The murder of Evesham continues

In the medieval calendar, 14 March 1271 is a day-after, when the horrific events of the previous day have sunk in. As King Philip III of France informed Richard of Cornwall in a letter, the de Montfort brothers, Simon and Guy, attacked Richard’s son Henry of Almain while he was attending Sunday services in Viterbo, Italy. ‘At the instigation of the devil’, Philip wrote, ‘they slew him, a matter which we impart to you not without intense grief and anguish of heart’. While shocking, the murder was no surprise. At the battle of Evesham in 1265, the body of Simon and Guy’s father had been chopped up into trophy parts, his genitalia used as an amusing prop on the field of the carnage. The result was a blood feud between the de Montforts and their Plantagenet cousins, one of whom was Henry of Almain. The victor at Evesham, Lord Edward, tried to make amends to their kinfolk and believed he had succeeded insofar as he asked Henry to seek out the de Montforts on his homeward journey from the crusade in North Africa. Henry had not been in the battle and therefore could not be held accountable for the mutilation of Simon de Montfort’s corpse there. The brothers saw it differently, or at least they saw Henry as their only chance to get their hands on someone in the royal family. They tracked him to the church and stabbed him at the altar before dragging him outside by the hair and hacking him up on the plaza in mock revenge. Neither de Montfort faced any real justice afterwards. Such was the horror at Evesham that the general feeling was somebody had it coming.

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