There’s loyalty, and there’s trust

February 1263 was a hard month for Henry III. The winter was so cold the Thames froze from bank to bank. His chamber at Westminster Palace burned to the ground. But his major worry remained Simon de Montfort. The stubborn earl of Leicester had rejected an attempt by Louis IX of France to end their quarrel and instead received visitors assuring him of military support if he returned to England to make war against the crown. These men were John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, Henry of Almain, the eldest son of the king of Germany, and Simon’s own eldest son Henry de Montfort. Warenne and Almain were grandsons of William Marshal, Almain and Henry de Montfort were first cousins.
On this day of 25th April, Simon landed in England and summoned a war council of disaffected barons and churchmen at Oxford. Their excuse that the king had abandoned reforms was a lie. Only in February, Henry reissued the Provisions of Westminster, which provided the most relief and protection for local communities. But Simon insisted on enforcement of the Provisions of Oxford as well, which established the supremacy of the baronial council over the king. When these provisions were enacted five years earlier in 1258, Warenne and Almain were among those to reject them. Now they supported them. In a few months’ time, they would reject them again.
So it was with this distinctly English revolution. Simon should have wondered about depending on such men, who would betray him as they did the king. After helping defeat and kill Simon and Henry de Montfort at Evesham in 1265, Warenne went on to have an inglorious career that included a private war with the earl of Lincoln, attacking and mortally wounding Alan la Zouche in the king’s court, and defeat by William Wallace at Stirling Bridge. Henry of Almain got off with a worse fate. In 1271, Simon’s younger sons caught up with him in a church in Italy and hacked him to death in front of the worshippers.

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