Professor David Carpenter: Professor of Medieval History, Kings College, London – Henry III, Simon de Montfort and the Crisis of Kingship in the Thirteenth Century
Guildford Castle was a very much favoured castle, often used by King Henry III and his son, King Edward I.
Magna Carta placed many restrictions on the monarch, but did not impose a council on the monarchy or his politics.
King Henry III became king at the age of 9 in 1216, the beginning of a 56-year reign. The contemporary sources for this period of history are mainly sourced from the Chancery Rolls.
There was a long period of political peace and stability until the outbreak of the 2nd Barons war, which contemporary chroniclers attributed to King Henry III. During this time, new legislation was passed to improve the church and the clergy, which led to a significant investment in new church buildings.
During this period, the persecution of the Jewish community started with King Henry III , which led to King Henry III to become the first monarch in Europe, to carry out anti-Jewish policies.
During King Henry lll’s reign, there was a significant rise of the English population from 3 million to 6 million by the end of the 13th century.
King Henry III was regarded by his contemporaries and his subjects as a true Christian king, as well as a being good and pious man, helping widows and orphans, as well as feeding SOO paupers a day. He also founded a house in London, for the purpose of converting Jews to Christianity.
King Henry’s style of rule was the example of rule that was required for the post Magna Carta world. King Henry III was not a natural soldier, never attended a tournament, leading two unsuccessful campaigns in France, to regain the King’s previous Anjevin lands, but he continued with the wars in Wales. Henry as a monarch enjoyed his home comforts, often staying at Crown residences outside London; Woodstock, Clarendon, Winchester and Windsor.
King Henry III encouraged his wife’s relations from France to come to England, and were given positions of power and influence, as well as numerous estates, which caused a lot of resentment and envy among the English.
King Henry lll’s foolish attempts to place his younger son, Edmund onto the throne of Sicily, were extremely naive.
Simon de Montfort was the leader of the movement to reduce the power of the King. When the English reluctantly accepted status quo, only Simon de Montfort refused to accept the new terms. When rebellion broke out again, De Montfort returned from exile to lead the new rebellion. With the defeat of the Royal army at the Battle of Lewes, De Montfort ruled England. The personalities of both King Henry III and Simon de Montford were completely opposite, with King Henry III being easy going, and Simon de Montfort being more warlike, with a forceful personality.
De Montford was a natural politician, with a devoted following among the knights and gentry of England, but had the unfortunate trait, of being unable to get along with his contemporaries. Despite being a foreigner, De Montford followed a policy of ‘England for the English’ and an anti-foreign policy.
For the first ever held English parliament, summonses were sent to the knights in the counties, and the burgesses of the towns.
After the failure of the rebellion, there followed a bloody revenge of the rebel nobles and knights who had joined the rebellion, which was in contrast to the traditional practice of knights and nobles surrendering for a ransom.