Before there was King Lear

In May 1265 Simon de Montfort had been at the head of a parliamentary state for one year, with King Henry III a mere figurehead in it. The escape of Henry’s son Edward at the end of that month led to a royalist resurgence and decisive battle at Evesham on 4 August 1265. Here on Greenhill, north of the town, the sky darkened as Edward’s men unleashed a slaughter that claimed Montfort, most of his knights,  and very nearly his own father. The butchery, thunderstorm and pathos of an aged king forced to fight against his will anticipate later Shakespearean tragedy.

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