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I.

on

his country for French gold,' and, drawing his sword, would have rushed upon him had he not been prevented by the Earl of Chester. The expedition was

1215-1232

Expedition only postponed, to be taken up next year (1230). to France. The complete want of success which attended it, in spite of the disadvantages under which the French laboured, showed the want of administrative power in the Government, and the incapacity of the king as a commander. When he returned, after much loss Pecuniary

difficulties both of honour and money, he found difficulties

begin. all sides. He had with some trouble obtained an aid before starting. It was voted by the clergy only after deliberation, and with mention of their rights. At the close of the war they refused altogether, on the ground that their assent did not depend on that of the laity, but in spite of their opposition the king got the money. Up to this time the efforts of the clergy were mostly confined to resisting the king, while the lay barons made it their business to oppose the Curia ; it was not till many years later that the coalition of the two exactors rendered a hearty alliance of clergy and laity inevitable.

It was however already felt that the great contest Popular between the papacy and the empire was draining the to kome. life-blood of England. A kind of secret society was established, which affixed letters to the doors of monasteries and other ecclesiastical buildings, threatening speedy punishment if the clergy gave way further to the exactions of Rome. Armed men with masks on their faces pillaged the granaries of Italian dignitaries, and gave away or sold the corn cheaply to the neighbour. hood. Meanwhile financial difficulties, caused by the

1 Matt. Par. 363.

CHAP

I.

a new

war with France and thoughtless liberality towards

continental favourites, pressed heavily on the king. 1215–1232 In the midst of these troubles his evil genius, Peter

des Roches, reappeared. He regained his influence over the king by persuading the magnates to grant a

fortieth, and shortly afterwards succeeded in ousting Dismissal his old rival Hubert de Burgh, who was dismissed by of Hubert

his sovereign with undeserved contumely and ingratitude. With him went the only remaining security for good government, for the Earl of Chester died about this time; and the king delivered himself hand and

foot to the ruinous counsels of his favourite. At this the mark of point may be said to begin a new period in the history period. of the reign : Henrys worst tendencies, till now some

what kept in check by his minister, ran their course without restraint; collisions between the monarchy and the baronage became more serious and more frequent; the claims of the latter and their constitutional ideas became more definite. Henry had held the reins of government for five years, and the sketch I have attempted to give of that period will perhaps suffice to show that all the elements of future disaster were already distinctly visible. It cannot have needed very great political insight to foretell that with such a king a rupture was inevitable. But before 1232 the man who was destined to play so important a part in the struggle had already appeared upon the scene.

31

CHAPTER II.

FAMILY AND EARLY LIFE OF SIMON

DE MONTFORT.

II.

Montfort

SIMON DE MONTFORT was the descendant of a family CHAP. which took its name from a stronghold known still as Montfort l'Amauri. The little town so called 1028–1128 is situated on the high ground between the valleys l'Amauri. of the Eure and the Seine, in the south-east corner of Normandy. At a point on the northern slope of this ridge, whence the eye ranges freely over the broad valley of the Seine below, and a little river hastens down from the wooded uplands of Rambouillet to meet the larger stream, lies the village which perpetuates the family name. Close by this village is a ruined castle, whose weather-beaten remnants crown a hillock, probably the natural fortress, the strong mount,' which attracted the attention of the first Amalric. Montfort l'Amauri lies just half-way between Paris and Chartres, and the railway joining those towns now passes within a short distance. On the same line of railway, about ten miles to the southwest, at a point where three streams meet and flow towards the Eure, lies Epernon, the other principal possession of the house of Montfort before they acquired the county of Evreux.

CHAP.

II.

Tradition connects the family of Amauri with

imperial blood, for the first of the name is said to 1028-1128 Origin of

have been the grandson of Judith, daughter of Charles the family the Bald, and Baldwin Bras-de-fer, Count of Flanders ;? Montfort : his son William married the heiress of Montfort and

Epernon, and their child, Amauri II, gave his name to the family possession. Another legend however declares this Amauri to have been an illegitimate son of King Robert, and thus makes the blood of the Capets to run in their veins.? Be this as it may, in this Amauri II the family first emerges into the light

of history; we find him among the vassals of France they obtain in the year 1028. His son, Simon I, appears, like Evreux.

others of his race, among the truest supporters of the French Crown; and to him chiefly the family owed their power, through a fortunate marriage with Agnes, daughter, and after her brother Williams death heiress, of Richard, second Count of Evreux. This important place is situated on the Iton, a tributary of the Eure, about thirty miles to the north-west of Montfort l'Amauri. The castle had been built by Duke Richard I, the great-grandfather of William the Conqueror, and given by him to his son Robert, whom he made first Count of Evreux, and shortly afterwards Archbishop of Rouen. This prelate however, in his secular quality as count, was married and had three sons, the eldest of whom, Richard, was father of Agnes. By this marriage therefore Simon I not only gained a noble property, but enabled his descendants to claim an equality in point of birth with the kings of England themselves.

These details are mostly taken from L'Art de Vérifier les Dates, vol. iii, pp. 675 seq. and 803 seq. See Appendix J.

* Recueil des Rois de France (Du Tillet), p. 65, quoted by Pauli.

CHAP.

II.

1028-1128

fort in France.

But this new dignity brought with it some evils in compensation, for the traditions of the Montfort family were those of adherence to the crown of France, while

The family Evreux was decidedly Norman, and both Richard of of de MontEvreux and his son William had fought for their duke on the field of Hastings. Nevertheless William, when he came to be Count of Evreux, showed himself a troublesome subject, and was frequently in open revolt against the Conqueror and his sons. He went so far as to aid Duke Robert against his brother; but a little later we find him fighting on the side of Henry I at Tenchebrai. His fickle character was a constant source of disturbance, and, when he died without children in 1118, Henry thought to relieve himself from further trouble by seizing and garrisoning his castle of Evreux. But his nephew, Amauri IV of Montfort, claiming Evreux in right of his mother, took the place and expelled the garrison.' His occupation was short; he was speedily driven out again, and for ten years was in constant opposition to the king of England, at one time a prisoner,, at another free, now in open warfare on the side of France, now intriguing with discontented Norman barons ; till at length, in 1128, Henry converted him from foe to friend by putting him in possession of Evreux and all his inheritance. Under his second son, Simon III, began a Connexcloser connexion with England.' His difficult position, England.

ions with on the frontiers of France and Normandy, must have

The persons of this name who are found before this in connection with England, e.g. Hughde Montfort, one of the most powerful allies of Duke William in his invasion of England, and Robert de Montfort, one of four Barons who tested the charter of liberties issued by Henry I, seem to have been members of another though possibly related family, the Montforts of Risle.

D

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