Coventry Castle was originally built towards the end of the 11th century by Ranulph le Meschin, 1st Earl of Chester, but was razed to the ground in the 12th Century. It was rebuilt around 1137 to 1140 by Ranulph de Gernon, 2nd Earl of Chester, who successfully held it against King Stephen during the civil war known as The Anarchy ("Barons Wars" or "The Nineteen-Year Winter"). Although the exact location of the castle is unknown, Broadgate, Coventry's city centre, refers to the "broad gate" or main approach to the castle which therefore must have been situated in the vicinity.
In time, merchants and tradesmen settled around the monastery and castle, a market was established at the monastery gates, new houses multiplied and two churches were built: Holy trinity for the tenants of the Prior's-half, and St. Michael's for those living in the Earl's-half. From then on Coventry began to develop a more organised layout; streets appeared and, similar to London and other old cities, trading quarters came into being.
Ranulf was succeeded as earl by his rebellious son, Hugh de Kevelioc, 3rd Earl of Chester, who in 1173 held Coventry's castle against King Henry II. Henry sent a strong force to Coventry, which almost certainly severely damaged the castle. Over the years, the remainder of the castle fell into disuse and eventually disappeared, and from the 13th century the manor house at Cheylesmore took its place as the earls' residence. One of the last mentions of the castle was in 1569 when it was suggested by Queen Elizabeth I that Mary, Queen of Scots be held somewhere secure such as Coventry castle. However, by that time it was too decayed and Mary was instead first held at the Bull Inn, Smithford Street, then moved to the Mayoress's Parlour in St. Mary's Guildhall.