Montfort, Simon de, earl of Leicester

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Montfort, Simon de, earl of Leicester,

1208?–1265, leader of the baronial revolt against Henry IIIHenry III,
1207–72, king of England (1216–72), son and successor of King John. Reign
Early Years

Henry became king under a regency; William Marshal, 1st earl of Pembroke, and later Pandulf acted as chief of government, while Peter des Roches
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 of England.

Early Life

He was born in France, the son of Simon de MontfortMontfort, Simon de
, c.1160–1218, count of Montfort and earl of Leicester. A participant in the Fourth Crusade (1202–4), he did not join in the sack of Constantinople, but instead proceeded to Syria. He later led the crusade against the Albigenses.
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, leader of the Albigensian Crusade. After his father's death, he received the claim to the earldom of Leicester, inherited from his grandmother. He went to England in 1229, and two years later his earldom was recognized by Henry III. He became one of the king's advisers and in 1238 married Eleanor, Henry's sister. In 1240, Simon distinguished himself on crusade in Palestine under Richard, earl of CornwallRichard, earl of Cornwall,
1209–72, second son of King John of England and brother of Henry III. In 1227, following an expedition to Gascony and Poitou, Richard forced Henry to grant him the land and wealth he regarded as his right, as well as the title of earl of Cornwall.
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The Gascon Campaigns

Returning to France in 1242, he joined Henry III in the Gascon campaigns of 1242–43. Simon was preparing to go on a new crusade when in 1248 Henry sent him to Gascony with unlimited powers to bring order out of the anarchy of petty feudal wars and rebellions against English authority. Simon was skillful and ruthless in using military force to crush the turbulent Gascon barons and achieved a somewhat unstable order. But loud Gascon protests provoked Henry in 1252 to call Simon to an inquiry in England. After a bitter quarrel with the king was temporarily ended, Simon returned to Gascony, only to be interrupted a second time by a royal order to desist in the middle of his campaign so that young Prince Edward (later Edward IEdward I,
1239–1307, king of England (1272–1307), son of and successor to Henry III. Early Life

By his marriage (1254) to Eleanor of Castile Edward gained new claims in France and strengthened the English rights to Gascony.
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) might take Gascony in charge.

Leader of the Baronial Opposition

By 1258 Simon was an active member of the baronial opposition that forced the king to turn over the power of government to a committee of 15 (of whom Simon was one), which ruled under the Provisions of OxfordProvisions of Oxford,
1258, a scheme of governmental reform forced upon Henry III of England by his barons. In 1258 a group of barons, angered by the king's Sicilian adventure and the expenditures it entailed, compelled Henry to accept the appointment of a committee of 24
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, supplemented by the Provisions of Westminster of 1259. Divisions soon appeared in the baronial party, and in 1261, when a majority of the barons consented to an unfavorable compromise with the king, Simon left England. There was, however, renewed discontent in England following Henry's annulment (1262) of the provisions, and in 1263 Simon returned to assume leadership in the Barons' WarBarons' War,
in English history, war of 1263–67 between King Henry III and his barons. In 1261, Henry III renounced the Provisions of Oxford (1258) and the Provisions of Westminster (1259), which had vested considerable power in a council of barons, and reasserted his
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Simon won a great victory at Lewes in 1264 and became master of England, which he intended to place under a form of government similar to that prescribed in the Provisions of Oxford. However, he could achieve no legal settlement with the king and so ruled as virtual military dictator. His famous ParliamentParliament,
legislative assembly of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Over the centuries it has become more than a legislative body; it is the sovereign power of Great Britain, whereas the monarch remains sovereign in name only.
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 of 1265, to which he summoned not only knights from each shire but also, for the first time, representatives from boroughs, was an attempt to rally national support, but at the same time he was alienating many of his baronial supporters. In 1265 his most powerful ally, Gilbert de Clare, 8th earl of GloucesterGloucester
, city (1991 pop. 106,526) and district, Gloucestershire, W central England, on the Severn River. Manufactures in Gloucester include aircraft components, agricultural machinery, railroad equipment, and processed foods.
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, deserted and with Prince Edward joined the nobles of the Welsh Marches to start the wars again. Simon de Montfort was defeated and killed at Evesham.


See C. Bémont, Simon de Montfort (tr. by E. F. Jacob, 1930); R. F. Treharne, The Baronial Plan of Reform (1932); F. M. Powicke, King Henry III and the Lord Edward (1947) and The Thirteenth Century (1953).

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