By Samuel M. Katz

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Rumours of war were rife and it appeared that the French and Imperial ambassadors to Henry’s court were about to be recalled. The ambassadors did depart the country but the French informed Thomas Cromwell that a replacement would soon arrive. Nonetheless, before his departure, the French ambassador was informed that ‘the King was quite able to defend himself’, and was shown Cromwell’s own armoury as an example of the kind of advanced preparations then in place. Another rumour spread that Francis and Charles were preparing to issue a proclamation forbidding countries to have any dealings with England.

Qxd 5/30/07 10:28 PM Page 44 The castles in war The invasion scare of 1538–39 The irony of the Henrician castles is that by the time they were completed, the threat they had been intended to counter had passed over, and they were never tested during the reign of Henry VIII. In fact, as early as 1539 when many of the building operations were just getting started, the likelihood of invasion had largely receded, but the king continued with the programme, viewing it as a worthwhile investment for the long-term defence of his realm.

Life in the castles must have been tedious and tensions between the garrisons might have occasionally been high. For example, on November 18, 1545 the Privy Council in London received the following complaint: John Barley, deputy of Walmer castle, complaining of interruption by Wm. Blechenden, his captain, and John Barrowe and Henry Griffyn, gunners there, complaining that they are thrust out, letters were written to Blechenden for their continuance. 40 In April the following year, the Privy Council issued warrants to the treasurer of the Chamber for 38 shillings, for conduct and coats, ‘to John Barroe [sic] and Henry Griffyn, late gunners at Walmer castle and dismissed for lewd demeanour to their captain’.

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