Henry III

The Second Barons' War

Henry III returned to England in February 1264 with several reinforcements. Predictably, Louis’ ruling was rejected by the opposition, again in alliance with Llewellyn, due to its one-sidedness. Negotiations at Oxford in March came to nothing, following which Henry summoned his forces and took Simon the Younger, son of Montfort, at Northampton. Montfort, meanwhile, was present in London when the city erupted into violence and proceeded to lay siege to Rochester. When Henry’s forces moved south to relieve the castle, Montfort also moved on. After augmenting his rule over the Cinque Ports, Henry took refuge at Lewes, setting up base at the priory. Montfort was also on the move. After Simon’s last offer of peace was rejected, the rebels’ forces came to Lewes on the morning of 14 May after staying the previous night at nearby Fletching. Despite a numerical advantage, Henry army was defeated. Edward’s rashness in harrying the Londoners from the field cost the Royalists dear, leading to Simon’s victory and Henry’s forced acceptance of the Mise of Lewes.

For the next 15 months, Henry had little choice but to abide by Simon’s rule. On 22 June 4 knights from each shire were summoned to parliament, another landmark moment. As Simon feared invasion from Henry’s queen, who had remained in France since the previous October, he vigilantly guarded the coast and winter passed without invasion. In January, another important parliament was held, where representatives from the shires, boroughs and cities were summoned. On 14 March Henry agreed to the new constitution. As the year progressed the Earl of Gloucester endured further strained relations with Simon, leading to his defection. When Edward escaped Simon’s guard, the tide turned. While Simon and Henry spent the night at Evesham Abbey on 3 August, Edward’s forces closed in. In the ensuing battle, Simon was defeated, his remains interred in the nearby abbey. The citizens of London submitted on 6 October, and so did most of the other rebels. When Henry returned to power, he revoked recent legislation and disinherited those who had fought against him. Nevertheless, much of what was introduced in the parliament of 1258 was accepted.

Those who were disinherited took up refuge at Kenilworth castle, surviving until December 1266. A minor revolt continued throughout 1266 and 67, led by Simon the Younger, eventually leading to peace. Peace was also made with Llewellyn, at significant gain to the Welsh. By November 1267 the country was in a state of repair. Representatives of the counties were summoned to parliament at Marlborough, during which most of the agreements of 1258 were implemented, though the king retained control over the appointment of ministers. By 1270 Henry had overseen the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey, the crowning achievement of his reign. In August Edward departed for crusade. The king’s health deteriorated seriously over the next two years and on 16 November 1272, he died. Four days later he was interred in the new abbey, at the spot where the body of Edward the Confessor, the saint to whom King Henry III had been most devoted, had once lain.