G. W. (George Walter) Prothero.

The life of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, with special reference to the parliamentary history of his time online

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Online LibraryG. W. (George Walter) ProtheroThe life of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, with special reference to the parliamentary history of his time → online text (page 1 of 33)
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Br 14(5-36





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* Malo potius sine terra mori, quam perjurus a veritate
recedere* — Simon de Montjort

*Seductorem nominant Simonem atque fallacem,
Facta sed examinant probantque veracem'

Political Poem

* The man who finally gave to English freedom its second
and more lasting shape, the hero and martyr of England in
the greatest of her constitutional struggles, was Simon of
MoNTFORT, Earl of Leicester' — E. A, Freeman

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Fellow and Lecturer in History
Kings College, Cambridge




All rights reserved

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If the attempt to go over ground already trodden
by a historian of the power and learning of Dr.
Pauli should carry with it an appearance of pre-
sumption, I may plead by way of excuse, and, as I
hope, of justification, that in the first instance I had
thought of confining myself to the office of a trans-
lator, and of asking permission of Dr. Pauli to repro-
duce his history in English. But as I went further into
the history of the period, I found myself unable to
agree with many of his conclusions, while the necessity
of fuller treatment in certain portions of the subject,
especially the constitutional aspect of it, forced itself
upon me. I therefore began to study the history of
De Montfort's time afresh, and the present volume is
the result.

I have no fear of being charged with any wish of
superseding the work of Dr. Pauli, or any others
which may be the fruit of conscientious toil, for it is
generally admitted by historical scholars that the
student can derive nothing but benefit from care-
fully studying the views even of a large number of

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viii Preface.

independent writers on the same subject. I trust,
therefore, that the following pages may be found
to contain matter, not to be found elsewhere, which
may deserve the attention of the historical inquirer.

As regards the personal life of Simon de Mont-
fort I have been able to add but little to the admirable
account of Dr. Pauli. Still even here I have seldom
relied on my predecessor, but have based my conclu-
sions almost entirely on the records of the time. I
say this however with no idea of casting a veil over
my obligations to this eminent historian. The readers
of this volume cannot fail to see the value which his
work has for me.

The other book to which I owe most is, I need
scarcely say, the * Constitutional History of England,'
by Professor Stubbs ; and here, again, if it should be
necessary to anticipate any charge of not acknow-
ledging my obligations, I may say that the portion
of my book which has special reference to the con-
stitutional struggle was written before- the second
volume of Professor Stubbs' work appeared. In that
part of the volume some of my conclusions involve a
slight dissent from his views ; but it was with hearty
satisfaction that on reading his pages I found I was
in the main in agreement with the greatest of living
authorities. My obligations to him are, however, not
only such as appear on the surface : I cannot suffic-
iently express my gratitude for the invaluable aid he
has given me, especially in the correction of the sheets

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Preface. ix

as they passed through the press. My best thanks
are also due to Dr. Hort, to the Rev. H. R. Luard,
and to Mr. Henry Bradshaw, for their kindly assist-
ance and encouragement

The references in the notes to Risk. Chrofi. are
to the Chronicle of Rishanger, edited by Mr. Riley
for the Master of the Rolls ; those to Risk, de Bellisy
&c. are to the other Chronicle attributed to the same
author, edited by Mr. Halliwell for the Camden

Kings College, Cambridge :
January 1877.

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I. Introduction—

§ I. Rise of Parliamentary Government . 1-14 c^ '^^

§ 2. The Great Charter 15-24 ^/'

% 3. Early Years of Henry III . . . 24-30 «^ ^ C.-

II. Family and Early Life of Simon de Montfort 31-58

III. Parliamentary History, 1232-1249 . . . 59-86 \^ oj "^

IV. Simon de Montfort in Gascony : . . . 87-107

V. Parliamentary History, 1249-1257 . . . 108-130 *^^^ .^'

VI. The Position of Parties in 1258 . ' . . . 131-185 ' '

VII. The Revolution of 1258 186-220

VIII. The Reaction 221-242

IX. The Barons' War 243-281

X. The Government of Simon de Montfort . . 282-310

XI. The Last Year 3 "-346

XII. Conclusion 347-368

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xii Contents.



I. Pedigree of the Family of Montfort

l'Amauri 369-37C

11. I. — Miracles of Simon de Montfort . . . 371-373
2.— Songs in Honour of Simon de Montfort 373-380
3. — Character of Simon de Montfort by

RisHANGER 380-381

III. List of those who took part in Events of

Importance between 1244 and 1267 . . 382-387,

LV. Portions of an Office in Memory of Simon

DE Montfort 388-391

Index 393-4ot


Battle of Lewes To face p, 272

Battle of Evesham „ 33^

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The Norman kings of England, in their efforts to chap.
found an absolute monarchy, made good use of every - — ; — -
opportunity to crush the power of their mightier ^^^^^^is
vassals, while, as a balance to that power, they kept view.
alive, if they did not actively encourage, the remnants
of national feeling and popular government. This
community of interest, however slightly developed
under his predecessors, bore fruit under Henry I ; in
the struggle between him and his nobility the people
stood by their kin^. Under his successor the pent up
spirit of feudalism l>urst forth; it had its day and
proved for ever its incapacity for government. The
exhaustion of the older baronage, and a natural re-
action against the anarchy of the preceding reign,
enabled Henry H to rebuild the edifice of monarchy
on foundations deeper than those which had been laid


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2 Simon de Montfort.

CHAP, by his forerunners. A strongly centralised admini

^ '^ — ' tration of justice and finance made the king practical

^ _ ^^,'^ independent of his barons, while it revived the ancie

General ^ . . • t , t , .

view. popular institutions, and brought every class in
contact with the throne. A new aristocracy aros
mainly dependent on the monarchy, but far mo
national than that which sprang from the Conque*
The union of king and people was stronger th;
before ; it bore the strain of oppressive taxation ai
religious struggle, of war without and rebellion with:
But the strengthening of the monarchy was n
the only result. When the sovereign supported hii
self by aid of the law, the thought was sure to occ
that the chains he forged for others might be used
bind himself The nobility he had done qaost
raise, the people he had educated into a. belief in la
would be the first to cry out against a violation
that law by the authority which gave it. Henry w
wise enough to avoid this danger : Richards persoi
character and his long absence from home prevent
^ an outburst ; but Johns folly, tyranny, and v:
united all elements against him. The process
amalgamation, which had been going on for a centu
and a half, was now complete ; more than a generati
before it had been said that English and French-be
were no longer to be distinguished. The univer
pressure of a strong government, the tendency •
wards equality inherent in the rule of law, had help
to complete the union, the last obstacle to which v
removed by the loss of Normandy ; and under
sense of common wrong the new-born spirit of nati<
ality sprang into consciousness of its power. Th

"^ was no longer an alliance between the king, •

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Rise of Parliamentary GovernmenL

Church, and the people, against the feudal nobility ;
it was now for the first time an alliance of the Church,
the barons, and. the people against the king. The 'Q^^-^^is
newer_jiobility, in whom the political sense was
strongest; the remnants of the older baronage striving
to recover their position ; the small er ba rons, the sub-
tenants, and others, who eagerly gfasped the occasion
to make their complaints heard ; the towns, with
London at their head, in the first freshness of muni-
cipal and mercantile importance ; and above and
embracing all, the C hurc h, with its broader notions of
justice and its popular sympathies — these were the
forces to the union of which John had to give way at

Such in a few words was the general course of Growth of
national development, such the relations between pg^ilament.
king and people, before 1215. Along with and de-.
pendent on the growth of the nation, grows the idea of
a Parliament, or representative council. In a people
composed of elements so different as those of which .
England consisted immediately after the Conquest I '^
there was no possible centre, no representative of
national unity, but the monarch. As the different*
elements coalesced, a representative body became ■
possible ; no sooner was the national unity complete I —
than Parliament in its modern form began to appear.
But between the baronial assemblies of the Norman /frhe Na-
kings and the Parliaments of our own day there i^/councii
very little similarity, though there is a distinct ancr'^^^^®^
unbroken connexion. Many attempts have indeed lyings,
been made, chiefly by ardent supporters of Parliament-
ary rights, to trace back those rights to an antiquity
equal to that of the monarchy ; but regularity of


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4 Simon de Montfort

CHAP, composition and consistency of authority do not seem

^- — '^ — ' to\ave belonged to the earlier councils of the realm.
1066— 1215 ^ ^

The Na-

tional kings were in the habit of gathering round them their

undter^the vassals. The king wore his crown, his greater barons

On certain regularly-recurring occasions the Norman

king^" appeared in all their state, with long trains of attend-
ants, who heightened the splendour of their lords.
Such an assembly was calculated to overa^ve a
subject people, and to inspire respect in strangers who
visited what was then perhaps the most splendid court
of Europe.
Discussions At such times state business was sometimes dis-
Councii. cussed if the king willed it; sometimes there was no
discussion ; if it appeared inconvenient to hold the
assembly, there was no scruple in omitting it alto-
gether. The subjects discussed were only those
- which the king chose to bring forward ; with him
rested all initiative ; until Stephens reign there seem
to be no records of such discussions as could have led
to a division.*
The Coun- Next to the object of displaying a somewhat bar-
cL^t^of I ^^^'^^ magnificence, the purpose of these assemblies
jusOce. j was primarily judicial. But justice resided only in
-^ the king, or in those to whom he delegated his au-
thority ; there is little trace of a great feudal court of
justice ; the tendency was more and more to look on
the king alone as holder of the scales. The prejudices
of the barons in favour of judgment by their peers
were satisfied so long as the Curia and the Exchequer
were recruited from their ranks.^ Although import-
ant trials were sometimes carried on before the Great

> Stubbs, Canst. Hist, i. 357.
' Gneist, Verw, i. 241 seq.

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Rise of Parliamentary GoverfimenL 5

Council, yet the permanent courts, and commissions chap.
named at will by the king, usurped more and more >- — ; — -
its claim to judicial functions. Further, there is new ^<^^— "'5
trace of any constitutional authority which might bil/p^wer of^^
supposed to be conferred on legislative acts by thM J.^j^ ^^'
fact that they were made by the king in council. Bufi
here a different tendency at once appears. The moral
force which such acts would gain if backed by the
magnates of the realm was too evident to be neg-
lected. Thus the heading of the so-called Laws of ^^\ ^^^''
William I, which in their oldest extant form are said
by Professor Stubbs to date from the reign of Henry I,^
states that the said laws were made by the Con-
queror, * with his chief men,' although the terms of
the statutes themselves hint at nothing but an act of
the kings sovereign wilL^ So too the charter issued
by Henry I on his accession speaks of the laws of
Edward having been granted by his father, with
additions made h^ him, * with the counsel of his
barons ; ' and in the Act separating the ecclesiastical
and civil jurisdictions, * the one authentic monument
of Williams jurisprudence,'^ the king declares it to be
done ' in conynon council and by counsel of the
higher clergy and all the great men of the realm.'

Whatever argument may be deduced on behalf of under wii-

, . - , - , liam II:

parlramentary authority from these enactments of the
Conqueror is considerably weakened by the fact that
there are said to be no traces of legislative assem-j I
blies under his successor.* On the other hand, the! v

^ The form given in Feed, i. i is said by the same author to be a
fabrication of the 13th century.

2 Volo, interdicimus, hoc prsecipio et volo, ego prohibeo, and the like
are the terms used. — Stubbs, SeL Chart, 80.

» Stubbs, Const. Hist, i. 213. * Lords* Rej>ort i. 36.

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The Na-
Henry I :


of the Na-
tiona l - -
Council U
under the
kings :

Simon de Montfort

charter of Henry I attributes his coronation to * the
mercy of God and the conimon^.CDunsel of the barons
of all England ;* and it is just this right of corona-
tion and the form of election, still kept up, which seem
more than anything else to have preserved the notion
of constitutional rights from complete oblivion. The
* consent of the barons ' is stated to have been given
to the kings tenure of forests ; while concessions were
made by the * kings free gift,' and assemblies sum-
moned * by royal authority and power.'* Florence of
Worcester declares the queen to have acted in Henrys
absence * with common counsel of the great men,' but
the vague use of terms by the chroniclers renders such
testimony very unsafe. It is evident however that
the theory of assent to legislation was partially re-
cognised, even if it be true that Henry I never called
together a legislative assembly except at his acces-
sion.^ Of Stephens reign it is scarcely necessary to
speak. His election is said in his charter to have been
made * by assent of clergy and people ; ' we hear of
a General Council in 1 1 36, at which the bestowal of
temporalities on a bishop was made * in the hearing
and with the acclamation ' of certain vassals ; and at
the end of his reign ' a convention of bishops and
other chief men of the kingdom ' swore to the terms
of peace made between Stephen and his successor.
But except on these and a few similar occasions con-
stitutionalism was dormant

\ There is the same scarcity of proof that the Great
Councils had any real weight in the matter of taxation
under the Norman kings. William the Conqueror
and his sons, owing to their immense revenues, were
» Fad, i. 8. * Cf. the Lords' Report on this head.


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Rise of Parliamentary Government. 7

olerably independent of the assent of their tenants- chap.
-chief, and would seldom have required to tax them — \ _.
J ijeyond the regular feudal aids. Personal service took '0^-^215
the place of a war budget ; the taxation of socage
tenants, the tallage exacted from towns and other
royal demesne, were limited by nothing but the kings
will and the length of the purses to be emptied.
The Conqueror was lord of both nationalities, and
used both systems^-the feudal, which he brought with
him and improved ; the native, which he found and J
adapted : he needed the aid of neither party to tax f^
the other, and was thus independent of both. The'
royal power in this respect was somewhat limited, or somewhat
at least reduced from the dimensions to which it had under
grown under William II, by the charter of Henry I ; ^^'^ ''
but even here the limitation is ' the kings own gift'
The same king speaks of ' an aid which the barons
have given me ; ' but not much stress can be laid on
the use of such a word to imply that the barons were
entitled to withhold the gift. We find no instance
in which the right to a share in the taxation is
stated ; * no parliamentary opposition to the king on
this head or that of legislation, in the declaration of war
or the regulation of the Church, appears in the records
preserved to us. The difficulties to be met by the
king are such as spring from the isolated resistance
of feudal barons, not from a Parliament with tradi-
tional rights to defend. The Peers* Committee think^ ^"t hardly
that the consent of military tenants-m-chief wa^ nominal
considered necessary in the case of extraordinari'>' '
taxation ; but the theory, if it existed, seems to hav^
gone no further than this, that the levying of such

> Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 370. Anselm was not supported by the

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1066 — I2lj

Slight in-
fluence of.
the Na-
under the'

tion of the
under the

Simon de Montfort

taxes without the form of approval by a council was
held to be in some way or other unjust As to legis-
lation, the rights of the baronage seem to have been
j confined to that of being present and supporting, but
not opposing, the kings acts. New laws, properly
so called, during this period there were none ; royal
edicts and charters, of so fleeting a character that it
seems to have been considered needful to confirm
them at the beginning of each reign, supplied their
place. Sir John Fortescue says, some three centuries
later, that it never was a maxim in England that
' that which the prince wills has the force of law ; * but
it is very much to be doubted whether it did not hold
good during the first century after the Conquest.

It is very hard to decide, owing to the constant
variation of terms, what were the component parts of
a Great Council under the Norman kings. The ele-
ments and size of the councils vary according to
circumstances, time, and place, from the small councils,
or rather courts, consisting of the higher officers of the
realm and the regular attendants of royalty, with
whose aid the king transacted the ordinary business
of government, to the great assemblies of all" feudal
tenants, whether tenants-in-chief or subtenants, pos-
sibly of the wnole body of landowners, such as that
of 1086, at which the Domesday survey was ordained.
Such great assemblies were however very rare, and
even those that occurred can hardly have been attended
by all who might have been expected to be present.
The ordinary Great Council appears to have been
attended by archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and
persons called, sometimes alone, and sometimes in
conjunction with the rest of the proceres or magnates,

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Rise of Parliamentary Government

by the name Barons. This word seems generally to \ chap.
include all who held by military tenure of the king

1066 — 1215

The Barons
greater and
smaller :

in chief, except those who held of him by escheat,
that is, those who by the death of their mesne lord
were no longer subtenants but tenants of the king.
It was however used in many different senses, and
its meaning is very obscure. The distinction between
earls- and others, called especially barons, is already
evident under the first Norman kings ; and in the
charter of Henry I a distinction is made between *~
barones and homines, the former alone being recog-
nised as members of the council, and apparently
including earls and those barons who are called
Majores Barones in Magna Carta. There naturally
grew up a distinction between those who habitually origin of
attended and those who did not ; the number of mili- tion.
tary tenants-in chief was even under William I far
too large ever to have met practically for the purpose
of consultation ; the smaller barons would not have
received the spei^ial summons directed to the greater
and better known ; and thus a precedent was gradu-
ally established by which a distinction not originally
existing was introduced and confirmed. Included in
the list of barons Would doubtless have been some of church
the inhabitants of London and the Cinque Ports, but
such would have attended as barons in their own
right, and in no way as connected with those towns.
Corporate tenure, such as that obtained gradually by
most great ' towns, conferred no right of membership,
nor could such right have been exercised until the
system of representation was introduced into politics.
Ecclesiastics who were present, even if they kept at

Online LibraryG. W. (George Walter) ProtheroThe life of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, with special reference to the parliamentary history of his time → online text (page 1 of 33)