Henry urged Richard to accept the crown of Germany to avoid the appearance of weakness in the face of honor. Privately, he was happy to be rid of his brother. As the leading magnate, Richard had never been afraid to clash with Henry and told him flat out that since he had failed to consult the barons before agreeing to finance the papal war in Sicily, he could pay for it himself. Henry, now resigned to the loss of Normandy forever, had nothing to gain from Richard’s rigged election except removing him as an obstacle in the endgame for Sicily. And so the king had high hopes when he summoned parliament to meet in April 1258 to ask for money, an ‘aid’, to fulfill his agreement with the pope. If the barons refused, he warned him, their king would be excommunicated, a horrible penalty for the realm as a whole. How far the pope was willing to carry out his threat, and whether Henry actually believed it could happen, is a matter of conjecture. For the barons who assembled in Westminster, Sicily wasn’t the problem they had come to discuss. They had had enough of the king’s half-brothers and were determined to force a showdown with them. Aymer, who Henry had nominated as Bishop of Winchester despite his ignorance of everything English or Christian, had ordered his men to attack a party attached to one of the leading barons. Henry not only refused any redress for the victims but then allowed his other brother William to openly accuse Simon and the earl of Gloucester of conspiring with the Welsh. Together with the general complaint that Henry had bestowed too much money and patronage on these brutes and ingrates, seven of the aggrieved magnates formed a confederation for the purpose of ousting the Lusignans from the country. On 28 April the king submitted his request for an aid and got his answer on ‘the third hour of the third day’ when the barons arrived at parliament fully armed. Henry was aghast. ‘What is this, my lords, am I your prisoner?’
3 thoughts on “The third hour of the third day”
The 7 included Simon, Richard de Clare, Roger Bigod and his brother Hugh, Peter of Savoy, John fitz Geoffrey and Peter de Montfort. Speaking for them was Roger Bigod, the earl of Norfolk and the official marshal of England. He inherited the title from his grandfather William Marshal after the five sons of that legendary knight, including Eleanor’s first husband, died in succession without issue. The nominal leader of the 7 was Clare, the earl of Gloucester and another Marshal grandson. His widowed mother Isabel, incidentally, became Richard’s first wife. Peter of Savoy was among the Savoyards brought to England by Queen Eleanor and so a confirmed enemy of the Lusignans. Fitz Geoffrey was the baron who had come into direct conflict with Aymer. He died the next year, still true to reforming the crown. Peter de Montfort was no relation to Simon. His ancestors arrived in England from a different part of Normandy sometime after the Conquest. He was the only one among the 7 to march off with Simon into the final battle with the royalists.
At times Henry was also vexed by the behavior of his brothers. In 1252 the bishops revolted against his high-handed interference in their affairs. When Aymer sided with them, Henry admitted the church was full of people he had promoted despite their unworthiness and suggested they now all resign. That put an end to their griping. To William of Valence’s complaint about the Welsh raiding his lands, Henry told him to do something about it with the fortune he had amassed thanks to kingly favor.
The other two Lusignan half brothers were equally oppressive. The last diehard Montfortian, Henry of Hastings, had been a ward of the tyrannical Guy, and Geoffrey once leased a rabbit warren to a group of men…only to keep all the rabbits for himself.