“I shall never repent of anything so much,” replied Henry, “as that I allowed you to grow and fatten within my dominions.”
Continuing How The House of Commons Began in England,
our selection from The History of England, From the First Invasion by the Romans to the Accession of Henry VIII by John Lingard published in 1819. The selection is presented in eleven easy 5 minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in How The House of Commons Began in England.
The next favorites were two other uncles of the Queen, Peter de Savoy, to whom Henry gave the honor of Richmond, and Boniface de Savoy, who, at the death of Edmund, was chosen archbishop of Canterbury. The natives renewed their complaints, and waited with impatience for the return of Richard, the King’s brother, from Palestine; but that Prince was induced to espouse the cause of the foreigners, and to marry Sanchia, another of the daughters of Raymond. But now Isabella, the Queen-mother, dissatisfied that the family of Provence should monopolize the royal favor, sent over her children by her second husband, the Count de la Marche, to make their fortunes in England. Alice, her daughter, was married to the young Earl of Warenne; Guy, the eldest son, received some valuable presents and returned to France; William de Valence, with the order of knighthood, obtained an annuity and the honor of Hertford; and Aymar was sent to Oxford, preferred to several benefices, and at last made bishop of Winchester.
Associations were formed to redress the grievances of the nation: under the decent pretext of preventing the misapplication of the revenue, a demand was repeatedly made that the appointment of the officers of state should be vested in the great council; and at length the constitution was entirely overturned by the bold ambition of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester.
Simon was the younger of the two sons of the Count de Montfort, a name celebrated in the annals of religious warfare. By the resignation of Amauri, his brother, the constable of France, he had succeeded to the estates of his mother Amicia, the elder of the two sisters and coheiresses of the late Earl of Leicester: his subsequent marriage with Eleanor, the King’s sister, had brought within his view the prospect of a crown; and his marked opposition to the extortions of the King and the pontiffs had secured to him, though a foreigner, the affection of the nobility, the clergy, and the people. Policy required that the King should not provoke, nor should oppress, so formidable a subject. But Henry did neither: he on some occasions employed the Earl in offices of trust and importance; on others, by a succession of petty affronts, irritated instead of subduing his spirit. Among the inhabitants of Guienne there were many whose wavering fidelity proved a subject of constant solicitude; and Simon had been appointed, by patent, governor of the province for five years, with the hope that his activity and resolution would crush the disaffected and secure the allegiance of the natives. They were to the earl years of continual exertion: his conduct necessarily begot enemies; and he was repeatedly accused to the King of peculation, tyranny, and cruelty. How far the charges were true it is impossible to determine; but his accusers were the Archbishop of Bordeaux and the chief of the Gascon nobility, who declared that, unless justice were done to their complaints, their countrymen would seek the protection of a different sovereign. When Simon appeared before his peers, he was accompanied by Richard, the King’s brother, and the earls of Gloucester and Hereford, who had engaged to screen him from the royal resentment; and the King, perceiving that he could not procure the condemnation of the accused, vented his passion in intemperate language. In the course of the altercation the word “traitor” inadvertently fell from his lips. “Traitor!” exclaimed the earl; “if you were not a king, you should repent of that insult.”
“I shall never repent of anything so much,” replied Henry, “as that I allowed you to grow and fatten within my dominions.” By the interposition of their common friends they were parted. Henry conferred the duchy and government of Guienne on his son Edward, but the earl returned to the province, nor would he yield up his patent without a considerable sum as a compensation for the remaining years of the grant. Fearing the King’s enmity, he retired into France, and was afterward reconciled to him through the mediation of the Bishop of Lincoln.
Though Richard had frequently joined the barons in opposing his brother, he could never be induced to invade the just rights of the crown. He was as much distinguished by his economy as Henry was by his profusion; and the care with which he husbanded his income gave him the reputation of being the most opulent prince of Europe. Yet he allowed himself to be dazzled with the splendor of royalty, and incautiously sacrificed his fortune to his ambition. In the beginning of the year 1256 the archbishops of Cologne and Mainz, with the Elector Palatine, chose him at Frankfort king of the Romans; and a few weeks later the Archbishop of Triers, the King of Bohemia, the Duke of Saxony, and the Marquis of Brandenburg, the other four electors, gave their suffrages in favor of Alphonso, King of Castile. It was, however, in an evil hour for Henry that Richard departed for Germany. The discontented barons, no longer awed by his presence, associated to reform the State, under the guidance of the Earl of Leicester, high steward, the Earl of Hereford, high constable, the Earl Marshal, and the Earl of Gloucester. The circumstances of the times were favorable to their views. An unproductive harvest had been followed by a general scarcity, and the people were willing to attribute their misery, not to the inclemency of the seasons, but to the incapacity of their governors.
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