Edward’s fears come true

1266 - 1272
Viterbo piazza
The little church in Viterbo

The sense of regret and loss that prevailed in the family can be seen by the later treatment of Eleanor de Montfort. While Henry was inclined to be vindictive toward his sister, Queen Eleanor, Edward, Richard and Louis interceded on her behalf, not always an easy task given her litigious nature. The rapprochement continued even after her son Guy committed one of the most notorious crimes of the Middle Ages. After recovering from his wounds, he made his escape to the continent, where he found service under Louis’ brother Charles, the man who would finally  wrest control of Sicily and Italy away from Frederick’s heirs. Guy rose to become the vicar-general of Tuscany and married into one of the leading families there. In 1271 he arrived in Viterbo with his brother Simon to consult with Charles and learned that his cousin Henry of Almain, Richard’s son, was in the city at the same time. According to Edward’s later statement, he had sent Henry there to seek reconciliation with the Montfort brothers. Whether Guy and Simon knew this, or would have cared in any case, is uncertain. Finding him kneeling at the altar of a small church, Guy denounced Henry as a traitor for deserting their father’s cause and attacked him, eventually dragging him out onto the square to finish him off in an orgy of mutilation meant to avenge Evesham. The brothers fled to Tuscany, where Simon died of natural causes later that year. Guy remained sheltered until Edward’s entreaties forced the authorities to take action. He would eventually spend time in confinement, then go back into service for Charles. Captured off the coast of Sicily, he died in captivity, due in large part to Edward’s efforts to block his release. He left behind two daughters, whose descendants were the only trace of Simon’s lineage to survive. Richard never recovered from the shock. He died of a stroke in 1272 and was buried next to his son in Hailes Abbey. Of the other Montfort children, the youngest son Richard went south to Gascony just after Evesham and was never heard of again. The only daughter, Eleanor, was betrothed to Llewelyn, the Prince of Wales, and left to marry him after her mother’s death in 1275, accompanied by her brother Amaury. Edward, ever the spymaster, had four ships waiting to intercept them. He locked Amaury away for four years, believing he was complicit in the murder of Henry of Almain. He was released at the insistence of the pope and archbishop of Canterbury, whereupon he went back to Italy, became a tutor or was knighted, depending on the source, and died in 1292. His sister was kept in more dignified confinement until Llewelyn came to terms. When that happened, Edward not only attended the wedding but paid for it. The peace was short-lived, however. Eleanor died in childbirth and Llewelyn rose up again, only to be killed in a marshy skirmish. Edward had Llewelyn’s head hung on London Bridge and his brother David savagely executed, an indication of things to come for William Wallace. Not a total savage all the time, he squirreled Eleanor’s newborn daughter Gwenllian away in a convent to ensure the Welsh royal line, now dangerously mingled with the Montforts, was extinguished forever.

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