In the year 1243

The next house is 1242 but it shows no number to this effect and the front yard looks kind of eerie. It’s just as well, because that year saw Henry III and six earls, including Simon de Montfort, nearly get bagged by the French in the rout of Taillebourg. They would probably prefer we move on to 1243. In this year Henry and his wife Eleanor of Provence returned from Gascony after an absence of 18 months. They had with them a new child, Beatrice, who would get to meet her older siblings Edward (4) and Margaret (3). They were staying at Windsor, where at one point they complained to their minders that the wine was terrible, probably a local iron-flavoured variety. When Henry learned of this, he told the constable to go down to the cellar and fetch them the best. There has been a lot of debate about what children this young were doing drinking wine. Perhaps it was diluted to soft drink form or else given to them for medicinal effects. Simon and Eleanor de Montfort also returned to England with their growing brood, now three boys, and she was pregnant again. It will be remembered how she gave up her vow of celibacy to marry Simon because she desired to be a mother. It will also be remembered how her mother Isabella of Angoulême had 14 children in all.

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