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Siege of Yoshino Castle, February 1333

Siege of Yoshino Castle, February 1333

Siege of Yoshino Castle, February 1333

The siege of Yoshino Castle (February 1333) saw a large Bakufu army capture the castle after an eight day siege, forcing Prince Norinaga to flee to safety.

At the start of 1333 the Bakufu (another word for the Shogunate) brought together a vast army at Kyoto. This army was split into three divisions, and one of those divisions, under the command of a Hojo general called Osaragi, was sent south towards Yoshino Castle, where Prince Norinaga was based.

According to the Taiheiki, our main source for this siege, the attacking troops arrived at Yoshino on the 16th day of the 1st month (or of the New Year) of 1331 (1 February 1333). The fighting started on the 18th day (3 February) and lasted for eight days, ending on the 25th day (10 February).

The dates preserved for this siege would appear to be at fault. Elsewhere the Taiheiki has the army split into three divisions at Kyoto on 30 January, while Akasaka falls on around 14 March. The fall of Akasaka is said to have been one of the motives for the final assault on Yoshino

One possible solution is that the month has been recorded incorrectly. If the second month was meant then the siege of Yoshino still ends too early, on around 11 March. Two months off would put the siege of Yoshino in April.

For the moment we will use the dates from the Taiheiki. The besieging army, 60,000 men commanded by Nikaido Doun, arrived at Yoshino on the sixteenth day of the first month of 1333 (1 February 1333). They were faced with a difficult task. Yoshino Castle was defended by 5,000-6,000 men commanded by Prince Norinaga, the most able of Go-Daigo's sons. The castle itself was high on a mountain, and was accessed via a narrow path. Whatever the size of the attacking army really was, Yoshino would not be easy to capture.

On the 18th day (3 February) the two sides fired the ritual arrows that marked the start of a battle. The defenders were able to take advantage of the terrain and for seven days and seven nights held off a series of constant attacks. Three hundred of the defenders and 800 of the attackers were killed and many more wounded.

The stalemate was broken by Iwagikumaro, an abbot of Yoshino monastery who was part of the attacking army. He suggested that attackers should send a small force onto the highs behind the castle, taking advantage of his local knowledge to find a way up the cliffs. This force of 150 men would attack at dawn, hitting the defenders from an unexpected direction.

The plan worked perfectly. The small force of 150 men reached the high ground and discovered it was undefended. At dawn on the eighth day of the siege 50,000 horsemen launched a fresh attack on the castle. Five hundred monks of Yoshino fighting with the defenders came out to drive them off. At this point the hidden 150 launched their own attack, lit fires around the castle and caused chaos amongst the defenders.

Prince Norinaga believed that he was doomed. He gathered twenty men and threw himself into the battle. He was able to drive off the troops attacking his residence, but the damage had been done. The outer walls had been taken by the attackers, and the defenders were being pushed back. Prince Norinaga decided to try and escape. One of his followers offered to dress in the Prince's armour and try and delay any pursuit by publically committing suicide. The attacking troops were fooled by this, and in their rush to try and be the first to the body they created gaps and allowed the real Prince to escape and reach relative safety at Mount Koya. The victorious attackers then moved on to take part in the long siege of Chihaya.

List of sieges of Gibraltar

There have been fourteen recorded sieges of Gibraltar. Although the peninsula of Gibraltar is only 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) long and 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) wide, it occupies an extremely strategic location on the southern Iberian coast at the western entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. Its position just across the eponymous Strait from Morocco in North Africa, as well as its natural defensibility, have made it one of the most fought-over places in Europe. [1] [2]

Only five of the sieges resulted in a change of rule. Seven were fought between Muslims and Catholics during Muslim rule, four between Spain and Britain from the Anglo-Dutch capture in 1704 to the end of the Great Siege in 1783, two between rival Catholic factions, and one between rival Muslim powers. Four of Gibraltar's changes in rule, including three sieges, took place over a matter of days or hours, whereas several other sieges had durations of months or years and claimed the lives of thousands without resulting in any change in rule. [3]

Neolithic Period and Bronze Age

Evidence for early human activity on the site is provided by worked flint tools dating to the Neolithic period (4000&ndash2400 BC). There is also some evidence for early Bronze Age (c.2400&ndash1500 BC) burial mounds and funerary material from the lower part of the crag, suggesting that it had ritual significance.

Archaeological excavation in the 1970s and 1980s showed that the hilltop was fortified around 1000 BC (during the later Bronze Age) with a simple bank at the base of the crag, probably with a wooden palisade. The archaeologists also discovered several Bronze Age roundhouses in the outer ward (the grassed area inside the later castle walls), dating to about 800 BC.

Excavated objects such as moulds and crucibles for smelting indicate that Beeston was a major metalworking centre. Among the most significant finds are two copper-alloy socketed axes that had seemingly been deliberately buried beneath the earthwork bank. They almost certainly represent a votive offering, or were used for ritual purposes.

Muromachi Era: 1333-1587

Go-Daigo once again raised an army and in 1333 re-entered the Kyoto and took over the Imperial Palace once again. There was one Emperor already there, Emperor Kogon, and he treated him well and in effect turning him into an ex-Emperor.

One of the major Bakufu armies was under the command of Takauji, who acted like he was going to attack and capture Go-Daigo but, instead, switched sides, throwing his weight to Go-Daigo's cause. A series of military encounters occurred and, in the end, Takauji's army defeated the western Bakufu force. This ended the line of Kamakura Shoguns.

The Ashikaga(Muromachi) shogunate began with the granting of the title Seii-Taishogun to Ashikaga Takauji by the Northern Court. This came about because the samurai had fought well but were not rewarded. Discontent spread and the Emperor Go-Daigo took the chance to gather the complaining groups together, raised an army and defeated the regent Hojo. The Northern and Southern Courts were reunified in 1392 and the shogunate was fully recognized.

The Emperor did not learn from history, though, and he rewarded the nobles first, thus again leading to discontent among the samurai. This ended with the Emperor being driven away from Kyoto and the establishment of the Muromachi Shogunate. Ashikaga Takauji put his own choice for Emperor into position and thus ended up with being granted power by an "official" Emperor.

Takauji got together a group of scholars and other important officials to determine just what the principles of a good government should be. They ended up with the Kammu Shikimoku, a list of 17 things to help deal with current problems. The vast majority of these were extremely practical, excellent guides for virtually any government. The articles included:

2. Condemn drinking and gambling

3. Order must be kept and crimes of violence must be punished

4,5: (relating to previous fighting). Property was not to be confiscated without careful inquiry rewards and punishments were to be based on individual cases, and there was to be no indiscriminate punishment of former enemies.

6. Fireproof construction was to be used in all rebuilding efforts.

7. The Office of Constable was to go to men of special integrity and ability

8. Interference by courtiers, palace women and monks was to end.

9. Discipline must be kept among public servants.

10. There was to be no bribery.

11. Presents given to palace functionaries and government officials were to be sent back.

12. Personal attendants to the Emperor and the Shogun were to be selected for merit.

13. Ceremonies must be performed with distinctions of rank maintained.

14. Good service should be rewarded.

15. Those in authority must listen to the complaints of the poor and lowly.

16. Claims and petitions of monasteries and shrines were to be carefully examined to see which ones were really true.

17. Justice must be firm and prompt, without needless delays or ambiguous judgments.

Again, almost every one of those would serve as excellent guiding principles even for today's governments.

Go-Daigo once again escaped in January of 1337. He declared himself the one, true Emperor. This period of time is called Nanbokucho, or the "north and south dynasties" period. This lasted until 1392 when the Northern and Southern Courts were reunited.

The War of Onin was a major civil war lasting from 1467 to 1477. Two daimyo, Hosokawa Katsumoto and Yamana Souzen began the fighting. This was the result of very complex inter-house rivalries. The fighting between houses was reflected in various fights between other major daimyo houses. Very basically this fight led to chaos throughout the country as other similar fights broke out. In 1477 an armistice was declared between the house Hosokawa and the house Yamana, but even though the war itself had ended the fighting between various daimyo continued.

The feudal system involved daimyo (feudal lords), each of which had their own groups of samurai. Over time the authority of the Shogunate decreased as more and more actual power shifted to the daimyos.

On the positive side the arts flourished. Flower arrangement, the Tea Ceremony, Noh and the Kano school of painting all did well. The kare-sansui style of symbolic gardening began during this period.

The Tea Ceremony, though, influenced other things such as pottery, iron casting, lacquer and bamboo-making.

As far as architecture goes, few of the buildings survive today due to the Onin civil war. The shonin-zukuri style of architecture from this period was the forerunner of the present-day Japanese house with tatami mats covering the floors.

As European influence in Japan increased and new foods including sweet potatoes and peppers were introduced into the Japanese diet. Namban (a type of sweets), tempura (deep frying) and use of meat also began to increase due to Western influences.

The Golden Pavilion, Rokuon-ji, Kyoto. The building was originally built by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu for his retirement. After he died it was turned into a Buddhist temple but most of the buildings associated with it were destroyed by fire or moved to other locations. In 1950 this building was burned down by a crazed Monk.

Particular dates of importance

1333-1392: Referred to as the Epoch of the Northern and Southern Dynasties.

1333: Fall of the Hojo Regency and the Kamakura Bukufu

1334: Godaigo overthrows Kamakura Shogunate and restores imperial power.

1336-1348: Northern Court Emperor Komyo

1336: Takauji is appointed Acting Grand Counselor.

1336: Emperor Godaigo establishes Southern Court at Yoshino. Kyoto becomes the Northern court.

1136: Battle of Tatarahama.

1136: Battle of Minatogawa

1338: Takanuji appointed shogun. The Ashikaga shogunate is set up in Kyoto. Political chaos followed until the 15th century.

1339-1368: Emperor Go-Murakami

1348-1351: Northern Court Emperor Suko

1350: The drinking of tea is prohibited by the Shogun.

1351: Tadayoshi attempts to effect a reconciliation between the Courts

1352: Tadayoshi killed by Takauji. The loyalists capture Kyoto

1353: Takauji recaptures Kamakura and Kyoto

1358: Takauji dies. Ashikaga Yoshiakira appointed Shogun

1362: Southern Army attacks Kyoto.

1351-1371: Northern Court Emperor Go-Kogon

1368: Ashikaga Yoshimitsu appointed Shogun. Mind dynasty founded in China.

1369: First mission from Ming China arrives in Kyushu

1371-1382: Northern Court Emperor Go-Enyu

1382-1392: Northern Court Emperor Go-Komatsu

1383-1392: Emperor Go-Kameyama

1384: Kanami, creator of Noh drama, dies.

1392: reunification of northern and southern courts by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.

1394: Ashikaga Yoshimochi named Shogun

1392-1412: Emperor Go-Komatsu

1397: Golden Pavilion is completed.

1400: Zeami finishes the Book of Noh Theory (Kadensho)

1404: Shogunate allows ships to trade with Chinese Mind Dynasty.

1411: Yoshimochi breaks off relations with China

1420: Serious famine with great loss of life

1422: Ashikaga Yoshikazu becomes Shogun

1425: Another famine, this time also with a plague

1429: Ashikaga Yoshinori becomes Shogun.

1432: Yoshinori resumes trade with China

1441: Yoshinori murdered by Akamatsu. Akamatsu killed by Yamana. Ashikaga Yoshikatsu becomes Shogun.

1443: Ashikaga Yoshikatsu dies and Ashikaga Yoshimasa becomes Shogun. Kyoto attacked by rioters.

1428-1464: Emperor Go-Hanazono

1464-1500: Emperor Go-Tsuchimikado

1488: Ikko sect of Buddhists take power in Kaga province

1489: Silver Pavilion is completed.

1490: Ashikaga Yoshitane becomes Shogun upon Yoshimasa's death

1197: Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple is completed

1500-1526: Emperor Go-Kashiwabara

1523: Official trade with China is suspended

1524: Siege of Edo castle, a Hojo victory. The castle was where the Imperial Palace now stands in Tokyo

1535: Battle of Idano. Matsudaira Kiyoyasu was murdered by one of his vassals. His grandson was Tokugawa Ieyasu.

1537-1586: Emperor Ogimachi

1537: Siege of Musashi-Matsuyama, a Hojo victory.

1538: First battle of Konodai, another Hojo victory.

1542/1543: Portuguese merchants and navigators arrive in Japan. They introduced firearms which the Japanese learned quickly to make and use. The name of one of the Portuguese explorers is Rodriguez.

1542: Battle of Sezawa. A variety of forces challenges the army of Takeda Shingen but loses.

1542: Battle of Uehara castle, another Takeda Shingen victory.

1542: One day after the above victory Takeda Shingen's forces win the siege of Kuwabara castle. This was followed by other victories including the siege of Fukyou, the battle of Ankokuji and the siege of Nagakubo in 1543.

1543: Portuguese traders land on the island of Tanegashima

1544: The siege of Kojinyama, another Shingen victory.

1545: Japanese pirates stage large-scale raids on China

1545: Batlte of Kawagoe, a Hojo victory.

1546: Further Takeda Shingen victories include the siege of Uchiyama and the battle of Odaihara.

1547: Siege of Shika, another Shingen victory. Shingen had 300 severed heads of defeated soldiers put on display in front of the garrison he was attacking.

1548: Last official trade voyage to Ming China

1548:The battle of Uedahara, the first defeat Shingen had ever suffered. He rallied, though, and won the battle of Shiojiritoge a short time later.

1549: St. Francis Xavier becomes the first Christian missionary to visit Japan.

1549: siege of Kajiki. This saw the first use of firearms developed from Portuguese firearms.

1551: Francis Xavier introduces eyeglasses to Japan.

1553: Siege of Katsurao, first of another string of victories by Takeda Shingen.

1554: More Takeda Shingen victories including the siege of Kiso Fukushima, the siege of Kannomine and the siege of Matsuo.

1555: Japanese pirates besiege Nanking

1557: Takeda Shingen's forces capture Katsurayama.

1558: Siege of Terahe: This is the first battle that Tokugawa Ieyasu took part in. His forces were eventually driven off.

1559: The siege of Odaka, Tokugawa Ieyasu's first victory.

1560 Siege of Marune, another Tokugawa Ieyasu victory, one in which his forces made good use of guns.

1560: Victory of Oda Nobunaga at Okehazama

1561: The battle of Moribe, a victory of Oda Nobunga.

1562: Siege of Kaminojo, another Tokugawa Ieyasu victory. In this one he made good use of ninjas.

1565: Murder of Ashikaga Yoshiteru. The Emperor orders the Jesuits to leave the country

1565: Siege of Kuragano castle, a Takeda Shingen victory.

1568: Ashikaga Yoshiaki is named Shogun.

1568: Oda Nobunaga enters Kyoto.

1569: Siege of Kakegawa, a technical victory for Tokugawa Ieyasu. Instead of a prolongued battle this one was ended by negotiation.

1569: Takeda Shingen's luck begins to run out. He does not succeed in taking Hachigata castle or Odawara castle. At the battle of Mimasetoge his forces are outnumbered 2:1 and they bravely fought their way though to escape.

1570: Port of Nagasaki is opened to overseas trade

1570: Takeda Shingen returns to victory with the siege of Hanazawa.

1571: The attack on Mount Hiei in which Oda Nobunaga's forces massacred men, women and children in an attack on the monastic complex. Around 20,000 were killed.

1571:The daimyo Omura Sumitada opens Nagasaki to Portuguese shipping

1572: The battle of Mikata go Hara in which Tokugawa Ieyasu at first suffers a terrible defeat (he was outnumbered by 3:1), but through a clever trick and a surprise attack he managed to drive off the forces under Takeda Shingen.

1573: End of Ashikaga shogunate

1573: Death of Takeda Shingen, killed by a sniper.

1573: A variety of Oda Nobuna victories including the siege of Hikida castle, Odani castle and Ichijo castle.

1574: Another gruesome victory by Oda Nobunga when his forges take Nagashima and kill some 20,000 troops by burning them to death in their own castles instead of accepting a surrender.

1575: The battle of Nagashino in which Oda Nobunga's forces face off against forces under Takeda Shingen's son. Oda Nobunga's forces win decisively, inflicting a 67% casualty rate on Takeda Katsuyori's forces.

1576: Oda Nobunaga builds Azuchi Castle

1582: Oda Nobunaga's death. Hideyoshi wins the battle at Yamazaki.

1583: Hideyoshi wins the battle at Shizugatake. General Toyotomi Hideyoshi lays the foundation of Osaka Castle

1583: Foundation of Osaka Castle is laid by T+ 7oyotomi Hideyoshi.

1584: Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu have a conflict in Owari. Spanish galleon arrives in Hirado.

1584 (?) The Tea Ceremony becomes codified by Sen-no-Rikkyu.

1585: Hideyoshi becomes Regent.

1586: Hideyoshi becomes Chancellor.

p>1586-1611: Emperor Go-Yozei

1587: Hideyoshi's edict expelling the Jesuits. Osaka Castle is finished

Kakemono by Tensho Shubun, 1415-1460 entitled Before the House of a Recluse.

Twelfth and Thirteenth Sieges of Gibraltar

This led to the twelfth siege from September 1704 until March 1705 when a combined Spanish and French army tried to take the Rock back.

From February to June in 1727 Gibraltar again found itself besieged during the Anglo-Spanish War.

Between 1730 and 1735 two massive forts were built in La Linea, Santa Bárbara on the eastern side of the isthmus and San Felipe on the west. The lines between them effectively cut Gibraltar off from mainland Spain. The Santa Bárbara fort is open to the public.

3. Maruoka Castle (Sakai City, Fukui)

Maruoka Castle is a bit of an out-of-the-way attraction in Fukui Prefecture, and it also comes with a gruesome legend.

Built in 1576 by Shibata Katsutoyo, the castle’s keep is Japan’s oldest standing wooden tenshu, and also one of Japan’s top 100 cherry blossoms viewing sites thanks to the surrounding 400 Yoshino cherry trees.

So, how did such a beautiful place become a haunted spot? Well, there might have been a human sacrifice involved.

It's said that in 1576, as Katsutoyo kept trying to construct his castle, the stone wall would collapse every time it was built. When it was decided that a mystical solution was needed, a poor widow named Oshizu agreed to become a sacrifice (hitobashira, or human pillar) for the castle, on the condition that one of her sons would become a samurai for the lord. She was promptly buried alive under the central pillar of the castle, and this time the construction went on without further problems.

However, the lord was transferred and never kept his promise. Thereafter, the castle moat would flood with rain every April, which the locals called the "Tears of Oshizu's sorrow." A small tomb was subsequently erected to soothe her spirit.


In 1309, Castillian troops under Ferdinand IV of Castile captured Gibraltar, then known as the Medinat al-Fath (City of Victory), from the Muslim-ruled Emirate of Granada. Ώ] Its fortifications were repaired and improved by the Castillians. ΐ] In 1315 the Granadans attempted to retake Gibraltar in the brief and unsuccessful Second Siege of Gibraltar. Α]

The alliance between the Nasrids of Granada and the Marinids of Morocco had fallen into abeyance following the loss of Gibraltar, but the accession of the Marinid sultan Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Othman led to a renewal of the pact between the two Muslim states. A force of 7,000 men under the command of Abu al-Hasan's son, Abd al-Malik, was secretly transported across the Strait of Gibraltar to rendezvous with the forces of Muhammad IV of Granada at Algeciras in February 1333. The Castillians were distracted by the coronation of King Alfonso XI and were slow to respond to the invasion force, which was able to lay siege to Gibraltar before much of a response could be organised. Β]

Gibraltar was ill-prepared for this eventuality. Its governor, Don Vasco Perez de Meira, had looted the funds allocated by the crown to pay for food and maintenance of the town's defences, using it to buy land for himself near Jerez. He also misappropriated the food itself, selling it to the Moors, and kept the garrison under strength. The shipwreck of a grain ship off the Gibraltarian coast, only eight days before the siege began, gave the garrison a little extra food supply, but as events were to prove, it was not nearly enough. Γ]

The town consisted of a series of individually fortified districts that reached from the dockyard on the sea front to a castle several hundred feet up the slope of the Rock of Gibraltar. By the end of February, Abd al-Malik's forces had captured the dockyard and the area on the Rock above the castle, where he set up siege engines. Castillian attempts to organise a relief force were hampered by Granadan raids on their borders that were intended to divert Castillian attention. In addition, political disputes between Alfonso and his vassals delayed the raising of a land force to lift the siege. Although Alfonso had a naval force at his disposal under Admiral Alfonso Jofre de Tenorio, the Moorish ships supporting the siege were positioned close inshore where it was too dangerous to attempt an attack. Γ]

Alexander Seton (abt. 1270 - 1349)

This profile relates to the Sir Alexander Seton, defender of Berwick in 1333 and later Master of Torphichen, Knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The person of this Profile married, c. 1311, Christian Cheyne, daughter of Cheyne of Straloch, Aberdeenshire. Please take care with merging profiles in this line and seek advice from Profile Managers if in doubt. Alexander was a very common name in the family.

Conjecture with Parents

The details of his parents are in doubt and is discussed in The Scots Peerage, by Balfour Paul. [1] In short, Maitland and Douglas show him as a grandson, and Nisbet, Crawfurd, Lord Hailes and Wood as son (by Christiana de Brus, sister of King Robert I.) of Sir Christopher Seton, who is stated, by all sources to have been the head of the house of Seton in Scotland at the time of the rise of Robert Bruce. Sir Bruce Gordon Seton [2] however, provides greater clarity in the discussion stating that as Sir Christopher Seton only came of age in 1299 he could not have been either grandfather or father to this Alexander who was, himself, of age in 1296. Wikitree will follow the genealogy provided in Sir Bruce Gordon Seton's work.

Life Events

There is a lack of clarity regarding events prior to 1306. It is highly probable that it is he noted as Alisaundre de Seton, Vallet, del Counte de Edeneburgh, in the Ragman Rolls of 1296. [3]

In 1306 he is noted as being in the Isles, tasked by Edward I., with John de Mowbray, but Balfour Paul notes that he must have fallen under some suspicion, as a royal order directed that he was to be seized and sent to the King on his return, and that his goods and chattels should be forfeited. There is a plea for his lands on 8 August that year. In Oct of that year he is noticed as a prisoner in York castle. [4]

In 1308, he was certainly aligned with Bruce. It is likely him with Bruce at Cambuskenneth where Sir Alexander de Seton, Sir Gilbert Hay and Sir Neil Campbell swore to defend King Robert Bruce's right to the Crown.

On 20 February 1312, he was back in service of the English and served as a juror at an inquisition taken before the English Sheriff of Lothian concerning the value of the lands of several local proprietors who had joined the national party. [5]

In 1314 he was noted as being in the Army of the English in preparation for Bannockburn. Sir Thomas Gray of Heton, in the work Scalacronica, [6] notes that on the night before the battle (24 June 1314) he went over to Bruce and assured him that, the English demoralised, an attack the next day would be successful. To add credibility to this story the father of the author was in the Scottish camp as prisoner at the time.

Between 1315 and 1317 he was with Edward Bruce in his campaigns in Ireland. His lands appear to have been forfeit in 1319 and in the hands of the Crown (Edward II.). He was at the English Court in 1320 as an Ambassador.

In 1320, 6 April, he was one of the signatories to the Baron's letter, Declaration of Arbroath, to Pope John XXII..


He had charters of the superiority of the lands of Elphinstone, of the commonty of Travernent which was the Earl of Buchan's, of a tenement in Aberdeen, of the lands of Barnes (said to have been granted along with the augmentation of the double tressure to his coat of arms), of Gogar, of the superiority of Dundas, Westercraigs and part of Queensferry, of the barony of Travernent which William Ferraris forfeited, of the lands of Fausyde which Alan La Suche forfeited, of the lands of Mylyis which the Earl of Buchan forfeited and a charter of confirmation of the lands of Halsington, co. Berwick. [7]

He had also charters of the lands in Travernent and husband-lands in Nodref which pertained to the deceased Alan La Suche, of lands in Nidriffe in the barony of Winchburgh, of the lands of Hertsheved, and in 1328, charter of resignation of the barony of Lambyngston, co. Lanark.

He had charters of the lands and town of Seaton in ane burgh of barony, and of the lands and barony of Seatoun erected into a free barony and grants of liberty of market on every Lord's day after Mass, of the town of Seton in free burgage with all liberties etc., and of the lands of Setone in free warren and forest for ever. He is designate Sir Alexander de Seton, the father, Lord of that Ilk, in a charter granted by Alanus de Hertesheued, attributed to a date c. 1328. His son, Alexander, thus being of age and having been knighted the year prior. [8]

He held the town of Berwick in feu-farm before January 1328, when he was appointed Governor of the town, the Earl of March being Governor of the castle.

He was, for a time, Steward of the Household of David, Earl of Carrick, Prince of Scotland.

Siege of Berwick 1333

He remained Governor of the castle at Berwick and was there in March to June 1333 when he commanded the defences against Balliol and Edward III.. He was replaced by Sir William Keith who appears as the commander at the surrender in July 1333. While Commander he is said to have watched his son, Thomas, being executed. Another son, William, was also killed at the siege having drowned while attempting to fire the English ships firing on Berwick.

Later Service

His lands were again forfeit in 1334. He appears as a witness in a Charter, of the Earldom of Berwick, to Edward III on 9 February 1334, [9] and in Balliol's Parliament later that year [10] but it is unlikely he ever recovered his lands as they were still held by William of Eylesford in 1336.

In 1341, he, designed as Alexander de Setoun, Lord of that Ilk, was one of the Lords Auditors of Causes and Complaints, Adam de Moray being the other. [11]

Order of the Knights of Saint John

It seems that, shortly after 1341, he joined the Knights Hospitaller. He had been appointed, some time prior to 1345, to the charge of the House of Torphichen by the Grand Master at Rhodes.

The Rules of the Order demanded that he hold no estates and no family. It must be supposed that his wife had died by this point and that he had passed his principal estates to his heir, who must have been either Alexander or John. He was however observed as Dominus ejusdem (Lord of that Ilk or Lord of lands of that name) in 1345, when, as Master of Torphichen, he granted a charter to William de Meldrum. [12] This may have been the time he became Master of the Order.

He was still with the Order on 6 February 1347 when he obtained an indult from Pope Clement VI. permitting him to choose a confessor and on 12 August 1348 when he had a safe-conduct to enable him to visit King David II. in the Tower of London. On the latter occassion he is styled "Prater Alexander de Seton, Miles, Hospitalis S. Johannis Jerusalem".

He seems to have died shortly afterwards and likely in 1349 as he no longer appear on any record. [13]


Sir Alexander Seton is said, by Maitland and others, to have married Christian Cheyne, daughter of the Laird of Straloch. According to Sir Bruce Gordon Seton [14] this event occurred in 1311 but this must be an error. The youngest son, John is known to have married and had a son, Alexander, that married in 1346. Thus it would seem likely that the marriage occurred closer to 1300. They had four sons:

Thomas Seton, who was hanged by order of King Edward III. when a hostage during the siege of Berwick in 1333. He is not known to have married. William Seton, who was drowned in the Tweed while engaged in setting fire to some of the enemy's ships at the same siege. He is not known to have married. Alexander Seton, who appears to have been knighted. He was probably the Sir Alexander de Seton who was sent on a mission to Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1323, and styled by King Robert I. his 'bachelor'. He was killed at Kinghorn in Fife, shortly after Edward Baliol's landing there on 6 August 1332. [15] The designation 'Sir Alexander the father' never appears after that date. He is said, by Maitland and Wynton, to have married a Margaret Murray, sister to William Murray, Captain of Edinburgh castle, but there is some doubt and Sir Bruce Gordon Seton is adamant, but without source, that he married Jean Haliburton, daughter of Sir Thomas Haliburton of Dirleton. [16] This latter statement must be in error as the Haliburtons did not hold Dirleton at this time. They were held to a family of De Vaux who died in the male line and the lands passed to a John Haliburton c. 1380. He was the first Haliburton of Dirleton and there never was a Thomas noticed by Balfour Paul. [17] John Seton, the youngest but likely the longest living although he is said to have died after 1327 and likely after Berwick. He was certainly dead prior to 1346 when his son appears as having been the heir. He is known to have married, although his wife is not named. He left one son noticed in history: Alexander Seton (or Sir Alexander), likely born c. 1325 and is said to have married Margaret de Ruthven, apparently in 1346. [18] On Easter Sunday, 16 April 1346, at Roxburgh, Sir William Douglas of Liddesdale engaged to make payment to Sir Alexander de Seton, Knight, Lord of that Ilk, in consideration of the marriage of Alexander de Setoun, son of the deceased Sir John de Setoun, Knight, heir of the said Sir Alexander, with Margaret, daughter of the deceased Sir William de Ruthven. Alexander de Seton seems to have died s.p. soon after his marriage, with Balfour Paul speculating he fell at the Battle of Durham, 17 October 1346.

Notes on Family Matters

Given the conjecture surrounding the family it is worth noting three areas of contention:

Alexander Seton, died 1332. There are a number of sources, sourced to Nisbet and Maitland, that suggest he followed his father and inherited the estates. The Charter evidence does not support this. The person of this Profile was certainly still alive after 1335 and the death of Alexander, the younger, at Kinghorn conclusive. It is possible, although not recorded that Sir Alexander Seton, son to John Seton, inherited from his grandfather when his grandfather joined the Knight Hospitaller. John Seton. According to Maitland, John Seton, the fourth son, married Elizabeth Ramsay, daughter and heir of Sir Neil Ramsay, Knight, and was, by her, ancestor of the family of Seton of Parbroath, co. Fife. Balfour Paul did not find any record of such a marriage. The statement of succession, that is the ancestor of Seton of Parbroath is not possible as it would have been this line and not Margaret that inherited the estates of Seton. The inheritance. It will be a Margaret Seton that will inherit. Her father is unknown. However the only son known to have married and had children is John Seton. His son, Alexander, was known to have been the heir to Seton in 1346 at the time of the Charter noticed above. Margaret was abducted, from the Seton estates, by a subordinate Lord in 1347. It seems reasonable to assert that Margaret was a sister, likely younger, to Alexander and living on the same estates.

The County Hall, the great Hall of Winchester where the first Parliaments of England were held, is the only remaining portion of the castle where Norman and Angevin kings resided, where Henry I was married to Maud of Scotland and their son William Atheling was born, where Henry III was born, where Arthur son of Henry VII was born, where Henry VIII entertained the Emperor Charles V, and where Mary and Philip celebrated part of their ill-fated wedding ceremonies. It consists of a rectangular nave of five bays 110 ft. 9 in. by 28 ft. 3 in., measuring from centre to centre of the pillars, and side aisles each about 110 ft. 10 in. by 14 ft. from the wall to the centre of the pillars, making a rectangular building 110 ft. 10 in. by 56 ft. 3 in. between the walls. The history of this building begins probably in the 12th century, but it was altered early in the 13th with the arcades as at present, and the whole covered by a high-pitched roof with overhanging eaves between lofty dormer windows which arose directly from the wall face and were gabled above. This disposition can still be clearly seen on the south wall where the angle shafts of the dormers and parts of the string course of the roofs between them are preserved with the line of a circular window in the gables which was placed immediately above the apex of the windows the whole effect must have been very charming. At a subsequent period the walls were built up between the dormers, whose height was lowered by the removal of the circular windows in their heads to the new wall raised between them. The wall was surmounted by a plain parapet supported on a corbel table. In 1874 the whole building was thoroughly repaired and reroofed, much of the stonework being renewed.

The hall is built of flint faced inside and out with limestone dressings to windows and doorways the buttresses and ancient dormers are faced with ashlar, and the modern open timber truss roof over the nave is covered with tiles.

At the west end of the hall are the remains of the dais, about 4 ft. 6 in. high, with a doorway leading to the private apartments at the north side of it wellpreserved arcades of five pointed arches of the early 13th century supported upon lofty Purbeck marble pillars divide the central portion or nave from the aisles. The responds of the arcades are supported on large corbels carved as semi-figures of men and women in 13th-century dress, that at the north-west being modern. In the north wall are five lofty two-light windows the lower part of the central one has been cut away and a modern doorway inserted. On the south there are four similar windows. In the north and south walls towards the east there were five doorways. One on each side below the first windows from the east led, that on the north to the buttery, of which the west jamb may still be seen, and that on the south, of which no trace remains, to the kitchen. The main north doorway was below the second window from the east. Its position is now occupied by the lower part of the window, which has been carried downwards to the level of the sills of the more westerly windows. Only the east jambs of this doorway with the springer of the segmental pointed arch remain. The main south doorway opposite this still exists, though much repaired, and a little to the east of it there is a blocked doorway, now a recess, which perhaps led, by a stairway, to a gallery above the east end of the hall.

Vaulted Ground Story of House in St. Thomas' Street, Winchester

Plan of County Hall, Winchester

The east wall, which is about 9 ft. 2 in. thick, has been pierced by modern moulded arches leading to modern additions. At the west of the north aisle is a restored pointed segmental arched doorway of the 13th century. It seems to have originally led to the private apartments, but has possibly been moved since its first erection. The hole for the ancient oak bolt may be seen in the jamb.

On the north side the first two windows are similar, two long trefoiled lights with a plain transom and a quatrefoil piercing through the plate at the head. The external stonework is modern, but the moulded edge rolls with capitals and bases and the richly moulded rear arches are the work of the early part of the 13th century. The window seats on this side are modern, but are copies of the original seats on the south side. Most of the work of the fourth and fifth windows on this side is modern.

In the south-east corner of the south aisle is a 13th-century head corbel, which probably supported a wall-piece of the roof of that period. The four windows on this side are all of the same character and detail as those on the north, but they retain much more of the 13th-century work. The window seats on this side in the first three windows are ancient, and externally much of the stonework dates from the 13th century, and the roof and dormers of that period may best be observed from here, since the angle shafts, the gables with the lower part of the circular windows, and the string course at the side of the dormers for the roof which come down between them remain and are exposed the buttresses also between the windows, with high-pitched deep weatherings, remain practically in their original condition.

To the east of the south door there is a pointed segmental arch recess with edge roll, which was probably a doorway leading to the gallery. The last window retains its 13th-century framework and jamb shafts with moulded capitals, bases and bands.

In the gable at the west end of the hall there is the top of a round table 17 ft. in diameter, locally known as 'King Arthur's Round Table,' with a Tudor rose in the centre and painted radiating lines dividing into twenty-five parts, one being occupied by the figure of a king its origin, about which much has been surmised, is unknown. (fn. 1)

Though a royal residence possibly existed in preNorman times on a fortified site, the earthworks of the castle of which the hall remains were of the time of William the Conqueror (fn. 2) the masonry works, however, were probably not begun till towards the middle of the 12th century. Thus in 1155–6 it is found that £14 10s. 8d. was paid for making the king's house in the castle of Winchester (fn. 3) in the next year £14 10s. for work on one chamber in the castle. (fn. 4) A few years later heavier expenses for the castle works were incurred. In 1170 £36 6s. was paid, (fn. 5) in 1171 £128 6s. 4d. 'for work on the castle wall.' (fn. 6) In 1173 £56 13s. 1d. was paid for work on the king's houses at Winchester and £48 5s. for work on the castle and provisioning it (fn. 7) in 1175 £35 1s. 4d. was paid for work on the king's chapel in the castle (fn. 8) in 1176 £5 was paid for the same purpose, with £12 for 12,000 freestone for the chapel, and £1 10s. 2d. for 700 boards for making the king's chamber (fn. 9) in 1177 £17 was spent on the king's chapel, £20 on work in the castle and £11 for work on the clerk's chamber in the castle (fn. 10) in 1179 £46 was spent on the king's works in the castle and £18 17s. 5d. on work in the kitchen and on the 'houses' for the king's birds in the castle (fn. 11) in 1180 £81 8s. was spent on work on the king's chambers in the castle. (fn. 12) In 1182 £15 was spent 'for work on the chapel of St. Judoc' (fn. 13) in the castle and on the courtyard and on the king's hall and £3 10s. for painting the king's chamber. (fn. 14) Three years later £2 11s. 7d. was spent on work on the king's chapel and mews in the new close, £14 15s. 11d. on the dove-cote in the said close, £7 1s. 9d. for work on a bedchamber in the same, £1 5s. 6d. to Walter de Hauvill, keeper of the king's birds in the same close, 4s. for wheat for feeding the doves, and 2s. for sand to be put in and about the mews, with £2 11s. to Richard de Yslape for feeding the royal birds. (fn. 15) In 1187 £8 1s. 6d. was spent on stone for a stone chamber in the castle of Winchester, while two sums of £19 12s. and £47 6s. were paid to John de Rebez, constable of the castle in 1190, for certain works there. (fn. 16) The next year a still larger sum, £73 0s. 10d., went for works on the castle, while in 1193 £16 13s. 2d. was spent on repairing the ditches and for the barbican and for making a 'mangunel' and a gate and the alleys (aluris) around the castle (fn. 17) £4 7s. 2d. was spent the next year in making a wall in the castle in front of the king's gate and £5 12s. 2d. for preparing a catapult (petraria) and mangonel, which were at Winchester, and carrying them to Marlborough and bringing them back, &c., and £4 7s. for improving the king's houses in the castle, £5 7s. being spent the next year (1195) for the same purpose. (fn. 18) Repairs of the tower, the bridge and the houses of the castle amounted to £5 in 1196, and of the houses and kitchen to £11 6s. 4d. in 1197, and to £39 17s. 2d. in 1198. (fn. 19) King John in 1215 sent 100 marks and other sums for the works of Winchester Castle. (fn. 20) Henry III in December 1221 ordered the sheriff to cause the hall of Winchester Castle to be repaired, the king's painted chamber and kitchen and the small offices 'against this instant Christmas when the king will be there.' (fn. 21) It was at this time that Henry III was rebuilding the great hall. The importance of the work can be gathered from a mandate to William Briwere in 1232 to sell all the underwood in the king's forest of 'La Bere,' (fn. 22) and, later, to supply timber from the same forest (fn. 23) and Alice Holt Forest (fn. 24) for the great hall. In 1233 the mayor was warned to see that the work on the great hall should be hastened as much as possible. (fn. 25) In 1234 100 beams (chevrones) 'in brullio nostro de Fincgel' were granted for making a certain gallery (aleam) in the castle between the great chamber and the chapel of St. Thomas. (fn. 26) The great hall was completed in 1235. Repairs were done to the king's houses in 1301, (fn. 27) and in 1336 to the great bridge and the great hall and other houses within the castle. (fn. 28) In 1348 200 marks were spent on the new roofing of the hall and the defects in the other houses, walls and turrets. (fn. 29) In 1359 the stones and timber from a ruinous tenement in Winchester called 'le Wolleseld' were ordered to be carried to the castle for the works there, the timber of the same being sold 'as may be most to the king's advantage.' (fn. 30) In 1390 master masons and a master carpenter were appointed for seven years to cause the walls, turrets, gates and bridges of Winchester Castle, and the houses within the same which have not fallen, to be repaired. (fn. 31) Two years later the constable of the castle was ordered to take masons, carpenters and other workmen needful for the repair of the castle and of the buildings and set them to work on the same. (fn. 32)

In the 15th century repairs do not seem to have been so heavy an item, but in February 1424 the bailiffs of Winchester were ordered to expend £20 10s. on repairs during the next seven years, £15 13s. 4d. of which was to come from the fee farm of the city. (fn. 33) Later in the century the city was desolate and depopulated, and the castle was no longer of any importance. (fn. 34) In the next century the city secured the custody of the castle in March 1559, through the intervention of William Lawrence, who obtained the charge from the queen, and was recompensed by the city by a demise of the herbage of the city ditch on the east side of the castle for the term of his life. (fn. 35) The next year the same William Lawrence was granted 'the castle green called Bewmondes as it is new enclosed' and 'thermytts Tower' for a term of twentynine years. (fn. 36) The charge of the castle which the city had thus obtained under Elizabeth was lost in the early years of the 17th century, since James I in 1606–7 granted it to Sir Benjamin Tichborne (fn. 37) in reward for his zealous services as High Sheriff of Hampshire in the cause of the king's accession. Sir Richard Tichborne, son and heir of Sir Benjamin, loyally gave up the castle to be fortified for the king during the Civil War, and himself served there under the command of Lord Ogle. The stories of the stand made against Sir William Waller, and of the siege and surrender to Oliver Cromwell in 1645, are well-known history. The fortifications having been destroyed by Cromwell, the rest of the castle, with the chapel and its advowson, was granted by Parliament to Sir William Waller in 1646. (fn. 38) However, in June 1649 the Council of State was ordered 'to consider how Winchester Castle may be made untenable so that no damage may arise thereby and how satisfaction may be made to Sir William Waller for such damage as he shall sustain by reason thereof.' (fn. 39) A few days later the Council of State ordered the castle to be viewed before demolition. (fn. 40) Before the year was out Bettsworth, Moore and Wither were ordered to go to Winchester and put the work of demolition into execution. They were ordered to 'summon the country to do the work which we conceive they will be willing to do to provide for their future quiet.' (fn. 41) However, the work did not progress quickly. In January 1651 the Council warned the commissioners to proceed with the demolition, (fn. 42) and in the next month wrote questioning why the castle was not yet made untenable: they had intimated the danger that might come by it, and therefore ordered it to be done without delay fourteen days after the assizes. (fn. 43) In March they again wrote to the commissioners acknowledging their report that the work had been begun. They hoped by this time it had been effectually done. (fn. 44)

Whatever the commissioners failed to effect in the way of demolition was certainly accomplished by the building of the King's House on the site of the castle in 1683. The mayor and corporation, 'in case our sovereign lord should think fit to build upon the site of the demolished castle,' had already agreed to present him with their estate therein—by whatever right they held—and in 1683 an entry among their ordinances notes that his majesty had been pleased to take notice of their agreement and begin 'a magnificent building.' (fn. 45) Upon the death of Charles II in 1685 an immediate stop was put to the building. Queen Anne, intending to complete it, settled it upon her husband, who died before she had sufficient money to carry out her design. In 1756 some 5,000 French prisoners were confined in the building (fn. 46) again, during the American war it was used as a prison for French, Spanish and Dutch prisoners successively. In 1779 the patients and crew of the French hospital ship S. Julie, which had been captured by an English cruiser, were brought to the King's House, where they infected the other prisoners, numbers of whom died and were buried in the castle ditches. (fn. 47) The French Revolution brought more than 8,000 French bishops and clergy to England, and some 660 French priests were lodged in the King's House at Winchester, where 'they were wont to chaunt their office together … and … their voices could be heard as a mighty wave of sound all over the city.' (fn. 48) However, in 1796 a large central barrack was necessary, and the French priest had to give way to the English soldier. The buildings were henceforward used as a permanent barracks, officers' quarters, military hospital, married quarters and schools being subsequently added. In December 1894 a fire broke out in the pay-office of the barracks soon after midnight, and in spite of all efforts the King's House perished. The County Hall, the great hall, all that remained of the castle, was at one time in jeopardy, but all forces were directed to saving it and it luckily escaped. New barracks have been lately erected, the foundation-stone being laid by King Edward VII (then Prince of Wales) in June 1899.

Nijo Castle

Though many people go straight into Ninomaru-goten Palace, but we recommend walking around the outside of castle grounds first. You can learn many things about the castle from its motes and stone walls.

Mote: the mote is quite shallow

When people go castles, they often like to imagine how the castle’s defenses worked or to hear about any interesting battles that took place there. Nijo Castle on the other hand never saw any battles. Since Tokugawa built it just after he conquered Japan, he didn’t intent the castle to see any wars. This is why the mote is quite shallow, and castle walls, not that high. As you can see, the castle’s defenses are next to zero.

Turret: there were turrets in all corners in Nijo-jo Castle but only two left. The current one is very original one since 1603.

Ninomaru Goten Palace

The main entrance to Nijo-jo Castle is Higashi Ote-mon Gate.

Higashi Ote-mon Gate

Once you pass through this gate, you will see the most iconic structure at Nijo Castle, Kara-mon Gate.

Kara-mon Gate: A brilliant gate with detailed carvings. Carvings of Kara-mon Gate: The chrysanthemum crests are present because at one time the imperial family owned Nijo Castle.

After Kara-mon Gate, you will see Japanese National Treasure, Ninomaru-goten Palace.

Ninomaru-goten Palace Roof of Ninomaru-goten Palace: you can see the old Tokugawa crest

There are many castles in Japan, but there are only a few castles with an intact palace on the castle grounds. The palace is the epitome of Shoin-zukuri, the architecture style of wealthy samurai homes.

Each room in the palace has a distinctive purposes and Ninomaru-goten has as many as 33 rooms including the Shiro-shoin, Kuro-shoin and Ohiroma.

Underside of the nightingale floors of Nijo Castle. The iron nails are responsible for the tell-tale singing of the floors.

Another interesting point about the architecture of Ninomaru-goten is that building “sings”. The floors of the palace are called nightingale floors, which creak, or “sing” when any weight is put on them– a measure that had it challenging to sneak up and assassinate someone.

Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the palace. The main thing you should pay attention to are the wall paintings (even though all of them are replicas). Most of those paintings were originally painted by the famous wall painting artist, Kano Tanyu of the Kano school. Each of the paintings in each room serve a separate purpose. Among others, I think I like the golden Matsutaka-zu and Chikurin-gunko-zu especially you can see the unique faces of the animals.

After walking through Ninomaru-goten Palace take a walk around Ninomaru Garden.


The placement of the rocks throughout the garden allow the garden to have a slightly different view depending on where you see the garden from.

Honmaru-goten Palace

After visiting Ninomaru-goten Palace, make sure to visit Honmaru-goten palace too!

Honmaru-goten palace was added later by the third Shogun, Tokugawa Ieamitsu, but unfortunately, it completely burned down in a city fire in 1788. Honmaru-goten is the former house for imperial family moved from the Kyoto imperial palace. The palace looks quite different from Ninomaru-goten palace.

Honmaru-goten Palace: it looks like just an ordinary house. Currently under reconstruction and will reopen to the public eventually.

Near Honmaru-goten is the former base of the keep’s tower. Sadly, when lightening struck the main keep in 1750, the keep burned to the ground and never got rebuilt.

Former castle keep of Nijo Castle. Former site of the keep. Maybe the main keep was not that big. Just outside of Honmaru-goten Palace is an original rice storage dating back to 1625.

Nijo-jo Castle Painting Gallery

If you want to see some of the original painting from Ninomaru-goten Palace, drop by Nijo Castle Painting Gallery. Though you can enjoy the wall paintings in Ninomaru-goten palace, many of them are far away and sometimes it’shard to see the details. In the gallery, however, you can see the actual wall paintings for only 100 yen. It is small museum, so they only show some of the painting and often rotate the collection, but I think it is worth it.

If anything, next to the gallery is a gift shop that has some pretty tasty snacks. Even matcha beer!

Matcha Beer!! Not that I didn’t see this coming, but unexpected all the same.

Watch the video: WAYS TO DESTROY A CASTLE IN A SINGLE STRIKE. AoE II: Definitive Edition (January 2022).