Passing beneath the Bloody Tower, I emerged into a lovely courtyard. The ground is higher in its center, and on that rise stands the White Tower. The White Tower is the oldest structure within the Tower grounds, and in ancient times it served as the keep. It measures about 24 by 36 yards in depth and breadth. Its height is 30 yards, and its walls are 15 feet thick. There are turrets at each corner, and a number of crenels, dating from the Norman period, can still be seen. It was in this tower, in 1399, that the citizenry assailed Richard II with thirty three grievances and demanded his abdication. It was here that he stood before priests, nobles, soldiers, and lawyers and proclaimed his abdication to the world. In that time Henry, the next in line for the throne, rose and made the sign of the cross over his forehead and chest. "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I, Henry, of rightful blood, with the grace of God and support of beloved compatriots, do humbly receive the crown and assume the sovereign reign of the Kingdom of England." What became thereafter of the former king was known to but precious few. When his lifeless body was delivered from Pontefract Castle to St. Paul's Cathedral, some twenty thousand thronged in and were shocked by the emaciated countenance. According to some, Richard was accosted by eight assassins. He seized the axe of one and used it to cut him down. He then felled two more, but a single blow from behind, at the hand of Exton, proved his bitter end. Others turn to heaven and swear, "Not so. Richard refused to eat, ending his life on his own terms." In either case, his life did not end well. The history of sovereigns is tragic.
It's said the Walter Raleigh, during his imprisonment, penned his History of the World in one of the downstairs rooms. I tried to imagine him, in Elizabethan breeches, with silk stockings fastened at his knees, crossing his left leg over his right and tilting his head as he pushed his quill pen cross the page. I was not able, however, to visit the actual room.