In the year 1252

Our stroll takes us to house number 1252 and one of those trials of the century before the term was actually invented. It took place over the course of six weeks in May and June in the refectory of Westminster Abbey. In the dock was Simon de Montfort, who four years before that had been appointed viceroy of Gascony by Henry III. This last continental possession of the Plantagenet dynasty was in danger of being lost if order wasn’t restored there. Simon brought the Gascons to heel, now they were accusing him of being a brute and Henry was inclined to believe them. We have two accounts of his trial before a panel of his peers. One commentator who wasn’t there says Simon responded to a lashing from the king by calling him a liar and threatening his life. Another who was there says Simon just took it stoically. In the end, all the peers were his friends or allies and they refused to convict him. Henry had no choice but to accept their verdict and send Simon back to Gascony, but not before calling him a warmonger and wishing him the reward he deserved. Simon swore he would not return until he had his accusers groveling at the king’s feet. In fact the moment he landed, the Gascons ambushed him and the war was on again. Henry had enough, fired him, and made plans to go there himself to de-Simonize the situation.

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