Lewes, 11 May 1264

Henry III has encamped his army in and around this town near the Sussex coast. Since going on the offensive five weeks earlier, he has conducted a masterful campaign against Simon de Montfort, literally bottling him up in London. But now Montfort has decided to gamble everything on taking the war to the king. Five days earlier he marched his men out of London in the direction of his manorial village of Fletching, not quite ten miles to the north. Hearing that the rebels were afoot, Henry abandoned his plans to force the surrender of the Cinque ports and instead concentrate his troops at Lewes, where leading loyalist John de Warenne, who earlier prevented Montfort from seizing Rochester, has a well-fortified castle. Warenne and Henry’s son Edward have made their headquarters there, while the king and his brother Richard of Cornwall prefer the convenience of the Cluniac priory (image) just south of the town. They will wait to see what Montfort, who was married to their sister Eleanor, chooses to do next.

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