Death of Eleanor de Montfort

Eleanor, the youngest daughter of King John, died on this day of 13 April in 1275. As a Plantagenet, then a Marshal, finally a Montfort, she bore the names of three of the most distinguished families in English history. She was first married to William Marshal II, the earl of Pembroke, but his unexpected death in 1231 left her a 15-year-old childless widow. She took a vow of chastity, but regretted it when she met Simon de Montfort. Their affair scandalized Henry, but he allowed them to marry in 1238 against the opposition of the church and his barons. They had six children who survived to adulthood.
Twice in the next twenty years Henry banished Simon from court, first over financial improprieties, second over his harsh rule of Gascony. When the reform period began in 1258, Eleanor and Simon hoped their demands for her Marshal dower, the land and money due her as the widow of William Marshal, would be addressed. They were addressed, but not to their satisfaction. In 1264, Simon raised rebellion and took the royal family captive. His regime descended into corruption and Eleanor and their oldest sons were very much a part of it. It came to an end when Simon and their eldest son Henry de Montfort were killed at the battle of Evesham.
Eleanor held out at Dover for two months, then fled to France along with her surviving children. Just two of them were at her bedside when she died at the convent of Montargis in France, her daughter Eleanor and third son Amaury. Second son Simon Junior died in 1271 in Italy after being implicated in the murder of his cousin Henry of Almain. Fourth son Guy de Montfort had done the actual killing and was in hiding. Fifth son Richard had gone to serve in the court of Navarre and disappeared there.
In her final days Eleanor asked Queen Margaret of France to soften the rancor of her nephew King Edward I, but he captured Young Eleanor and Amaury on their way to Wales for her marriage to Prince Llywelyn. She was kept in comfortable confinement at Windsor for two years before Edward allowed them to marry. It took half a dozen popes, archbishops and bishops to get Edward to free Amaury after 6 years in prison. As for their mother’s Marshal dower, which did as much as anything to push Eleanor and Simon into rebellion, it wasn’t settled until 1286, 11 years after her death and 55 years after it began.

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