The battle lines are drawn

On 6 May 1264 Montfort marched his army out of London to seek out the king. The move may have been as desperate as it was bold, but it completely changed the tide of the war. Henry had been planning to follow up his string of successes lately by securing the submission of the Cinque Ports and using their fleets against London. Word that his brother-in-law had seized the initiative and was coming after him put him on the defensive instead. Now, in addition to wearing his armour full-time, he mustered his troops in and around Lewes, where his other brother-in-law John de Warenne owned the castle and nearly everything around it. Simon owned a manor in Fletching, about ten miles from Lewes, and halted his men there to make one last attempt at negotiation. The signs that Henry was already a beaten man can be seen in his willingness to consider the proposals despite his numerical superiority. Richard and Edward, however, were in a fighting mood and scoffed at the offers of the Montfortian bishops of money and compromises over power-sharing. Perhaps against his better judgement, Henry sent word back that he officially defied the Montfortians, who responded by withdrawing their oath of fealty to him. Throughout all the armed conflict in 1263 and 1264, there had yet to be a single pitched battle between the opposing camps. Lewes would be the first such engagement for both sides.

Medieval Lewes
Medieval Lewes

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