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the king. Complaints of him in this respect were made both by St. Albans and Dunstaple; in the latter place he enforced a fine by seizing all the pro
1258-59 perty of the monastery till the fine was paid. On the re
: the other hand, his activity was commendable ; he action; pro
ceedings journeyed with two associates through every county, of the
justices; and, according to some authorities, did justice well, hearing the complaints made through the four knights, and redressing many old wrongs. But the difficulty of keeping the judicial system in proper order must have been immense. The unlettered barons were but poor lawyers, and yet would naturally have avoided employing the officials of the former régime, who, though creatures of the Court, were probably the only persons sufficiently acquainted with the law. Nature too increased the trouble. After the famine in the early part of the year, an continued unusually fine crop gave hope of some compensation ;
famine, but it was almost entirely destroyed by heavy rains and floods. Corn in great quantities had to be brought in from abroad to keep even the wealthier classes from starvation. A pestilence broke out, which
and pesticarried off the Bishop of London and many less lence. noble victims. There were doubtless many then, as there would be some even now, to lay the blame of such calamities on the Government.
But the great difficulty was caused by the dis- Disunion union which was already creeping in among the among the leaders, and the inclination already shown by the
i Ann. Dunst. 212.
Matt. West. 283; Matt. Par. 977 says that the sheriff of Northants, who had followed in the steps of his predecessor, was de. posed and duro ac diro carceri mancipatus.' See p. 163, note 3.
Hostility of party!
king to break loose from the Provisions. Soon after
the Parliament of Oxford, some of the barons, yield1258–59 ing, according to one chronicler, to their own wicked impulses and the promises of the king, deserted their
The inveterate hostility of Henry towards Henry 10 de Montfort, a feeling certainly not very unnatural, fort. was shown by an incident which took place in the
summer of 1258. The king in passing down the Thames from his palace at Westminster was caught in so violent a thunderstorm that he was obliged to land at a spot which happened to be close to the palace of the Bishop of Durham, then occupied by the earl. On hearing of this Simon at once went and offered him shelter, telling him there was no cause for alarm, as the storm would soon be over. The king, by no means in jest, but in grim earnest, replied, “Thunder and lightning I fear exceedingly, but, by the head of God, I fear thee more than all the storms in the world.' To which the earl quietly answered, Sire, it is unjust and incredible that thou shouldst fear me, who am thy true friend, and loyal to thee and thine and to the realm of England ; but thy enemies, those who ruin thee and tell thee lies-them thou oughtest to fear. The incident, we are told, caused great anxiety in the minds of all who had their country at heart. The oath, by which the king bound himself to look on every one who opposed the Provisions as a public enemy, must indeed (as Wykes says) have been grievous to many besides himself.3 The general conviction, that the despotic power of the barons was an usurpation, was
Ann. Tewk. 175.
? Matt, Par. 974. * See latter part of note 1, p. 201.
increased in the case of Simon de Montfort by a CHAP. glaring anomaly in his position. He, an alien by birth, however true an Englishman at heart, had been
Ambiguous foremost in expelling aliens ; he who had threatened position William of Valence with death if he did not give up
Simon : his castles, had only given up his own to receive the custody of the fortress of Winchester. It was noticed, with the suspicion which springs out of mere uncertainty, that he tarried long in France, whither he had gone in the autumn of 1258, on the embassy to which he was so often appointed, and was not present at the council which consulted on the return of King Richard. He had never been on very good terms with his English peers; his ability and foreign influence made them envious; his undeniable ambition provoked the old cry of upstart ; his broad constitutional principles made him in their eyes a traitor to his order. These feelings were only temporarily smothered by common effort, and Simons own unselfish acknowledgment of foreign extraction at the Parliament of Oxford.
At first the Earls of Leicester and Gloucester were his chief coupled together in popular estimation as the saviours of supporters their country, but the union of these two leading nobles, power. the object of so many hopes and fears, was to be of very short duration. The classes whom Simon made it his special object to protect, and among whom his chief power lay, the clergy and the smaller barons, were neglected in the new scheme of government ; thus
See Pauli, Simon von Mont., 90. ? The ambassadors sent on this occasion to a great council, to be held at Cambray, were the Bishops of Worcester and Lincoln, and the Earls of Leicester and Norfolk. Matt. Par. 979 says they were unsuccessful.
Earl Simons influence on the wane.
he was deprived of his main support. This alone would be sufficient to show how little share he can have had in the lame attempt at a constitution made in 1258; while at the same time it renders still more remarkable the constancy with which he supported the Provisions, having once sworn to them, as at any rate better than the old state of things. When he got the power into his own hands, he did not scruple to replace the old scheme with a far better one. For a year or two however he suffered from the shortcomings of his allies, and his influence was decidedly on the wane. He was credited with the disappointment of their hopes by those whom he had encouraged to believe in the possibility of a real reform; and it was not till they found that he was after all their only stronghold that they returned to him. Meanwhile other business took him away from the work of internal reform ; his special duty was to arrange the peace with France,
He had returned to England shortly after King Richards arrival, bringing with him an ambassador from the Council of the French
He was present at the Lent Parliament of 1259, at which the chief subject of discussion was the peace with France. Internal affairs were however not neglected; an edict was published, embodying provisions as to sheriffs and others, almost the same as those made the previous autumn, and repeating the promises of justice and redress.
But justice seems rather to have been promised than done. Soon
of Lent, 1259
1 That this however was not yet the case in 1259 is evident from the words of Matt. Par. 984, •Comes Legriæ, de cujus absentia diuturna tota condoluerat Anglia; and from the attitude taken up by the rest of the baronage in his quarrel with Gloucester.
after the Parliament Simon returned to France, and with his colleagues determined the preliminaries of a durable peace. The year seems to have passed in profound Protest of
the knightquiet. But towards the end a remarkable proof of hood. the discontent that was already pervading the country was given. The knighthood were so disappointed by the non-appearance of that which they had so anxiously expected, that in October 1259 they addressed a remonstrance to Prince Edward and the members of the council, declaring that, as the king had done all that was required of him by the barons, the latter ought to fulfil their share of the engagement; whereas they had done nothing but seek their own advantage, to the detriment of king and country.? To this Prince Edward replied that he had sworn to the Provisions, and would keep his oath ; and accord. ingly he warned the barons that, if they did not
On 10 March, 1259, the Earls of Leicester and Gloucester, P. of Savoy, J. Mansel, and R. Walerand were appointed to treat of peace ; and J. Baliol was afterwards added to their number. A preliminary writ was signed by Simon and two others early in May. On 20 May the first form of peace was published. The embassy then returned to England ; and on 28 July Simon and his cousin Peter and another were sent out to settle the final peace, which, with its ratification by the council, bears date October 1259. -Fæd. i. 384-390 ; Roy. Letters i. 138.
2 The Communitas bacheleriæ Angliæ' (Ann. Burt. 47) sent the protest. Dr. Pauli, following Gneist, Verw. i. 305, would place this event in Oct. 1258 ; but there does not appear sufficient ground for upsetting the order in which it comes in Ann. Burton, loose as the reckoning generally is. It is hardly possible that the knighthood should have sent in such a complaint within four months of the Parliament of Oxford, and at a time when the barons were hard at work at their measures of reform. More. over Prince Edwards oath to the Provisions, alluded to in his answer to the protest, was not published till several days after the protest was on this hypothesis handed in. Stubbs, Const. Hist. ii. 81, gives the later of the two dates. Pearson, Engl. Hist. ii. 225, would refer it to February, 1259.