The Second Barons' War

The reasons for uprising against the King

For many years King Henry III had run the country poorly. He had married a French woman, Eleanor of Provence, and many members of her family and of the French court came to England with her. The French replaced Henry's advisers and began to spend the country's money. Things came to a head in 1258 after a series of bad harvests and wet winters. This resulted in starvation for the country's poor and reduced taxes for the king. To make matter worse Henry approached Parliament for funds to pay for a military mission to Sicily to put he son Prince Edward on the Sicilian throne.

The Barons Oppose Henry

The time had come for the barons to voice their concerns. The group of barons, including Richard de Clare (Earl of Gloucester), John Fitz Geoffrey, Roger Bigod (Earl of Norfolk), Hugh Bigod (Roger's brother), Peter of Savoy, Peter de Montfort (not a relation of Simon), and finally Simon de Montfort (Earl of Leicester), vowed to stand together and oppose the king. Simon de Montfort was a close friend of the king and was married to the king's sister, Eleanor, but the country's future was more important to the Earl than his friendship with the king.

The Provisions of Oxford

The barons arranged to meet King Henry at Oxford in June of 1258. As an act of faith Simon handed his castles at Odiham and Kenilworth over to the king. When the barons appeared before Henry they were fully armed and gave him no choice but to agree to their demands. The 'Provisions of Oxford' as they are known set out a system of government in which a council of fifteen members were to advise the king. The fifteen were selected by a committee of four, two from the barons and two from the king. The activities of the council were also to be checked by Parliament. A year later amendments to the running of the council were made by the 'Provisions of Westminster'.

Henry acts against the barons

Henry needed help to oppose the barons so he approached the French king Louis IX. At the Treaty of Paris in 1259 Henry agreed to admit that England had no rights to the lands of Normandy, Maine, Anjou and Poitou that had been lost by King John. Henry was allowed to keep lands in Gascony and Aquitaine as long as he accepted the French king as his overlord in these areas. In return King Louis promised to assist Henry in the fight against the barons.

Absolved from the Provisions and a civil war

Henry also approached the Pope for help. The Pope agreed that the Provisions of Oxford were illegal as Henry had been forced to sign the documents. Freed from the obligations forced upon him by the barons Henry resumed power. With an army of French bodyguards he went on the offensive against the barons. At the Battle of Lewes King Henry and his eldest son Prince Edward, the future king of England, were captured by the barons and held prisoner.

A new form of Parliament

In 1265 Simon de Montfort laid the foundations for the current English Parliament. For the first time each county of England was allowed to elect and send two knights to Parliament to represent their areas. Each borough was also to elect and send two representatives.

End of the rebellion

The barons began to quarrel amongst themselves and a split developed. Prince Edward escaped from captivity and joined the group of barons opposing Simon de Montfort. At the Battle of Evesham on August 4, 1265 Simon de Montfort was killed. Although small pockets of resistance remained, the rebellion was over and King Henry again took control of the country.

Related Information

Henry III (full details)
Reign FromOctober 28, 1216
Reign ToNovember 16, 1272
SucceededKing John
PrecededEdward I
Royal HousePlantagenet


1258 Qtr 1 The year starts badly
   Because of a series of bad harvests, a wet winter and a late frost, crops were destroyed and cattle starved. People were hungry and dying.
Apr Henry asks for money
   The Pope offered the Sicilian crown for Henry's youngest son Edmund. The Pope wanted to add Sicily to the papal dominions. To raise the money required for such an expedition Henry met Parliament at Westminster. The barons who were not involved in the meeting forced Henry to meet again in June where they wanted Henry to reform the way the country was being run.
Apr 12 Henry is opposed by the Barons
   For many years, Henry had been living beyond the means of the country and with the failure of both harvests and Henry's will to amend his ways, a group of Barons rose up against him. Seven Barons first signed an oath and formed a commune in which they swore to look after each others interests. The seven were Richard de Clare (Earl of Gloucester), John Fitz Geoffrey, Roger Bigod (Earl of Norfolk), Hugh Bigod (Roger's brother), Peter of Savoy, Peter de Montfort (not a relation of Simon), and finally Simon de Montfort.
Jun Provisions of Oxford
   The barons and Henry III met at Oxford where fully armed, the barons showed Henry that he had no choice but to reform the way the country was being run. A council of fifteen members was set to advise the king. The fifteen were selected by a committee of four, two from the barons and two from the king. The new council was not to last long as the members could not agree amongst themselves on courses of action and by 1260 it had broken up. The reformers and royalists were to take up arms and meet in civil war.
Jun Odiham and Kenilworth handed over to the King
   As an act of faith, Simon de Montfort handed over his castles at Odiham and Kenilworth as part of the proposals put forward in the Provisions of Oxford.
1259 Oct 13 Provisions of Westminster
   These were a series of reforms made by the council of fifteen created in 1258 at the Provisions of Oxford.
Dec 4 Treaty of Paris
   Also known as the treaty of Albeville/Abbeville. A treaty between Louis IX of France and Henry III in which Henry agreed to the loss of Normandy, Maine, Anjou and Poitou. These areas had been lost under the reign of King John. Henry was able to keep the lands of Gascony and parts of Aquitaine. This won Henry the support of Louis IX of France against the rebellious Barons back in England.
1261 Qtr 1 Absolved from the Provisions of Oxford
   Pope Alexander IV agreed to absolve Henry from the Provisions of Oxford.
May Henry back in control
   Having obtained a papal bull (a formal proclamation issued by the pope) to absolve himself from the Provision of Oxford, Henry hired an army of 300 French knights as bodyguards and took up position in the Tower of London. His objective was to regain the absolute power that the Barons had taken away.
Aug 16 Henry appoints new ministers
   Henry had deposed ministers that had been appointed at the Provisions of Oxford and appointed new ones. His new proclamation gave the new ministers full power.
1263 Edward joins Simon de Montfort
   At this time, Edward (to become Edward I), met up with Simon de Montfort and came under his influence. Edward, knights Simon's two eldest sons. This friendship was not to last.
Edward raids the Temple in London
   On the pretence of removing his mother's jewels, Edward (I) entered the Knights Templar's Temple in London and ransacked the treasury, taking the proceeds to the Tower of London.
Feb Edward returns to England
   Edward and his wife returned to England
Jun Simon's forces do much damage
   Moving firstly westward from the stronghold of one of Henry's supporters to another, Simon de Montfort's forces did much damage, even though Simon had ordered that no sacred place should be attacked. Simon then moved towards the south east coast ports to secure them. By the end of June he had reached Dover, its inhabitants welcoming him.
1264 Pevensey Castle siege
   Following the defeat at the Battle of Lewes, Henry III's supporters fled and took refuge in Pevensey Castle. Simon de Montfort's son, laid siege to the castle, but could not take it.
Siege of Rochester Castle
   A force led by Simon de Montfort besieged Rochester Castle for several days but the castle did not fall. He left a small number of men to continue the siege but they were attacked and fled.
Tutbury Castle attacked
   Prince Edward attacked the castle at Tutbury as it was the stonghold of one of the rebel barons.
Jan 23 The Mise of Amiens
   Louis IX held a court at Amiens to decide if Henry should be freed from the obligations forced upon him by the Provisions of Oxford in 1258 by the Barons. Louis agreed that Henry should be freed and ruled against the Barons.
Apr Warwick castle attacked and destoyed
   The castle at Warwick was attacked by forces loyal to Simon de Montfort. The castle was badly damaged in the assault.
May - 1267 Henry's war with the Barons
   The civil war between Henry III and the barons. The barons wanted to limit Henry's power and to sort out his finances which were a drain of the barons' resources. The cause was led by Simon de Montfort.
May 14 Battle of Lewes
   Simon de Montfort surprises Henry III and Edward (I), with early movements of his troops on the hills above the castle. Henry and Richard of Cornwall defend the centre and left of the castle, but Edward attacks the lighter armed Londoners to the right and forcing them to flee, follows them off the battle site. When he returns, he finds that Henry is trapped in the priory and gives himself up in exchange for his father's release. After the battle Simon de Montfort marched on London but the drawbridge on London Bridge had been raised by the Lord Mayor. But Simon had the support of the Londoners who managed to lower the drawbridge allowing Simon into the city,
Jun Simon summons Parliament
   From a provisional administration consisting of Simon himself, the Earl of Gloucester and the Bishop of Chichester, a council of 9 were chosen to advise the king. From these 9, 3 were to be with the king at all times.
Summer Edward moved to Kenilworth
   Edward (I) was held captive at Wallingford Castle but after an escape attempt he was moved to Kenilworth Castle.
1265 Jan 20 Ordinary people's Parliament
   Simon calls a Parliament where for the first time ordinary people were brought to represent the country.
Feb The Barons split
   The Earl of Gloucester, Gilbert de Clare organised a tournament where Simon's sons were invited to attend. Angry that de Clare could put his sons in a position of danger where a murderer could take advantage, he stopped the games. Simon and Gilbert fall out and Gilbert moves his allegiance to the king causing a split in the Barons loyalties.
May 28 Edward escapes
   Left in custody at Hereford, Edward (I) was rescued and joined Roger Mortimer and Gilbert de Clare at Wigmore Castle.
Summer Armies march
   Simon's son was sent to London to raise money and troops. He diverted back through Winchester which was loyal to the king and then moved through Oxford and Northampton. Edward (I) moved from Worcester to Bridgnorth destroying bridges and means of allowing Simon who was on the Welsh side of the Avon from crossing back. The people of Bristol, friendly to Simon's cause sent ships to Newport to help Simon cross, but they were intercepted and destroyed by Edward.
Aug 4 Battle of Evesham
   Using the banners of Simon's son captured at Kenilworth, Edward (I) approached Simon's position at Evesham. Simon was hemmed in the bend of the river Avon and forced to fight. Simon was defeated and killed. Simon's youngest son took refuge in Kenilworth castle , where prepared for a long siege, managed to hold out until December 1267.
Sep 16 Peace with the Barons
   After the defeat of Simon de Montfort at Evesham, a limited agreement of peace was declared between Henry and the barons. Some resistance remained at Kenilworth and the Isle of Ely until 1267.

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