Henry’s moves against Simon backfire…for now

1261
Tower of London
Tower of London

Father and son were soon reconciled, mostly because Henry, whatever his other faults, was a devoted family man. Relations between the Lord Edward, as he was called at the time, and his uncle remained amiable, even after the king vengefully ordered Montfort to stand trial for obstructing the peace treaty and defying his orders. Clare, worried that his part in defaming Edward would become known, managed to get the trial delayed. Then an uprising by the Welsh forced Henry to turn to Simon for his military skills and the trial soon was shelved for good. The parliament of October 1260 marked Montfort’s return to government as an ally of Edward, who knighted his sons Henry and Simon. The council even allowed him to appoint Richard’s son Henry of Almain to represent him in his official capacity as steward of England, another move which offended the king. More notably, he reached a compromise with Clare to have the top crown officials replaced with his supporters and Edward’s in return for agreeing to modify local reforms to better suit the interests of magnates like Clare. Even so, one of the first acts of the new justiciar, Montfortian Hugh Despenser, was to hear cases against magnate Peter of Savoy, one of the Seven but now completely in the king’s camp. Henry fumed about these appointments, but his circle of advisers – the queen and her Savoyard relatives – urged him to bide his time. They had a plan in place that would quash the Provisions and make Henry the master of his realm again. The first part called for letting Edward go abroad to joust and carouse with a large retinue that included his Montfort cousins. The removal of these young idealists would give Henry a free hand to purge his council of Clare and Simon, who in any case had gone to France with Eleanor for the probate action she launched against her Lusignan half-brothers. While there, Simon asked Louis to arbitrate between him and Henry, and both kings agreed. As desperate as Henry was to mollify his sister and brother-in-law, his more immediate concern was carrying out the second part of the plan. As stipulated by the Provisions, he summoned parliament to meet in February 1261, only the venue was the Tower of London. Clare, Simon and the other magnates arrived to find armed militia waiting in the wings. “Now, gentlemen,” said the king.

3 thoughts on “Henry’s moves against Simon backfire…for now

  1. Between the Lusignans and the Savoyards, the king’s men and the queen’s men, stood John Mansel, a priest whose tact and skillful administration made him indispensable to the royal household. He was also an incredibly acquisitive clerk, amassing benefices (church income) numbering in the hundreds. His plurality and high living did not go unnoticed by reformers. When war broke out in 1263, he fled to France for safety, only to be pursued there by Henry of Almain.

  2. Relations between Henry and the papacy were never seriously upset by the Sicilian fiasco. Perversely, Henry still believed they could pull it off if only the barons would cooperate. Now he needed a favor and dispatched the nephew and namesake of John Mansel to Rome to get papal nullification of the Provisions. Meanwhile the king swore to parliament that his intentions to the Provisions were only the best.

  3. Henry was also busy trying to reinstate the Lusignans. His secret arrangements to bring back Aymer were interrupted by the latter’s death in Paris in December 1260. He was counting on Edward, who remained close to his uncles throughout, to bring back the other three from the continent. To this end, Edward arranged a truce between William of Valence and Simon by having the Lusignans look after the Montfort holdings in Bigorre (Gascony). Simon saw it only as an attempt to end his private quarrel with William. For him and the rest of the country, the Lusignans would always remain public enemies.

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