The Prince knew the voice of his father, sprang to his rescue, and conducted him to a place of safety.
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.
At last, reinforced by a party of Welshmen, the Earl marched to the south, took and destroyed the castle of Monmouth, and fixed his head-quarters at Newport. Here he expected a fleet of transports to convey him to Bristol; but the galleys of the Earl of Gloucester blockaded the mouth of the Avon; and Edward, with the bravest of his knights, made an attempt on the town of Newport itself. The part which lay on the left bank of the Usk was carried; but the destruction of the bridge arrested the progress of the victors, and Leicester, with his dispirited followers, escaped into Wales.
Misfortune now pressed on misfortune; and the last anchor of his hope was broken by the defeat of his son Simon of Montfort. That young nobleman was employed in the siege of Pevensey, on the coast of Sussex, when he received the King’s writ to repair to Worcester. On his march, he sacked the city of Winchester, the gates of which had been shut against him, passed peaceably through Oxford, and reached the castle of Kenilworth, the principal residence of his family. Here he remained for some days in heedless security, awaiting the orders of his father. Margot, a woman who in male attire performed the office of a spy, informed the Prince that Simon lay in the priory, and his followers in the neighboring farmhouses. Edward immediately formed the design of surprising them in their beds; and marching from Worcester in the evening, arrived at Kenilworth about sunrise the next morning. Twelve bannerets with all their followers were made prisoners; and their horses and treasures repaid the industry of the captors. Simon alone with his pages escaped naked into the castle.
Leicester on the same day had crossed the Severn by a ford, and halted at Kempsey, about three miles from Worcester. Happy to find himself at last on the left bank of the river, and ignorant of the fate of his son and the motions of the enemy, he proceeded to Evesham, with the intention of continuing his march the next morning for Kenilworth. The Prince had returned with his prisoners to Worcester, but left the city in the evening, and, to mask his real design, took the road which leads to Bridgenorth. He passed the river near Clains, and, wheeling to the right, arrived before sunrise in the neighborhood of Evesham. He took his station on the summit of a hill in the direction of Kenilworth; two other divisions, under the Earl of Gloucester and Roger de Mortimer, occupied the remaining roads. As the royalists bore the banners of their captives, they were taken by the enemy for the army of Simon de Montfort. But the mistake was soon discovered. Leicester, from an eminence, surveyed their numbers and disposition, and was heard to exclaim, “The Lord have mercy on our souls, for our bodies are Prince Edward’s.” According to his custom he spent some time in prayer, and received the sacrament. His first object was to force his way through the division on the hill. Foiled in this attempt, and in danger of being surrounded, he ordered his men to form a circle, and oppose on all sides the pressure of the enemy. For a while the courage of despair proved a match for the superiority of numbers. The old King, who had been compelled to appear in the ranks, was slightly wounded, and as he fell from his horse would probably have been killed had he not cried out to his antagonist, “Hold, fellow! I am Harry of Winchester.” The Prince knew the voice of his father, sprang to his rescue, and conducted him to a place of safety. During his absence, Leicester’s horse was killed under him; and, as he fought on foot, he asked if they gave quarter. A voice replied, “There is no quarter for traitors.” Henry de Montfort, his eldest son, who would not leave his side, fell at his feet. His dead body was soon covered by that of the father. The royalists obtained a complete but sanguinary victory. Of Leicester’s partisans, all the barons and knights were slain, with the exception of about ten, who were afterward found breathing, and were cured of their wounds. The foot soldiers of the royal army — so we are told to save the honor of the leaders — offered to the body of the earl every indignity. His mangled remains were afterward collected by the King’s orders and buried in the church of the abbey.
By this victory, the scepter was replaced in the hands of Henry. With their leader, the hopes of the barons had been extinguished: they spontaneously set at liberty the prisoners who had been detained since the battle of Lewes, and anxiously awaited the determination of the Parliament, which had been summoned to meet at Winchester. In that assembly, it was enacted that all grants and patents issued under the King’s seal during the time of his captivity should be revoked; that the citizens of London, for their obstinacy and excesses, should forfeit their charter; that the Countess of Leicester and her family should quit the kingdom; and that the estates of all who had adhered to the late earl should be confiscated. The rigor of the last article was afterward softened by a declaration, in which the King granted a free pardon to those who could show that their conduct had not been voluntary, but the effect of compulsion. These measures, however, were not calculated to restore the public tranquility. The sufferers, prompted by revenge, or compelled by want, had again recourse to the sword; the mountains, forests, and morasses furnished them with places of retreat; and the flames of predatory warfare were kindled in most parts of the kingdom.
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