Tag Archives: Amaury

The unholy struggle

1240
Crusades
Crusades

Crusading was all the rage among the nobility of the 13th century. Simon returned to England alone in the spring of 1240 to raise money for his own expedition and found Henry cordial, even friendly, but otherwise offering no relief in his scramble for funds. Eleanor accompanied him as far as southern Italy, where her brother-in-law Emperor Frederick gave her the use of a stone palace next to the sea. By the time Simon reached the Holy Land, the crusade was all but over. The French force had already been defeated and Simon’s brother Amaury taken prisoner. Richard, who also preceded him there, used his personal wealth to free the French contingent swept up by the Saracens. Amaury died on his way home in 1241 but the survivors would remember Richard’s gesture the next time England and France came to blows. Simon took no part in any real action, but the local population saw something in his leadership qualities, or connections, to prevail upon Frederick to appoint him their governor. Nothing came of the matter and Simon returned to France, where Henry was again in dire straits over another ill-advised military excursion.

Arriving in England

1230
Simon_Leicester
Simon_Leicester

When the middle brother died during another siege, the oldest brother Amaury had only Simon to contend with for possession of the family holdings. These included the estates and earldom of Leicester, half of which came to their father through his mother, an English heiress. Questioning the older Simon’s loyalty, John seized them during his conflict with France. Amaury invited his younger brother to go to England to try and win them back. Simon landed sometime around 1230 to plead his case to the king, who spoke French like the rest of the nobility. He was just in time, for Henry, older than him by a year or two, was about to embark on his own attempt to win back land, in this case all of Normandy. A young Frenchman like de Montfort, son of a renowned crusading scourge, might prove useful to the enterprise.