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The Tower of London

The Tower of London was not simply a fortress: It was at various times a royal palace, a state prison, the home of the Mint, the treasury for the Crown Jewels, a repository for state papers, and an observatory. Since lions were considered a suitable gift for royalty, one tower - the Lion Tower - was a menagerie.

Many historic events, stately and ceremonial, pathetic or dreadful - from the murder of King Edward IV's young sons to the beheadings of Henry VIII's queens to the imprisonment of Elizabeth I - took place in the Tower. It was customary for kings and queens to spend the night, or a few days, in these apartments before their coronation; from there they proceeded to Westminster. Charles II's was the last; after that, the royal lodgings fell into disuse and were ultimately abandoned.

Here is the vivid story of the Tower of London, the monarchs who slept there, and the men and women who lost their lives there.

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