Henry III, Edward I and Edward II

[Simon de Montfort]

The required reading for this week is chapters 8-9 of C. Warren Hollister, The Making of England 55 B.C. to 1399, and these documents

Document I

Matthew of Westminster, The Flowers of History

Simon de Montfort, the illustrious earl of Leicester, and the barons, having assembled their forces from all quarters, and collected troops, both of the Londoners, whose army had increased to fifteen thousand men, and of men from other parts in countless numbers, marched thither with great impetuosity and courage. Accordingly, they encamped at Flexinge, in Sussex, which is about six miles from Lewes, and three days before the battle, they addressed a message of the following tenor to their lord the king-
"To the most excellent lord Henry, by the grace of God, king of England, &c. The barons and others, his faithful subjects, wishing to observe their oaths and the fidelity due to God and to him, wish health, and tender their lawful service with all respect and honor. As it is plain from much experience that those who are present with you have suggested to your highness many falsehoods respecting us, intending all the mischief that they can do, not only to you but also to us, and to your whole kingdom, we wish your excellency to know that we wish to preserve the safety and security of your person with all our might, as the fidelity which we owe to you demands, proposing to overthrow, to the utmost of our power, all those who are not our enemies but yours too, and the foes of the whole of your kingdom; and if any other statement is made to you respecting these matters, do not believe it; for we shall always be found your faithful subjects. And we, Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, and Gilbert de Clare, at the request of the rest, have, for us and for them too who are here present, affixed our seals. Given at," etc.
But the king, despising this letter from his barons, was eager for war with all his heart, and sent them back the following letter of defiance-
"Henry, by the grace of God, king of England, &c., to Simon de Montfort and Gilbert de Clare, and their partisans. Since, from the war and general confusion existing in our kingdom, which has all been caused by you, and by the conflagrations and other lawless mischiefs, it is distinctly visible that you do not preserve the fidelity which you owe to us, and that you have in no respect any regard for the safety of our person, since you have wickedly attacked our nobles and others our faithful subjects, who have constantly preserved their fidelity to us, and since you still design to injure them as far as in your power, as you have signified to us by your letters, we consider their grievances as our own, and look upon their enemies as ours; especially since those our faithful subjects before mentioned are manfully standing by us and maintaining their fidelity in opposition to your disloyal conduct, and we do not care for your safety or for your affection, but defy you, as the enemies of us and them. Witness my hand, at Lewes, on the twelfth day of May, in the forty-eighth year of our reign."

Battle of Evesham: 4 August 1265

And when Simon, the son of the aforesaid earl of Leicester, had, with many barons and knights, traversed and plundered all Kent, and the country about Winchester and the other southern districts of England, and then proceeded, to his own misfortune, with great speed to Kenilworth to meet his father, the aforesaid Edward and Gilbert and their armies, being, by the favor of God, forewarned of his approach, attacked his army at dawn on the day of Saint Peter ad Vincula, and took them all prisoners, except Simon and a few with him who escaped into the castle, and put them in chains, and stripped those robbers and plunderers of all their booty, and so celebrated a day of feasting at the New Chains.

The earl of Leicester and his companions, being ignorant of this event, and marching on with all speed, reached the River Severn that very same day, and having examined the proper fords, crossed the river at twilight with the design of meeting and finding the aforesaid Simon [i.e. de Monfort's son] and his army, who were coming from England, and having stopped the two next days on the borders of Worcestershire, on the third day they entered the town of Evesham, and while they were occupying themselves there with refreshing their souls, which had been long fainting under hunger and thirst, with a little food, their scouts brought them word that the lord Edward and his army were not above two miles off. So the earl of Leicester and the barons marching out with their lord the king (whom they took with them by force) to the rising ground of a gentle hill, beheld Edward and his army on the top of a hill, not above a stone's throw from them, and hastening to them. And a wonderful conflict took place, there being slain on the part of the lord Edward only one knight of moderate prowess, and two esquires. On the other side there fell on the field of battle Simon, earl of Leicester, whose head, and hands, and feet were cut off, and Henry, his son, Hugh Despenser, justiciary of England, Peter de Montfort, William de Mandeville, Radulph Basset, Roger St. John, Walter de Despigny, William of York, and Robert Tregos, all very powerful knights and barons, and besides all the guards and warlike cavalry fell in the battle, with the exception of ten or twelve nobles, who were taken prisoners. And the names of the nobles who were wounded and taken prisoners were as follows: Guy de Montfort, son of the earl of Leicester John Fitz-John, Henry de Hastings, Humphrey de Peter de Montfort the younger, Bohun the younger, John de Vescy, and Nicholas de Segrave. . . .

Document II

Three Summonses to the Parliament of 1295

Summons of the Archbishop of Canterbury

The King to the venerable father in Christ Robert, by the same grace archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, greeting. As a most just law, established by the careful providence of sacred princes, exhorts and decrees that what affects all, by all should be approved, so also, very evidently should common danger be met by means provided in common. You know sufficiently well, and it is now, as we believe, divulged through all regions of the world, how the king of France fraudulently and craftily deprives us of our land of Gascony, by withholding it unjustly from us. Now, however, not satisfied with the before-mentioned fraud and injustice, having gathered together for the conquest of our kingdom a very great fleet, and an abounding multitude of warriors, with which he has made a hostile attack on our kingdom and the inhabitants of the same kingdom, he now proposes to destroy the English language altogether from the earth, if his power should correspond to the detestable proposition of the contemplated injustice, which God forbid. Because, therefore, darts seen beforehand do less injury, and your interest especially, as that of the rest of the citizens of the same realm, is concerned in this affair, we command you, strictly enjoining you in the fidelity and love in which you are bound to us, that on the Lord's day next after the feast of St. Martin, in the approaching winter, you be present in person at Westminster; citing beforehand the dean and chapter of your church, the archdeacons and all the clergy of your diocese, causing the same dean and archdeacons in their own persons, and the said chapter by one suitable proctor, and the said clergy by two, to be present along with you, having full and sufficient power from the same chapter and clergy, to consider, ordain and provide, along with us and with the rest of the prelates and principal men and other inhabitants of our kingdom, how the dangers and threatened evils of this kind are to be met.

Witness the king at Wangham, the thirtieth day of September.

Summons of a Baron to Parliament

The king to his beloved and faithful relative, Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, greeting. Because we wish to have a consultation and meeting with you and with the rest of the principal men of our kingdom, as to provision for remedies against the dangers which in these days are threatening our whole kingdom; we command you, strictly enjoining you in the fidelity and love in which you are bound to us, that on the Lord's day next after the feast of St. Martin, in the approaching winter, you be present in person at Westminster, for considering, ordaining and doing along with us and with the prelates, and the rest of the principal men and other inhabitants of our kingdom, as may be necessary for meeting dangers of this kind.

Witness the king at Canterbury, the first of October.

Summons of Representatives of Shires and Towns to Parliament

The king to the sheriff of Northamptonshire. Since we intend to have a consultation and meeting with the earls, barons and other principal men of our kingdom with regard to providing remedies against the dangers which are in these days threatening the same kingdom; and on that account have commanded them to be with us on the Lord's day next after the feast of St. Martin in the approaching winter, at Westminster, to consider, ordain, and do as may be necessary for the avoidance of these dangers; we strictly require you to cause two knights from the aforesaid county, two citizens from each city in the same county, and two burgesses from each borough, of those who are especially discreet and capable of laboring, to be elected without delay, and to cause them to come to us at the aforesaid said time and place.

Moreover, the said knights are to have full and sufficient power for themselves and for the community of the aforesaid county, and the said citizens and burgesses for themselves and the communities of the aforesaid cities and boroughs separately, then and there for doing what shall then be ordained according to the common counsel in the premises; so that the aforesaid business shall not remain unfinished in any way for defect of this power. And voti shall have there the names of the knights, citizens and burgesses and this writ.

Witness the king at Canterbury on the third day of October.

Fordham University Internet Medieval Sourcebook

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