This seat of the Montfort family, located about 50 km west of Paris, derives its name from a fort built by Simon’s ancestors in the 10th century on a hill overlooking a strategic trade route. The castle around which the village grew was hotly contested during the Hundred Years’ War until the English destroyed it for good
The view Simon de Montfort likely had on 14 May 1264 as he ordered his men down the slope against the king’s forces arrayed in front of the city walls. Henry fought bravely but was ultimately overcome after Edward, commanding his right wing, scored a smashing victory but then took off in pursuit of revenge.
Granted by Henry to Simon and Eleanor in 1244, this Norman castle became their primary English residence and the scene of the largest siege ever conducted on English soil. The fortress held out, largely thanks to Simon’s improvements, for 18 months against the royalists. The Dictum of Kenilworth which followed offered better terms to the surviving rebels.
It was in this little church in Viterbo, Italy, that Guy de Montfort and his brother Simon murdered Richard’s son Henry of Almaine in 1271, as he prayed at the altar. Henry had switched sides to the royalists, something that bothered him deeply at the time, but his cousins still considered him a traitor.
A terrible storm arose over these ravines as the royalists under Edward’s command surrounded the remnants of the reformist army on 4 August 1265. Knowing he was doomed, Simon decided that the king would fight with him to the last. Henry was lucky to escape the slaughter, which claimed Montfort, his son Henry, and many of England’s finest young nobles.
Here near the banks of the river Charente, not far from La Rochelle, Henry saw his dreams of reconquest in France come to an ignominious end in July 1242. Abandoned by his French allies, the king was able to escape only thanks to a rearguard action led by de Montfort and other barons. Henry would never forgive Simon for never letting him forget the service he did him.