The Tower of London is the oldest city construction which could witness the legions of Romans and Saxons. Its founder is considered to be Wilhelm I (Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror). Having conquered England he began erecting defenses and the Tower of London became the largest of them. The great construction was started to be built from the White Tower - the heart of all the structure. The White Tower represents a quadrangle 32 meters wide and 36 meters long. Its height is about 30 meters. The building was finished in 1100. In the times of Richard the Lionheart the Tower was extended by some more towers and walls. Under his rule it was also surrounded by the moat.
In 1190 the Tower became the state prison. Kings of Scotland and France together with members of their royal families were imprisoned there. Many people met their deaths in its walls. Among the executed ones in the Tower of London were Henry VI, Edward V, his brother Richard, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Jane Grey.
The last prisoner of the Tower was a Nazi criminal Rudolph Hess in the times of WWII.
The Tower is famous for its beefeaters or Yeoman Warders. They officially appeared in 1485 to guard the Tower and they still do it. The word “beefeater” originates from the English word “beef”. The warders of the Tower were called so in the times of great hunger: ordinary citizens were starving while the guards of the Tower were fed with meat anyway.
There is another job title in the Tower of London – a ravensmaster of the palace (originated from the word “raven”) or a keeper of ravens who takes care of these birds living in the fortress for many centuries. There is even a legend associated with the ravens of the Tower: If they fly away the whole English monarchy will fall. That is why sometimes their wings are pinioned.
The fortress keeps jewels of the royal treasury. Most of them were either sold or melted. Among all the gems which decorate crowns and scepters the main treasure is the Black Prince’ Ruby and the biggest diamond Cullinan I.
In 1894 by order of Queen Victoria and her husband Albert the most beautiful bridge over the Thames was built – the Tower Bridge.
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