Post-classical history

Simon de Montfort

SIMON DE MONTFORT was a Norman. The family name was derived from a small castle called Montfort l’Amauri in the lower corner of the duchy, but the importance of his ancestors was far greater than this might suggest. They traced descent back to Charles the Bald, and one of the warrior counts (all the Montforts were great fighting men) had married an heiress of Evreux with wide possessions as well as illustrious connections.

The Montforts were one of the families which were squeezed when the French took Normandy away from England in John’s reign. They had fought at Hastings, and one of them, called Simon III in family annals, had become Earl of Leicester through marriage with Amicia de Beaumont. When Philip Augustus of France completed his seizure of Normandy it became necessary for men who held possessions on both sides of the Channel to choose which they intended to be, subjects of England or France. The fourth Simon in the Montfort line elected to serve the kings of France. John promptly declared a confiscation of all his lands and honors in England, although five years later he agreed to put the estates and earldom of Leicester in the hands of Ranulf of Chester “to be held for the said Simon.” In the meantime De Montfort had been entrusted with the terrible task of crushing the Albigenses, a powerful sect of Catharistic dissenters from the Church of Rome who were located in great strength around Toulouse. He was a remarkable man, tall and handsome in person, thorough and able as a soldier, and animated with a fanatical zeal which enabled him to consider his mission a crusade. He had succeeded in crushing the schism with great cruelty by the time he fell in battle before the city of Toulouse in 1218. His eldest son, Amauri, continued the work with indifferent success but was made constable of France and showered with honors which his father had earned.

The only other surviving son of the Scourge of the Albigenses was named Simon, the fifth of the line. It is not known where he was born, and although 1208 is accepted as the likely date of his birth, this is a conjecture. He grew up to resemble his father in person—a tall and powerfully built youth with the dark good looks of the South. It was difficult in times such as these to form early judgments of the sons of great families. They were almost certain, because of the privileges of their class, to be pleasure-loving, arrogant, even cruel. How far the young Simon shared in these characteristics is not known, but it was apparent from the first that he took after his famous father in other respects than the nobility of his countenance and the magnetic darkness of his eyes. He had early the strong will and soldierly ability which were so marked in the sire. Other qualities which he inherited would develop later, as well as some magnificent characteristics, and some faults, which were all his own.

That he came to England at all was due to the selfishness of his older brother. In 1220 the Council ruling England during the minority had formally confirmed Chester in the possessions and earldom of Leicester. Amauri protested loudly and bitterly but, getting no satisfaction, proceeded to make a deal with young Simon. If the latter would yield all claims to share in the continental possessions of the family, he should have in exchange whatever he could salvage in England. The cadet accepted this one-sided arrangement, having in all probability no alternative.

Young Simon arrived in England, therefore, in 1229, as handsome and promising a soldier of fortune as ever set foot on English soil. He seems to have had some education but, naturally enough, he spoke no word of the native language. The Chester claims to Leicester had by this time the sanction of years, and the quest of the young claimant seemed hopeless. He had sold his birthright in France to his older brother for something less than a mess of pottage.

Henry, a few years his elder, took an immediate fancy to him, however, and would have been happy to make a settlement in his favor. There could be no interference with the rights of such a powerful noble as Ranulf of Chester, and this the King realized, although he dropped a hint in the ear of the young stranger that the matter might be arranged to suit him at some later date. In the meantime a pension of four hundred marks a year would be given him if he cared to enter the royal service. The claimant was very much disappointed but had enough common sense to accept the King’s terms.

The following year Henry, in his shining armor, made his descent on the coast of Brittany which has already been described. Ranulf of Chester was one of the army leaders, and among the lesser members of the royal train was Simon de Montfort, ready and eager to display devotion to his new master. Because the expedition proved the most spectacularly unsuccessful of all Henry’s military fiascoes, the chance did not come, but the presence of the young knight led to a very happy development in his family claim. He met the old earl and made a plea for the return of the possessions of his immediate ancestors. Ranulf of Chester had on several earlier occasions displayed a rare degree of magnanimity, but his capacity for generosity now attained its highest peak. Perhaps he had been mellowing with the years or perhaps his possessions were so wide that he put small store in the honors of Leicester. Whatever the reason, he consented to step aside and allow the young stranger to secure his inheritance.

Simon de Montfort described this incident as follows: “He consented, and next autumn took me with him to England, and besought the King to receive my homage for my patrimony, to which, as he said, I had more right than he; and he quit-claimed to the King all that the King had given him therein; and the King received my homage and gave me back my lands.” Ranulf seems to have been very thorough in his generosity, initiating each legal step necessary to confirm the transfer. It is certain that he had taken a liking to the Norman cadet, an easy thing to do because the newcomer had ingratiating manners and a way of making friends; most of whom, as it developed, remained loyal to him through all his shifts of fortune and his political ups and downs.

As a result of the Earl of Chester’s compliance, Henry issued instructions on August 13, 1231, that Simon de Montfort was to have seizin on all the lands his fathers had held and which belonged to him by hereditary right. The gamble the younger son had taken had paid him well after all. He was now a peer of England, in high favor at court, and presumably on his way to fortune.

Young Simon soon discovered, however, that there was a worm at the core of his apple of content. The Leicester estates, spreading over a dozen counties, had been divided several generations back between Amicia and a young sister. To make matters worse, the men who had been in charge during the years when his land had been in royal hands had not only done well for the Crown but had feathered their own nests. They had driven off the stock and cut the wood and depleted the game. The once proud demesne was now in a condition of impoverishment. Although not yet ranked a full earl, the new owner had to maintain a household of some size and dignity, and the revenue did not equal the cost. After two years spent in the most awkward poverty he considered making a second deal with his sharp older brother by which he would sell back the title and honors he had recovered. Most fortunately he took no more than a tentative step in that direction. Perhaps he was discouraged by the fear that he would be overreached again by that Norman of Normans, Amauri de Montfort.

The one sure avenue of escape from this embarrassment was to marry an heiress. That Henry did not arrange one for him is proof that there was none of sufficient wealth available in England at the moment. Simon, in a condition of mind which bordered on desperation, was on the point of wedding a middle-aged widow, Mahaut, the Countess of Boulogne, when fate in the guise of Louis of France intervened. Mahaut had broad lands and many castles and would gladly have married the handsome young nobleman, but the French peers thought it would be a mistake to hand over such large estates to a man who had entered the service of England. Mahaut was forbidden to marry him.

Simon then paid court to another widow, Joan, the Countess of Flanders. Joan was even more blessed with worldly goods than the dowager of Boulogne, having great stretches of land and royal parks stocked with deer, and doppings and nyes and springs and sieges of game birds, and here and there great castles topping Flanders’ ridges and baileys filled with blooded stock. There was a suspicion that Simon had already contracted marriage with this mature catch when the first wind of it reached the French court. Countess Joan swore that, although willing to marry Simon, she had not done so. The prospective groom was ordered to depart forthwith.

Forced thus into the same position in which Henry had once found himself, Simon de Montfort gave up the idea of marriage for the time being. His fortunes would have to be repaired in some other way. There was relief for him, no doubt, in the decision. He was too much of a romanticist to relish marriage with a wife so much older than himself; and he had, moreover, fallen in love.

2

Behind Henry’s chamber at Westminster there was a small chapel where he performed his daily devotions. It was beautifully decorated, for everything about the King had now a touch of sophisticated taste. The walls had hangings of his favorite color, green, and there were many articles of great rarity in this secluded corner where the master of England swore daily homage to a greater King.

One cold winter evening, immediately after the royal family had ridden back in great discomfort from the Christmas festivities at Winchester, when noble and bishop and great lady muffled themselves to the nose in fur-trimmed cloaks and lesser men remained indoors in huddled misery over smoking fires, on the evening of January 7, 1238, to be exact, it was apparent that there was some unusual activity afoot in the King’s chapel. All the candles were lighted and a large brazier had been carried in filled with blazing charcoal to heat the tiny room, and Walter, the chaplain of St. Stephen’s, was on hand in full canonicals. An air of secrecy was being maintained. All members of the royal retinue were elsewhere, even the Queen, from whom the uxorious King did not like to be parted, and the whole train of scornfully witty uncles and cousins, and the comfortably pensioned minstrels and the fat-paunched makers of rhyme. There were servants about, in fact, to bar the way if any curious souls attempted to see what it was all about. Only three people were admitted, and one of these was King Henry himself.

He was in a state of nervous excitement, as may reasonably be deduced from the known circumstances, chattering and quipping and smiling with pleasure, as was his wont at such moments. He was carrying out a little conspiracy at the expense of his Council and all his bishops and the nobility of England, and this pleased him mightily. He was pleased even though it was clear to him that there would be trouble about it. His realization of the certain consequences is evidenced by the fact that he had not dared take the Queen into his confidence.

The other two were Simon de Montfort and Henry’s youngest sister, Eleanor, his favorite sister, in fact. The young widow who, as it will be recalled, had been so heartbroken over the death of her first husband, William of Pembroke, that she had sworn an oath of perpetual widowhood had developed into a woman of great beauty and charm, a slender and vital young creature with dark hair and the bluest of Plantagenet eyes. She had regretted almost from the first the impulsive manifestation of her youthful grief which had bound her, in a sense at least, to the Church. Certainly she had regretted it from the moment her eyes had rested on the dark and expressive face of the tall young Norman. The mutual attraction between them had deepened rapidly into a love which would continue throughout their lives, unchanged by swift alterations of fortune, never wavering when political considerations aligned them against the royal family.

How the consent of the King had been obtained to their union is a matter of conjecture, of course, but the reasons for secrecy in the matter are quite plain. No member of the royal family was supposed to wed without the consent of the Council, and Henry had known only too well the storm which would have been evoked if he had told his barons he intended to give his lovely sister to a man so newly attached to his service, a commoner, moreover, who had not yet given any proof of special merit or unquestioned loyalty. There was also, of course, the matter of that vow. Henry had a well-grounded suspicion that the church leaders were going to raise a whirlwind of protest about his ears.

It was typical of the King to decide under these circumstances that the marriage of his well-loved sister and his new friend should be solemnized anyway and to hold the services privately. Let the news get out later! Trouble in the future held no terrors for Henry: it could be met when it came, and in the meantime let the vows be exchanged, then eat, drink, and be merry at the wedding supper. He entered into the proceedings with a light heart. “Himself he placed his sister’s hand in the earl’s,” and he knelt with the newly wed couple when Walter said mass over them.

The marriage of a royal princess under such romantic circumstances, with the King himself playing the part of a stealthy cupid, could not be kept secret long, and so the storm was quick in breaking. It raged about the King, the bitterest protests coming, as had been expected, from churchmen. Eleanor had not taken the veil and since the death of her husband she had lived much at court, where she was a general favorite. The rest of the time had been spent at her own castle of Odiham, where she kept a miniature court of her own and maintained a normal and gay life. Still, she had taken the vow of chastity, and it was the opinion of all churchmen that the placing of the ring on her finger had bound her indissolubly to Christ. The archbishop declared at once that the marriage was not valid. The barons joined in, adding as it were the rumble of secular anger to the treble of priestly disapproval. The objections of the laity were on two grounds: they had not been consulted and they were against the giving of such a supreme favor to a man of foreign birth. Richard of Cornwall was bitterly incensed and acted as spokesman for the nobility. Was this the result, he demanded to know, of all his brother’s promises that he removed his own countrymen from the Council, to replace them by aliens, that he deigned not to ask the assistance of his constitutional advisers before bestowing his wards in marriage on whomsoever he would?

The news spread throughout the country, and there was an almost universal chorus of angry dissent. The barons were on the point of an armed uprising. London was filled with talk of intervention. Henry had known the wedding would stir up criticism, but he had not reckoned on anything like this. He was bewildered and frightened and at the same time angry that he had been involved—innocently, he thought—in so much trouble. In his mind already he was blaming his sister and the man of her choice. In an almost abject mood he promised to have some form of arbitration of the matter, although what results might be expected from such a course was not very clear.

The bridegroom was more realistic in the steps he took to counter the storm. He sought out Richard of Cornwall, with whom he had always been on friendly terms, and won him over by letting him see how much Eleanor’s happiness had depended on the marriage. The princess was a radiant bride and ready to fight Church and State, Westminster and London and Canterbury and the whole nation if necessary, for the content she was finding in the union. The King’s brother withdrew his objections. Since they lacked his support, the wrath of the barons fizzled out in a flurry of words.

Simon then demonstrated his sound political sense. He collected as much gold as he could from tenants and friends and set off hurriedly for Rome to get a confirmation of the marriage from the Pope. Henry did what he could by writing to the Pontiff that his dear brother and faithful servant, Simon de Montfort, was desirous of discussing matters touching his honor. Whether it was the groom’s great gift for negotiation or the support he stirred up in the Curia by the judicious use of his gold, the result was that the Pope promised to pronounce sentence in his favor through his legate in England. The promise was carried out.

Simon de Montfort returned to England in a jubilant frame of mind over the success of his mission. He went at once to his castle of Kenilworth. In this immense stronghold, which covered eleven acres with its mighty walls, he had left his young wife. He was in time for the arrival of his first child, a son, who was given the name of Henry. The winds had veered to a favorable direction and the royal weathercock had swung with them. The King not only acquiesced in the use of his name but acted as godfather of the child.

There was not at this time a cloud as large as a man’s hand in the sky, not a sign of rift in the relationship between the happy husband and father and his indulgent brother-in-law.

3

In his first appearances on the stage of English history Simon de Montfort does not show to advantage. He was ambitious and calculating. He had been prepared to marry either one of two women, both of whom were years older than himself, in order to mend his fortunes. From the very first he had been arrogant in manner and highly provocative in his opinions. This picture is more severe, however, than the facts warrant. It must be pointed out in his defense that he was in these respects a true son of his age, that he had acted in a manner common to all men of high station who faced life as penniless younger sons.

The adventurer who had raised his eyes so high and had been rewarded by the hand of a lovely princess must have displayed from the start some trace at least of the magnificent qualities which later would dictate the part he was to play in history. He won the friendship at once of men who were recognized as possessing the finest minds in the country. The first of these was Robert Grosseteste, who was archdeacon of Leicester when the young Norman came to assume his title and lands. There seems to have been an immediate liking between them, the great churchman sensing the splendid qualities dormant in the newcomer: his passionate religious convictions, his great capacity for loyalty to a cause, his sound judgment. Grosseteste did not lose touch with Simon when he left Leicester to become the Bishop of Lincoln but continued to correspond with him. Until the end of his life the greathearted old bishop gave the Earl of Leicester his best advice and his deepest affection. It was through Grosseteste that Simon came to know Adam Marsh and Walter Cantilupe, who was later the Bishop of Worcester. Adam Marsh, a gentle Ulysses, whose letters to Simon are justly acclaimed the finest of their kind, continued to be his friend and mentor. Walter Cantilupe stood at Simon’s right hand and was his chief prop and stay at all stages of the civil war. There can be no doubt that these wise and courageous men saw great possibilities in the ambitious young Norman at the very beginning. None found any reason later to change his mind.

In the letters which passed back and forth among the members of this illustrious circle the admiration of the churchmen for the young peer is manifest. Adam Marsh wrote to Walter Cantilupe at a time when Henry and his new brother-in-law were embroiled over affairs in Gascony, “Thanks to the eternal mercy of God, a new light of heavenly justice seems to rise in the King’s mind for the affairs of the Earl of Leicester.” He wrote letters to the Archbishop of Rouen most earnestly commending Simon to him. To Simon himself he addressed many letters for the purpose of blowing the coals of the earl’s religious convictions to a still warmer blaze. “Work, I beg of you, to gain the salutary comfort of the divine words,” ran one letter. “Meditate often upon the Holy Scriptures.” That Simon was receptive to such advice is evident from another letter. “What noble rewards, illustrious earl, will you receive in the kingdom of God for the happy solicitude with which you plan to purify, enlighten and sanctify the children of God by a government which well befits it.” This extract is from one of the later letters,1 addressed to Simon when the latter had achieved political stature and was pressing for improvements in the government of the kingdom. That Adam Marsh was heart and soul with the popular cause is made clear in the course of the correspondence. “I shall take no rest,” he declared once, “until I have learned of the success of your cause.” It may be assumed from this that the national needs were close to the hearts of this remarkable coterie. Grosseteste died before matters came to a head, but it is inconceivable that he would have failed to station himself in the forefront of reform.

The wisest men in the land might perceive the promise of greatness in the newcomer, but others were less observant. To the members of the nobility he was just another foreigner, elevated over their heads by the perverse preference of the King. The same view, no doubt, was held by the common people. Most women were attracted to him, partly by reason of the curiosity always felt in a royal romance. The Queen shared this predilection even though the Queen’s Men regarded him with active antagonism. To the uncles and aunts he was another head tussling successfully for a place at the trough of royal favor.

The King’s Men, when they descended on the bounty of Henry a few years later, made Simon the object of bitter opposition. Never being one to accept a slight or rebuff in silence, he made more enemies than friends during the first years of his residence in England. It is certain, however, that in the never-ending friction between the King and his subjects his sympathies were with Henry. He was, after all, a stranger, unfamiliar with the temperament of the people, unaware as yet of the deep differences in English and French conceptions of the relationship of king to subject. Henry was his benefactor, his friend, the brother of his beloved Eleanor. It would have been strange indeed if he had failed to range himself on the side of the topsy-turvy tyrant, even though in court circles he encountered black looks and undercurrents of hostility.

4

The marriage of Simon and Eleanor, in spite of temperamental disagreements, may be termed one of the great romances of the century. There can be no doubt that the princess was deeply in love with her commoner husband. She clung to him through thick andthin, through poverty and exile, a passionately devoted wife. Simon could not have failed of a corresponding devotion. Eleanor was hard to resist, a beauty even in this day of great pulchritude among the daughters of ruling families, coquettish, willful, capricious, in all her moods charming. She came to her second marriage with the faults still of a childhood during which she had been a general favorite. Love of fine clothes was a passion with her, and she spent much of her time in the adornment of her person and the dressing of her fine hair. She seems to have been subject to gusts of anger which were soon over. Adam Marsh, who wrote to her as freely as he did to her husband, took her to task sometimes for this tendency to fly into tempers as well as for the extravagant taste she showed in matters of dress. In one note he urged her to “display all your industry and tact in putting an end to these irritating disputes.” The troubles which had evoked this piece of advice were not entirely of Eleanor’s making, for their mentor proceeded to explain that by her sweetness and good advice she should be able to bring Simon to more prudent conduct. The quarrels of the lovers whose marriage had set all England by the ears were never serious and may be considered to have been no more than the salt of a happily wedded life.

Simon and his princess bride had, nevertheless, plenty to disturb them. Eleanor brought an intricately involved mass of assets and debts instead of a proper dower, largely because the Marshal family had not yet been sufficiently pressed to return the estates with which she had been endowed at the time of her first marriage. She had an annual income of four hundred pounds for which she had bartered her share of the Irish holdings of the acquisitive Marshals; a most one-sided arrangement which Henry should never have approved. Simon’s position remained one of intense pecuniary difficulty. Naturally the extravagant habits of Eleanor made things worse.

It was a regal life they lived at Kenilworth. The castle was an immense clutter of buildings around Caesar’s Tower, which was counted impregnable with its double ramparts and moat. The manors and hunting lands extended over twenty miles of wooded land. Here they lived and ruled in feudal state. They had a mill for the grinding of the tenants’ grain and a market each Tuesday for the exchange of commodities. They had their own courts of justice, where prices were regulated, disputes settled and crimes tried; they had their own prisons and gallows. The earl and his bride began to collect a library, to act as patrons of literature, to entertain the most intelligent men in the kingdom. Their household was enormous and, although little was given the retainers in the way of pay, the drain on their combined purse was little short of ruinous.

Eleanor continued to be extravagant, but at the same time she became a good chatelaine and managed her end of this gigantic establishment with some shrewdness. This is attested by a curious document which has, by the greatest good luck, survived down the centuries. It is called The Household Roll of Eleanor, Countess of Leicester. The countess took it with her to France when she had to flee England near the end of her life. As she spent the rest of her days at the nunnery of Montargis, it is probable that the manuscript was kept in the archives there. Five hundred years later it was discovered and taken back to England, to provide an authentic picture of the life of a great castle in the thirteenth century.

It does more than that, however: it offers to the imagination an enticing picture of the daughter of the royal house playing the part of wife and domestic manager. Back of the precise items about food and drink and the prices thereof one sees the figure of Eleanor proceeding about her tasks, her assistants following at her heels with much jingling of keys and swishing of baskets, and no doubt much suppressed chatter and an occasional giggle. A preoccupied frown is on her face, her voice is often raised in sudden exasperation but dissolves quickly into laughter, her sense of justice is brought to any disputes with (or so we trust) the precepts taught by gentle Adam Marsh. This is not entirely fanciful, for it is recorded that, during the long periods when the warrior head of the family was away at the Crusades or fighting in Gascony, the princess he had married in the secrecy of the King’s chapel spent her time quietly in the management of affairs at their chief castles of Kenilworth and Odiham and in raising their brood of children, seven in all, who accumulated rapidly about them.

The Roll deals with the humble details of everyday life and most particularly with costs. Take, for instance, the item of beer. It is possible to get from the prosaic notes entered in a clerkly hand a rather complete picture with reference to beer. Consumption was, of course, enormous, despite the fact that it was flat and insipid stuff. It was made without hops, and those who could afford to do so added spices and other ingredients to give it more taste. The brown-cheeked men in russet or green, bow at shoulder and quiver at belt, who gathered at Kenilworth for the assizes of beer and bread or the court-leet where offenders against the peace were put on trial, drank a great deal of the castle brew and more still at the taverns thereabouts, where they were prone to contribute a farthing for the addition of fennel, the licorice-flavored spice.

It may have been that Eleanor possessed a latent tendency to feminist doctrine, because she used a breweress in Banbury for the making of much of the beer consumed at Kenilworth. Although the idea of feminine equality was never voiced, women assumed a managing role throughout the Middle Ages. Men were so continuously away at war and, it must be confessed, so lacking in practical sense that their wives controlled the households and superintended the planting and harvesting of crops. In the cities they were partners in the shops, and it was as often as not a feminine hand which fell heavily on a careless apprentice, a feminine voice which drove the shrewdest bargains. It is on record in the Roll that on one day in April the countess purchased 188 gallons of beer from the stout breweress at a price which ran a little in excess of a halfpenny a gallon.

Wines were relatively expensive because the homemade varieties were not good, and cultivated palates demanded the finer kinds imported from Guienne and Gascony. The word bastard has always been much on the tongues of Englishmen, perhaps because it has such a good rough roundness to it, and it was applied to many things, to ships and sails and paper and to cloth of inferior quality as well as to the unfortunate and innocent victims of illicit love. It occurs frequently in the Roll, but there it is used to denote a sweet Spanish wine which resembled muscatel and which, apparently, was mixed with native wines to redeem their somewhat metallic flavor.

The information supplied about food has to do largely with meat. The usual varieties were eked out by the flesh of the kid and by venison, the latter being so highly favored that men would risk their lives to bring down a buck in forbidden woods. It was only in the warm seasons, however, that fresh meat was available. During the long winter, which was regarded as the season of the devil, people lived on salted meat and smoked fish. Sometimes, when spring was long in coming, the supply would run short and the contents of the soup pot would be far from satisfying. The consumption of fish at all seasons was tremendous, and in the Roll the names of a wide variety are to be found: sturgeon, conger, ling, mullet, mackerel, stockfish, sea bream, bar, flounder, salmon, plaice, dories, and sole. There was also much consumption of oysters, crabs, and shrimps, as well as fresh-water varieties, the dart, crayfish, eels, and lampreys.

The word pullagium occurs frequently to designate all forms of poultry and game, possibly also the strong-fleshed birds which were greatly liked for the medieval table but have since ceased to be considered edible, the peacock, swan, heron, and bittern.

The price of eggs, according to the Roll, was in the neighborhood of fourpence a hundred. They were used in great quantities for the table and, of course, in the preparation of such dishes as bread, puddings, and pastries. Men were immensely fond of pastry and did not mind if the lard which entered into it was strong. There is mention of one Easter Sunday when twelve hundred eggs were used at Kenilworth. They were no doubt stained the yellow of the anemone or pasqueflower and given to the tenants according to the usual custom.

The range of prices for table commodities was extremely wide, owing to the rarity of the much-prized foods from the East. Rice could be purchased for one and a half pence a pound, but the saffron to be used with it (no self-respecting matron would serve rice unless colored with saffron) was ten to twelve shillings a pound. Almonds cost twopence, but ginger was one hundred times as high. Cloves, the most treasured of all spices, cost from twelve shillings a pound up. There were many spices in more or less regular use which are little heard of today, such as galingale.

Except for items of this kind, Kenilworth seems to have been self-supporting. They raised their own cattle and sheep, and the broad fields between the stretches of green forest produced grain in abundance. The soil was fertile and so the crops were plentiful. The nobility and the people of the cities were hampered and irked by Henry’s nonsense, but the man on the land does not seem to have suffered much by the misgovernment. The peasants in russet tunics who tilled the fields around Kenilworth always had full bellies and would have agreed that England was a merrie country.

Eleanor was temperamental and no doubt a little giddy, but the existence of the Roll is all the proof needed that she endeavored to meet her responsibilities in a thorough way.

1These extracts are from Simon de Montfort by C. Bémont.

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