The History of England - From the Accession of Henry III. to the Death of Edward III. (1216-1377)
by T.F. Tout
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

On June 11 the magnates once more assembled, this time at Oxford. A summons to fight the Welsh gave them an excuse to appear attended with their followers in arms. The royalist partisans nicknamed the gathering the Mad Parliament, but its proceedings were singularly business-like. A petition of twenty-nine articles was presented, in which the abuses of the administration were laid bare in detail. A commission of twenty-four was appointed who were to redress the grievances of the nation, and to draw up a new scheme of government. According to the compact Henry himself selected half this body. It was significant of the falling away of the mass of the ruling families from the monarchy, that six of Henry's twelve commissioners were churchmen, four were aliens, three were his brothers, one his brother-in-law, one his nephew, one his wife's uncle. The only earls that accepted his nomination were the Poitevin adventurer, John du Plessis, Earl of Warwick, and John of Warenne, who was pledged to a royalist policy by his marriage to Henry's half-sister, Alice of Lusignan. The only bishops were, the queen's uncle, Boniface of Canterbury, and Fulk Basset of London, the richest and noblest born of English prelates, who, though well meaning, was too weak in character for continued opposition. Yet these two were the most independent names on Henry's list. The rest included the three Lusignan brothers, Guy, William, and Aymer, still eight years after his election only elect of Winchester; Henry of Almaine, the young son of the King of the Romans; the pluralist official John Mansel; the chancellor, Henry Wingham; the Dominican friar John of Darlington, distinguished as a biblical critic, the king's confessor and the pope's agent; and the Abbot of Westminster, an old man pledged by long years of dependence to do the will of the second founder of his house. In strong contrast to these creatures of court favour were the twelve nominees of the barons. The only ecclesiastic was Walter of Cantilupe, Bishop of Worcester, and the only alien was Earl Simon of Leicester. With him were three other earls, Richard of Clare, Earl of Gloucester, Roger Bigod, earl marshal and Earl of Norfolk, and Humphrey Bohun, Earl of Hereford. Those of baronial rank were Roger Mortimer, the strongest of the marchers, Hugh Bigod, the brother of the earl marshal, John FitzGeoffrey, Richard Grey, William Bardolf, Peter Montfort, and Hugh Despenser.

The twenty-four drew up a plan of reform which left little to be desired in thoroughness. The Provisions of Oxford, as the new constitution was styled, were speedily laid before the barons and adopted. By it a standing council of fifteen was established, with whose advice and consent Henry was henceforth to exercise all his authority. Even this council was not to be without supervision. Thrice in the year another committee of twelve was to treat with the fifteen on the common affairs of the realm. This rather narrow body was created, we are told, to save the expense involved in too frequent meetings of the magnates. A third aristocratic junto of twenty-four was appointed to make grants of money to the crown. All aliens were to be expelled from office and from the custody of royal castles. New ministers, castellans, and escheators were appointed under stringent conditions and under the safeguard of new oaths. The original twenty-four were not yet discharged from office. They had still to draw up schemes for the reform of the household of king and queen, and for the amendment of the exchange of London. Moreover, "Be it remembered," ran one of the articles, "that the estate of Holy Church be amended by the twenty-four elected to reform the realm, when they shall find time and place".

For the first time in our history the king was forced to stand aside from the discharge of his undoubted functions, and suffer them to be exercised by a committee of magnates. The conception of limited monarchy, which had been foreshadowed in the early struggles of Henry's long reign, was triumphantly vindicated, and, after weary years of waiting, the baronial victors demanded more than had ever been suggested by the most free interpretation of the Great Charter. The body that controlled the crown was, it is true, a narrow one. But whatever was lost by its limitation, was more than gained by the absolute freedom of the whole movement from any suspicion of the separatist tendencies of the earlier feudalism. The barons tacitly accepted the principle that England was a unity, and that it must be ruled as a single whole. The triumph of the national movement of the thirteenth century was assured when the most feudal class of the community thus frankly abandoned the ancient baronial contention that each baron should rule in isolation over his own estates, a tradition which, when carried out for a brief period under Stephen, had set up "as many kings or rather tyrants as lords of castles". The feudal period was over: the national idea was triumphant. This victory becomes specially significant when we remember how large a share the barons of the Welsh march, the only purely feudal region in the country, took in the movement against the King.

The unity of the national government being recognised, it was another sign of the times that its control should be transferred from the monarch to a committee of barons. At this point the rigid conceptions of the triumphant oligarchy stood in the way of a wide national policy. Since the reign of John the custom had arisen of consulting the representatives of the shire-courts on matters of politics and finance. In 1258 there is not the least trace of a suggestion that parliament could ever include a more popular element than the barons and prelates. On the contrary, the Provisions diminished the need even for those periodical assemblies of the magnates which had been in existence since the earliest dawn of our history. For all practical purposes small baronial committees were to perform the work of magnates and people as well as of the crown. Yet it must be recognised that the barons showed self-control, as well as practical wisdom, in handing over functions discharged by the baronage as a whole to the various committees of their selection. The danger of general control by the magnates was that a large assembly, more skilled in opposition than in constructive work, was almost sure to become infected by faction. By strictly limiting and defining who the new rulers of England were to be, the barons approached a combination of aristocratic control with the stability and continuity resulting from limited numbers and defined functions. It is likely, however, that in bestowing such extensive powers on their nominees, they were influenced by the well-grounded belief that the new constitution could only be established by main force, and that, even when abandoned by the king, the aliens would make a good fight before they gave up all that they had so long held in England. The success of the new scheme largely depended upon the immediate execution of the ordinance for the expulsion of the foreigners.

The first step taken to carry out the Provisions was the appointment of the new ministers. The barons insisted on the revival of the office of justiciar, and a strenuous and capable chief minister was found in Hugh Bigod. It was advisable to go cautiously, and some of the king's ministers were allowed to continue in office. An appeal to force was necessary before the new constitution could be set up in detail. The Savoyards bought their safety by accepting it; but the Poitevins, seeing that flight or resistance were the only alternatives before them, were spirited enough to prefer the bolder course. They were specially dangerous because Edward and his cousin, Henry of Almaine, the son of the King of the Romans, were much under their influence. In the Dominican convent at Oxford the baronial leaders formed a sworn confederacy not to desist from their purpose until the foreigners had been expelled. There were more hot words between Leicester and William, the most capable of the Lusignans. The Poitevins soon found that they could not maintain themselves in the face of the general hatred. On June 22 they fled from Oxford in the company of their ally, Earl Warenne. They rode straight for the coast, but failing to reach it, occupied Winchester, where they sought to maintain themselves in Aymer's castle of Wolvesey. The magnates of the parliament then turned against them the arms they professed to have prepared against the Welsh. Headed by the new justiciar, Hugh Bigod, they besieged Wolvesey. Warenne abandoned the aliens, and they gladly accepted the terms offered to them by their foes. They were allowed to retain their lands and some of their ready money, on condition of withdrawing from the realm and surrendering their castles. By the middle of July they had crossed over to France. With them disappeared the whole of the organised opposition to the new government. Edward, deprived of their support, swore to observe the Provisions.

Immediately on the flight of the Lusignans the council of Fifteen was chosen after a fashion which seemed to give the king's friends an equal voice with the champions of the aristocracy. Four electors appointed it, and of these two were the nominees of the baronial section, and two of the royalist section of the original twenty-four. The result of their work showed that there was only one party left after the Wolvesey fiasco. While only three of the king's twelve had places on the permanent council, no less that nine of the fifteen were chosen from the baronial twelve. It was useless for Archbishop Boniface, John Mansel, and the Earl of Warwick to stand up against the Bishop of Worcester, the Earls of Leicester, Norfolk, Hereford, and Gloucester, against John FitzGeoffrey, Peter Montfort, Richard Grey, and Roger Mortimer. Moreover, of the three, John Mansel alone could still be regarded as a royalist partisan. There were three of the fifteen chosen from outside the twenty-four. Of these, Peter of Savoy, Earl of Richmond, might, like his brother Boniface, be regarded as an alien, though hatred of the Poitevins had by this time made Englishmen of the Savoyards. The other two, the marcher-lord James of Audley and William of Fors, Earl of Albemarle, were of baronial sympathies. It was the same with the other councils.

Inquiry was made as to abuses. Gradually the royal officials were replaced by men of popular leanings. The sheriffs were changed and were strictly controlled, and four knights from each shire assembled in October to present to the king the grievances of the people against the out-going sheriffs. The custody of the castles was put into trusty and, for the most part, into English hands. Finally the king was forced to issue a proclamation, in which he commanded all true men "steadfastly to hold and to defend the statutes that be made or are to be made by our counsellors". This document was issued in English as well as in French and Latin. A copy of the English version was sent to every sheriff, with instructions to read it several times a year in the county court, so that a knowledge of its contents might be attained by every man. It is perhaps the first important proclamation issued in English since the coming of the Normans. Early in 1259 Richard, King of the Romans, set out to revisit England. He was met at Saint Omer by a deputation of magnates, who told him that he could only be allowed to land after taking an oath to observe the Provisions. Richard blustered, but soon gave in his submission. His adhesion to the reforms marks the last step in the revolution.

The new constitution worked without interruption until the end of 1259. Throughout that period domestic affairs were uneventful, and the efforts of the ministry were chiefly concerned in securing peace abroad. In 1258 Wales had been in revolt, Scotland unfriendly, and France threatening. A truce, ill observed, was made with Llewelyn, who found it worth while to be cautious, seeing that his natural enemies, but sometime associates, the marchers, had a preponderant share in the government. The Scots were easier to satisfy, for there was at the time no real hostility between either kings or peoples. The chief event of this period is the conclusion of the first peace with France since the wars of John and Philip Augustus. The protracted negotiations which preceded it took the king and his chief councillors abroad, and that made it easier to carry on the new domestic system without friction.

Since the friendly personal intercourse held between Henry and Louis IX. in 1254, the relations between England and France had become less cordial. The revival of the English power in Gascony, the Anglo-Castilian alliance, and the election of Richard of Cornwall to the German kingship irritated the French, to whom the persistent English claim to Normandy and Anjou, and the repudiation of the Aquitanian homage, were perpetual sources of annoyance. The French championship of Alfonso against Richard achieved the double end of checking English pretensions, and cooling the friendship between England and Castile. St. Louis, however, was always ready to treat for peace, while the revolution of 1258 made all parties in England anxious to put a speedy end to the unsettled relations between the two realms. Negotiations were begun as early as 1257, and made some progress; but the decisive step was taken immediately after the prorogation of the reforming parliament in the spring of 1258. During May a strangely constituted embassy treated for peace at Paris, where Montfort and Hugh Bigod worked side by side with two of the Lusignans and Peter of Savoy. They concluded a provisional treaty in time for the negotiators to take their part in the Mad Parliament. The unsettled state of affairs in England, however, delayed the ratification of the treaty. Arrangements had been made for its publication at Cambrai, but the fifteen dared not allow Henry to escape from their tutelage, and Louis refused to treat save with the king himself. There were difficulties as to the relation of the pope and the King of the Romans to the treaty, while Earl Simon's wife Eleanor and her children refused to waive their very remote claims to a share in the Norman and Angevin inheritances, which her brother was prepared to renounce. As ever, Montfort held to his personal rights with the utmost tenacity, and the self-seeking obstinacy of the chief negotiator of the treaty caused both bad blood and delay. At last he was bought off by the promise of a money payment, and the preliminary ratifications were exchanged in the summer of 1259. On November 14 Henry left England for Paris for the formal conclusion of the treaty. There were great festivities on the occasion of the meeting of the two kings, but once more Montfort and his wife blocked the way. Not until the very morning of the day fixed for the final ceremony were they satisfied by Henry's promise to deposit on their behalf a large sum in the hands of the French. Immediately afterwards Henry did homage to Louis for Gascony.

The chief condition of the treaty of Paris was Henry's definitive renunciation of all his claims on Normandy, Anjou, Maine, Touraine, and Poitou, and his agreement to hold Gascony as a fief of the French crown. In return for this, Louis not only recognised him as Duke of Aquitaine, but added to his actual possessions there by ceding to him all that he held, whether in fief or in demesne, in the three dioceses of Limoges, Cahors, and Perigueux. Besides these immediate cessions, the French king promised to hand over to Henry certain districts then held by his brother, Alfonse of Poitiers, and his brother's wife Joan of Toulouse, in the event of their dominions escheating to the crown by their death without heirs. These regions included Agen and the Agenais, Saintonge to the south of the Charente, and in addition the whole of Quercy, if it could be proved by inquest that it had been given by Richard I. to his sister Joan, grandmother of Joan of Poitiers, as her marriage portion. Moreover the French king promised to pay to Henry the sums necessary to maintain for two years five hundred knights to be employed "for the service of God, or the Church, or the kingdom of England."[1]

[1] For the treaty and its execution see M. Gavrilovitch, Etude sur le traite de Paris de 1259 (1899).

The treaty was unpopular both in France and England. The French strongly objected to the surrender of territory, and were but little convinced of the advantage gained by making the English king once more the vassal of France. English opinion was hostile to the abandonment of large pretensions in return for so small an equivalent. On the French side it is true that Louis sacrificed something to his sense of justice and love of peace. But the territory he ceded was less in reality than in appearance. The French king's demesnes in Quercy, Perigord, and Limousin were not large, and the transference of the homage of the chief vassals meant only a nominal change of overlordship, and was further limited by a provision that certain "privileged fiefs" were still to be retained under the direct suzerainty of the French crown. As to the eventual cessions, Alfonse and his wife were still alive and likely to live many years. Even the cession of Gascony was hampered by a stipulation that the towns should take an "oath of security," by which they pledged themselves to aid France against England in the event of the English king breaking the provisions of the treaty. Perhaps the most solid advantage Henry gained by the treaty was financial, for he spent the sums granted to enable him to redeem his crusading vow in preparing for war against his own subjects. It was, however, an immense advantage for England to be able during the critical years which followed to be free from French hostility. If, therefore, the French complaints against the treaty were exaggerated, the English dissatisfaction was unreasonable. The real difficulty for the future lay in the fact that the possession of Gascony by the king of a hostile nation was incompatible with the proper development of the French monarchy. For fifty years, however, a chronic state of war had not given Gascony to the French; and Louis IX. was, perhaps, politic as well as scrupulous in abandoning the way of force and beginning a new method of gradual absorption, that in the end gained the Gascon fief for France more effectively than any conquest. The treaty of Paris was not a final settlement. It left a score of questions still open, and the problems of its gradual execution involved the two courts in constant disputes down to the beginning of the Hundred Years' War. For seventy years the whole history of the relations between the two nations is but a commentary on the treaty of Paris.

During his visit to Paris Henry arranged a marriage between his daughter Beatrice and John of Brittany, the son of the reigning duke. In no hurry to get back to the tutelage of the fifteen, he prolonged his stay on the continent till the end of April, 1260. Yet, abroad as at home, he could not be said to act as a free man. It was not the king so much as Simon of Montfort who was the real author of the French treaty. Indeed, it is from the conclusion of the Peace of Paris that Simon's preponderance becomes evident. He was at all stages the chief negotiator of the peace and, save when his personal interests stood in the way, he controlled every step of the proceedings. If in 1258 he was but one of several leaders of the baronial party in England, he came back from France in 1260 assured of supremacy. During his absence abroad, events had taken place in England which called for his presence.

After their triumph in 1258, the baronial leaders relaxed their efforts. Contented with their position as arbiters of the national destinies, they made little effort to carry out the reforms contemplated at Oxford. The ranks of the victors were broken up by private dissensions. Before leaving for France, Earl Simon violently quarrelled with Richard, Earl of Gloucester. It was currently believed that Gloucester had grown slack, and Simon rose in popular estimation as a thorough-going reformer who had no mind to substitute the rule of a baronial oligarchy for the tyranny of the king. His position was strengthened by his personal qualities which made him the hero of the younger generation; and his influence began to modify the policy of Edward the king's son, who, since the flight of his Poitevin kinsmen, was gradually arriving at broader views of national policy. Even before his father's journey to France, Edward took up a line of his own. In the October parliament of 1259, he listened to a petition presented to the council by the younger nobles[1] who complained that, though the king had performed all his promises, the barons had not fulfilled any of theirs. Edward thereupon stirred up the oligarchy to issue an instalment of the promised reforms in the document known as the Provisions of Westminster. During Henry's absence in France the situation became strained. The oligarchic party, headed by Gloucester, was breaking away from Montfort; and Edward was forming a liberal royalist party which was not far removed from Montfort's principles. Profiting by these discords, the Lusignans prepared to invade England. The papacy was about to declare against the reformers. When the monks of Winchester elected an Englishman as their bishop in the hope of getting rid of the queen's uncle, Alexander IV. summoned Aymer to his court and consecrated him bishop with his own hands.

[1] "Communitas bacheleriae Angliae," Burton Ann., p. 471. See on this, Engl. Hist. Review, xvii. (1902), 89-94.

Early in 1260, Montfort went back to England and made common cause with Edward. Despite the king's order that no parliament should be held during his absence abroad, Montfort insisted that the Easter parliament should meet as usual at London. The discussions were hot. Montfort demanded the expulsion of Peter of Savoy from the council, and Edward and Gloucester almost came to blows. The Londoners closed their gates on both parties, but the mediation of the King of the Romans prevented a collision. Henry hurried home, convinced that Edward was conspiring against him. The king threw himself into the city of London, and with Gloucester's help collected an army. Meanwhile Montfort and Edward, with their armed followers, were lodged at Clerkenwell, ready for war. Again the situation became extremely critical, and again King Richard proved the best peacemaker. Henry held out against his son for a fortnight, but such estrangement was hard for him to endure. "Do not let my son appear before me," he cried, "for if I see him, I shall not be able to refrain from kissing him." A reconciliation was speedily effected, and nothing remained of the short-lived alliance of Edward with Montfort save that his feud with Gloucester continued until the earl's death.

The dissensions among the barons encouraged Henry to shake off the tutelage of the fifteen. As soon as he was reconciled with his son, he charged Leicester with treason.[1] "But, thanks be to God, the earl answered to all these points with such force that the king could do nothing against him." Unable to break down his enemy by direct attack, Henry followed one of the worst precedents of his father's reign by beseeching Alexander IV. to relieve him of his oath to observe the Provisions. On April 13, 1261, a bull was issued annulling the whole of the legislation of 1258 and 1259, and freeing the king from his sworn promise.

[1] Bemont, Simon de Montfort, Appendix xxxvii., pp. 343-53.

William of Valence was already back in England, and restored to his old dignities. His return was the easier because his brother, Aymer, the most hated of the Poitevins, had died soon after his consecration to Winchester. On June 14, 1261, the papal bull was read before the assembled parliament at Winchester. There Henry removed the baronial ministers and replaced them by his own friends. Chief among the sufferers was Hugh Despenser, who had succeeded Hugh Bigod as justiciar; and Bigod himself was expelled from the custody of Dover Castle. In the summer Henry issued a proclamation, declaring that the right of choosing his council and garrisoning his castles was among the inalienable attributes of the crown. England was little inclined to rebel, for the return of prosperity and good harvests made men more contented.

The repudiation of the Provisions restored unity to the baronage. The defections had been serious, and it was said that only five of the twenty-four still adhered to the opposition. But the crisis forced Leicester and Gloucester to forget their recent feuds, and co-operate once more against the king. They saw that their salvation from Henry's growing strength lay in appealing to a wider public than that which they had hitherto addressed. Still posing as the heads of the government established by the Provisions, they summoned three knights from each shire to attend an assembly at St. Alban's. This appeal to the landed gentry alarmed the king so much that he issued counter-writs to the sheriffs ordering them to send the knights, not to the baronial camp at St. Alban's, but to his own court at Windsor. Neither party was as yet prepared for battle. The death of Alexander IV, soon after the publication of his bull tied the hands of the king. At the same time the renewed dissensions of Leicester and Gloucester paralysed the baronage. Before long Simon withdrew to the continent, leaving everything in Gloucester's hands. At last, on December 7, a treaty of pacification was patched up, and the king announced that he was ready to pardon those who accepted its conditions. But there was no permanence in the settlement, and the king, the chief gainer by it, was soon pressing the new pope, Urban IV., to confirm the bull of Alexander. On February 25, 1262, Urban renewed Henry's absolution from his oath in a bull which was at once promulgated in England. Montfort then came back from abroad and rallied the baronial party. In January, 1263, Henry once more confirmed the Provisions, and peace seemed restored. The death of Richard of Gloucester during 1262 increased Montfort's power. His son, the young Earl Gilbert, was Simon's devoted disciple, but he was still a minor and the custody of his lands was handed over to the Earl of Hereford. Montfort's personal charm succeeded in like fashion in winning over Henry of Almaine.

The events of 1263 are as bewildering and as indecisive as those of the two previous years. Amidst the confusion of details and the violent clashing of personal and territorial interests, a few main principles can be discerned. First of all the royalist party was becoming decidedly stronger, and fresh secessions of the barons constantly strengthened its ranks. Conspicuous among these were the lords of the march of Wales, who in 1258 had been almost as one man on the side of the opposition, but who by the end of 1263 had with almost equal unanimity rallied to the crown.[1] The causes of this change of front are to be found partly in public and partly in personal reasons. In 1258 Henry III., like Charles I. in 1640, had alienated every class of his subjects, and was therefore entirely at the mercy of his enemies. By 1263 his concessions had procured for him a following, so that he now stood in the same position as Charles after his concessions to the Long Parliament made it possible for him to begin the Civil War in 1642. A new royalist party was growing up with a wider policy and greater efficiency than the old coterie of courtiers and aliens. Of this new party Edward was the soul. He had dissociated himself from Earl Simon, but he carried into his father's camp something of Simon's breadth of vision and force of will. He set to work to win over individually the remnant that adhered to Leicester. What persuasion and policy could not effect was accomplished by bribes and promises. Edward won over the Earl of Hereford, whose importance was doubled by his custody of the Gloucester lands, the ex-justiciar Roger Bigod, and above all Roger Mortimer.

[1] On this, and the whole marcher and Welsh aspect of the period, 1258-1267, see my essay on Wales and the March during the Barons' Wars in Owens College Historical Essays, pp. 76-136 (1902).

The change of policy of the marchers was partly at least brought about by their constant difficulties with the Prince of Wales. During the period immediately succeeding the Provisions of Oxford, Llewelyn ceased to devastate the marches. A series of truces was arranged which, if seldom well kept, at least avoided war on a grand scale. Within Wales Llewelyn fully availed himself of the respite from English war. Triumphant over the minor chiefs, he could reckon upon the support of every Welsh tenant of a marcher lord, and at last grew strong enough to disregard the truces and wage open war against the marchers. It was in vain that Edward, the greatest of the marcher lords, persuaded David, the Welsh prince's brother, to rise in revolt against him. Llewelyn devastated the four cantreds to the gates of Chester, and at last, after long sieges, forced the war-worn defenders of Deganwy and Diserth to surrender the two strong castles through which alone Edward had retained some hold over his Welsh lands. It was the same in the middle march, where Llewelyn turned his arms against the Mortimers, and robbed them of their castles. Even in the south the lord of Gwynedd carried everything before him. "If the Welsh are not stopped," wrote a southern marcher, "they will destroy all the lands of the king as far as the Severn and the Wye, and they ask for nothing less than the whole of Gwent." Up to this point the war had been a war of Welsh against English, but Montfort sought compensation for his losses in England by establishing relations with the Welsh. The alliance between Montfort and their enemy had a large share in bringing about the secession of the marchers. Their alliance with Edward neutralised the action of Montfort, and once more enabled Henry to repudiate the Provisions.

In the summer of 1263, Edward and Montfort both raised armies. Leicester made himself master of Hereford, Gloucester, and Bristol, and when Edward threw himself into Windsor Castle, he occupied Isleworth, hoping to cut his enemy off from London, where the king and queen had taken refuge in the Tower. But the hostility of the Londoners made the Tower an uneasy refuge for them. On one occasion, when the queen attempted to make her way up the Thames in the hope of joining her son at Windsor, the citizens assailed her barge so fiercely from London Bridge that she was forced to return to the Tower. The foul insults which the rabble poured upon his mother deeply incensed Edward and he became a bitter foe of the city for the rest of his life. For the moment the hostility of London was decisive against Henry. Once more the king was forced to confirm the Provisions, agree to a fresh banishment of the aliens, and restore Hugh Despenser to the justiciarship. This was the last baronial triumph. In a few weeks Edward again took up arms, and was joined by many of Montfort's associates, including his cousin, Henry of Almaine. Even the Earl of Gloucester was wavering. The barons feared the appeal to arms, and entered into negotiations. Neither side was strong enough to obtain mastery over the other, and a recourse to arbitration seemed the best way out of an impossible situation. Accordingly, on December, 1263, the two parties agreed to submit the question of the validity of the Provisions to the judgment of Louis IX.

The king and his son at once crossed the channel to Amiens, where the French king was to hear both sides. A fall from his horse prevented Leicester attending the arbitration, and the barons were represented by Peter Montfort, lord of Beaudesert castle in Warwickshire, and representative of an ancient Anglo-Norman house that was not akin to the family of Earl Simon. Louis did not waste time, and on January 23, 1264, issued his decision in a document called the "Mise of Amiens," which pronounced the Provisions invalid, largely on the ground of the papal sentence. Henry was declared free to select his own wardens of castles and ministers, and Louis expressly annulled "the statute that the realm of England should henceforth be governed by native-born Englishmen". "We ordain," he added, "that the king shall have full power and free jurisdiction over his realm as in the days before the Provisions." The only consolation to the barons was that Louis declared that he did not intend to derogate from the ancient liberties of the realm, as established by charter or custom, and that he urged a general amnesty on both parties. In all essential points Louis decided in favour of Henry. Though the justest of kings, he was after all a king, and the limitation of the royal authority by a baronial committee seemed to him to be against the fundamental idea of monarchy. The pious son of the Church was biassed by the authority of two successive popes, and he was not unmoved by the indignation of his wife, the sister of Queen Eleanor. A few weeks later Urban IV. confirmed the award.

The Mise of Amiens was too one-sided to be accepted. The decision to refer matters to St. Louis had been made hastily, and many enemies of the king had taken no part in it. They, at least, were free to repudiate the judgment and they included the Londoners, the Cinque Ports, and nearly the whole of the lesser folk of England. The Londoners set the example of rebellion. They elected a constable and a marshal, and joining forces with Hugh Despenser, the baronial justiciar, who still held the Tower, marched out to Isleworth, where they burnt the manor of the King of the Romans. "And this," wrote the London Chronicler, "was the beginning of trouble and the origin of the deadly war by which so many thousand men perished." The Londoners did not act alone. Leicester refused to be bound by the award, though definitely pledged to obey it. It was, he maintained, as much perjury to abandon the Provisions as to be false to the promise to accept the Mise of Amiens. After a last attempt at negotiation at a parliament at Oxford, he withdrew with his followers and prepared for resistance. "Though all men quit me," he cried, "I will remain with my four sons and fight for the good cause which I have sworn to defend—the honour of Holy Church and the good of the realm." This was no mere boast. The more his associates fell away, the more the Montfort family took the lead. While Leicester organised resistance in the south, he sent his elder sons, Simon and Henry, to head the revolt in the midlands and the west.

There was already war in the march of Wales when Henry Montfort crossed the Severn and strove to make common cause with Llewelyn. But the Welsh prince held aloof from him, and Edward himself soon made his way to the march. At first all went well for young Montfort. Edward, unable to capture Gloucester and its bridge, was forced to beg for a truce. Before long he found himself strong enough to repudiate the armistice and take possession of Gloucester. Master of the chief passage over the lower Severn, Edward abandoned the western campaign and went with his marchers to join his father at Oxford, where he at once stirred up the king to activity. The masters of the university, who were strong partisans of Montfort, were chased away from the town. Then the royal army marched against Northampton, the headquarters of the younger Simon, who was resting there, and, on April 4, the king and his son burst upon the place. Their first assault was unsuccessful, but next day the walls were scaled, the town captured, and many leading barons, including young Simon, taken prisoner. The victors thereupon marched northwards, devastated Montfort's Leicestershire estates, and thence proceeded to Nottingham, which opened its gates in a panic.

Leicester himself had not been idle. While his sons were courting disaster in the west and midlands, he threw himself into London, where he was rapturously welcomed. The Londoners, however, became very unruly, committed all sorts of excesses against the wealthy royalists, and cruelly plundered and murdered the Jews. Montfort himself did not disdain to share in the spoils of the Jewry, though he soon turned to nobler work. He was anxious to open up communications with his allies in the Cinque Ports. But Earl Warenne, in Rochester castle, blocked the passage of the Dover road over the Medway. Accordingly Montfort marched with a large following of Londoners to Rochester, captured the town, and assaulted the castle with such energy that it was on the verge of surrendering. The news of Warenne's peril reached Henry in the midlands. In five days the royalists made their way from Nottingham to Rochester, a distance of over 160 miles. On their approach Montfort withdrew into London.

Flushed with their successes at Northampton and Rochester, the royalists marched through Kent and Sussex, plundering and devastating the lands of their enemies. Though masters of the open country, they had to encounter the resistance of the Clare castles, and the solid opposition of the Cinque Ports. Their presence on the south coast was specially necessary, for Queen Eleanor, who had gone abroad, was waiting, with an army of foreign mercenaries, on the Flemish coast, for an opportunity of sailing to her husband's succour. The royal army was hampered by want of provisions, and was only master of the ground on which it was camped. As a first fruit of the alliance with Llewelyn, Welsh soldiers lurked behind every hedge and hill, cut off stragglers, intercepted convoys, and necessitated perpetual watchfulness. At last the weary and hungry troops found secure quarters in Lewes, the centre of the estates of Earl Warenne.

Montfort then marched southwards from the capital. Besides the baronial retinues, a swarm of Londoners, eager for the fray, though unaccustomed to military restraints, accompanied him. On May 13 he encamped at Fletching, a village hidden among the dense oak woods of the Weald, some nine miles north of Lewes. A last effort of diplomacy was attempted by Bishop Cantilupe of Worcester who, despite papal censures, still accompanied the baronial forces. But the royalists would not listen to the mediation of so pronounced a partisan. Nothing therefore was left but the appeal to the sword.

The royal army was the more numerous, and included the greater names. Of the heroes of the struggle of 1258 the majority was in the king's camp, including most of the lords of the Welsh march, and the hardly less fierce barons of the north, whose grandfathers had wrested the Great Charter from John. The returned Poitevins with their followers mustered strongly, and the confidence of the royalists was so great that they neglected all military preparations. The poverty of Montfort's host in historic families attested the complete disintegration of the party since 1263. Its strength lay in the young enthusiasts, who were still dominated by the strong personality and generous ideals of Leicester, such as the Earl of Gloucester, or Humphrey Bohun of Brecon, whose father, the Earl of Hereford, was fighting upon the king's side. Early on the morning of May 14 Montfort arrayed his troops and marched southward in the direction of Lewes. Dawn had hardly broken when the troops were massed on the summit of the South Downs, overlooking Lewes from the north-west.

Lewes is situated on the right bank of a great curve of the river Ouse, which almost encircles the town. To the south are the low-lying marshes through which the river meanders towards the sea, while to the north, east, and west are the bare slopes of the South Downs, through which the river forces its way past the gap in which the town is situated. To the north of the town lies the strong castle of the Warennes, wherein Edward had taken up his quarters, while in the southern suburb the Cluniac priory of St. Pancras, the chief foundation of the Warennes, afforded lodgings for King Henry and the King of the Romans. When Simon reached the summit of the downs, his movements were visible from the walls. But the royal army was still sleeping and its sentinels kept such bad watch that the earl was able to array his troops at his leisure.

From the summit of the hills two great spurs, separated by a waterless valley, slope down towards the north and west sides of the town. The more northerly led straight to the castle, and the more southerly to the priory. Montfort's plan was to throw his main strength on the attack on the priory, while deluding the enemy into the belief that his chief object was to attack the castle. He was not yet fully recovered from his fall from his horse, and it was known that he generally travelled in a closed car or horse-litter. This vehicle he posted in a conspicuous place on the northerly spur, and planted over it his standard. In front of it were massed the London militia, mainly infantry and the least effective element in his host. Meanwhile the knights and men-at-arms were mustered on the southerly spur under the personal direction of Montfort, who held himself in the rear with the reserve, while the foremost files were commanded by the young Earl of Gloucester, whom Simon solemnly dubbed to knighthood before the assembled squadrons. Then the two divisions of the army advanced towards Lewes, hoping to find their enemies still in their beds.

At the last moment the alarm was given, and before the barons approached the town, the royalists, pouring out of castle, town, and priory, hastily took up their position face to face to the enemy. All turned out as Montfort had foreseen. Edward, emerging from the castle with his cousin Henry of Almaine, his Poitevin uncles, and the warriors of the march, observed the standard of Montfort on the hill, and supposing that the earl was with his banner, dashed impetuously against the left wing of Leicester's troops. He soon found himself engaged with the Londoners, who broke and fled in confusion before his impetuous charge. Eager to revenge on the flying citizens the insults they had directed against his parents, he pursued the beaten militia for many a mile, inflicting terrible damage upon them. On his way he captured Simon's standard and horse-litter, and slew its occupants, though they were three royalist members of the city aristocracy detained there for sure keeping. When the king's son drew rein he was many miles from Lewes, whither he returned, triumphant but exhausted.

The removal of Edward and the marchers from the field enabled Montfort to profit by his sacrifice of the Londoners. The followers of the two kings on the left of the royalist lines could not withstand the weight of the squadrons of Leicester and Gloucester. The King of the Romans was driven to take refuge in a mill, where he soon made an ignominious surrender. Henry himself lost his horse under him and was forced to yield himself prisoner to Gilbert of Gloucester. The mass of the army was forced back on to the town and priory, which were occupied by the victors. Scarcely was their victory assured when Edward and the marchers came back from the pursuit of the Londoners. Thereupon the battle was renewed in the streets of the town. It was, however, too late for the weary followers of the king's son to reverse the fortunes of the day. Some threw themselves into the castle, where the king's standard still floated; Edward himself took sanctuary in the church of the Franciscans; many strove to escape eastwards over the Ouse bridge or by swimming over the river. The majority of the latter perished by drowning or by the sword: but two compact bands of mail-clad horsemen managed to cut their way through to safety. One of these, a force of some two hundred, headed by Earl Warenne himself, and his brothers-in-law, Guy of Lusignan and William of Valence, secured their retreat to the spacious castle of Pevensey, of which Warenne was constable, and from which the possibility of continuing their flight by sea remained open. Of greater military consequence was the successful escape of the lords of the Welsh march, whose followers were next day the only section of the royalist army which was still a fighting force. This was the only immediate limitation to the fulness of Montfort's victory. After seven weary years, the judgment of battle secured the triumph of the "good cause," which had so long been delayed by the weakness of his confederates and the treachery of his enemies. Not the barons of 1258, but Simon and his personal following were the real conquerors at Lewes.



On the day after the battle, Henry III. accepted the terms imposed upon him by Montfort in a treaty called the "Mise of Lewes," by which he promised to uphold the Great Charter, the Charter of the Forests, and the Provisions of Oxford. A body of arbitrators was constituted, in which the Bishop of London was the only Englishman, but which included Montfort's friend, Archbishop Eudes Rigaud of Rouen; the new papal legate, Guy Foulquois, cardinal-bishop of Sabina; and Peter the chamberlain, Louis IX.'s most trusted counsellor, with the Duke of Burgundy or Charles of Anjou, to act as umpire. These arbitrators were, however, to be sworn to choose none save English councillors, and Henry took oath to follow the advice of his native-born council in all matters of state. An amnesty was secured to Leicester and Gloucester; and Edward and Henry of Almaine surrendered as hostages for the good behaviour of the marchers, who still remained under arms. By the establishment of baronial partisans as governors of the castles, ministers, sheriffs, and conservators of the peace, the administration passed at once into the hands of the victorious party. Three weeks later writs were issued for a parliament which included four knights from every shire. In this assembly the final conditions of peace were drawn up, and arrangements made for keeping Henry under control for the rest of his life, and Edward after him, for a term of years to be determined in due course. Leicester and Gloucester were associated with Stephen Berkstead, the Bishop of Chichester, to form a body of three electors. By these three a Council of Nine was appointed, three of whom were to be in constant attendance at court; and without their advice the king was to do nothing. Hugh Despenser was continued as justiciar, while the chancery went to the Bishop of Worcester's nephew, Thomas of Cantilupe, a Paris doctor of canon law, and chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Once more a baronial committee put the royal authority into commission, and ruled England through ministers of its own choice. While agreeing in this essential feature, the settlement of 1264 did not merely reproduce the constitution of 1258. It was simpler than its forerunner, since there was no longer any need of the cumbrous temporary machinery for the revision of the whole system of government, nor for the numerous committees and commissions to which previously so many functions had been assigned. The main tasks before the new rulers were not constitution-making but administration and defence. Moreover, the later constitution shows some recognition of the place due to the knights of the shire and their constituents. It is less closely oligarchical than the previous scheme. This may partly be due to the continued divisions of the greater barons, but it is probably also in large measure owing to the preponderance of Simon of Montfort. The young Earl of Gloucester and the simple and saintly Bishop of Chichester were but puppets in his hands. He was the real elector who nominated the council, and thus controlled the government. Every act of the new administration reflects the boldness and largeness of his spirit.

The pacification after Lewes was more apparent than real, and there were many restless spirits that scorned to accept the settlement which Henry had so meekly adopted. The marchers were in arms in the west, and were specially formidable because they detained in their custody the numerous prisoners captured at the sack of Northampton. The fugitives from Lewes were holding their own behind the walls of Pevensey, though Earl Warenne and other leaders had made their escape to France, where they joined the army which Queen Eleanor had collected on the north coast for the purpose of invading England and restoring her husband to power. The papacy and the whole official forces of the Church were in bitter hostility to the new system. The collapse of Henry's rule had ruined the papal plans in Sicily, where Manfred easily maintained his ground against so strong a successor of the unlucky Edmund as Charles of Anjou. The papal legate, Guy Foulquois, was waiting at Boulogne for admission into England, and, far from being conciliated by his appointment as an arbitrator, was dexterously striving to make the arbitration ineffective, by summoning the bishops adhering to Montfort to appear before him, and sending them back with orders to excommunicate Earl Simon and all his supporters. The only gleam of hope was to be found in the unwillingness of the King of France to interfere actively in the domestic disputes of England. The death of Urban IV. for the moment brought relief, but, after a long vacancy, the new pope proved to be none other than the legate Guy, who in February, 1265, mounted the papal throne as Clement IV. It was to no purpose that Walter of Cantilupe assembled the patriotic bishops and appealed to a general council, or that radical friars like the author of the Song of Lewes formulated the popular policy in spirited verse. The greatest forces of the time were steadily opposed to the revolutionary government, and rare strength and boldness were necessary to make head against them.

Before the end of 1264 the vigour of Earl Simon triumphed over some of his immediate difficulties. In August he summoned the military forces of the realm to meet the threatened invasion. Adverse storms, however, dispersed Queen Eleanor's fleet, and her mercenaries, weary of the long delays that had exhausted her resources, went home in disgust. This left Simon free to betake himself to the west, and on December 15 he forced the marcher lords to accept a pacification called the Provisions of Worcester, by which they agreed to withdraw for a year and a day to Ireland, leaving their families and estates in the hands of the ruling faction.

On the day after the signature of the treaty, Henry, who accompanied Simon to the west, issued from Worcester the writs for a parliament that sat in London from January to March in 1265. From the circumstances of the case this famous assembly could only be a meeting of the supporters of the existing government. So scanty was its following among the magnates that writs of summons were only issued to five earls and eighteen barons, though the strong muster of bishops, abbots, and priors showed that the papal anathema had done little to shake the fidelity of the clergy to Montfort's cause. The special feature of the gathering, however, was the summoning of two knights from every shire, side by side with the barons of the faithful Cinque Ports and two representatives from every city and borough, convened by writs sent, not to the sheriff, after later custom, but to the cities and boroughs directly. It was the presence of this strong popular element which long caused this parliament to be regarded as the first really representative assembly in our history, and gained for Earl Simon the fame of being the creator of the House of Commons. Modern research has shown that neither of these views can be substantiated. It was no novelty for the crown to strengthen the baronial parliaments by the representatives of the shire-moots, and there were earlier precedents for the holding meetings of the spokesmen of the cities and boroughs. What was new was the combination of these two types of representatives in a single assembly, which was convoked, not merely for a particular administrative purpose, but for a great political object. The real novelty and originality of Earl Simon's action lay in his giving a fresh proof of his disposition to fall back upon the support of the ordinary citizen against the hostility or indifference of the magnates, to whom the men of 1258 wished to limit all political deliberation. This is in itself a sufficient indication of policy to give Leicester an almost unique position among the statesmen to whom the development of our representative institutions are due. But just as his parliament was not in any sense our first representative assembly, so it did not include in any complete sense a House of Commons at all. We must still wait for a generation before the rival and disciple of Montfort, Edward, the king's son, established the popular element in our parliament on a permanent basis. Yet in the links which connect the early baronial councils with the assemblies of the three estates of the fourteenth century, not one is more important than Montfort's parliament of January, 1265.

The chief business of parliament was to complete the settlement of the country. Simon won a new triumph in making terms with the king's son. Edward had witnessed the failure of his mother's attempts at invasion, the futility of the legatine anathema, and the collapse of the marchers at Worcester. He saw it was useless to hold out any longer, and unwillingly bought his freedom at the high price that Simon exacted. He transferred to his uncle the earldom of Chester, including all the lands in Wales that might still be regarded as appertaining to it. This measure put Simon in that strong position as regards Wales and the west which Edward had enjoyed since the days of his marriage. It involved a breach in the alliance between Edward and the marchers, and the subjection of the most dangerous district of the kingdom to Simon's personal authority. It was safe to set free the king's son, when his territorial position and his political alliances were thus weakened.

At the moment of his apparent triumph, Montfort's authority began to decline. It was something to have the commons on his side: but the magnates were still the greatest power in England, and in pressing his own policy to the uttermost, Simon had fatally alienated the few great lords who still adhered to him. There was a fierce quarrel in parliament between Leicester and the shifty Robert Ferrars, Earl of Derby. For the moment Leicester prevailed, and Derby was stripped of his lands and was thrown into prison. But his fate was a warning to others, and the settlement between Montfort and Edward aroused the suspicions of the Earl of Gloucester. Gilbert of Clare was now old enough to think for himself, and his close personal devotion to Montfort could not blind him to the antagonism of interests between himself and his friend. He was gallant, strenuous, and high-minded, but quarrelsome, proud, and unruly, and his strong character was balanced by very ordinary ability. His outlook was limited, and his ideals were those of his class; such a man could neither understand nor sympathise with the broader vision and wider designs of Leicester. Moreover, with all Simon's greatness, there was in him a fierce masterfulness and an inordinate ambition which made co-operation with him excessively difficult for all such as were not disposed to stand to him in the relation of disciple to master. And behind the earl were his self-seeking and turbulent sons, set upon building up a family interest that stood directly in the way of the magnates' claim to control the state. Thus personal rivalries and political antagonisms combined to lead Earl Gilbert on in the same course that his father, Earl Richard, had traversed. The closest ally of Leicester became his bitterest rival. The victorious party split up in 1265, as it had split up in 1263. And the dissolution of the dominant faction once more gave Edward a better chance of regaining the upper hand than was to be hoped for from foreign mercenaries and from papal support.

Gloucester was the natural leader of the lords of the Welsh march. He was not only the hereditary lord of Glamorgan, but had received the custody of William of Valence's forfeited palatinate of Pembroke. He had shown self-control in separating himself so long from the marcher policy; and his growing suspicion of the Montforts threw him back into his natural alliance with them. Even after the treaty of Worcester, the marchers remained under arms. They had obtained from the weakness of the government repeated prolongations of the period fixed for their withdrawal into Ireland. It was soon rumoured that they were sure of a refuge in Gloucester's Welsh estates, and Leicester, never afraid of making enemies, bitterly reproached Earl Gilbert with receiving the fugitives into his lands. Shortly after the breaking up of parliament, Gloucester fled to the march, and a little later William of Valence and Earl Warenne landed in Pembrokeshire with a small force of men-at-arms and crossbowmen. There was no longer any hope of carrying out the Provisions of Worcester, and once more Montfort was forced to proceed to the west to put down rebellion.

By the end of April Montfort was at Gloucester, accompanied by the king and Edward, who, despite his submission, remained virtually a prisoner. Earl Gilbert was master of all South Wales, and closely watched his rival's movements from the neighbouring Forest of Dean. It was with difficulty that Earl Simon and his royal captives advanced from Gloucester to Hereford, but Earl Gilbert preferred to negotiate rather than to push matters to extremities. He went in person to Hereford and renewed his homage to the king. Arbitrators were appointed to settle the disputes between the two earls, and a proclamation was issued declaring that the rumour of dissension between them was "vain, lying, and fraudulently invented". For the next few days harmony seemed restored.

Gloucester's submission lured Leicester into relaxing his precautions. His enemies took advantage of his remissness to hatch an audacious plot which soon enabled them to renew the struggle under more favourable conditions. Since his nominal release, Edward had been allowed the diversions of riding and hunting, and on May 28 he was suffered to go out for a ride under negligent or corrupt guard. Once well away from Hereford, the king's son fled from his lax custodians and joined Roger Mortimer, who was waiting for him in a neighbouring wood. On the next day he was safe behind the walls of Mortimer's castle of Wigmore, and, the day after, met Earl Gilbert at Ludlow, where he promised to uphold the charters and expel the foreigners. Valence and Warenne hurried from Pembrokeshire and made common cause with Edward and Gilbert. Edward then took the lead in the councils of the marchers, who, from that moment, obtained a unity of purpose and policy that they had hitherto lacked. He and his allies could claim to be the true champions of the Charters and the Provisions of Oxford against the grasping foreigner who strove to rule over king and barons alike.

Montfort's small force was cut off from its base by the rapidity of the marchers' movements. It was in vain that all the supporters of the existing government were summoned to the assistance of the hard-pressed army at Hereford. Before the end of June, Edward completed the conquest of the Severn valley by the capture of the town and castle of Gloucester. A broad river and a strong army stood between Montfort and succour from England. Leicester then turned to Llewelyn of Wales, who took up his quarters at Pipton, near Hay. There, on June 22, a treaty was signed between the Welsh prince and the English king by which Henry was forced to make huge concessions to Llewelyn in order to secure his alliance. Llewelyn was recognised as prince of all Wales. The overlordship over all the barons of Wales was granted to him, and the numerous conquests, which he had made at the expense of the marchers, were ceded to him in full possession.

Thus Llewelyn, like his grandfather in the days of the Great Charter, profited by the dissensions of the English to obtain the recognition of his claims which had invariably been refused when England was united. The Welsh prince gained a unique opportunity of making his weight felt in general English politics, but with all his ability he hardly rose to the occasion. Montfort had pressing need of his help. A few days after the treaty of Pipton, Gloucester Castle opened its gates to Edward, and the marchers advanced westwards to seek out Earl Simon at Hereford. Leicester fled in alarm before their overwhelming forces. He was driven from the Wye to the Usk, and, beaten in a sharp fight on Newport bridge, found refuge only by retreating up the Usk valley, whence he escaped northwards into the hilly region where Llewelyn ruled over the lands once dominated by the Mortimers. Before long Montfort's English followers grew weary of the hard conditions of mountain warfare. With their heavy armour and barbed horses it was difficult for them to emulate the tactics of the Welsh, and they revolted against the simple diet of milk and meat that contented their Celtic allies. They could not get on without bread, and, as bread was not to be found among the hills, they forced their leader to return to the richer regions of the east. Llewelyn did little to help them in their need, and did not accompany them in their march back to the Severn valley, though a large but disorderly force of Welsh infantry still remained with Simon as the fruit of the alliance with their prince.

By the end of July, Simon was once more in the Severn valley, seeking for a passage over the river. On August 2 he found a ford over the stream some miles south of Worcester. There he crossed with all his forces and encamped for the night at Kempsey, one of Bishop Cantilupe's manors on the left bank. His skill as a general had extricated him from a position of the utmost peril. All might yet be regained if he could join forces with an army of relief which his son Simon had slowly levied in the south and midlands. But his quarrel with Gloucester and his alliance with the Welsh had done much to undermine Montfort's popularity, and the younger Simon had no appreciation of the necessity for decisive action. Summoned from the long siege of Pevensey by his father's danger, he wasted time in plundering the lands of the royalists, and only left London on July 8, whence he led his men by slow stages to Kenilworth. On July 31 young Simon's troops took up their quarters for the night in the open country round Kenilworth castle. They had no notion that the enemy was at hand and troubled neither to defend themselves nor to keep watch. Edward, warned by spies of their approach, abandoned his close guard of the Severn fords, and in the early morning of August 1 fell suddenly upon the sleeping host and scattered it with little difficulty. The younger Simon and a few of his followers took refuge in the castle. As a fighting force the army of relief ceased to exist.

Leicester, knowing nothing of his son's disaster, made his way, on August 3, from Kempsey to Evesham, where he rested for the night. Next morning, after mass and breakfast, the army was about to continue its march, when scouts descried troops advancing upon the town. At first it was hoped that they were the followers of young Simon, but their near approach revealed them to be the army of the marchers. With extraordinary rapidity Edward led his troops back to Worcester as soon as he had won the fight at Kenilworth. Learning there that Simon had crossed the river in his absence, he at once turned back to meet him, seeking to elude his vigilance by a long night march by circuitous routes. The result was that for the second time he caught his enemy in a trap.

Evesham, like Lewes, stands on a peninsula. It is situated on the right bank of a wide curve of the Avon, and approachable only by crossing over the river, or by way of the sort of isthmus between the two bends of the Avon a little to the north of the town. Edward occupied this isthmus with his best troops, and thus cut off all prospect of escape by land. The other means of exit from the town was over the bridge which connects it with its south-eastern suburb of Bengeworth, on the left bank of the river. Edward, however, took the precaution to detach Gloucester with a strong force to hold Bengeworth, and thus prevent Simon's escape over the bridge. The weary and war-worn host of Montfort, then, was out-generalled in such fashion that effective resistance to a superior force, flushed by recent victory, was impossible. Simon himself saw that his last hour was come; yet he could not but admire the skilful plan which had so easily discomfited him. "By the arm of St. James," he declared, "they come on cunningly. Yet they have not taught themselves that order of battle; they have learnt it from me. God have mercy upon our souls, for our bodies are theirs."

Edward and Gloucester both advanced simultaneously to the attack. A storm broke at the moment of the encounter, and the battle was fought in a darkness that obscured the brightness of an August day. Leicester's Welsh infantry broke at once before the charge of the mail-clad horsemen, and took refuge behind hedges and walls, where they were hunted out and butchered after the main fight was over. But the men-at-arms struggled valiantly against Edward's superior forces, though they were soon borne down by sheer numbers. Simon fought like a hero and met a soldier's death. With him were slain his son Henry, his faithful comrade Peter Montfort, the baronial justiciar Hugh Despenser, and many other men of mark. A large number of prisoners fell into the victor's hands, and King Henry, who unwillingly followed Simon in all his wanderings, was wounded in the shoulder by his son's followers, and only escaped a worse fate by revealing his identity with the cry: "Slay me not! I am Henry of Winchester, your King." The marchers gratified their rage by massacring helpless fugitives, and by mutilating the bodies of the slain. Earl Simon's head was sent as a present to the wife of Roger Mortimer; and it was with difficulty that the mangled corpse found its last rest in the church of Evesham Abbey. His memory long lived in the hearts of his adopted countrymen, and especially among monks and friars, who despite the ban of the Church, hailed him as another St. Thomas, for he too had lain down his life for the cause of justice and religion. Miracles were worked at his tomb; liturgies composed in his honour, and an informal popular canonisation, which no papal censures could prevent, kept his memory green. His faults were forgotten in the pathos of his end. His work survived the field of Evesham and the reaction which succeeded it. His victorious nephew learnt well the lesson of his career, and the true successor of the martyred earl was the future Edward I.

No thoughts of policy disturbed the fierce passion of revenge which possessed the victorious marchers. On August 7 Henry issued a proclamation announcing that he had resumed the personal exercise of the royal power. The baronial ministers and sheriffs were replaced by royalist partisans. The acts of the revolutionary government were denounced as invalid. The faithful city of London was cruelly humiliated for its zeal for Earl Simon. The exiles, headed by Queen Eleanor and Archbishop Boniface, returned from their long sojourn beyond sea. With them came to England a new legate, the Cardinal Ottobon, specially sent from the papal court to punish the bishops and clergy that had persisted in their adherence to the popular cause. Four prelates were excommunicated and suspended from their functions, including Berkstead of Chichester and Cantilupe of Worcester. But the aged Bishop of Worcester was delivered from persecution by death; "snatched away," as a kindly foe says, "lest he should see evil days". His nephew, Thomas of Cantilupe, the baronial chancellor, fled to Paris, where he forsook politics for the study of theology. The widowed Countess of Leicester was not saved by her near kindred to the king from lifelong banishment. At last a general sentence of forfeiture was pronounced against all who had fought against Edward, either at Kenilworth or Evesham. There was a greedy scramble for the spoils of victory. The greatest of these, Montfort's forfeited earldom of Leicester, went to Edmund, the king's younger son. Edward took back the earldom of Chester and all his old possessions. Roger Mortimer was rewarded by grants of land and franchises which raised the house of Wigmore to a position only surpassed by that of the strongest of the earldoms.

At first the Montfort party showed an inclination to accept the defeat at Evesham as decisive. Even young Simon of Montfort, who still held out at Kenilworth, considered it prudent to restore his prisoner, the King of the Romans, to liberty. But the victors' resolve to deprive all their beaten foes of their estates, drove the vanquished into fresh risings. The first centre of the revolt of the disinherited was at Kenilworth, but before long the younger Simon abandoned the castle to join a numerous band which had found a more secure retreat in the isle of Axholme, amidst the marshes of the lower Trent. There they held their own until the winter, when they were persuaded by Edward to accept terms. A little later, Simon again revolted and joined the mariners of the Cinque Ports, whose towns still held out against the king, save Dover, which Edward had captured after a siege. Under Simon's leadership the Cinque Ports played the part of pirates on all merchants going to and from England. At last in March, 1266, Edward forced Winchelsea to open its gates to him. He next turned his arms against a valiant freebooter, Adam Gordon, who lurked with his band of outlaws in the dense beech woods of the Chilterns. With the capture of Adam Gordon, after a hand-to-hand tussle with Edward in which the king's son narrowly escaped with his life, the resistance in the south was at an end.

As one centre of rebellion was pacified other disturbances arose. In the spring of 1266, Robert Ferrars, Earl of Derby, newly released from the prison into which Earl Simon had thrown him, raised a revolt in his own county. On May 15, 1266, Derby was defeated by Henry of Almaine at Chesterfield. His earldom was transferred to Edmund, the king's son, already Montfort's successor as Earl of Leicester, and in 1267 also Earl of Lancaster, a new earldom, deriving its name from the youngest of the shires.[1] Reduced to the Staffordshire estate of Chartley, the house of Ferrars fell back into the minor baronage. Kenilworth was still unconquered. Its walls were impregnable except to famine, and before his flight to Axholme young Simon had procured provisions adequate for a long resistance. The garrison harried the neighbourhood with such energy that the whole levies of the realm were assembled to subdue it. After a fruitless assault, the royalists settled down to a blockade which lasted from midsummer to Christmas. The legate, Ottobon, appearing in the besiegers' camp to excommunicate the defenders, they in derision dressed up their surgeon in the red robes of a cardinal, in which disguise he answered Ottobon's curses by a travesty of the censures of the Church.

[1] For Edmund's estates and whole career, see W.E. Rhodes' Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, in Engl. Hist. Review, x. (1895), 19-40 and 209-37.

The blockade soon tried the patience of the barons. It was hard to keep any medieval army long together, and the lords, anxious to go back to their homes, complained of the harsh policy that compelled their long attendance. The royalist host split up into two parties, led respectively by Roger Mortimer and Earl Gilbert of Gloucester. The cruel lord of Wigmore was the type of the extreme reaction. Intent only on vengeance, booty, and ambition, Mortimer clamoured for violent measures, and was eager to reject all compromises. Gloucester, on the other hand, posed as the mediator, and urged the need of pacifying the disinherited by mitigating the sentence of forfeiture which had driven them into prolonged resistance. In the first flush of victory, Edward had been altogether on Mortimer's side, but gradually statecraft and humanity turned him from the reckless policy of the marcher. Edward's adhesion to counsels of moderation changed the situation. While Mortimer pressed the siege of Kenilworth, Edward and Gloucester met a parliament at Northampton which agreed to uphold the policy of 1258 and mitigate the hard lot of the disinherited. A document drawn up in the camp at Kenilworth received the approval of parliament and was published on October 31. The Dictum de Kenilworth, as it was called, was largely taken up with assertions of the authority of the crown, and denunciations of the memory of Earl Simon. More essential points were the re-enactment of the Charters and the redress of some of the grievances against which the Provisions of 1258 were directed. The vital article, however, laid down that the stern sentence of forfeiture against adherents of the fallen cause was to be remitted, and allowed rebels to redeem their estates by paying a fine, which in most cases was to be assessed at five years' value of their lands. Hard as were these terms, they were milder than those which had previously been offered to the insurgents. Yet the defenders of Kenilworth could not bring themselves to accept them until December, when disease and famine caused them to surrender. Despite their long-deferred submission, the garrison was admitted to the terms of the Dictum.

Even then resistance was not yet over. A forlorn hope of the disinherited, headed by John d'Eyville, established themselves about Michaelmas in the isle of Ely, where they made themselves the terror of all East Anglia, plundering towns so far apart as Norwich and Cambridge, maltreating the Jews, and holding the rich citizens to ransom. Early in 1267 the north-country baron, John of Vescy, rose in Northumberland, and violently resumed possession of his forfeited castle of Alnwick. While Henry tarried at Cambridge, Edward went north and soon won over Vescy by the clemency which made the lord of Alnwick henceforth one of his most devoted servants.

More formidable than the revolt of Eyville or Vescy was the ambiguous attitude of Earl Gilbert of Gloucester. Roger Mortimer was once more intriguing against him, and striving to upset the Kenilworth compromise. After a violent scene between the two enemies in the parliament at Bury, Gloucester withdrew to the march of Wales, where he waged war against Mortimer. In April, 1267, he made his way with a great following to London, professing that he wished to hold a conference with the legate. It was a critical moment. Edward was still in the north; Henry was wasting his time at Cambridge; the Londoners welcomed Earl Gilbert as a champion of the good old cause; the legate took refuge in the Tower, and the earl did not hesitate to lay siege to the stronghold. Before long Gloucester was joined by Eyville and many of the Ely fugitives. It seemed as if Gloucester was in as strong position as Montfort had ever won, and that after two years of warfare the verdict of Evesham was about to be reversed.

Edward marched south and joined forces with his father, who had moved from Cambridge to Stratford, near London. Everything seemed to suggest that the eastern suburbs of London would witness a fight as stubborn as Lewes or Evesham. But Gloucester was not the man to press things to extremities, and Edward though firm was conciliatory. He delivered Ottobon from the hands of the rebels,[1] and then arranged a peace upon terms which secured Gloucester's chief object of procuring better conditions for the disinherited. Not only Earl Gilbert but Eyville and his associates were admitted to the royal favour. A few desperadoes still held out until July in the isle of Ely, and Edward devoted himself to tracking them to their lairs. He built causeways of wattles over the fens, which protected the disinherited in their last refuge. When he had clearly shown his superiority, he offered the garrison of Ely the terms of the Dictum de Kenilworth. With their acceptance of these conditions the English struggle ended, in July, 1267, nearly two years after the battle of Evesham.

[1] Engl. Hist. Review, xvii. (1902), 522.

Llewelyn still remained under arms. He had profited by the two years of strife to deal deadly blows against the marchers. He conquered the Mid-Welsh lands which had been granted to Mortimer, and devastated Edward's Cheshire earldom. When Gloucester grew discontented with the course of events, the old friend of Montfort became the close ally of the man who had ruined Montfort's cause. A Welsh chronicler treats Gloucester's march to London as a movement which naturally followed the alliance of Gloucester and Llewelyn. On Gloucester's submission, Llewelyn was left to his own resources. Edward had it in his power to avenge past injuries by turning all his forces against his old enemy. But the country was weary of war, and Edward preferred to end the struggle. The legate Ottobon urged both Edward and the Welsh prince to make peace, and in September, 1267, Henry and his son went down to Shrewsbury, accompanied by Ottobon, who received from the king full powers to treat with Llewelyn, and a promise that Henry would accept any terms that he thought fit to conclude. Llewelyn thereupon sent ambassadors to Shrewsbury, and the negotiations went on so smoothly that on September 25 a definite treaty of peace was signed. On Michaelmas day Henry met Llewelyn at Montgomery, received his homage, and witnessed the formal ratification of the treaty.

By the treaty of Shrewsbury Llewelyn was recognised as Prince of Wales, and as overlord of all the Welsh magnates, save the representative of the old line of the princes of South Wales. The four cantreds, Edward's old patrimony, were ceded to him; and though he promised to surrender many of his conquests, he was allowed to remain in possession of great tracts of land in Mid and South Wales, in the heart of the marcher region.[1] Substantially the Welsh prince was recognised as holding the position which he claimed from Montfort in the days of the treaty of Pipton. Alone of Montfort's friends, Llewelyn came out of an unsuccessful struggle upon terms such as are seldom obtained even by victory in the field. The triumph of the Welsh prince is the more remarkable because Edward and his ally, Mortimer, were the chief sufferers by the treaty. But Edward had learnt wisdom during his apprenticeship. He recognised that the exhaustion of the country demanded peace at any price, and he dreaded the possibility of the alliance of Llewelyn and Earl Gilbert. But whatever Edward's motives may have been in concluding the treaty, it left Llewelyn in so strong a position that he was encouraged to those fresh aggressions which in the next reign proved the ruin of his power. The Welsh wars of Edward I. are the best elucidation of the importance of the treaty of Shrewsbury. The Welsh principality, which Edward as king was to destroy, was as much the creation of the Barons' War as the outcome of the fierce Celtic enthusiasm which found its bravest champion in the son of Griffith.

[1] For the growth of Llewelyn's power see the maps of Wales in 1247 and 1267 in Owens College Historical Essays, pp. 76 and 135.

It was time to redeem the promises by which the moderate party had been won over to the royalist cause. The statute of Marlborough of 1267 re-enacted in a more formal fashion the chief of the Provisions of Westminster of 1259, and thus prevented the undoing of all the progress attained during the years of struggle. Ottobon in 1268 held a famous council at London, in which important canons were enacted with a view to the reformation of the Church. A little later the Londoners received back their forfeited charters and the disinherited were restored to their estates. After these last measures of reparation, England sank into a profound repose that lasted for the rest of the reign of Henry III. A happy beginning of the years of peace was the dedication of the new abbey of Westminster, and the translation of the body of St. Edward to the new shrine, whose completion had long been the dearest object of the old king's life.

At this time Louis IX. was meditating his second crusade, and in every country in Europe the friars were preaching the duty of fighting the infidel. Nowhere save in France did the Holy War win more powerful recruits than in England. In 1268 Edward himself took the cross, [1] and with him his brother Edmund of Lancaster, his cousin Henry of Almaine, and many leading lords of both factions. Financial difficulties delayed the departure of the crusaders, and it was not until 1270 that Edward and Henry were able to start. On reaching Provence, they learnt that Louis had turned his arms against Tunis, whither they followed him with all speed. On Edward's arrival off Tunis, he found that Louis was dead and that Philip III., the new French king, had concluded a truce with the misbelievers. Profoundly mortified by this treason to Christendom, Edward set forth with his little squadron to Acre, the chief town of Palestine that still remained in Christian hands. Henry of Almaine preferred to return home at once, but on his way through Italy was murdered at Viterbo by the sons of Earl Simon of Montfort, a deed of blood which revived the bitterest memories of the Barons' War. Edward remained in Palestine until August, 1272, and threw all his wonted fire and courage into the hopeless task of upholding the fast-decaying Latin kingdom. At last alarming news of his father's health brought him back to Europe.

[1] For Edward's crusade see Riant's article in Archives de l'Orient Latin, i., 617-32 (1881).

On November 16, 1272, Henry III., then in his sixty-sixth year, died at Westminster. His remains were laid at rest in the neighbouring abbey church, hard by the shrine of St. Edward. With him died the last of his generation. St. Louis' death in August, 1270, has already been recorded. The death of Clement IV. in 1268 was followed by a three years' vacancy in the papacy. This was scarcely over when Richard, King of the Romans, prostrated by the tragedy of Viterbo, preceded his brother to the tomb. Still earlier, Boniface of Canterbury had ended his tenure of the chair of St. Augustine. The new reign begins with fresh actors and fresh motives of action.



The Dominican chronicler, Nicholas Trivet, thus describes the personality of Edward I.: "He was of elegant build and lofty stature, exceeding the height of the ordinary man by a head and shoulders. His abundant hair was yellow in childhood, black in manhood, and snowy white in age. His brow was broad, and his features regular, save that his left eyelid drooped somewhat, like that of his father, and hid part of the pupil. He spoke with a stammer, which did not, however, detract from the persuasiveness of his eloquence. His sinewy, muscular arms were those of the consummate swordsman, and his long legs gave him a firm hold in the saddle when riding the most spirited of steeds. His chief delight was in war and tournaments, but he derived great pleasure from hawking and hunting, and had a special joy in chasing down stags on a fleet horse and slaying them with a sword instead of a hunting spear. His disposition was magnanimous, but he was intolerant of injuries, and reckless of dangers when seeking revenge, though easily won over by a humble submission."[1] The defects of his youth are well brought out by the radical friar who wrote the Song of Lewes. Even to the partisan of Earl Simon, Edward was "a valiant lion, quick to attack the strongest, and fearing the onslaught of none. But if a lion in pride and fierceness, he was a panther in inconstancy and mutability, changing his word and promise, cloaking himself by pleasant speech. When he is in a strait he promises whatever you wish, but as soon as he has escaped he forgets his promise. The treachery or falsehood, whereby he is advanced, he calls prudence; the way whereby he arrives whither he will, crooked though it be, he regards as straight; whatever he likes he says is lawful, and he thinks he is released from the law, as though he were greater than a king."[2]

[1] Annals, pp. 181-82.

[2] Song of Lewes, pp. 14-15, ed. Kingsford.

Hot and impulsive in disposition, easily persuaded that his own cause was right, and with a full share in the pride of caste, Edward committed many deeds of violence in his youth, and never got over his deeply rooted habit of keeping the letter of his promise while violating its spirit. Yet he learnt to curb his impetuous temper, and few medieval kings had a higher idea of justice or a more strict regard to his plighted word. "Keep troth" was inscribed upon his tomb, and his reign signally falsified the prediction of evil which the Lewes song-writer ventured to utter. A true sympathy bound him closely to his nobles and people. His unstained family life, his piety and religious zeal, his devotion to friends and kinsfolk, his keen interest in the best movements of his time, showed him a true son of Henry III. But his strength of will and seriousness of purpose stand in strong contrast to his father's weakness and levity. A hard-working, clear-headed, practical, and sober temperament made him the most capable king of all his line. He may have been wanting in originality or deep insight, yet it is impossible to dispute the verdict that has declared him to be the greatest of all the Plantagenets.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14     Next Part
Home - Random Browse