower of London

The Tower of London offers a fascinating look at the history of the UK and London in particular.

The timeline starts with William I and his establishment of the Tower of London, and follows the history of the Tower up to the modern day. The information for this timeline has primarily been drawn from [Wikipedia]( and the [Historic Royal Palaces]( websites.

1066-04-01 00:00:00

The Tower Founded

The first structures of what would become the Tower of London are built for William the Conqueror.

1066-12-25 00:00:00

William I

William I was crowned at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day in 1066.

1078-04-01 00:00:00

The White Tower Built

The White Tower forms the heart of the Tower of London.

1087-04-01 00:00:00

William II

William II was the third son of William I.

1100-04-01 00:00:00

Henry I

Henry I was the fourth son of William I, and claimed the English throne on his brother William II's death.

1101-12-25 00:00:00

Ranulf Flambard Escapes

Ranulf Flambard is the first known prisoner of the Tower, and is also the first to escape.

1135-04-01 00:00:00


Stephen was the nephew of Henry I.

1135-04-01 00:00:00

The Anarchy

Since Henry I left no legitimate male heirs, a period of civil war followed his death.

1141-07-01 00:00:00

Control of Tower Sold

The Constable of the Tower sought to increase his power and fortune during the Anarchy by selling control of the Tower.

1154-04-01 00:00:00

Henry II

Henry II's reign was long and eventful, especially given that he ruled over not just England but much of western France.

1155-12-25 00:00:00

Lord Chancellor Thomas Becket

Before Thomas Becket became the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was the Lord Chancellor and Keeper of Works at the Tower of London.

1189-04-01 00:00:00

Richard I

Also known as Richard the Lionheart, Richard was the third legitimate son of Henry II.

1189-12-01 00:00:00

Defences Extended

The defences of the Tower were extended during Richard I's reign, and work was started on the Bell tower and the Wardrobe Tower.

1191-10-06 00:00:00

Tower Besieged

While Richard I was away on the Crusades, his brother John besieged the Tower of London as an attempt to claim the throne. The Tower fell in three days, but was reclaimed by Richard I on his return to England in 1194.

1199-04-01 00:00:00


1210-07-30 00:00:00

Royal Menagerie at the Tower

The presence of lions at the Tower is first recorded. Wild and exotic animals, many of which were diplomatic gifts, lived at the Tower until the menagerie was moved to London Zoo in the 1830s.

1215-06-15 00:00:00

Tower Besieged and Magna Carta Signed

Baron Robert Fitzwalter laid siege to the Tower of London and only lifted the siege once John signed the Magna Carta.

1216-04-01 00:00:00

Henry III

1216-06-15 00:00:00

Two New Towers Built

Major works took place at the Tower during Henry III's reign. This started off by building the Wakefield and Lanthorn Towers, as well as building some extensions to fortifications.

1238-07-30 00:00:00

Major Works

A curtain wall was built, as were nine additional towers and a moat.

1240-07-30 00:00:00

White Tower Whitewashed

The White Tower earned its name under Henry III when it was first whitewashed. The tradition continued for many years.

1255-07-30 00:00:00

Elephant Joined Menagerie

Louis IX of France gave an African elephant to Henry III as a gift. It was added Royal Menagerie housed at the Tower.

1272-04-01 00:00:00

Edward I

1272-12-01 00:00:00

Defenses Further Extended

Another curtain wall was built to enclose the existing curtain wall to form a concentric castle, and an additional moat was added. The famous Traitor's Gate was also built during this period.

1278-11-21 03:41:44

Royal Mint

The Royal Mint is moved to the Tower of London, where it was located until its 1810 move to Little Tower Hill nearby.

1307-04-01 00:00:00

Edward II

1321-11-01 00:00:00

Margaret de Clare Imprisoned

Margaret de Clare was the first woman imprisoned at the Tower - she was imprisoned for ordering an attack on the Queen Isabella's escort.

1327-04-01 00:00:00

Edward III

1377-04-01 00:00:00

Richard II

1381-06-13 00:00:00

Tower Breached

The Tower was breached during the Peasants' Revolt - the only time the Tower has been breached. Simon of Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor was dragged out and killed.

1389-06-04 00:00:00

Tower Wharf Built

Geoffrey Chaucer, better known as the author of Canterbury Tales, oversaw Tower Wharf being built in his role as Clerk of Works.

1399-04-01 00:00:00

Henry IV

1413-04-01 00:00:00

Henry V

1422-04-01 00:00:00

Henry VI (1st reign)

1455-04-01 00:00:00

War of the Roses

The War of the Roses was a power struggle between the Houses of York and Lancaster for the English throne.

1461-04-01 00:00:00

Edward IV (1st reign)

1461-05-21 00:00:00

Tower Fortified

The Tower's defenses were fortified during the War of the Roses.

1470-04-01 00:00:00

Henry VI (2nd reign)

1471-04-01 00:00:00

Edward IV (2nd reign)

1471-05-21 00:00:00

Death of Henry VI

Henry VI died at the Tower of London where he was imprisoned. It is suspected he was murdered.

1480-05-01 00:00:00

The Princes in the Tower Disappeared

In one of the best-known events at the Tower of London, the two sons of Edward IV disappeared from the Tower never to be seen again.

1483-04-09 00:00:00

Edward V

1483-04-09 00:00:00

Richard III

1485-04-09 00:00:00

Henry VII

1486-12-31 00:00:00

Rise of the Tudors

Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth, and the throne was claimed by Henry VII. This marked the end of the War of the Roses and the rise of the Tudors.

1490-12-31 00:00:00

Yeoman Warders

The Yeoman Warders (also known as Beefeaters) were formed by Henry VII to guard the Tower of London.

1509-04-01 00:00:00

Henry VIII

1519-08-03 00:00:00

St Peter ad Vincula Rebuilt

A chapel stood on this site since before the founding of the Tower of London. It was rebuilt for Henry VIII, and housed the remains of some of those executed at the Tower.

1531-07-06 00:00:00

Thomas More Executed

Thomas More, once a councillor to Henry VII, was executed on Tower Hill for refusing to recognise the King as Head of the Church. He was made a Catholic saint in 1935.

1536-05-17 00:00:00

Anne Boleyn Beheaded

Anne Boleyn, the second of six wives of Henry VIII, was imprisoned in the Tower for treason, judged guilty and then beheaded.

Tower of London

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