Henry’s policy in Gascony was an absolute mess. The province was nominally Richard’s, but now, at the queen’s insistence, it was to be given to their teenage son Edward. Eleanor wanted it pacified, but not at the expense of her Gascon relatives, who were creating most of the trouble there. The king thought that by playing good cop to his lieutenant’s bad cop, he could win the affection of his subjects in the region. When Simon learned that his archenemy, the archbishop of Bordeaux, had left for England with a delegation to denounce him, he raced back across France to head them off. Although he arrived in good time, he found Henry in ill-humor and ready to believe the worst about him. Wanting to at least give the pretense of fairness, the king assembled a panel of the leading peers to render a verdict. Something of an unofficial transcript still survives from this trial, provided in the comments by our advocates.
9 thoughts on “An absolute mess”
Sir King, observe your letter investing me with the government of Gascony and restore all the money I have spent in your service there.
I am in nowise bound to observe promises made to a traitor like you, since you yourself have nullified them with your actions.
You are a liar! Fortunate for you that you bear the title of king, otherwise you would rue the day for uttering those words to me.
Apparently the king was too flabbergasted to make a response, so de Montfort went on with his attack.
Who would believe you a Christian? Have you ever gone to confession?
Ach, what’s the use of confession without repentance?
No act of my life do I repent more than permitting you to come to England to win land and honors and grow fat and insolent!
Even for Henry the trial was an incredible blunder. Led by Richard, still aggrieved over being deprived of his overlordship of Gascony, the magnates completely absolved Simon of all the charges against him. Their unanimous decision left the king politically isolated, so much so that he dared not order de Montfort’s arrest for calling him a liar and apostate and all but threatening his life.