Roger Bigod assured Henry he was not. They asked only for the removal of the aliens and establishment of a council of 24 to guide the king in reforming the government. Henry was allowed to name half the members of the council and true to form he included two of his brothers in the list. The next parliament convened on 11 June in Oxford, with the barons again arriving armed to the hilt. Ostensibly this was a war parliament in preparation for moving against the Welsh, but the barons suspected the king and Lusignans might try to ambush them with foreign mercenaries. Dubbed by later royalists as the “mad” parliament, the barons submitted a petition to the king that called for sweeping changes in the way the monarchy operated in England. A permanent council of fifteen would henceforth advise the king in all matters of appointment, policy and patronage; parliament would meet three times a year at fixed dates, not at the king’s pleasure; and the crown would resume control over all its castles currently in the hands of aliens, which was more or less all of them. As an alien, Simon de Montfort willingly offered up his two castles, but his archenemy William de Valence refused. “Thy castle or thy head, William,” Simon warned him. Parliament broke up during the noonday lunch when the brothers stole away for the coast. Not taking any chances, the barons took off in pursuit and caught up with them at Aymer’s residence in Winchester. Riding with the baronial party, Henry and Edward managed to cut a deal for their safe conduct out of the country. At this stage the king could no more control the course of events than he could the weather. The next month the royal barge was caught in a storm on the Thames. Fearing thunder and lightning as he did, Henry ordered the boat docked at the nearest abode, which happened to be the Montfort summer residence. Simon went out to greet his majesty with all due respect, but Henry shuddered at him in terror. “Never fear, my lord, the storm has passed,” Simon reassured him. “True, but I fear you more than all the thunder and lightning in the world!”
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The Lusignans now became a lightning rod for all that was wrong in England. When the earl of Gloucester fell ill at a banquet, they were suspected of poisoning him. His brother succumbed to the same malady and died, as did others, some long after the Lusignans were gone. Clare recovered but at the cost of his hair, nails and teeth. His steward was accused of conspiring with William de Valence to kill him and fled for his life. He was later caught and hanged, professing his innocence to the end.
Queen Margaret knew the Lusignans were bitter enemies of her and Eleanor’s Savoyard relatives (whom she had also tried to import to her own court in Paris but Blanche would have none of it). When the brothers asked Louis for permission to travel freely in France, Margaret made sure he refused them.
Learning that the Lusignans were stranded across the Channel in Boulogne, Henry de Montfort gathered up a small contingent of family friends on the continent to avenge the insults they had leveled against his father. They besieged and harassed the exiles (who were his uncles) until they grew bored and left for more meaningful pursuits.
The Mad Parliament was the first to record the election of a presiding officer, or speaker. Peter de Montfort was elected to this post and remained a committed reformist until falling at Evesham seven years later.