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AS mankind was primarily created by the Supreme
What is man,
To rust in us unused.' Should, therefore, the following pages, which are submitted to the public, without much comment or introduction, escape the keen eye of criticism, and meet with the approbation of the gentle reader, the most sanguine expectations of the compiler are realized. Whatever he hath been able to glean, from the field of antiquarian lore, relative to the town and castle of Pontefract, he hath sedulously endeavoured to compress in such a form, without
mutilation, as he trusts will be interesting to the general reader.
In the brilliant page of history, Pontefract holds a (listinguished place. Its magnificent fortress, has been the strong fortification of Saxon thanes—the embattled residence of feudal chieftains —and the turretted palace of illustrious princes. At some periods destined to be the scene of treachery and rebellion, and rendered ' infamous for the murder and slaughter of princes;' whilst at other times, it has become celebrated in the glow of history, for ennobling deeds, and for loyal and undaunted courage, manifested in defence of the cause of royalty.
The noble lords of Pontefract, attended by their numerous retinues, lived in the greatest degree of splendour and magnificence, vieing with the estate of monarchs. Enjoying the absolute property of the whole Honor of Pontefract, an extent of territory, equal to many of our modern counties; they became generals in the field of war, and judges in times of peace. All within the honor held their possessions of them, subject to such conditions, as they only willed to grant; whilst at the same time, they owed to them suit and service, and did them homage as their feudal lords.
When this fortress, styled the Honor of Pontefract, descended from the illustrious line of the Lascy ancestry, into the house of Lancaster; impelled by ambitious views, or stimulated to deeds of arms by the more generous call of an oppressed country, the dukes often-times summoned forth their steel-clad warriors, and hurled the gauntlet of
defiance to opposing powers. In times of turbulence and commotion, when civil broils were frequent; and when the vassals of the crown often forfeited their possessions, for treason against their sovereign, or their feudal lord ; the towers of Pontefract, torn by the thundering engines of terrific war, loudly rang with wild alarms; and, before its massive walls the thirsty falchion hath too often drank the blood of noble chieftains.