I said before that nothing had really happened to make me feel like my trip abroad was anything less than normal, but that’s because I hadn’t gone to the Tower of London yet.
I’d seen the Tower, of course, but I never went until it was time to go for my history class. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I spent very much actually paying attention to the lecture my profs were giving—part of that was because they weren’t telling me anything that I hadn’t already learned from my history classes at Western, but it was also because I spent most of the time thinking, “Holy hell, this is awesome!”
The Tower dates back to the eleventh century, when William the Conqueror invaded England with the goal of taking the throne from then-king Harold. Edward the Confessor had died without an heir, and Harold was his next of kin. Unfortunately for Harold, William insisted that Edward had promised him the throne upon the king’s death (I can’t help but imagine this playing out as some kind of playground quarrel with two boys fighting over a toy, complete with the “IT’S MINE—HE SAID I COULD HAVE IT” mantra being thrown back and forth). After defeating Harold in the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William started construction on the White Tower.
One of the cool things about the Tower of London is that it was built up against the London Wall, built by the Romans in the second and third centuries—the old Roman wall was used as part of the defense for the Tower, and not only that, but parts of the London Wall are still standing throughout the City of London, including around the Tower.
Other cool things about the Tower include the ravens, the fact that it was once the Royal Menagerie (complete with lions and grizzly bears), and Anne Boleyn was beheaded on Tower Green, and is buried in the Chapel of Saint Peter ad Vincula, next to the White Tower.