Clerical War, not Barons’ War

More evidence that the ‘Second Barons’ War’ was in fact a ‘Clerical War’ comes in the writs for parliament to meet on this day of 20 January in 1265. Only 23 barons were summoned, practically all of them Montfortians, but the clergy had five times more representation, 120 ecclesiastics, 12 of them bishops. History tends to remember this parliament because it was the first time on record that the towns were also invited to attend, conferring credit on Simon de Montfort, then the de facto ruler, for being the founder of the House of Commons. But the clergy was still the dominant voice, because they saw in Montfort their dream of an English state where the Church was truly free of interfering monarchs like Henry III. Montfort needed their support, much as he now needed the towns and counties, to break the baronial opposition determined to bring him down. For more about how Simon de Montfort himself saw parliament as the future of national government, see this article I wrote for the History Vault.

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