Deal Castle, built in 1539 1540 to stand guard over the town of the same name on the Kent coast of southeast England, is a fine example of a new building type, created in response to major changes in politics and the technology of warfare. With others at Walmer and Sandown, it epitomized Henry VIIIs new forts
by its assured and concentrated use of the design elements common to all. Deal is the largest, most impressive, and most complicated of the so-called Device forts. It probably looks just as was intended: crouching in wait low above the beach, stocky, powerful, and seemingly impregnable.
In the turbulent years that followed Henry VIIIs accession in 1509 he twice made war on France, the second time as an ally of the Holy Roman Emperor. Charles V of Spain. When he realized that Frances defeat would give Spain too much power, Henry changed sides, joining France and the pope against the empire. England was financially ruined by the campaigns of 1527 1528, and six years later, Henrys divorce from Catherine of Aragon led to a break with the Catholic Church, isolating him from most of Europe. He tried to drive a diplomatic wedge between France and Spain, but in 1538 they signed a truce, arousing Henrys fear of a joint invasion. He urgently launched an ambitious defense program. Using funds plundered from the monasteries by his religiousreforms, in 1539 Henry initiated a chain of about thirty forts and batteries to defend Englands major ports and repel the expected invasion fleet. They included ten Device forts: Portland, Pendennis, and St. Mawes in southwest England Hurst, Calshott, and Sandgate around the Solent and Camber, Walmer, Sandown, and Deal on the southeast coast.
The nature of warfare was changing, and the sophisticated defense systems of medieval castles had become obsolete. Built to resist mechanical artillery, they now had to withstand, missiles shot with gunpowder. The clumsy bombards of the fifteenth century could be fired only a few times an hour. But by the early sixteenth century cast-iron cannonballs had replaced stone powder quality had improved and ordnance was generally smaller, reliable, and accurate. In 1386, Bodiam Castle in Sussex was among the first to replace archers loopholes with cannon and gun ports. The decline of feudalism also had its effect: enemies were more likely to be foreign than envious neighbor barons.
Finished late in 1540 Deal, Walmer, and Sandown completed the metamorphosis from medieval castle to modern artillery emplacement. Each of these squat, powerful-lookingcastles in the Downsthey were still called castlescomprised rounded bastions radiating from a circular keep. Their thick walls were curved to deflect cannonballs, and their many gun ports were widely splayed for easy traverse. There were three tiers of cannon for long-range offense and two tiers of defensive armaments. Built by an army of workmen at a total cost of