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The History of England from the Accession of Henry III. to the Death of Edward III. (1216-1377)
The Barons' War
by Tout, T.F. (M.A.)

During the early months of 1258, the aliens ruled the king and realm, added estate to estate, and defied all attempts to dislodge them. Papal agents traversed the country, extorting money from prelates and churches. The Welsh, in secret relations with the lords of the march, threatened the borders, and made a confederacy with the Scots. The French were hostile, and the barons disunited, without leaders, and helpless. A wretched harvest made corn scarce and dear. A wild winter, followed by a long late frost, cut off the lambs and destroyed the farmers' hopes for the summer. A murrain of cattle followed, and the poor were dying of hunger and pestilence. Henry III. was in almost as bad a plight as his people. He had utterly failed to subdue Llewelyn. A papal agent threatened him with excommunication and the resumption of the grant of Sicily. He could not control his foreign kinsfolk, and the rivalry of Savoyards and Poitevins added a new element of turmoil to the distracted relations of the magnates. His son had been forced to pawn his best estates to William of Valence, and the royal exchequer was absolutely empty. Money must be had at all risks, and the only way to get it was to assemble the magnates.

On April 2 the chief men of Church and State gathered together at London. For more than a month the stormy debates went on. The king's demands were contemptuously waved aside. His exceptional misdeeds, it was declared, were to be met by exceptional measures. Hot words were spoken, and William of Valence called Leicester a traitor. "No, no, William," the earl replied, "I am not a traitor, nor the son of a traitor; your father and mine were men of a different stamp," An opposition party formed itself under the Earls of Gloucester, Leicester, Hereford, and Norfolk. Even the Savoyards partially fell away from the court, and a convocation of clergy at Merton, presided over by Archbishop Boniface, drew up canons in the spirit of Grosseteste. In parliament all that Henry could get was a promise to adjourn the question of supply until a commission had drafted a programme of reform. On May 2 Henry and his son Edward announced their acceptance of this proposal; parliament was forthwith prorogued, and the barons set to work to mature their scheme.

On June 11 the magnates once more assembled, this time at Oxford. A summons to fight the Welsh gave them an excuse to appear attended with their followers in arms. The royalist partisans nicknamed the gathering the Mad Parliament, but its proceedings were singularly business-like. A petition of twenty-nine articles was presented, in which the abuses of the administration were laid bare in detail. A commission of twenty-four was appointed who were to redress the grievances of the nation, and to draw up a new scheme of government. According to the compact Henry himself selected half this body. It was significant of the falling away of the mass of the ruling families from the monarchy, that six of Henry's twelve commissioners were churchmen, four were aliens, three were his brothers, one his brother-in-law, one his nephew, one his wife's uncle. The only earls that accepted his nomination were the Poitevin adventurer, John du Plessis, Earl of Warwick, and John of Warenne, who was pledged to a royalist policy by his marriage to Henry's half-sister, Alice of Lusignan. The only bishops were, the queen's uncle, Boniface of Canterbury, and Fulk Basset of London, the richest and noblest born of English prelates, who, though well meaning, was too weak in character for continued opposition. Yet these two were the most independent names on Henry's list. The rest included the three Lusignan brothers, Guy, William, and Aymer, still eight years after his election only elect of Winchester; Henry of Almaine, the young son of the King of the Romans; the pluralist official John Mansel; the chancellor, Henry Wingham; the Dominican friar John of Darlington, distinguished as a biblical critic, the king's confessor and the pope's agent; and the Abbot of Westminster, an old man pledged by long years of dependence to do the will of the second founder of his house. In strong contrast to these creatures of court favour were the twelve nominees of the barons. The only ecclesiastic was Walter of Cantilupe, Bishop of Worcester, and the only alien was Earl Simon of Leicester. With him were three other earls, Richard of Clare, Earl of Gloucester, Roger Bigod, earl marshal and Earl of Norfolk, and Humphrey Bohun, Earl of Hereford. Those of baronial rank were Roger Mortimer, the strongest of the marchers, Hugh Bigod, the brother of the earl marshal, John FitzGeoffrey, Richard Grey, William Bardolf, Peter Montfort, and Hugh Despenser.

The twenty-four drew up a plan of reform which left little to be desired in thoroughness. The Provisions of Oxford, as the new constitution was styled, were speedily laid before the barons and adopted. By it a standing council of fifteen was established, with whose advice and consent Henry was henceforth to exercise all his authority. Even this council was not to be without supervision. Thrice in the year another committee of twelve was to treat with the fifteen on the common affairs of the realm. This rather narrow body was created, we are told, to save the expense involved in too frequent meetings of the magnates. A third aristocratic junto of twenty-four was appointed to make grants of money to the crown. All aliens were to be expelled from office and from the custody of royal castles. New ministers, castellans, and escheators were appointed under stringent conditions and under the safeguard of new oaths. The original twenty-four were not yet discharged from office. They had still to draw up schemes for the reform of the household of king and queen, and for the amendment of the exchange of London. Moreover, "Be it remembered," ran one of the articles, "that the estate of Holy Church be amended by the twenty-four elected to reform the realm, when they shall find time and place".

For the first time in our history the king was forced to stand aside from the discharge of his undoubted functions, and suffer them to be exercised by a committee of magnates. The conception of limited monarchy, which had been foreshadowed in the early struggles of Henry's long reign, was triumphantly vindicated, and, after weary years of waiting, the baronial victors demanded more than had ever been suggested by the most free interpretation of the Great Charter. The body that controlled the crown was, it is true, a narrow one. But whatever was lost by its limitation, was more than gained by the absolute freedom of the whole movement from any suspicion of the separatist tendencies of the earlier feudalism. The barons tacitly accepted the principle that England was a unity, and that it must be ruled as a single whole. The triumph of the national movement of the thirteenth century was assured when the most feudal class of the community thus frankly abandoned the ancient baronial contention that each baron should rule in isolation over his own estates, a tradition which, when carried out for a brief period under Stephen, had set up "as many kings or rather tyrants as lords of castles". The feudal period was over: the national idea was triumphant. This victory becomes specially significant when we remember how large a share the barons of the Welsh march, the only purely feudal region in the country, took in the movement against the King.

The unity of the national government being recognised, it was another sign of the times that its control should be transferred from the monarch to a committee of barons. At this point the rigid conceptions of the triumphant oligarchy stood in the way of a wide national policy. Since the reign of John the custom had arisen of consulting the representatives of the shire-courts on matters of politics and finance. In 1258 there is not the least trace of a suggestion that parliament could ever include a more popular element than the barons and prelates. On the contrary, the Provisions diminished the need even for those periodical assemblies of the magnates which had been in existence since the earliest dawn of our history. For all practical purposes small baronial committees were to perform the work of magnates and people as well as of the crown. Yet it must be recognised that the barons showed self-control, as well as practical wisdom, in handing over functions discharged by the baronage as a whole to the various committees of their selection. The danger of general control by the magnates was that a large assembly, more skilled in opposition than in constructive work, was almost sure to become infected by faction. By strictly limiting and defining who the new rulers of England were to be, the barons approached a combination of aristocratic control with the stability and continuity resulting from limited numbers and defined functions. It is likely, however, that in bestowing such extensive powers on their nominees, they were influenced by the well-grounded belief that the new constitution could only be established by main force, and that, even when abandoned by the king, the aliens would make a good fight before they gave up all that they had so long held in England. The success of the new scheme largely depended upon the immediate execution of the ordinance for the expulsion of the foreigners.

The first step taken to carry out the Provisions was the appointment of the new ministers. The barons insisted on the revival of the office of justiciar, and a strenuous and capable chief minister was found in Hugh Bigod. It was advisable to go cautiously, and some of the king's ministers were allowed to continue in office. An appeal to force was necessary before the new constitution could be set up in detail. The Savoyards bought their safety by accepting it; but the Poitevins, seeing that flight or resistance were the only alternatives before them, were spirited enough to prefer the bolder course. They were specially dangerous because Edward and his cousin, Henry of Almaine, the son of the King of the Romans, were much under their influence. In the Dominican convent at Oxford the baronial leaders formed a sworn confederacy not to desist from their purpose until the foreigners had been expelled. There were more hot words between Leicester and William, the most capable of the Lusignans. The Poitevins soon found that they could not maintain themselves in the face of the general hatred. On June 22 they fled from Oxford in the company of their ally, Earl Warenne. They rode straight for the coast, but failing to reach it, occupied Winchester, where they sought to maintain themselves in Aymer's castle of Wolvesey. The magnates of the parliament then turned against them the arms they professed to have prepared against the Welsh. Headed by the new justiciar, Hugh Bigod, they besieged Wolvesey. Warenne abandoned the aliens, and they gladly accepted the terms offered to them by their foes. They were allowed to retain their lands and some of their ready money, on condition of withdrawing from the realm and surrendering their castles. By the middle of July they had crossed over to France. With them disappeared the whole of the organised opposition to the new government. Edward, deprived of their support, swore to observe the Provisions.

Immediately on the flight of the Lusignans the council of Fifteen was chosen after a fashion which seemed to give the king's friends an equal voice with the champions of the aristocracy. Four electors appointed it, and of these two were the nominees of the baronial section, and two of the royalist section of the original twenty-four. The result of their work showed that there was only one party left after the Wolvesey fiasco. While only three of the king's twelve had places on the permanent council, no less that nine of the fifteen were chosen from the baronial twelve. It was useless for Archbishop Boniface, John Mansel, and the Earl of Warwick to stand up against the Bishop of Worcester, the Earls of Leicester, Norfolk, Hereford, and Gloucester, against John FitzGeoffrey, Peter Montfort, Richard Grey, and Roger Mortimer. Moreover, of the three, John Mansel alone could still be regarded as a royalist partisan. There were three of the fifteen chosen from outside the twenty-four. Of these, Peter of Savoy, Earl of Richmond, might, like his brother Boniface, be regarded as an alien, though hatred of the Poitevins had by this time made Englishmen of the Savoyards. The other two, the marcher-lord James of Audley and William of Fors, Earl of Albemarle, were of baronial sympathies. It was the same with the other councils.

Inquiry was made as to abuses. Gradually the royal officials were replaced by men of popular leanings. The sheriffs were changed and were strictly controlled, and four knights from each shire assembled in October to present to the king the grievances of the people against the out-going sheriffs. The custody of the castles was put into trusty and, for the most part, into English hands. Finally the king was forced to issue a proclamation, in which he commanded all true men "steadfastly to hold and to defend the statutes that be made or are to be made by our counsellors". This document was issued in English as well as in French and Latin. A copy of the English version was sent to every sheriff, with instructions to read it several times a year in the county court, so that a knowledge of its contents might be attained by every man. It is perhaps the first important proclamation issued in English since the coming of the Normans. Early in 1259 Richard, King of the Romans, set out to revisit England. He was met at Saint Omer by a deputation of magnates, who told him that he could only be allowed to land after taking an oath to observe the Provisions. Richard blustered, but soon gave in his submission. His adhesion to the reforms marks the last step in the revolution.

The new constitution worked without interruption until the end of 1259. Throughout that period domestic affairs were uneventful, and the efforts of the ministry were chiefly concerned in securing peace abroad. In 1258 Wales had been in revolt, Scotland unfriendly, and France threatening. A truce, ill observed, was made with Llewelyn, who found it worth while to be cautious, seeing that his natural enemies, but sometime associates, the marchers, had a preponderant share in the government. The Scots were easier to satisfy, for there was at the time no real hostility between either kings or peoples. The chief event of this period is the conclusion of the first peace with France since the wars of John and Philip Augustus. The protracted negotiations which preceded it took the king and his chief councillors abroad, and that made it easier to carry on the new domestic system without friction.

Since the friendly personal intercourse held between Henry and Louis IX. in 1254, the relations between England and France had become less cordial. The revival of the English power in Gascony, the Anglo-Castilian alliance, and the election of Richard of Cornwall to the German kingship irritated the French, to whom the persistent English claim to Normandy and Anjou, and the repudiation of the Aquitanian homage, were perpetual sources of annoyance. The French championship of Alfonso against Richard achieved the double end of checking English pretensions, and cooling the friendship between England and Castile. St. Louis, however, was always ready to treat for peace, while the revolution of 1258 made all parties in England anxious to put a speedy end to the unsettled relations between the two realms. Negotiations were begun as early as 1257, and made some progress; but the decisive step was taken immediately after the prorogation of the reforming parliament in the spring of 1258. During May a strangely constituted embassy treated for peace at Paris, where Montfort and Hugh Bigod worked side by side with two of the Lusignans and Peter of Savoy. They concluded a provisional treaty in time for the negotiators to take their part in the Mad Parliament. The unsettled state of affairs in England, however, delayed the ratification of the treaty. Arrangements had been made for its publication at Cambrai, but the fifteen dared not allow Henry to escape from their tutelage, and Louis refused to treat save with the king himself. There were difficulties as to the relation of the pope and the King of the Romans to the treaty, while Earl Simon's wife Eleanor and her children refused to waive their very remote claims to a share in the Norman and Angevin inheritances, which her brother was prepared to renounce. As ever, Montfort held to his personal rights with the utmost tenacity, and the self-seeking obstinacy of the chief negotiator of the treaty caused both bad blood and delay. At last he was bought off by the promise of a money payment, and the preliminary ratifications were exchanged in the summer of 1259. On November 14 Henry left England for Paris for the formal conclusion of the treaty. There were great festivities on the occasion of the meeting of the two kings, but once more Montfort and his wife blocked the way. Not until the very morning of the day fixed for the final ceremony were they satisfied by Henry's promise to deposit on their behalf a large sum in the hands of the French. Immediately afterwards Henry did homage to Louis for Gascony.

The chief condition of the treaty of Paris was Henry's definitive renunciation of all his claims on Normandy, Anjou, Maine, Touraine, and Poitou, and his agreement to hold Gascony as a fief of the French crown. In return for this, Louis not only recognised him as Duke of Aquitaine, but added to his actual possessions there by ceding to him all that he held, whether in fief or in demesne, in the three dioceses of Limoges, Cahors, and Périgueux. Besides these immediate cessions, the French king promised to hand over to Henry certain districts then held by his brother, Alfonse of Poitiers, and his brother's wife Joan of Toulouse, in the event of their dominions escheating to the crown by their death without heirs. These regions included Agen and the Agenais, Saintonge to the south of the Charente, and in addition the whole of Quercy, if it could be proved by inquest that it had been given by Richard I. to his sister Joan, grandmother of Joan of Poitiers, as her marriage portion. Moreover the French king promised to pay to Henry the sums necessary to maintain for two years five hundred knights to be employed "for the service of God, or the Church, or the kingdom of England."1

1 For the treaty and its execution see M. Gavrilovitch, Étude sur le traité de Paris de 1259 (1899).
The treaty was unpopular both in France and England. The French strongly objected to the surrender of territory, and were but little convinced of the advantage gained by making the English king once more the vassal of France. English opinion was hostile to the abandonment of large pretensions in return for so small an equivalent. On the French side it is true that Louis sacrificed something to his sense of justice and love of peace. But the territory he ceded was less in reality than in appearance. The French king's demesnes in Quercy, Périgord, and Limousin were not large, and the transference of the homage of the chief vassals meant only a nominal change of overlordship, and was further limited by a provision that certain "privileged fiefs" were still to be retained under the direct suzerainty of the French crown. As to the eventual cessions, Alfonse and his wife were still alive and likely to live many years. Even the cession of Gascony was hampered by a stipulation that the towns should take an "oath of security," by which they pledged themselves to aid France against England in the event of the English king breaking the provisions of the treaty. Perhaps the most solid advantage Henry gained by the treaty was financial, for he spent the sums granted to enable him to redeem his crusading vow in preparing for war against his own subjects. It was, however, an immense advantage for England to be able during the critical years which followed to be free from French hostility. If, therefore, the French complaints against the treaty were exaggerated, the English dissatisfaction was unreasonable. The real difficulty for the future lay in the fact that the possession of Gascony by the king of a hostile nation was incompatible with the proper development of the French monarchy. For fifty years, however, a chronic state of war had not given Gascony to the French; and Louis IX. was, perhaps, politic as well as scrupulous in abandoning the way of force and beginning a new method of gradual absorption, that in the end gained the Gascon fief for France more effectively than any conquest. The treaty of Paris was not a final settlement. It left a score of questions still open, and the problems of its gradual execution involved the two courts in constant disputes down to the beginning of the Hundred Years' War. For seventy years the whole history of the relations between the two nations is but a commentary on the treaty of Paris.

During his visit to Paris Henry arranged a marriage between his daughter Beatrice and John of Brittany, the son of the reigning duke. In no hurry to get back to the tutelage of the fifteen, he prolonged his stay on the continent till the end of April, 1260. Yet, abroad as at home, he could not be said to act as a free man. It was not the king so much as Simon of Montfort who was the real author of the French treaty. Indeed, it is from the conclusion of the Peace of Paris that Simon's preponderance becomes evident. He was at all stages the chief negotiator of the peace and, save when his personal interests stood in the way, he controlled every step of the proceedings. If in 1258 he was but one of several leaders of the baronial party in England, he came back from France in 1260 assured of supremacy. During his absence abroad, events had taken place in England which called for his presence.

After their triumph in 1258, the baronial leaders relaxed their efforts. Contented with their position as arbiters of the national destinies, they made little effort to carry out the reforms contemplated at Oxford. The ranks of the victors were broken up by private dissensions. Before leaving for France, Earl Simon violently quarrelled with Richard, Earl of Gloucester. It was currently believed that Gloucester had grown slack, and Simon rose in popular estimation as a thorough-going reformer who had no mind to substitute the rule of a baronial oligarchy for the tyranny of the king. His position was strengthened by his personal qualities which made him the hero of the younger generation; and his influence began to modify the policy of Edward the king's son, who, since the flight of his Poitevin kinsmen, was gradually arriving at broader views of national policy. Even before his father's journey to France, Edward took up a line of his own. In the October parliament of 1259, he listened to a petition presented to the council by the younger nobles1 who complained that, though the king had performed all his promises, the barons had not fulfilled any of theirs. Edward thereupon stirred up the oligarchy to issue an instalment of the promised reforms in the document known as the Provisions of Westminster. During Henry's absence in France the situation became strained. The oligarchic party, headed by Gloucester, was breaking away from Montfort; and Edward was forming a liberal royalist party which was not far removed from Montfort's principles. Profiting by these discords, the Lusignans prepared to invade England. The papacy was about to declare against the reformers. When the monks of Winchester elected an Englishman as their bishop in the hope of getting rid of the queen's uncle, Alexander IV. summoned Aymer to his court and consecrated him bishop with his own hands.

1 "Communitas bacheleriae Angliæ," Burton Ann., p. 471. See on this, Engl. Hist. Review, xvii. (1902), 89-94.
Early in 1260, Montfort went back to England and made common cause with Edward. Despite the king's order that no parliament should be held during his absence abroad, Montfort insisted that the Easter parliament should meet as usual at London. The discussions were hot. Montfort demanded the expulsion of Peter of Savoy from the council, and Edward and Gloucester almost came to blows. The Londoners closed their gates on both parties, but the mediation of the King of the Romans prevented a collision. Henry hurried home, convinced that Edward was conspiring against him. The king threw himself into the city of London, and with Gloucester's help collected an army. Meanwhile Montfort and Edward, with their armed followers, were lodged at Clerkenwell, ready for war. Again the situation became extremely critical, and again King Richard proved the best peacemaker. Henry held out against his son for a fortnight, but such estrangement was hard for him to endure. "Do not let my son appear before me," he cried, "for if I see him, I shall not be able to refrain from kissing him." A reconciliation was speedily effected, and nothing remained of the short-lived alliance of Edward with Montfort save that his feud with Gloucester continued until the earl's death.

The dissensions among the barons encouraged Henry to shake off the tutelage of the fifteen. As soon as he was reconciled with his son, he charged Leicester with treason.1 "But, thanks be to God, the earl answered to all these points with such force that the king could do nothing against him." Unable to break down his enemy by direct attack, Henry followed one of the worst precedents of his father's reign by beseeching Alexander IV. to relieve him of his oath to observe the Provisions. On April 13, 1261, a bull was issued annulling the whole of the legislation of 1258 and 1259, and freeing the king from his sworn promise.

1 Bémont, Simon de Montfort, Appendix xxxvii., pp. 343-53.
William of Valence was already back in England, and restored to his old dignities. His return was the easier because his brother, Aymer, the most hated of the Poitevins, had died soon after his consecration to Winchester. On June 14, 1261, the papal bull was read before the assembled parliament at Winchester. There Henry removed the baronial ministers and replaced them by his own friends. Chief among the sufferers was Hugh Despenser, who had succeeded Hugh Bigod as justiciar; and Bigod himself was expelled from the custody of Dover Castle. In the summer Henry issued a proclamation, declaring that the right of choosing his council and garrisoning his castles was among the inalienable attributes of the crown. England was little inclined to rebel, for the return of prosperity and good harvests made men more contented.

The repudiation of the Provisions restored unity to the baronage. The defections had been serious, and it was said that only five of the twenty-four still adhered to the opposition. But the crisis forced Leicester and Gloucester to forget their recent feuds, and co-operate once more against the king. They saw that their salvation from Henry's growing strength lay in appealing to a wider public than that which they had hitherto addressed. Still posing as the heads of the government established by the Provisions, they summoned three knights from each shire to attend an assembly at St. Alban's. This appeal to the landed gentry alarmed the king so much that he issued counter-writs to the sheriffs ordering them to send the knights, not to the baronial camp at St. Alban's, but to his own court at Windsor. Neither party was as yet prepared for battle. The death of Alexander IV, soon after the publication of his bull tied the hands of the king. At the same time the renewed dissensions of Leicester and Gloucester paralysed the baronage. Before long Simon withdrew to the continent, leaving everything in Gloucester's hands. At last, on December 7, a treaty of pacification was patched up, and the king announced that he was ready to pardon those who accepted its conditions. But there was no permanence in the settlement, and the king, the chief gainer by it, was soon pressing the new pope, Urban IV., to confirm the bull of Alexander. On February 25, 1262, Urban renewed Henry's absolution from his oath in a bull which was at once promulgated in England. Montfort then came back from abroad and rallied the baronial party. In January, 1263, Henry once more confirmed the Provisions, and peace seemed restored. The death of Richard of Gloucester during 1262 increased Montfort's power. His son, the young Earl Gilbert, was Simon's devoted disciple, but he was still a minor and the custody of his lands was handed over to the Earl of Hereford. Montfort's personal charm succeeded in like fashion in winning over Henry of Almaine.

The events of 1263 are as bewildering and as indecisive as those of the two previous years. Amidst the confusion of details and the violent clashing of personal and territorial interests, a few main principles can be discerned. First of all the royalist party was becoming decidedly stronger, and fresh secessions of the barons constantly strengthened its ranks. Conspicuous among these were the lords of the march of Wales, who in 1258 had been almost as one man on the side of the opposition, but who by the end of 1263 had with almost equal unanimity rallied to the crown.1 The causes of this change of front are to be found partly in public and partly in personal reasons. In 1258 Henry III., like Charles I. in 1640, had alienated every class of his subjects, and was therefore entirely at the mercy of his enemies. By 1263 his concessions had procured for him a following, so that he now stood in the same position as Charles after his concessions to the Long Parliament made it possible for him to begin the Civil War in 1642. A new royalist party was growing up with a wider policy and greater efficiency than the old coterie of courtiers and aliens. Of this new party Edward was the soul. He had dissociated himself from Earl Simon, but he carried into his father's camp something of Simon's breadth of vision and force of will. He set to work to win over individually the remnant that adhered to Leicester. What persuasion and policy could not effect was accomplished by bribes and promises. Edward won over the Earl of Hereford, whose importance was doubled by his custody of the Gloucester lands, the ex-justiciar Roger Bigod, and above all Roger Mortimer.

1 On this, and the whole marcher and Welsh aspect of the period, 1258-1267, see my essay on Wales and the March during the Barons' Wars in Owens College Historical Essays, pp. 76-136 (1902).
The change of policy of the marchers was partly at least brought about by their constant difficulties with the Prince of Wales. During the period immediately succeeding the Provisions of Oxford, Llewelyn ceased to devastate the marches. A series of truces was arranged which, if seldom well kept, at least avoided war on a grand scale. Within Wales Llewelyn fully availed himself of the respite from English war. Triumphant over the minor chiefs, he could reckon upon the support of every Welsh tenant of a marcher lord, and at last grew strong enough to disregard the truces and wage open war against the marchers. It was in vain that Edward, the greatest of the marcher lords, persuaded David, the Welsh prince's brother, to rise in revolt against him. Llewelyn devastated the four cantreds to the gates of Chester, and at last, after long sieges, forced the war-worn defenders of Deganwy and Diserth to surrender the two strong castles through which alone Edward had retained some hold over his Welsh lands. It was the same in the middle march, where Llewelyn turned his arms against the Mortimers, and robbed them of their castles. Even in the south the lord of Gwynedd carried everything before him. "If the Welsh are not stopped," wrote a southern marcher, "they will destroy all the lands of the king as far as the Severn and the Wye, and they ask for nothing less than the whole of Gwent." Up to this point the war had been a war of Welsh against English, but Montfort sought compensation for his losses in England by establishing relations with the Welsh. The alliance between Montfort and their enemy had a large share in bringing about the secession of the marchers. Their alliance with Edward neutralised the action of Montfort, and once more enabled Henry to repudiate the Provisions.

In the summer of 1263, Edward and Montfort both raised armies. Leicester made himself master of Hereford, Gloucester, and Bristol, and when Edward threw himself into Windsor Castle, he occupied Isleworth, hoping to cut his enemy off from London, where the king and queen had taken refuge in the Tower. But the hostility of the Londoners made the Tower an uneasy refuge for them. On one occasion, when the queen attempted to make her way up the Thames in the hope of joining her son at Windsor, the citizens assailed her barge so fiercely from London Bridge that she was forced to return to the Tower. The foul insults which the rabble poured upon his mother deeply incensed Edward and he became a bitter foe of the city for the rest of his life. For the moment the hostility of London was decisive against Henry. Once more the king was forced to confirm the Provisions, agree to a fresh banishment of the aliens, and restore Hugh Despenser to the justiciarship. This was the last baronial triumph. In a few weeks Edward again took up arms, and was joined by many of Montfort's associates, including his cousin, Henry of Almaine. Even the Earl of Gloucester was wavering. The barons feared the appeal to arms, and entered into negotiations. Neither side was strong enough to obtain mastery over the other, and a recourse to arbitration seemed the best way out of an impossible situation. Accordingly, on December, 1263, the two parties agreed to submit the question of the validity of the Provisions to the judgment of Louis IX.

The king and his son at once crossed the channel to Amiens, where the French king was to hear both sides. A fall from his horse prevented Leicester attending the arbitration, and the barons were represented by Peter Montfort, lord of Beaudesert castle in Warwickshire, and representative of an ancient Anglo-Norman house that was not akin to the family of Earl Simon. Louis did not waste time, and on January 23, 1264, issued his decision in a document called the "Mise of Amiens," which pronounced the Provisions invalid, largely on the ground of the papal sentence. Henry was declared free to select his own wardens of castles and ministers, and Louis expressly annulled "the statute that the realm of England should henceforth be governed by native-born Englishmen". "We ordain," he added, "that the king shall have full power and free jurisdiction over his realm as in the days before the Provisions." The only consolation to the barons was that Louis declared that he did not intend to derogate from the ancient liberties of the realm, as established by charter or custom, and that he urged a general amnesty on both parties. In all essential points Louis decided in favour of Henry. Though the justest of kings, he was after all a king, and the limitation of the royal authority by a baronial committee seemed to him to be against the fundamental idea of monarchy. The pious son of the Church was biassed by the authority of two successive popes, and he was not unmoved by the indignation of his wife, the sister of Queen Eleanor. A few weeks later Urban IV. confirmed the award.

The Mise of Amiens was too one-sided to be accepted. The decision to refer matters to St. Louis had been made hastily, and many enemies of the king had taken no part in it. They, at least, were free to repudiate the judgment and they included the Londoners, the Cinque Ports, and nearly the whole of the lesser folk of England. The Londoners set the example of rebellion. They elected a constable and a marshal, and joining forces with Hugh Despenser, the baronial justiciar, who still held the Tower, marched out to Isleworth, where they burnt the manor of the King of the Romans. "And this," wrote the London Chronicler, "was the beginning of trouble and the origin of the deadly war by which so many thousand men perished." The Londoners did not act alone. Leicester refused to be bound by the award, though definitely pledged to obey it. It was, he maintained, as much perjury to abandon the Provisions as to be false to the promise to accept the Mise of Amiens. After a last attempt at negotiation at a parliament at Oxford, he withdrew with his followers and prepared for resistance. "Though all men quit me," he cried, "I will remain with my four sons and fight for the good cause which I have sworn to defend—the honour of Holy Church and the good of the realm." This was no mere boast. The more his associates fell away, the more the Montfort family took the lead. While Leicester organised resistance in the south, he sent his elder sons, Simon and Henry, to head the revolt in the midlands and the west.

There was already war in the march of Wales when Henry Montfort crossed the Severn and strove to make common cause with Llewelyn. But the Welsh prince held aloof from him, and Edward himself soon made his way to the march. At first all went well for young Montfort. Edward, unable to capture Gloucester and its bridge, was forced to beg for a truce. Before long he found himself strong enough to repudiate the armistice and take possession of Gloucester. Master of the chief passage over the lower Severn, Edward abandoned the western campaign and went with his marchers to join his father at Oxford, where he at once stirred up the king to activity. The masters of the university, who were strong partisans of Montfort, were chased away from the town. Then the royal army marched against Northampton, the headquarters of the younger Simon, who was resting there, and, on April 4, the king and his son burst upon the place. Their first assault was unsuccessful, but next day the walls were scaled, the town captured, and many leading barons, including young Simon, taken prisoner. The victors thereupon marched northwards, devastated Montfort's Leicestershire estates, and thence proceeded to Nottingham, which opened its gates in a panic.

Leicester himself had not been idle. While his sons were courting disaster in the west and midlands, he threw himself into London, where he was rapturously welcomed. The Londoners, however, became very unruly, committed all sorts of excesses against the wealthy royalists, and cruelly plundered and murdered the Jews. Montfort himself did not disdain to share in the spoils of the Jewry, though he soon turned to nobler work. He was anxious to open up communications with his allies in the Cinque Ports. But Earl Warenne, in Rochester castle, blocked the passage of the Dover road over the Medway. Accordingly Montfort marched with a large following of Londoners to Rochester, captured the town, and assaulted the castle with such energy that it was on the verge of surrendering. The news of Warenne's peril reached Henry in the midlands. In five days the royalists made their way from Nottingham to Rochester, a distance of over 160 miles. On their approach Montfort withdrew into London.

Flushed with their successes at Northampton and Rochester, the royalists marched through Kent and Sussex, plundering and devastating the lands of their enemies. Though masters of the open country, they had to encounter the resistance of the Clare castles, and the solid opposition of the Cinque Ports. Their presence on the south coast was specially necessary, for Queen Eleanor, who had gone abroad, was waiting, with an army of foreign mercenaries, on the Flemish coast, for an opportunity of sailing to her husband's succour. The royal army was hampered by want of provisions, and was only master of the ground on which it was camped. As a first fruit of the alliance with Llewelyn, Welsh soldiers lurked behind every hedge and hill, cut off stragglers, intercepted convoys, and necessitated perpetual watchfulness. At last the weary and hungry troops found secure quarters in Lewes, the centre of the estates of Earl Warenne.

Montfort then marched southwards from the capital. Besides the baronial retinues, a swarm of Londoners, eager for the fray, though unaccustomed to military restraints, accompanied him. On May 13 he encamped at Fletching, a village hidden among the dense oak woods of the Weald, some nine miles north of Lewes. A last effort of diplomacy was attempted by Bishop Cantilupe of Worcester who, despite papal censures, still accompanied the baronial forces. But the royalists would not listen to the mediation of so pronounced a partisan. Nothing therefore was left but the appeal to the sword.

The royal army was the more numerous, and included the greater names. Of the heroes of the struggle of 1258 the majority was in the king's camp, including most of the lords of the Welsh march, and the hardly less fierce barons of the north, whose grandfathers had wrested the Great Charter from John. The returned Poitevins with their followers mustered strongly, and the confidence of the royalists was so great that they neglected all military preparations. The poverty of Montfort's host in historic families attested the complete disintegration of the party since 1263. Its strength lay in the young enthusiasts, who were still dominated by the strong personality and generous ideals of Leicester, such as the Earl of Gloucester, or Humphrey Bohun of Brecon, whose father, the Earl of Hereford, was fighting upon the king's side. Early on the morning of May 14 Montfort arrayed his troops and marched southward in the direction of Lewes. Dawn had hardly broken when the troops were massed on the summit of the South Downs, overlooking Lewes from the north-west.

Lewes is situated on the right bank of a great curve of the river Ouse, which almost encircles the town. To the south are the low-lying marshes through which the river meanders towards the sea, while to the north, east, and west are the bare slopes of the South Downs, through which the river forces its way past the gap in which the town is situated. To the north of the town lies the strong castle of the Warennes, wherein Edward had taken up his quarters, while in the southern suburb the Cluniac priory of St. Pancras, the chief foundation of the Warennes, afforded lodgings for King Henry and the King of the Romans. When Simon reached the summit of the downs, his movements were visible from the walls. But the royal army was still sleeping and its sentinels kept such bad watch that the earl was able to array his troops at his leisure.

From the summit of the hills two great spurs, separated by a waterless valley, slope down towards the north and west sides of the town. The more northerly led straight to the castle, and the more southerly to the priory. Montfort's plan was to throw his main strength on the attack on the priory, while deluding the enemy into the belief that his chief object was to attack the castle. He was not yet fully recovered from his fall from his horse, and it was known that he generally travelled in a closed car or horse-litter. This vehicle he posted in a conspicuous place on the northerly spur, and planted over it his standard. In front of it were massed the London militia, mainly infantry and the least effective element in his host. Meanwhile the knights and men-at-arms were mustered on the southerly spur under the personal direction of Montfort, who held himself in the rear with the reserve, while the foremost files were commanded by the young Earl of Gloucester, whom Simon solemnly dubbed to knighthood before the assembled squadrons. Then the two divisions of the army advanced towards Lewes, hoping to find their enemies still in their beds.

At the last moment the alarm was given, and before the barons approached the town, the royalists, pouring out of castle, town, and priory, hastily took up their position face to face to the enemy. All turned out as Montfort had foreseen. Edward, emerging from the castle with his cousin Henry of Almaine, his Poitevin uncles, and the warriors of the march, observed the standard of Montfort on the hill, and supposing that the earl was with his banner, dashed impetuously against the left wing of Leicester's troops. He soon found himself engaged with the Londoners, who broke and fled in confusion before his impetuous charge. Eager to revenge on the flying citizens the insults they had directed against his parents, he pursued the beaten militia for many a mile, inflicting terrible damage upon them. On his way he captured Simon's standard and horse-litter, and slew its occupants, though they were three royalist members of the city aristocracy detained there for sure keeping. When the king's son drew rein he was many miles from Lewes, whither he returned, triumphant but exhausted.

The removal of Edward and the marchers from the field enabled Montfort to profit by his sacrifice of the Londoners. The followers of the two kings on the left of the royalist lines could not withstand the weight of the squadrons of Leicester and Gloucester. The King of the Romans was driven to take refuge in a mill, where he soon made an ignominious surrender. Henry himself lost his horse under him and was forced to yield himself prisoner to Gilbert of Gloucester. The mass of the army was forced back on to the town and priory, which were occupied by the victors. Scarcely was their victory assured when Edward and the marchers came back from the pursuit of the Londoners. Thereupon the battle was renewed in the streets of the town. It was, however, too late for the weary followers of the king's son to reverse the fortunes of the day. Some threw themselves into the castle, where the king's standard still floated; Edward himself took sanctuary in the church of the Franciscans; many strove to escape eastwards over the Ouse bridge or by swimming over the river. The majority of the latter perished by drowning or by the sword: but two compact bands of mail-clad horsemen managed to cut their way through to safety. One of these, a force of some two hundred, headed by Earl Warenne himself, and his brothers-in-law, Guy of Lusignan and William of Valence, secured their retreat to the spacious castle of Pevensey, of which Warenne was constable, and from which the possibility of continuing their flight by sea remained open. Of greater military consequence was the successful escape of the lords of the Welsh march, whose followers were next day the only section of the royalist army which was still a fighting force. This was the only immediate limitation to the fulness of Montfort's victory. After seven weary years, the judgment of battle secured the triumph of the "good cause," which had so long been delayed by the weakness of his confederates and the treachery of his enemies. Not the barons of 1258, but Simon and his personal following were the real conquerors at Lewes.


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