The Second Barons' WarTweet
The reasons for uprising against the King
or 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.
See the timeline below or this graphical version for more detailed information.
Event Participants and Locations
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
Last Middle Ages
Early Modern Period
Event Participants and Locations