Born: sometime around 1208, somewhere in southern France Died: 4 August 1265 (killed in battle, aged about 57) Title: Sixth Earl of Leicester Spouse: Eleanor of Leicester (sister of King Henry III), married January 1238, died 13 April 1275
Simon de Montfort spent his childhood in southern France, where his father was a powerful lord. In fact, Simon only came to England in 1230 (aged about 22) to pursue his claim to the earldom of Leicester. It seems a little ironic, then, that when Simon rebelled against the king, his supporters attacked Queen Eleanor (wife of King Henry III) in 1263 for being a foreigner!
Did you know that Simon de Montfort was not always an enemy of the King Henry III? When he first came to England, Simon actually became good friends with the king, and in 1238 Simon was even given permission to marry the king’s sister – this was a great sign of royal favour, and the marriage made Simon much wealthier.
But the friendship didn’t last. Simon and King Henry fell out, and on 14 May 1264 Simon defeated and captured the king in battle. Simon struggled to rule England without Henry’s support, and the following year he was defeated and killed in battle by Prince Edward (the king’s son).
Simon de Montfort was a very religious man. He spent many nights in prayer, refused to indulge in luxurious food or clothes, and even wore a hair shirt - an uncomfortable piece of clothing made from coarse cloth or animal hair. After his death, people began to venerate Simon as a saint and a martyr. King Henry didn’t like this, however, and threatened to severely punish anybody found doing it!
Test your understanding
Which battle did Simon de Montfort lead the barons to victory in 1264?
That’s the wrong answer...
Try asking Simon de Montfort how he feels about the barons’ suspicions about his ambitions…?
Excellent work — Maurice is lucky to have your help in finishing Matthew’s great chronicle!
The answer is the Battle of Lewes!
Why have the barons rebelled against Henry III?
Is it because Simon de Montfort is an ambitious traitor who wants power for himself? Is he not really interested in the liberties granted by Magna Carta and is acting like a revolutionary dictator by seizing power?
Or is it Henry who cannot be trusted? Has he ruled the kingdom badly and he is also trying to get out of commitments he has made to rule according to Magna Carta and the Provisions of Oxford?
It is the view of this chronicle that the barons have rebelled against King Henry III because…
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