IN making a selection from the large number of castleS and palaces that might be included, I have endeavoured to choose those that would appeal equally to the lovers of fine architecture and to the lovers of history and legend.
There is probably no class of buildings that engages the interest of so many different minds as the castle. To the architect, such strongholds as Conway, Warwick, Arundel, Lambeth, Blois, Caernavon, Kronborg, Windsor, Urbino, Berkeley, Amboise, Loches, etc., etc., are valuable studies. For example, Conway, half castle, half palace, contains Early decorated architecture in Queen Eleanor's Oratory and fine lancet windows; the donjon of Arundel dates from the days of King Alfred; Warwick, one of the few mediæval fortresses that has lasted unchanged from the time of William the Conqueror to that of King Edward VII., shows us what Kenilworth and the other baronial castles of England w£re like; the feudal stronghold of Berkeley has also preserved its ancient appearance through seven centuries; Windsor retains its Norman Keep and affords a splendid example of the dwelling-place of royalty; the medieval fortress of Amboise with its Flamboyant Gothic chapel displays a wonderful contrast of styles; and at Blois four periods of architecture may be contemplated side by side. Turning to palaces, it is sufficient merely to name the Ducal Palace, the Alhambra, Hampton Court Palace, Fontainebleau, Chenonceaux, Futtehpore-Sikri, and the Palace of Shah Jehan to recall the wealth that exists in such vast volumes of art and architecture. The Mikado's Palace, and the Summer Palace at Pekin transport us into another and mysterious world, appealing strongly to our imagination.
The castle was built for defence as well as for a dwelling-place; the palace, generally speaking, is the abode of monarchs or nobles; and as both have been the scene of plots, imprisonments, murders, entertainments, love-making, marriages, births and deaths, their walls enclose innumerable memories of history and legend. As the most brilliant displays of human pleasure and the blackest manifestations of human conduct have occurred in their halls, towers and dungeons, the phantoms of the most striking characters in history hover amid their crumbling and ivy-clad stones.
In every castle there are one or two characters, events, or legends that dominate all the others. For instance, in the Vaults of Kronborg Holger Danske (Ogier le Danois, beloved of Morgan le Fay) sleeps; but the better-remembered legend is that of the pale ghost that walks the platform at Elsinore in the nipping and eager air of midnight. Glamis is the supposed scene of Macbeth's murder of Duncan; Warwick is associated with the legendary Guy, the Wars of the Roses and the great Earl, the "King-Maker"; Linlithgow is rich in Stuart memories, - it was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots; Caernavon was the birthplace of the first Prince of Wales; Raby was the home of the famous Nevilles; Harry Hotspur dwelt at Alnwick; the shadow of Louis XI. darkens Plessis-les-Tours; Wyclif, Stephen Langton and the Lollards cling to Lambeth; Futtehpore-Sikri recalls the splendours of the great Akbar; Wolsey dominates Hampton Court Palace; Catherine de'Medici presides over Chaumont; Charles VII., Joan of Arc and Agnes Sorel may be evoked at Chinon; Berkeley was the scene of the murder of Edward II.; Agnes Sorel is again at Loches; Francois I., Henri IV. and Diane de Poictiers haunt Fontainebleau; the Riccardi is filled with Medici crimes; the sombre Vecchio holds memories of the brilliant and wicked Cosmo I.; and as the entire history of Florence may be read in the walls of the latter palace, so all the events and phases of Venetian story are centred in the Ducal Palace. Chenonceaux, "the fairy palace of Armida," and Kensington are exceptional in containing no stains of blood, Leigh Hunt aptly remarks: "Windsor Castle is a place to receive monarchs in; Buckingham Palace, to see fashions in; Kensington Palace a place to drink tea in, "exhibiting the domestic side of royalty." Its gardens, however, call up all the fashion, beauty and wit of the Eighteenth Century.
We may suggest to the lovers of beautiful scenery that the pleasure they experience is often largely due to the presence of the castle in the landscape; and we may remind him, what an important feature Turner made of the castle in his paintings. Sometimes, indeed, he went so far as to introduce one when his artistic feeling told him that a peak or crag was incomplete without its embattled towers. What would the rock of Edinburgh be without "Auld Reekie," or the parks of Arundel, Berkeley, or Alnwick without their grey towers seen through vistas framed in foliage? The Wartburg in the Thuringer Forest, and Stirling and Conway, surrounded by the mountains of Scotland and Wales, are also notable examples of the aid of the castle in completing the picturesque effect of the landscape.
The translations have been made especially for this book; and in order to give as much continuous history of each building as possible, I have sometimes been compelled to cut. Otherwise, the essays remain unchanged.
My thanks are extended to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co. for their kind permission to reprint the selections from Hawthorne. E. S. New York, August, 1901.Romantic Castles and Palaces, As Seen and Described by Famous Writers, Edited and Translated by Esther Singleton. 1901. Note: From original text; may contain OCR errors.