Built by William the Conqueror within the south‐east corner of the old Roman walls of London as one of three fortresses intended to secure the city. As London became increasingly important as the centre both of government and of commerce, the castle was enlarged and updated by successive kings, especially by Edward I and Edward III, until it became a complex concentric fortification.
Even in the later Middle Ages the kings had preferred to reside when in London at their palace at Westminster. Traditionally, however, the new sovereign spent the night in the Tower before his coronation, going in procession to Westminster for the ceremony. The last king to make this procession was Charles II. The Tower has gradually been stripped of most of its other functions. It is still a royal castle, houses the crown jewels, and retains a small military presence but its other offices have been relocated. The historic collection of weapons in the armouries is all that remains of the arsenal, moved to Woolwich after 1841, and to Leeds in 1995.
Subjects: British history.