|Battle of Lewes|
|Part of Second Barons' War|
Plan of the Battle of Lewes
|Baronial forces||Royal forces|
|Commanders and leaders|
|c. 5,000||c. 10,000|
The Battle of Lewes was one of two main battles of the conflict known as the Second Barons' War. It took place at Lewes in Sussex, on 14 May 1264. It marked the high point of the career of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, and made him the "uncrowned King of England". Henry III left the safety of Lewes Castle and St. Pancras Priory to engage the Barons in battle and was initially successful, his son Prince Edward routing part of the baronial army with a cavalry charge. However Edward pursued his quarry off the battlefield and left Henry's men exposed. Henry was forced to launch an infantry attack up Offham Hill where he was defeated by the barons' men defending the hilltop. The royalists fled back to the castle and priory and the King was forced to sign the Mise of Lewes, ceding many of his powers to Montfort.
Henry III was an unpopular monarch due to his autocratic style, displays of favouritism and his refusal to negotiate with his barons. The barons eventually imposed a constitutional reform known as the Provisions of Oxford upon Henry that called for a thrice-yearly meeting led by Simon de Montfort to discuss matters of government. Henry sought to escape the restrictions of the provisions and applied to Louis IX of France to arbitrate in the dispute. Louis agreed with Henry and annulled the provisions. Montfort was angered by this and rebelled against the King along with other barons in the Second Barons' War.
The war was not initially openly fought, each side toured the country to raise support for their army. A series of massacres of Jews in Worcester, London, Canterbury and other cities were conducted by Montfort's allies.
By May the King's force had reached Lewes where they intended to halt for a while to allow reinforcements to reach them. 500 yards (460 m) to the north. De Montfort approached the King with the intention of negotiating a truce or failing that to draw him into open battle. The King rejected the negotiations and de Montfort moved his men from Fletching to Offham Hill, a mile to the north-west of Lewes, in a night march that surprised the royalist forces.The King encamped at St. Pancras Priory with a force of infantry, but his son, Prince Edward (later King Edward I), commanded the cavalry at Lewes Castle
The royalist army was up to twice the size of de Montfort's.Henry held command of the centre, with Prince Edward, William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke, and John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey, on the right; and Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, and his son, Henry of Almain, on the left. The barons held the higher ground, overlooking Lewes and had ordered their men to wear white crosses as a distinguishing emblem. De Montfort split his forces into four parts, giving his son, Henry de Montfort command of one quarter; Gilbert de Clare with John FitzJohn and William of Montchensy another; a third portion consisting of Londoners was placed under Nicholas de Segrave whilst de Montfort himself led the fourth quarter with Thomas of Pelveston.
The baronial forces commenced the battle with a surprise dawn attack on foragers sent out from the royalist forces. The King then made his move. Edward led a cavalry charge against Seagrave's Londoners, placed on the left of the baronial line, that caused them to break and run to the village of Offham. Edward pursued his foe for some four miles, leaving the King unsupported.Henry was forced to launch an attack with his centre and right divisions straight up Offham Hill into the baronial line which awaited them at the defensive. Cornwall's division faltered almost immediately but Henry's men fought on until compelled to retreat by the arrival of de Montfort's men that had been held as the baronial reserve.
The King's men were forced down the hill and into Lewes where they engaged in a fighting retreat to the castle and priory. Edward returned with his weary cavalrymen and launched a counterattack but upon locating his father was persuaded that, with the town ablaze and many of the King's supporters having fled, it was time to accept de Montfort's renewed offer of negotiations.The Earl of Cornwall was captured by the barons when he was unable to reach the safety of the priory and, being discovered in a windmill, was taunted with cries of "Come down, come down, thou wicked miller."
The King was forced to sign the so-called Mise of Lewes. Though the document has not survived, it is clear that Henry was forced to accept the Provisions of Oxford, while Prince Edward remained a hostage of the barons.This put Montfort in a position of ultimate power, which would last until Prince Edward's escape, and Montfort's subsequent defeat at the Battle of Evesham in August 1265. Following the battle, debts to Jews were cancelled, and the records destroyed; this had been a key war aim.
In 1994, an archaeological survey of the cemetery of St Nicholas Hospital, in Lewes, revealed the remains of bodies that were thought to be combatants from the battle of Lewes.However, in 2014 it was revealed that some of the skeletons may actually be much older, with a skeleton known as "skeleton 180" being contemporary with the Norman invasion.
There remains some uncertainty over the location of the battle with Offham Hill's eastern and lower slopes covered by modern housing. The top and southern slopes remain accessible by footpaths through agricultural land and the ruins of the priory and castle are also open to visitors.
The Dictum of Kenilworth, issued on 31 October 1266, was a pronouncement designed to reconcile the rebels of the Second Barons' War with the royal government of England. After the baronial victory at the Battle of Lewes in 1264, Simon de Montfort took control of royal government, but at the Battle of Evesham the next year Montfort was killed, and King Henry III restored to power. A group of rebels held out in the stronghold of Kenilworth Castle, however, and their resistance proved difficult to crush.
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The Second Barons' War (1264–1267) was a civil war in England between the forces of a number of barons led by Simon de Montfort against the royalist forces of King Henry III, led initially by the king himself and later by his son, the future King Edward I. The war featured a series of massacres of Jews by Montfort's supporters including his sons Henry and Simon, in attacks aimed at seizing and destroying evidence of Baronial debts. After a rule of just over a year, Montfort was killed by forces loyal to the King in the Battle of Evesham.
Sir Henry de Montfort was the son of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, and with his father played an important role in the struggle of the barons against King Henry III. Henry's mother was Princess Eleanor of England, a daughter of King John, whose marriage to Simon further increased the foreign influence begun by the king, which was to result in great hostility by those very barons who later revolted against the king.
Henry of Almain was the son of Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall and his first wife Isabel Marshal. His surname is derived from a vowel shift in pronunciation of d'Allemagne, so called by the elites of England because of his father's status as the elected German King of the Romans.
Peter de Montfort of Beaudesert Castle was an English magnate, soldier and diplomat. He is the first person recorded as having presided over Parliament as a parlour or prolocutor, an office now known as Speaker of the House of Commons. He was one of those elected by the barons to represent them during the constitutional crisis with Henry III in 1258. He was later a leading supporter of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, against the King. Both he and Simon de Montfort were slain at the Battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265.
The Oxford Parliament (1258), also known as the Mad Parliament and the First English Parliament, assembled during the reign of Henry III of England. It was established by Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester. The parlour or prolocutor (Speaker) was Peter de Montfort under the direction of Simon de Montfort. Simon de Montfort led the Parliament and the entire country of England for 18 months, from 1264 until his death at the Battle of Evesham.
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Robert de Ferrers, 6th Earl of Derby (1239–1279) was an English nobleman.
Events from the 1260s in England.
The Mise of Amiens[miz ɒv a.mjɛ̃] was a settlement given by King Louis IX of France on 23 January 1264 in the conflict between King Henry III of England and his rebellious barons, led by Simon de Montfort. Louis' one-sided decision for King Henry led directly to the hostilities of the Second Barons' War.
The Mise of Lewes was a settlement made on 14 May 1264 between King Henry III of England and his rebellious barons, led by Simon de Montfort. The settlement was made on the day of the Battle of Lewes, one of the two major battles of the Second Barons' War. The conflict between king and magnates was caused by dissatisfaction with the influence of foreigners at court and Henry's high level and new methods of taxation. In 1258 Henry was forced to accept the Provisions of Oxford, which essentially left the royal government in the hands of a council of magnates, but this document went through a long series of revocations and reinstatements. In 1263, as the country was on the brink of civil war, the two parties agreed to submit the matter to arbitration by the French king Louis IX. Louis was a firm believer in the royal prerogative, and decided clearly in favour of Henry. The outcome was unacceptable for the rebellious barons, and war between the two parties broke out almost immediately.
During the Second Barons' War, the Peace of Canterbury was an agreement reached between the baronial government led by Simon de Montfort on one hand, and Henry III of England and his son and heir Edward – the later King Edward I – on the other. The agreement was signed at Canterbury some time between 12 and 15 August 1264.