The confederation is born

On 12 April 1258, Simon de Montfort joined six other barons in a sworn confederation against the Lusignans, the four younger half-brothers of Henry III. A drawing of the original document shows the arms of five of the confederates.
   At the far left are those of Roger Bigod, earl of Norfolk. He had no personal disputes with the Lusignans and fought at neither Lewes nor Evesham, but did support Simon’s regime. He died in 1270.
   The next arms show Simon’s famed fork-tailed lion. He was married […]

May 2024 Roundtable

In this episode of the Henry III Roundtable, historians Darren Baker, John Marshall and Michael Ray follow up their discussion on foreign favorites at Henry’s court with […]

Two anniversaries

Today the 14th of May marks the 805th anniversary of the death of William Marshal. He died on this day in 1219, still regent for the young Henry III, whom he knighted […]

April 2024 Roundtable

The Roundtable this month takes up the third and final part of the two most prominent groups of foreigners at Henry’s court, the Savoyards and Lusignans. It’s 1265. Simon de Montfort is dead, his anti-alien platform crushed and defeated. The Savoyards continue their contributions to the realm […]

There’s loyalty, and there’s trust

February 1263 was a hard month for Henry III. The winter was so cold the Thames froze from bank to bank. His chamber at Westminster Palace burned to the ground. But his major worry remained Simon de Montfort. The stubborn earl of Leicester had rejected an attempt by Louis IX of France to end their quarrel and instead […]

George, not Edward

Today is the day that wasn’t supposed to be. Between 1245 and 1269, Henry III laboured to rebuild Westminster Abbey with a shrine to Edward the Confessor as the centrepiece. His hope was for Edward […]

Death of Eleanor de Montfort

Eleanor, the youngest daughter of King John, died on this day of 13 April in 1275. As a Plantagenet, then a Marshal, finally a Montfort, she bore the names of three of the most distinguished families in English history. She was first married to William Marshal II […]

Death of King Richard

On this day of the 2nd of April in 1272, Richard of Cornwall was at Berkhamsted when he ‘exchanged the fleeting glories of the world for the heavenly kingdom’. Those glories included a vast fortune and three beautiful wives, the last of whom was forty years younger. His travels saw him […]

Next Henry III Roundtable

The next session of the Henry III Roundtable will take place on Thursday, 25th April 2024 at 4 PM (GMT). The link to join the meeting will appear on these pages shortly. It will be the third and final discussion on the Savoyards and Lusignans, namely a look at […]

March 2024 Roundtable

The March 2024 Henry III Roundtable continued their informative discussion on the two most prominent groups of foreigners at Henry’s court during the long years of his personal rule. It’s 1258, the beginning of the reform period, and the Savoyards, the so-called Queen’s Men, have engineered the ouster of their younger rivals the Lusignans (King’s Men) […]

Murder of Henry of Almain

Henry of Almain was born on November 2, 1235, the only surviving child of Richard of Cornwall and Isabel Marshal, making both King John and William Marshal his grandfathers. Named after his uncle Henry III, he was raised at Windsor following the death of his mother in childbirth in 1240. He was in Aachen in 1257 when his father was crowned King of Germany. Richard then knighted Henry at the same ceremony, thus making him Henry “of Almain” to indicate […]

Merlin lurking

A bottle of Gascon wine from the south of France. Henry III was quite fond of wine from Gascony, another reason why he was so determined to hang onto the duchy against the encroachment of the French. Very fine wine, only fitting that it be enjoyed in a glass that recalls Henry’s era. That’s Merlin lurking in the background.

Henry’s younger sisters

Henry III had an incredible 24 siblings, of which 10 were his father’s illegitimate offspring and 9 were the children of his mother’s second marriage. Of the 5 children begot by his parents together, the two oldest were boys, Henry and Richard, followed by three girls: Joan, Isabella, and Eleanor. Henry was exceptionally close to his sisters and today is a good day to remember them […]

First grandchild

In February of 1261, Henry III and Eleanor of Provence became grandparents for the first time. Their eldest daughter Margaret gave birth to a daughter, also named Margaret, who would later become the queen of Norway and mother of another Margaret, the ill-fated Maid of Norway […]

The Tower Elephant

The first known elephant in England arrived in 1255. It was made a gift to Henry III by Louis IX of France, who himself had received it from his former captor, the Sultan of Egypt. Chronicler Matthew Paris drew a picture of it, noting that it was 10 years old and 10 feet tall. It was housed at the Tower of London […]

The creation of the universe

The Cosmati pavement at the high altar of Westminster Abbey, one of the wonders of the medieval world. In these intricate shapes and swirls, Henry III sought to represent the creation of the universe as it emerges from a nebula-like center disc. He also devised a formula, based on the life expectancy of living creatures, both real and imagined, to determine the age […]

Wheel of Fortune

When Henry III invested Simon de Montfort with the title Earl of Leicester in 1239, the two men were standing on the dais (platform) next to the west wall of Winchester Hall, where the round table crafted during the reign of Henry’s son Edward hangs today […]

Born on this day

Richard of Cornwall, younger brother of Henry III and the only Englishman to wear the crown of Germany, was born on this day of the 5th of January in 1209 in Devizes. Richard and Henry were the only contemporary brother kings in English history, yet both have been squeezed out of their rightful place […]

On this day of 1st October

Henry III was born in Winchester in 1207. Henry was very much attached to Winchester and often held his colourful Christmas courts there. He built the Great Hall that still stands there, and yet the city remains indifferent to his memory […]

Review of Henry III volume 2

Volume 2 of David Carpenter’s biography of Henry III for the Yale English Monarchs Series is out, and so is […]