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Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, 1208-1265


Knights of the Middle Ages I 1146-1492

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Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester (1208 – 1265), was an Anglo-French nobleman who, with the approval of King Henry III, effectively purchased back the title and estates of the earldom of Leicester in England that the King had given to the Earl of Chester. The Earl was about to return them to the King when de Montford purchased them instead – at a cost that left him financially strained for the remainder of his life. From a strong relationship with King Henry based on his military capability, his flagrant use of the King to derive financial benefit – including his false declaration that the King was his guarantor – led them to split, but not before he had married the King’s sister Eleanor and, through her, gained ownership of Kenilworth Castle. He subsequently led the rebellion against King Henry during the Second Barons’ War of 1263 – 64 which culminated in the Battle of Lewis in May 1264 when the King and his son, Edward, were captured. Edward managed to escape shortly thereafter but Simon became de facto ruler of England. During his rule, Montfort called two famous parliaments. The first stripped the King of unlimited authority, while the second included ordinary citizens from the towns. For this reason, Montfort is regarded today as one of the progenitors of modern parliamentary democracy. After a rule of just over a year, Montfort was killed by forces loyal to the King at the Battle of Evesham in 1265 where the King was rescued by a force led by his son Edward (later Edward I).

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Dimensions 37 × 54 cm