Turning tail

Of all the defections to the king in the autumn of 1263, when the English turned tail according to a well-known quip at the time, only Henry of Almain’s has come down to us in the form of a personal interview with Simon. Henry had been one of the young idealists who joined Simon’s camp earlier that year, men pliable as wax, as chronicler Thomas Wykes contemptuously dismissed them. His only known action ended in failure when he got captured after taking off in pursuit of perennial favourite John Mansel. He showed he truly was made of wax by swapping sides again upon his release, allegedly after Edward promised him some prime real estate. Young Henry tried to tell Simon he was troubled by taking up arms against his family, which seems to suggest that he didn’t know what he was getting into when he joined the revolution. But he assured Simon, who was also family in a way, that he would never take up arms against him. That earned him another dose of contempt when Simon told him he was free to go, he had no use for pliable men like him. He could even take up arms against him, they made no difference in the world. Of course, Henry would do just that at Lewes, which only confirmed his treachery in the eyes of the Montfort sons.

Henry of Almain - wax to the core
Henry of Almain – wax to the core