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Some idea of this venerable and magnificent pile, in which Comus was played with great splendour, at a period when masques were the most fashionable entertainment of our nobility, will probably gratify those, says Mr. Warton,a who read Milton with that curiosity which results from taste and imagination. The learned author of this elegant remark declines entering into the more obscure and early annals of the Castle; to which therefore I will briefly refer,b trusting that the methodical account of an edifice, more particularly ennobled by the representation of Comus within its walls, may not be improper, nor uninteresting.
a See Mr. Warton's Milton, 2d ed. p. 123.
b See Stukeley's Itinerary, Buck's Antiquities, Grose's Antiq. art. Ludlow Castle. An historical Account of Luda low Castle, by W. Hodges, attorney at law, 1794. Another Account published in the same year, by Mr. Thomas. And the Ludlow Guide, by Mr. Price, 2d ed. 1797.
It was built by Roger de Montgomery, who was related to William the Conqueror. The date of its erection is fixed by Mr. Warton in the year 1112. By others it is said to have been erected before the conquest, and its founder to have been Edric Sylvaticus, Earl of Shrewsbury, whom Roger de Montgomery was sent by the Conqueror into the Marches of Wales to subdue, and with whose estates in Salop he was afterwards rewarded. But the testimonies of various writers assign the foundation of this structure to Roger de Montgomery, soon after the Conquest.
The son of this nobleman did not long enjoy it, as he died in the prime of life. The grandson, Robert de Belesme, Earl of Shrewsbury, forfeited it to Henry I. by having joined the party of Robert Duke of Normandy against that king. It became now a princely residence, and was guarded by a numerous garrison. Soon after the accession of Stephen, however, the governor betrayed his trust, in joining the Empress Maud. Stephen besieged it; in which endeavour to regain possession of his fortress some writers assert that he succeeded, others that he failed. The most generally received opinion is, that the governor, repenting of his baseness, and wishing to obtain the king's forgive