Royal Architecture Overview (02:00)
British palaces illustrate the nature of kingship and reflect the character and fortunes of the monarchs who built them.
Tower of London (02:56)
Built by William the Conqueror, Britain's first Norman palace was named Arx Palatina after Roman strongholds. The White Tower featured fireplaces and latrines—modern comforts by 12th century standards.
Royal Legitimacy (03:10)
William the Conqueror built a chapel in the Tower of London to support his claim to rule England. The king's bedroom decorations illustrate ambitions of royal grandeur.
Winchester Palace (03:24)
The Tower of London provided Stephen a safe haven during the Anarchy in 1148. His brother Bishop Henry of Winchester also lived in a castle; view ruins of the great hall. He possessed ecclesiastical power rivaling the monarchy.
Westminster Hall (03:08)
One part of the old Westminster Palace remains. Richard II used the space for living and governance; Dan Cruickshank explains how medieval engineers integrated hammer beams and arches for greater truss support.
Gatehouse Defense Strategies (03:04)
Westminster Hall proclaims the monarch's earthly and spiritual power. By Richard II's reign, the Tower of London had been reinforced; learn about portcullis weaponry.
Royal Mint (03:59)
The Tower of London was home to currency production; monarchs decorated coins to demonstrate their financial control. A biblical mural served to remind workers not to steal.
Tower of London Prisoners (04:31)
A 1597 map reveals the complex during Henry VIII's reign; he added turret domes for Anne Boleyn's coronation. Learn about her fate and that of other enemies of the king.
Hampton Court Architecture (02:19)
Henry VIII acquired palaces from nobles seeking his favor. In 1514, work began on Cardinal Wolsey's residence; it marked the transition from Gothic to Renaissance aesthetics and demonstrated his power.
Hampton Court Detail (02:07)
Wolsey gave Hampton Court to Henry VIII to appease him. Renaissance style roundels depict Roman gods, inviting comparisons between the king and Caesar.
Hampton Court Great Hall (03:37)
The Tudor court was created for Henry VIII in the 1530s. An open fire place suggests King Arthur nostalgia; Abraham Tapestries compare Old Testament scenes to Henry's life.
Wolsey's Closet (03:14)
William and Mary transformed Hampton Court in the 1690s, but one room remains that illustrates the richness of Henry VIII's apartments. Learn about the challenges of conserving a historic palace.
Hampton Court Kitchens (03:16)
The palace layout resembles a village. Learn about Henry VIII's menus designed to impress foreign guests and view an open fire roasting demonstration.
Whitehall Palace (02:12)
In 1529, Henry VIII planned a new London residence—the largest in Europe. Learn about its design and features. When he died, the obsession with royal architecture faded.
Ingatestone Hall (02:38)
Elizabeth I built no new palaces, preferring to be a guest while touring England. Records at an Essex mansion show the costs of hosting her entourage; nobles aimed to impress her to protect long term family interests.
Stirling Castle (03:38)
In the 16th century, Scotland was an independent nation with cultural ties to Europe. James VI's palace features statues of devils and classical deities—showing divine kingship.
Basilikon Doron (02:02)
Learn about James VI's letter to his son Prince Henry declaring divine kingship and stating that power must be balanced with responsibility. He would revolutionize palace building in England.
Credits: Towards an Architecture of Majesty (00:41)
Credits: Towards an Architecture of Majesty
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