Second Barons' War

Last updated

Second Barons' War
Civil War in England.jpg
Date1264–1267
Location
England
Result

Royalist victory

Belligerents
Royal forces Baronial forces
Commanders and leaders
King Henry III
Prince Edward
Prince Edmund
Richard of Cornwall
Henry of Almain
Gilbert de Clare (from May 1265)
Humphrey de Bohun
John de Warenne
William de Valence
Roger Mortimer
Simon de Montfort  
Gilbert de Clare (until May 1265)
Henry de Montfort  
Guy de Montfort
Simon de Montfort the Younger
Peter de Montfort  
Nicholas de Segrave
Humphrey (V) de Bohun
Hugh le Despenser  

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 barons sought to force the king to rule with a council of barons, rather than through his favourites. The war also involved a series of massacres of Jews by de Montfort's supporters, including his sons Henry and Simon, in attacks aimed at seizing and destroying evidence of baronial debts. To bolster the initial success of his baronial regime, de Montfort sought to broaden the social foundations of parliament by extending the franchise to the commons for the first time. However, after a rule of just over a year, de Montfort was killed by forces loyal to the king at the Battle of Evesham. [1]

Contents

Causes

The reign of Henry III is most remembered for the constitutional crisis in this period of civil strife, which was provoked ostensibly by his demands for extra finances but marked a more general dissatisfaction with Henry's methods of government on the part of the English barons, discontent which was exacerbated by widespread famine.

The French-born Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, had originally been one of the foreign upstarts so loathed by many lords as Henry's foreign councillors, but having inherited through his mother the English title Earl of Leicester, he married Henry's sister Eleanor with Henry's permission but without the agreement of the English barons (ordinarily necessary since it was a matter of state). As a result, a feud developed between de Montfort and Henry. Their relationship reached a crisis in the 1250s, when de Montfort was put on trial for actions he took as lieutenant of Gascony, the last remaining Plantagenet lands across the English Channel.

During the reigns of John and Henry III, the Crown periodically raised punitive taxation on the Jews, causing moneylenders to sell their debt bonds cheaply to raise cash to pay their taxes. The bonds were sold to the richest courtiers and supporters of the Crown at cut down prices, leading many indebted middling landowners to lose their lands. This fed into rising anti-Semitic beliefs, fuelled by the church. Measures against the Jews and controls over debts and usury dominated debates about royal power and finances among the classes that were beginning to be involved in Parliament, and supported de Montfort in the war.

De Montfort took advantage of the resulting rising antisemitism for his own benefit. The alleged murder of Hugh of Lincoln by Jews had led to the hanging of 18 Jews. Official anti-Jewish measures, sponsored by the Catholic Church, combined with resentment about debts among the barons gave an opportunity for Montfort to target this group and incite rebellion by calling for the cancellation of debts owed to Jews. [2] [3]

Henry also became embroiled in funding a war against the Hohenstaufen, on behalf of Pope Innocent IV, in return for the Hohenstaufen Kingdom of Sicily for his second son Edmund. That made many barons fearful that Henry was following in the footsteps of his father King John and needed to be kept in check like John. When Henry's treasury ran dry, Innocent withdrew the title, and by bestowing it to Charles of Anjou, in effect negated the sale.

Simon de Montfort became leader of those who wanted to reassert Magna Carta and force the king to surrender more power to the baronial council. In 1258, initiating the move toward reform, seven leading barons forced Henry to agree to the Provisions of Oxford, which effectively abolished the absolutist Anglo-Norman monarchy, giving power to a council of twenty-four barons to deal with the business of government, and providing for a great council in the form of a parliament every three years, to monitor their performance. Henry was forced to take part in the swearing of a collective oath to uphold the Provisions.

Seeking to restore his position, Henry in 1259 purchased the support of King Louis IX of France by the Treaty of Paris, agreeing to accept the loss of the lands in France that had been seized from him and from his father King John by Louis and his predecessors since 1202, and to do homage for those that remained in his hands. In 1261 he obtained a papal bull releasing him from his oath, and set about reasserting his control of government. The baronial opposition responded by summoning their own Parliament and contesting control of local government, but with civil war looming they backed down and de Montfort fled to France, while the other key opposition leader, Richard de Clare, Earl of Hertford and Gloucester, switched over to the King's side.

Under the Treaty of Kingston, an arbitration system was agreed upon to resolve outstanding disputes between Henry and the barons, with de Clare as the initial arbiter and the option of appealing his verdicts to Louis IX. However, continued Poitevin influence and the failures and renewal of provocative policies by Henry's government soon inflamed hostility once more. The King's position was further weakened by the death of Richard de Clare and the succession of his son Gilbert, who sided with the opposition, and by the reversal of the papal annulment of his oath to uphold the Provisions.

In April 1263, Simon de Montfort returned to England and gathered a council of dissident barons at Oxford. Fighting broke out in the Welsh Marches, and by the autumn, both sides had raised considerable armies. De Montfort marched on London and the city rose in revolt, trapping the King and Queen at the Tower of London. They were taken prisoner and de Montfort assumed effective control of government in Henry's name. However, his support soon fractured, and Henry regained his liberty.

With violent disorder spreading and the prospect of all-out war, Henry appealed to Louis for arbitration, and after initial resistance, de Montfort consented. In January 1264, by the Mise of Amiens, Louis declared in Henry's favour by annulling the Provisions of Oxford. Some of the barons who had opposed Henry acquiesced in the verdict, but a more radical faction led by de Montfort prepared to resist any reassertion of royal power, and they and the king gathered their forces for war.

Course of the war

Fighting resumed in February 1264, with attacks by Simon de Montfort's sons Henry and Simon the Younger on royalist supporters in the Welsh Borders. Cancellation of debts (owed to Jews) was part of Montfort's call to arms. [3]

A series of attacks on Jewish communities followed, organised by key allies of Montfort, hoping to gain by destroying the records of their debts to moneylenders. [2] [4] These pogroms killed the majority of Jews in Worcester, [5] in this case led by de Montfort's son Henry and Robert Earl Ferrers. [6]

At London, one of his key followers John fitz John, led the attack and is said to have killed leading Jewish figures Isaac fil Aaron and Cok fil Abraham with his bare hands. He allegedly shared the loot with Montfort. 500 Jews died. [4] Attacks occurred in Winchester, led by the younger Simon de Montfort. Anti-Jewish violence spread to Lincoln and Cambridge, [4] Jewish communities were also targeted at Canterbury, led by Gilbert de Clare, [7] and Northampton. [2]

In April, the elder Simon de Montfort, in control of London, assembled his forces at St Albans and marched to relieve Northampton, which was under siege by the royalists, but he was too late to prevent the town's capture by betrayal. He then moved into Kent and laid siege to the royal stronghold of Rochester Castle, but on hearing reports of a royal advance on London he withdrew most of his forces from the siege to confront this threat. King Henry, however, bypassed the capital and the rebel army and raised the siege of Rochester, before he captured Tonbridge and Winchelsea from the rebels.

Moving into Sussex, Henry was confronted by de Montfort, who had led his army out from London in pursuit. In the Battle of Lewes on 14 May, Henry was defeated and taken prisoner by de Montfort, along with his son Prince Edward and his brother, Richard of Cornwall. While Henry was reduced to a figurehead king, de Montfort broadened parliamentary representation to include groups beyond the nobility, members from each county of England and many important towns. Henry and his son Edward remained effective prisoners. Around this time, Montfort announced the cancellation of all debt owed to Jews. [2]

The radicalism of de Montfort's subversion of traditional order once again led to a fracturing of his brittle base of support.

In May 1265, Prince Edward escaped from de Montfort's custody at Hereford and assembled a new royalist army at Worcester. He attracted defectors from the baronial cause, most importantly Gilbert de Clare, de Montfort's most powerful ally. Simon was blocked from moving east from Hereford by royalist control of the crossings of the River Severn, completed by Edward's capture of Gloucester. Moving into Wales, de Montfort forged an alliance with the Welsh Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, who provided him with soldiers. An attempt by Simon to ship his forces across the Severn estuary from Newport was thwarted when his transports were destroyed by royalist warships, and he returned to Hereford.

De Montfort's goal now became to unite with the forces of his son Simon the Younger, and engage with the royal army, but the younger Simon moved much too slowly westwards from London. Eventually Simon the Younger reached the baronial stronghold of Kenilworth, but Edward managed to inflict great losses on his forces, many of whom were quartered outside the castle walls. [8] The elder Simon had taken advantage of Edward's move to Kenilworth to cross the Severn at Kempsey and was on his way to join his son when he was intercepted and decisively defeated by the royalists at the Battle of Evesham on 4 August. Simon and his son Henry were killed in the fighting, and King Henry, whom de Montfort had taken into battle with him, was freed.

The victory at Evesham left the royalists in a dominant position, but the rebels continued to defend their strongholds, most notably Kenilworth. Prince Edward began a Siege of Kenilworth on 21st June, 1266 which dragged on for months. King Henry was persuaded to seek a compromise settlement, and a commission of bishops and barons drafted a proclamation, known as the Dictum of Kenilworth, issued on 31 October. It set terms under which rebels could secure a pardon and regain their confiscated lands on the payment of a heavy fine. The proposal was initially rejected by the rebels, but on 14 December, hunger finally compelled the defenders of Kenilworth to surrender and to accept the terms of the Dictum.

In April 1267, Gilbert de Clare turned again to revolt and occupied London. He was reconciled with Henry by a negotiated settlement in June, which eased the terms of the Dictum, enabling repentant rebels to regain their lands before rather than after paying their fines. That summer also saw the negotiated surrender of the last group of defiant rebels, who had been holding out in The Fens at the Isle of Ely. The total casualties of the war are estimated at 15,000.

Timeline

See also

Notes

  1. Norgate 1894
  2. 1 2 3 4 Jacobs 1906
  3. 1 2 Mundill 1998 , p. 254 says "Simon de Montfort … used the cancellation of Jewish debts to his own advantage and had managed to convince followers that it was worth rebelling for."
  4. 1 2 3 Mundill 2010 , pp. 88–99
  5. Mundill 1998 , p. 42
  6. Willis-Bund & Page 1924
  7. Huscroft 2006 , p. 105
  8. Maddicott, pp. 339–40.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Mundill 2010 , pp. 89–90

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dictum of Kenilworth</span> 1266 treaty

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1264</span> Calendar year

Year 1264 (MCCLXIV) was a leap year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester</span> 13th-century Anglo-French nobleman and rebel

Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, later sometimes referred to as Simon V de Montfort to distinguish him from his namesake relatives, was an English nobleman of French origin and a member of the English peerage, who led the baronial opposition to the rule of King Henry III of England, culminating in the Second Barons' War. Following his initial victories over royal forces, he became de facto ruler of the country, and played a major role in the constitutional development of England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Lewes</span> 1264 battle of the Second Barons War

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 de Montfort.

The Battle of Evesham was one of the two main battles of 13th century England's Second Barons' War. It marked the defeat of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and the rebellious barons by the future King Edward I, who led the forces of his father, King Henry III. It took place on 4 August 1265, near the town of Evesham, Worcestershire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester</span> 13th-century English nobleman

Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, 7th Earl of Gloucester was a powerful English noble. He was also known as "Red" Gilbert de Clare or "The Red Earl", probably because of his hair colour or fiery temper in battle. He held the Lordship of Glamorgan which was one of the most powerful and wealthy of the Welsh Marcher Lordships as well as over 200 English manors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roger de Leybourne</span> English soldier, landowner and royal servant (1215–1271)

Sir Roger de Leybourne (1215–1271) was an English soldier, landowner and royal servant during the Second Barons' War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry de Montfort</span>

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl of Hereford</span> Anglo-Norman nobleman and soldier

Humphrey IV de Bohun, 2nd Earl of Hereford, 1st Earl of Essex was an Anglo-Norman nobleman and soldier who served as hereditary Constable of England.

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.

Simon de Montfort's Parliament was an English parliament held from 20 January 1265 until mid-March of the same year, called by Simon de Montfort, a baronial rebel leader.

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 is best known for the Provisions of Oxford, a set of constitutional reforms that forced the king to govern according to the advice of a council of barons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry de Hastings (died 1268)</span>

Henry de Hastings of Ashill, Norfolk, was a supporter of Simon de Montfort in his rebellion against King Henry III. He led the Londoners at the Battle of Lewes in 1264, where he was taken prisoner, and fought at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, where de Montfort was killed. He resisted King Henry III's extensive siege of Kenilworth and after the Dictum of Kenilworth he commanded the last remnants of the baronial party when they made their last stand in the Isle of Ely, but submitted to the king in July 1267. In 1264 he was created a supposed baron by de Montfort, which title had no legal validity following the suppression of the revolt.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert de Ferrers, 6th Earl of Derby</span> English nobleman

Robert de Ferrers, 6th Earl of Derby (1239–1279) was an English nobleman.

Events from the 1260s in England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siege of Kenilworth</span> Siege during the Second Barons War

The siege of Kenilworth, also known as the great siege of 1266, was a six-month siege of Kenilworth Castle and a battle of the Second Barons' War. The siege was a part of an English civil war fought from 1264 to 1267 by the forces of Simon de Montfort against the Royalist forces led by Prince Edward. The siege was one of few castle attacks to take place during the war.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mise of Amiens</span> 1264 English political settlement

The Mise of Amiens 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mise of Lewes</span> 1264 English settlement 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 had been 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 had 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert de Neville</span>

Robert de Neville, 2nd Baron Neville of Raby, was a medieval English nobleman.

References