"uncomplicated, almost naive man, and a lover of peace."
In our tales of history, the events of 1258 to 1265, were played out through the actions of a man who would come to be known as "the father of the English parliament" - Simon de Montfort, who Chronicler Matthew Paris describes as dictatorial and a military strategist, stating he was charismatic, plain spoken and fair.
Many of Henry III's barons had become a law unto themselves and they were now seeing Henry as weak, David Carpenter writes that Henry “failed as a ruler due to his naivety and inability to produce realistic plans for reform” and Henry did not do himself any favours, his personal extravagances that had resulted in large taxes and a major fall out with de Montfort did not help matters either. In 1238, in a blatant piece of favouritism towards de Montfort (interestingly, one of the reasons de Montfort took a dislike Henry III was because of his favouritism towards foreign nobles - it seems he conveniently forgot that he was a favoured foreigner himself !) Henry had approved de Montfort’s marriage to his sister Eleanor, and both Henry and de Montfort chose to ignore the condemnation of the marriage by the Archbishop of Canterbury along with the protest made by Henry's brother, the greedy Richard of Cornwall, who made a song and dance of the whole episode, however he was eventually bought on side for a couple of bags of gold. Henry also appointed de Montfort as Governor of Gascony, a mistake that cost him dearly. In Gascony, Montfort was disliked, but he was powerful and he abused his position and this forced Henry to intervene. On Montfort's return to England, he too perceived Henry as weak and with the barons eager for a fight, Simon de Montfort stepped into take charge.
Edward had raised an army that outnumbered de Montfort's forces and had pursued them through the Welsh Marches to the Worcestershire town of Evesham. Edward arrived there on the morning of the 4th of August 1265. This arrival had taken de Montfort by surprise, but he was quick to respond and taking the king along with him engaged Edward's army, however within hours the battle turned into what can only be described as a massacre, one historian writing that it was "an episode of noble bloodletting unprecedented since the Conquest." quickly followed by Simon de Montfort's grizzly end, a fact that bears witness to the slaughter.
"The head of the Earl of Leicester, it is said, was severed from his body, and his testicles cut off and hung on
either side of his nose. In this state, the head was sent to the wife of Roger de Mortimer, at Wigmore Castle.
Simon de Montfort’s hands and feet were also cut off, and sent to many of his enemies as a great mark of dishonour
to the deceased. The trunk of his body, however, and that alone, was given for burial in the church of Evesham."
Also losing their lives that day were Simon's son Henry, and Peter de Montfort who both died in the battle. Hugh Despencer, Chief Justiciar of England, grandfather of the more famous Hugh Despencer the younger, was slain at the hands of Roger Mortimer.