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CHAP. brought into play the state-craft which was so notable
in his son and grandson. In spite of a divided alle1128-1190
giance, and the hostilities between Henry II and France, he seems to have managed to keep well with both sides, although compelled in 1159 to give up his castles, Evreux included, to the king. From that time, though the title remained, Evreux itself ceased to belong to the family; it was in the hands of the English king till ceded by John to Philip as part of
the dower of Blanche of Castile. The earl- But Simon gained more than he lost. He was dom of Leicester.
fortunate enough, about the year 1160,2 to win the hand of Amicia de Beaumont, sister and coheiress of Robert Fitz-Pernell, Earl of Leicester. From this marriage sprang three sons and three daughters. The eldest son, Amauri, seventh and last Count of Evreux, married Mabel, daughter of William, Earl of
Gloucester, and became earl himself in right of his Simon the wife. The second son, Simon IV, who took the de crusader.
Montfort estates, was the famous warrior, zealot, and crusader, 'the scourge of the Albigenses,' and became Earl of Leicester in right of his mother. A daughter, Bertrade, married Hugh, Earl of Chester, and was mother of Earl Ranulf, the great leader of the opposition in the early years of Henry III. It would have been hard, at the opening of the thirteenth century, to point to a family of greater force of character and pretensions than that of de Montfort. Simon IV, the crusader, married, about 1190, Alice, daughter of
i Fæd. i. 79.
? Pauli says “not later than 1173 ;' it could not well have been later than 1160, for the husband of his daughter Bertrade, the Earl of Chester, died in 1180. How it was that Amauri of Evreux did not become Earl of Leicester before his brother does not appear, nor is Dugdale clear as to how he gained or lost the earldom of Gloucester.
Bouchard V, Sire de Montmorenci, a woman noted
II. for her piety and wisdom, and in courage and energy no unworthy companion for such a husband. Simon 1190-1207 himself, if we are to believe the report of an enthusiastic admirer, combined with great intellectual ability, and the power of leading men, personal beauty and all the knightly virtues. Of his orthodoxy and ambition he gave only too terrible proof. His wife accompanied him on his crusades, and gave him valuable help in the foundation of his transitory dominion, built up with bigotry and cruelty that have rarely been surpassed, and supported mainly by the terror of his name.
His connexion with England was little more than Simon IV, nominal. Robert, Earl of Leicester, died in 1204, Leicester. and Simon's right to his mothers heritage seems to have been recognised almost immediately. In August 1206 we find him spoken of as Earl of Leicester ; 4 and on March 10, 1207, the king confirmed to him half the Barony of Leicester, with the third penny of the Earldom, and the High Stewardship of England. This great office had become hereditary in connexion with the Earldom of Leicester before the end of the reign of Henry II, though even then the
1 Hist. Albig., Recueil xx. 22, quoted by Pauli.
2 Id. 23.
3 Chron. Guill. de Nang. p. 156.
• Rot. Lit. Claus. 28 Aug. 1206. Comitissa mater comitis Leicestriæ.' In Rot. Lit. Claus. of the year before she is called 'Amicia Comitissa de Montford.' The author of the article in Quarterly Rev. cxix. calls Simons mother Petronilla, but in Fæd. i. 96 Petronilla is said to have been mother of the late Earl of Leicester (i.e. Robert), and therefore was grandmother of Simon IV.
5 Fæd. i. 96. Hudson Turner (Household Expenses vii.) says there is no charter of his creation in existence, but it seems to have been lost, for, besides the mention of him in the writ of 28 Aug. 1206, we read in that of March 10, 1207, "comitatus Leircestr' unde ipse comes est.'
dignity seems to have been shared by several persons
at once. It had long ago ceased to have any political 1207–1218 Simon iv. importance, the official functions connected with it
having mostly passed to the Chief Justiciar, at a time Leicester ;
when hereditary officers were being replaced by others over whom the king had more power. The other half of the earldom was conferred by the king at the same time on Saer de Quenci, with the title of Earl of Winchester. The division was to take effect on the deaths of Petronilla, the mother, and Laurentia, the widow, of the late Earl of Leicester. Simon seems to have held the title until the position he had won for himself in the south of France made the mere name comparatively worthless, or until, as Pauli thinks, the reconciliation of his backer, the Pope, with England, induced him to resign his claim. It is very doubtful whether he ever set foot in England; it is certain he can never have reaped any pecuniary ad
vantage from his earldom, for in the very same year, deprived 1207, we find that the king deprived him of his posof the earldom. sessions. Though we are not told the reason of this
change, it cannot be far to seek. Simons strength lay in Normandy, his family traditions bound him to the French court ; in the very next year he was appointed Captain-General of the French forces in the crusade against the Albigenses. The conquests of the French king in Normandy would have in any case made the position of such a subject in England very doubtful, apart from the feeling with which he
Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 343, 345. Gneist, Verw. i. 235.
His suc- Albigensian
seems to have been regarded by the baronial party. CHAP. Whether the statement of one chronicler,' that the barons in 1210 conspired to elect him king of Eng. 1207-1218 land, be true or false, it shows the repute in which he was held, and a possibility which John wculd not have been slow to take advantage of. The pretext for his degradation was apparently a debt to the Crown, for the custody of his lands of Leicester was given to Robert de Ropeley, in order to satisfy the king's claims. 2
Simon was however too busy in the south of France Simon IV, to pay any attention to his English estates. cesses there made him a dangerous foe, and for some time there was good prospect that he would fully compensate for his losses by conquest from the continental possessions of England. Philip Augustus was not sorry to see the rise of his great vassal in that quarter; and the Pope, at least while England was under interdict, strongly favoured the ambitious advances made under the plea of religious enthusiasm. But when Innocent and John were reconciled, the tide began to turn; and the change seems to have brought with it a reconciliation between Simon and the English king. One of the last acts of John was to restore The earlthe count to the possession of his English estates, the restored to custody of which, for his use, was given to his nephew, the Earl of Chester.3 This seems to have been continued by Henry IU, at least till the death of Simon before Toulouse, in 1218, after which the custody of the earldom was given to Stephen de Segrave, and in
1 Ann. Dunst. 33.
August 1218 to Peter des Roches, Bishop of Win
chester. 1218-1231 With the death of its founder fell the short-lived
power of the de Montforts in the south. Amauri, the Simon IV. sixth de Montfort of his name, eldest son of the
crusader, continued the war a brief while, but, being of very different stuff from his father, gave it up after his mothers death in 1221, and, two years later, ceded his claim on the conquered lands to Louis VIII. He continued, however, to retain the title of Earl of Leicester, and was raised by St. Louis to the dignity of Constable of France. He died in 1241 on his return from crusade. Through his great-granddaughter, Yolande, the family estates came, at the end of the thirteenth century, into the possession of the Dukes of Brittany, with whom they remained until the union of Brittany with the crown of France completed the absorption of the once princely domains of Montfort into the royal treasury:3
The hostile relations between England and France, claim on the earl
which were almost continuous during the first fifteen domof
years of the reign of Henry III, seemed to destroy Leicester.
all hope that the earldom of Leicester would ever return to the family of de Montfort. The peace however which was concluded in 1231 made it possible for Amauri, eldest son of Simon the crusader, to push his claim. It was doubtless the prospect of gaining so important an ally, as well as Henrys general taste
! Rot. Lit. Claus., 28 July and 26 Aug. 1218.
? Amauri, elder brother of Simon IV, held the title of Count of Evreux. Simon IV seems to have been the first Count of Montfort, his predecessors having been called Barons.
* For this and many of the preceding details see l'Art de Vérifier les Dates, vol. iii, pp. 675 seq.