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Simon de Montfort and the Battle of Evesham

It's a long story that gets exciting in 1264.


Coat of arms of Simon de Montfort

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Westminster Hall


Coat of arms of Roger Mortimer

First a bit of background.

Simon de Montfort began life as a minor nobleman in France. By a quirk of his family tree he inherited the earldom of Warwick, came to England and married  Eleanor, the sister of King Henry.

Henry was unpopular with the English barons for a number of reasons including his favours to his French in-laws, high levels of taxes and his high-handed policies breaching the Magna Carta agreement made with his father King John in 1215. Simon was at first friendly towards the King but had disagreements and joined - indeed led - the rebel barons.

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We come to 14 May 1264, when Simon fought against Henry at Lewes, won a surprising victory and captured King Henry, his brother Richard and his son Edward, and Henry was forced to concede to the rebels' demands. 

In January 1265, at Westminster Hall, Simon convened the Parliament for which he is famous. This included not only the nobility of the country but also representatives of the towns and shires - the first Parliament to include commoners!

But his fortunes changed. He fell out with his former colleagues - most notably Roger Mortimer, the Earl of March, and Gilbert de Clare. Prince Richard was released, and Prince Edward escaped. Simon went West to make an alliance with Prince Llewellyn of Wales, and on his way back to his castle at Kenilworth he encountered the Royalist army at Evesham.

On the night of 3 August 1265, Simon was camped at Evesham with a small force and with with King Henry as his captive. The following morning they received mass from Walter de Cantelupe, Bishop of Worcester and Simon's friend and mentor - in St Lawrence's church as the Bishop was not entitled to enter the Abbey! Then he left the centre of the town and rode up Greenhill to meet certain death at the hands of the forces of Prince Edward, Roger Mortimer and Gilbert de Clare

Simon was killed alongside many of his allies. His body was dismembered and Mortimer sent his head as a trophy back to his castle at Wigmore .

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Simon de Montfort

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