As the nearest sea crossing point to France, the castle at Dover has been a site of strategic military importance since Roman times.
It is interesting to note that Matthew Paris, the medieval chronicler, supported this assertion when he referred to Dover as "Clavis Angliae" (the key of England).
The castle's colourful history really started in 1216 when King John was embroiled in a civil war with a large group of rebel barons who had offered the throne of England to Prince Louis of France in the previous year. Rebels had set up their base in London and were awaiting the arrival of the French prince in order to deliver the final crushing blow to King John's hopes of retaining his crown.
Louis landed in England on May the 21st 1216, forcing John to flee north with his army while the French Prince marched to Canterbury where he was welcomed by the citizens who threw open the gates for him. Following this easy success, the city of Rochester was quickly taken and, after a short siege, so was the castle enabling Louis's army to control the river crossing and the road to London.
Prospects were now looking bleak for John as the French army swarmed into London and secured the city. After less than a month, Winchester had also fallen. Swiftly and decisively, Louis had taken control of southern England and, with victory and the throne in sight, he turned his attention towards Dover.
With his army now encamped in the town of Dover, Louis spent several days observing the castle and the surrounding area, so that