75 Nemesis

In April 1265 Gilbert de Clare had left court in something of a huff. De Montfort was well aware that if he lost de Clare, his whole hold on power would be threatened.

75 Nemesis


The Evesham Campaign

Below is a map of Wales and the Welsh Marches, actually slightly after the de Montfort campaign. The names of major landholders are in Capital letters, so that you can see where the Mortimer and de Clare lands lay. 

Welsh Marches 13th Century

In April 1265, Gilbert de Clare left court for the Marches; and de Montfort realised this was trouble. de Clare was the only major magnate supporting the cause, and without him support for de Montfort's rule was dangerously lacking magnate support. At first things looked OK – de Clare agreed to arbitration. But in fact, he was already in communication with the Royalists. and William de Valence had already landed at Pembroke, looking to march to Wigmore and join with Mortimer. 

Wigmore as it is Wigmore as it would have been

De Montfort moved to Hereford to block that move, but then the whole situation changed. Edward escaped on 28th May. Edward had set out with his  knightly minders with the express intention of testing the horses. He then proceeded to ride each horse to exhaustion, before giving it back to the relevant knight and trying the next one. Eventually, he came to the last horse, hopped on it and headed for the hills. All his captors' horses were tired of course, and so they had no hope of catching him. 

At Wigmore, Edward, Mortimer and de Clare met and hammered out a deal, and then quickly moved to cut the bridges over the River Severn. De Montfort sent for his son Simon to meet him with the main army, but by 29th June the last brudge over the Severn at Gloucester had been captured, and de Montfort was cut off in Hereford with only his household knights and some Welsh mercenaries. 

But finally by 32st July, Simon Junior had reached Kenilworth, drawing Edward away from Worcester. in a Lightening march, Edward caught Simon Junior outside Kenilworth, and gave his army a mauling but if the de Montfort's could combine they would still have a chance. With Edward at Kenilworth, de Montfort was able to cross the Severn and march towards his son. 

The Battle of Evesham

The Battle Evesham 1265On 4th August 1265, Simon de Montfort was finally trapped at Evesham, heavily outnumbered while trying to combine his army with that of his son, Simon. As he watched Edward's army approach, he said 'May God have mercy on our souls for our bodies are theirs.'

Edward organised a death squad to hunt de Montfort down – not to capture him as would normally be the case, but to kill him. In fact, Henry de Montfort was the first to die, and when he was told his father said 'Then it is time to die'. 30 knights were killed in the battle, an unprecedented number – normally they would have been held for ransom. de Montfort himself was run through the neck by Roger Mortimer with a lance. De Montfort at EveshamHis body was dismembered – the head cut off, and the testicles stuffed into it's mouth. Kindly, Mortimer sent the head in a box to his wide – a lovely thought. 

The aftermath

Kenilworth CastleIt took over 2 years for the rebellion to be finally repressed. Because Henry was determined to get
revenge – and so normal rules were suspended. After the rebellions of Henry II and John, barons had been fined, then allowed to resume their lands and get on it. But in September 1266, Henry declared that none of the rebels would be allowed to resume their lands – and the result was chaos. Kenilworth itself held out for 6 months, until eventually forced to surrender. In the end Henry, helped by Ottobueno and Richard of Cornwall, arranged a better deal whereby the Disinherited could take back their estates before they paid their fine – and finally a workable solutions had been found. 


12 thoughts on “75 Nemesis

  1. My first live episode having finally caught up. Thank you so much for your terrific podcasts, David. You have a wonderful delivery and I enjoy your entertaining use of slightly inappropriate metaphors and similes.
    Although I now live in Australia, I grew up in Warwickshire. So I am happy that, having listened to your podcasts, De Montfort means more to me now than the name of a hotel in Kenilworth (actually I see it’s a Holiday Inn these days. How things change!). De Montfort definitely deserves a film or a good quality historical novel to raise him up in the general historical consciousness. Perhaps it’s his strange mix of characteristics and the fact that he’s so hard to pin down that’s put people off.

  2. Good heavens, I was just cheering for Edward I. That has honestly never happened before. A well-told tale, sir.
    I’m rolling around your comment about the watershed in how battles are conducted. You may have something, there. Certainly, the English in a century or so will have little concern about capturing the flower of French chivalry rather than slaughtering them, right? (There’s also probably something in there about the common man daring to strike down their betters and dating the notion of their right to do so back to various provisions, either they took hold formally or not.)
    It’s occurred to me that I knew nothing of the reign of Henry III until these podcasts. It seems like books on his predecessors abound and his successors seem fairly well-covered, but not so much Henry. Poor fellow.
    Finally, a thought: how much role did the women have in politics at this stage? It seems very much like they were major players. The women who apologized for their menfolk to de Neville, for example, but also Eleanor of Aquitaine, Eleanor of Provence, and later Isabella (She-Wolf of France). It seems to me as if they’re having a lot more influence than the standard picture of a retiring, subservient wife I was brought up to believe in for this era. Is it possible that women lost ground in freedom of action in later centuries, or do we simply overlook their role? (Or was my upbringing simply flawed. If so, I blame society and television.)

  3. This was also my first episode after finally having caught up and this one seems like an unusually good one. I particularly like your slightly off-topic side comments, like your speculation on Lady Mortimer’s response after receiving de Montfort’s head as a gift from her husband and Edward’s characteristically in-your-face attitude on naming his first-born son.
    Much as I like Edward I (and really who can resist?), I really cannot wait for the collision that Henry’s and Mortimer’s grandsons are destined to have in the 1320’s — and I’m very curious to see your verdict on Edward II. But I know you’ll make the journey there very enjoyable and enlightening. Thank you.

  4. Hi all, and thanks for the comments. I am looking forward very much to describing the pilitical brutality of Edward II’s reign…thought there’s a very good Edward II website (link on my blog) with a passionate defence of the guym so I’ll have to bear that in mind. I like the comment ‘who can really resist’…I’ve never liked EI so it’ll be interested to see how I feel at the end.
    I’ll get in trouble from ignorance probably if I respond too much ont he role of women thing. But I suspect that it’s often a matter of personalities, and also role. It was pretty clear throughout society what women and men’s roles were, and women would certainly have fewer legal rights; but of coutse individuals would over come that. One reason why the Eleanors are so well known was the force of their personality – and Isabella is a prime example. But they get a bad press from the monks/chroniclers is part of the problem! Monks are generally speaking not keen on women who don’t stay in their place…
    Amanda, I agree ! Though there are so few really good historical films…when I start casting, what role will you play?
    Thanks for forwarding the link, Ben – looks like a really good site, and I’ll link to it.

  5. A quick question… I have restumbled across the Plantagenet’s series by Costain… rereading it, and I always thought it was fiction, and now I am realizing that it is fact. A good read, have you happened to come across it yet?
    (though not as good as ladybirds :))

  6. David, I reckon that Maud de Braose, the recipient of Simon de Montfort’s head, is definitely the pick of the female roles in any planned film. However I think that I’m probably better suited to peasant woman number 3.

  7. Hi Damase – I haven’t directly come across him; though I did notice, while wandering around Wikipedia, that there was one article where pretty much every reference was to Costain. So I hope he’s good ! I’ll check one out…

  8. Thank you so much for all the hard work you do in putting together these podcasts! I am a university student and I recently used this podcast as well as some of the preceding ones as sources in a paper for a medieval history class. I found this particular story about Simon de Montfort useful for supporting my argument. These podcasts are an excellent and engaging medium for teaching and spreading knowledge about history, especially to busy college students. Keep up the great work, and know that it is much appreciated!

    1. Hi Maria, and thanks – I must say that I am delighted to hear that you are studying De Montfort, he seems s rather forgotten topic recently. I am glad I was helpful, and it is very kind of you to take the trouble to get in touch.

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