Moonday’s Heroic Hunk: Simon Montford: Father of Parliament or Greedy Opportunist?

     This is the first Moonday post after the Sizzlers’ first anniversary celebration. Thanks to all our guests who joined us for our August celebration. Moonday’s last Heroic Hunk in History, William the Marshall, was the greatest, most honorable of the Christian knights in of all Europe. Throughout his long life, he served four English kings with honor, never breaking his oath of fealty-even after foul treatment by King John Lackland.

      This week’s Heroic Hunk in History—from the same period—is also regarded by many as a hero, but of a far different sort. Simon de Montfort]d (1208-1265), the Earl of Leicester, was the son of the infamous Simon de Montfort who led the Catholic forces against the Cathers during the Albigensian Crusade. The Cathers, a heretical Christian sect that defied the authority of the Papacy, were eradicated through a systematic and horrific maiming massacre of thousands of men, women, and children. His father blinded, then cut off the nose and ears of Christians, as object lessons to other Cathers to surrender. Simon’s father and brother were killed during sieges against Cather-dominated towns. It is believed that our Simon himself participated in the later campaigns. After the Albigensian Crusade ended with the annihilation of the Cathers, Simon agreed to accept the family’s English lands while his brother remained in France in possession of the wealth and lands that his father had received for leading the Papal forces. 
     Simon arrived in England and immediately befriended the king, Henry III. Henry confirmed his title—the Earl of Leicester—and awarded him his lands. Simon showed his appreciation to the King by marrying the King’s widowed sister Isabel, who had sworn a vow of chastity on the death of her husband.
After a stormy relationship with his brother-in-law, Simon became the leader of the baronial reform movement that sought to re-establish rights, granted under Magna Carta, that had been eroded by Henry III.
     Simon defeated the bumbling Henry III at the battle of Lewes and set up a puppet government but offended many of his supporters by assuming power. Eventually, Simon established representative government for which he became known as the “father of parliaments.” Henry’s son, Edward (of the Hammer of the Scots fame), managed to escape and assembled forces to attack Montfort.
     Simon de Montfort was killed and cruelly dismembered at the Battle of Evesham on August 4th 1265. The body parts that could be found were buried in the Evesham Abbey in a place of honor in front of the altar. When King Edward discovered he was being honored by the local populace, he ordered that Montfort be exhumed and buried beneath a nearby tree. Whether  “father of parliaments” or “greedy opportunist,” Montfort was a key figure in English history. NEXT MOONDAY, the TUDORS!!! RitaVF


6 Responses

  1. Another great post, Rita. I love history and you always give me something to think about.

    Can’t wait for the Tudors. I have a family connection to a courtier of that era.

  2. Strange how only time can reveal the full effects of incidents in history.

    I know you love the Tudors, and can’t wait to see your posts! Thank you for making history so interesting!

  3. And, I thought he was a good guy! Just goes to show you.

    Thanks, Rita. Loved it.

  4. I had always admired Simon Montfort, until I discovered his connection with the Albigensian crusade. It was a truly disgusting incident–a black mark on the Catholic hierarchy. RitaVF

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