Month: April 2016

Simon de Montfort

Today and tomorrow is dedicated to Simon de Montfort. Today is about how powerful and influential he became and tomorrow see’s his gruesome downfall at the Battle of Evesham. D for de Montford and E for Evesham. I think I can get away with that.

Simon de Montfort was born in Normandy in or around 1208 and came to England in 1229 to claim the earldom of Leicester that was linked through his mother. He became a close of friend of the Young King Henry III and this lead to the marriage to the King’s sister Eleanor in 1238. He finally gained his title of the 6th earl of Leicester the following year.

Simon de Montfort

In 1240 he went on crusade and returned two years later and supported Henry in campaigns in Gascon against Louis IX of France. He then became Governor of Gascony taking full control of Gascony region where he crushed the feuding barons. This caused friction in the area and following the King receiving relentless complaints from the Gascon barons Simon resigned as Governor. Relationship after were strained from then on between Simon and Henry.

Simon in 1258 led the barons seeking reforms on the king and helped draw up the Provision of Oxford that were an extension to and more empowering documents than the previous Magna Carta. The Provision put restriction on Henry, as King of England, and introduced a new form of government. Henry after agreeing the Provisions violated the terms of the agreement that led to the barons declaring war against the King. Simon led the barons in their revolt.

On the 14 May 1264 Simon and the barons were victors at the Battle of Lewes capturing the King and his son Prince Edward, who was to become Edward I in future years. A government was formed, ‘Mise of Lewes’, where Henry was forced to sign removing his powers and Simon de Montfort became ruler of England.

At this point things were looking good for Simon but how long can it last. Find out tomorrow with the Battle of Evesham blog.

 


To find out more about The Second Barons’ War: Simon De Montfort and the Battles of Lewes and Evesham click here

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Crusades – Richard The Lionheart

I have so many favorites within the Plantagenet dynasty and Richard The Lionheart of course has to be one. Richard I the third son of Henry II was born in September 1157 and was the younger brother of Henry The Young King and William who died at the age of two before Richard was born. It was never expected that Richard was to become King until his older brother Henry died in 1183 making Richard heir to the English throne.

Richard is made out to be a hero in modern history with Robin Hood and big bad King John well there is another side to the story and some of things I have included in this article.

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Richard spent less than six months in England during his reign as King. Richard lived for the Crusades and to free Jerusalem of the infidel.To fund the Crusades he used up large reserves of the treasury, increased taxes and mortgaged anything he could to raise funds, leaving England in a financial mess.

The third crusade was launched in 1189 due to Saladin capturing Jerusalem and Acre two years earlier. Following a long and eventful journey they eventually arrived by sea in Acre in 1191. Here Richard claimed success by recapturing the city with Guy of Lusignan who had been fighting against the Saracens for the last two years.

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Richard continued his campaign from his base in Jaffa and after numerous battles reached a stalemate and accepted he would not recapture Jerusalem he agreed a truce with Saladin the leader of the Saracens in 1192. The truce included free access for Christians to the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

If you would like to read more about The Crusades or Richard The Lionheart I strongly recommend Sharon Kay Penman book ‘Lionheart’ a truly brilliant read.

(Lionheart) By Sharon Kay Penman (Author) Hardcover on (Oct , 2011)

 

 

Battle of Bannockburn

On the 23 June 1314 the Scots took on the English led by Edward II. The Scots outnumbered by three to one with the Scots having 500 horsemen 6,000 foot soldiers against and English army of 2,000 battle hardened knights and 16,000 infantry.

The Scots led by the Robert Bruce, the King of Scotland.  The young Bruce had originally supported the English King Edward I and swore fealty in 1296. He remained in secret contact with Scots patriots during Edward I invasions of Scotland. Edward I died in 1307 and Robert began to rally support due the evident weakness of Edward II. In 1312 and 1313 he raided northern towns of England increasing his strength and support. By the year 1314 all but five border strongholds had been captured. It was in the summer of this year that Edward II arrived at the head of a large army at Bannockburn. The expedition was originally intended to relieve a garrison that was besieged by the Scots for the last year.

Edward’s troops first battled with Scots foot soldiers in the Forth Valley and overnight they moved to a position between the River Forth and Bannockburn. At dawn the Scots spearman attacked trapping the English between the two streams. The Scots forced the English army back until the river was swamped with the blood of English bodies.

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King Edward II fled the field and took refuge in Dunbar Castle until he sailed to home by boat. The battle lasted for two days and by the end it was reported that you could cross the river by treading over the countless bodies without getting wet.

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The Scots took a lot of the English knights captive that they used to exchange for Scottish prisoners. They also negotiated the release of Robert Bruce’s wife, daughter and sister. After the Battle of Bannockburn only Berwick was left in English hands.

For further information on the Battle I would recommend.
Battle of Kings: Bannockburn (The History Channel) [DVD]

Or for a great read:
Battle of Bannockburn 1314

 

Aquitaine – Eleanor of Aquitaine

Fortunately on my A-Z on The Plantagenet’s we conveniently start with A for Aquitaine, Eleanor of Aquitaine. The most influential women and one that is synonymous with the Plantagenet dynasty. She was born the daughter of William X, duke of Aquitaine; the exact date of her birth is unknown although believed to be circa 1122. During this period female records such as registering births were not considered an importance and a lot of Eleanor’s early life is based on speculation.  It has been suggested that her doting father provided her with an education that covered history and arithmetic that would equal an educated of a nobleman so that she would not be a submissive queen but one that would influence and rule.

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Eleanor only brother died in 1130 leaving her as heir presumptive of one of the largest domains in France. She succeeded to the duchy of Aquitaine in 1137, and the same year married Louis VII of France.

She travelled with Louis on the second crusade, in 1147 to 1149, and it was here that her marriage broke down and in 1152 the marriage was annulled.

She then married Henry Plantagenet the duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou. In 1154 Henry became King of England. Now under Plantagenet leadership were England, Normandy and the West of France. The marriage between the two was a fiery one, both were every headstrong, and with Henry’s infidelities made the relationship a strained one. She bore Henry five sons and three daughters. There was strife within the family when in 1173 she supported her sons, Henry the Young King, Richard and Geoffrey when they rebelled against King Henry. Henry defeated the rebellion and Eleanor was imprisoned for sixteen years until Henry’s death in 1189.

Richard I now became King of England and the relationship between Richard and Eleanor had always been a close and special one. In Richard’s absence from the country whilst on the Third Crusade, Eleanor ruled England as regent.

Eleanor was an able and intelligent queen was received approval and popularity from her citizens. On Richards’s death in 1199 she supported John’s claim to the throne against his nephew Arthur, duke of Brittany.

She died on 31 March 1204 and was buried in the Plantagenet funerary church at Fontevrault next to Henry II.

If you would like to find out more about Eleanor of Aquitaine I strongly recommend the books of Elizabeth Chadwick. One of my favourite authors for historical fiction.

Click here The Winter Crown (Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy)