a) Identify the historians who have specialised in the reign of king Henry III ? How have their views changed ? What is the current opinion on Henry III ?
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b) What are the principal contemporary sources for this reign ? How reliable are they ?
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c) What were the principal features of Henry's minority ? How was England ruled in the period after the death of John ? What problems arose during the minority ? How did Henry resume the powers of the monarchy ? What policies did he pursue ?
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d) How and why did Henry come into conflict with the barons ? What were the main baronial grievances against Henry ? How were they articulated by the barons ?
Abigail Bryant Georgina Taylor
From the time when Henry III took over power after the period of the minority he went about establishing a pattern of personal rule. It was this particular style and method of government which would be the source of the baronial unrest that was to develop over the following years. In 1232 Henry successfully removed the 'corrupt' Hubert de Burgh from power and replaced him with the Poitevins, Peter des Roches and Peter des Rivaux, this action can be seen as potentially reversing the effects of the barons triumph in the form of the Magna Carta in 1215. Most obviously Henry went about reinstating officials who had been ousted during the troubles of his father's reign, for example Hubert de Burgh was replaced bt Peter des Roches who had originally held the position of justiciar, before the enforcement of the Magna Carta. 

It was now that the Exchequer was once again under the control of the crown, the Poitevin Peter des Rivaux, made sweeping changes and established Henry as master of the central administrations and sheriffs of the counties for the 25 years following 1232. The most fundamental fear that the barons had was, that the Poitevins were aiming at absolute power. This fear did not subside when Henry III began to employ members of his close family and friends in positions of power within the court, essentially barring the barons from any official involvement. The nature of Henry's government was distrusted by the barons. Henry's ideas of rule were related to the very ancient ideals of Alfred and Charlemagne and imperial Rome. He saw himself as God's servant or vicar with a duty to look after his people. He also saw himself as the father of a family or head of a great household with total authority over his domain. This idea of monarchy went against the well established principles of the barons, they felt that the King should be limited in his power and that elected conservators of liberties should be with the king constantly to hear complaints and deal with expenditure, and that the justiciar and chancellor should be similarly elected by the barons. 

Henry resisted the barons demands to make these positions public appointments under baronial control. However, in 1258 a rebellion led by Richard Marshall forced the King to realise the barons demands. They then succeed in imposing a radical form of control through the appointment of public officials and standing committees, which were now answerable to parliament. In a sense the barons managed to reassert the ideals of the Magna Carta on the monarchy once again. 

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Before Henry III came of age, the government was stable as there was no interference from the monarch. However, when Henry was old enough he wanted to control his country and this is where baronial unrest began. The government that had administered the country after the death of John had been sympathetic to the baronage, this can be shown through the reissuing of Magna Carta twice. However, friction between Henry and the government grew when officials like Hubert De Burgh got in the way of Henry's policies. For example, Henry wished to reconquer lands in France . Henry therefore began to reorganise his goverment by removing men like Hubert De Burgh and replacing them with his supporters. For example, he reinstated officials who had been removed during John's reign like Peter Des Roches. It was men like this who encouraged Henry to take control of his government. Baronial involvement in offial business decreased considerably as Henry employed both family and friends. The barons had believed that they had been an integral part of the government as the king's natural advisers, however, Henry had ignored baronial grievances and continued to bring foreign advisers into his government. In this respect he had resisted the barons when they wanted control of public positions. One of the baronial grievances was after the deposition of Hubert De Burgh, as Peter Des Rivaux was put in charge of both the chamber and the exchequer. Barons protested against this as it was not in line with Magna Carta. Richard Marshall, unsatisfied with the trial of Hubert De Burgh went to war against Henry. However, this confrontation failed, and Henry kept in control of his government. 

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e) What was the 'Paper Constitution' of 1244 ? Why did it fail?
---- Ben White
  Magnates did not hold the royal administration in high regard and if necessary, to remedy its defects. They wished to make sure that the Charters of liberties and the forest should be scrupulously observed. Those recent losses in lawful rights and status should be remedied. That the course of justice and the hearing of complaints should be swifter and more impartial. Also that the kings treasure especially the proceeds of taxation, should be wisely expended. They felt that the affairs of realm was their concern and were unsure of what the king may do if they were not watching. They asked for a new charter, they required four conservators of liberties and these should be added to the king’s council. Two of the conservators should at least be attendance all the time to hear complaints and see that speedy justice was done. The same body of barons who elected the conservator only should elect a justiciar and the chancellor and should only be removed by that same body of barons. The conservators would be sworn to deal faithfully with affairs of king and kingdom. To administer justice without favour and supervise royal expenditure. Also in the plan was the appointment of two of the justices of the bench, two barons of the exchequer and at least one justice of the Jews. Writs also would be bought in the chancery to initiate legal action, if the writ contradicted existing law and custom to be revoked. Also suspect and useless people were to be removed from the king’s side. It was defeated as henry was in a stronger position and refused to accept the proposals. 
f) What was the 'Sicilian Adventure' ? How did it affect Henry's relationship with both the Papacy and the English barons ?
---- Tracy Kortwright
The Sicilian throne had originally been offered to Richard of Cornwall in 1250 and again in 1252 by Innocent IV, but he had refused it, seeing it for the folly it was, so in 1254 the pope offered the Sicilian throne to Henry's second son Edmund. Henry took a crusaders vow and to finance the expedition he was to take a tenth of the church's revenue, and it had to be completed within a certain time. 

Even though a commander was quickly found, Henry could not raise an army, and by 1257 the pope (Alexander IV) had already had to extend the time limit once. The pope would not modify the terms of the agreement, and began to want payment of the money taken from the church = 135,000 marks, if it was not paid Henry would be excommunicated. As a result the barons find that they have Henry at there mercy since their help was needed for both military and financial aid. As a result on 7th April 1258 parliament opened at Westminster, which resulted in the King's oath (recorded 2nd May) Henry had excepted that the realm should be reformed by twenty four men, twelve chosen by himself, and twelve chosen by the magnates of the kingdom. This opened up a period of baronial reform, and cost Henry his independence. Yet even though Henry gave into the barons, they did not promise to grant aid, just on certain conditions would they use their influence in the community. 

Yet it is unclear how imminent Henry thought the pope's punishments would be in April 1258 since letters received in December 1257 were reassuring. Alexander had said that he had not incurred any spiritual penalties yet and extended the deadline another three months (1st June 1258)

It is thought however that the intimidation caused by Arlot (the papal envoy) was aimed more at the magnates than at Henry since he was "the popes greatest friend in England, and chief enthusiast for the sicilian project". The Dunstable annals recorded that the pope had threatened to excommunicate not just the king but all his magnates as well. 

It became clear by December 1258 that Henry had failed . The pope cancels the debt and ends the Sicilian adventure. The pope being more concerned with the fate of the Sicilian throne than England wrote "with our accustomed kindness, and through our special grace, we suspend them [the penalties] during pleasure 

The barons had considered the sicilian affair to be foolish. They did not support Henry because they could see the failure in the scheme, and since Henry had not yet lead them to victory in battle, they dad not see that this time would be any different. Yet as a result they gained more power with in the parliament and ended Henry's participation with the crown.

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g) What reforms were proposed by the Provisions of Oxford of 1258 and the Provisions of Westminster 1259 ?
Caryl Dane ----
The Provisions of Oxford of 1258 and the Provisions of Westminster 1259 were a further elaboration of the idea that kings did not rule solely with the help of advisers whom they themselves chose. To effectively obtain taxes, especially, the king required the co-operation of taxpayers or their representatives. The "community of the realm" (at this time a vaguely defined concept) was to be consulted and, at times share in decision-making. Concern about malpractices of royal and seigniorial officials in the localities led to the setting up of The Provisions of Oxford.
  • The Provisions of Oxford provided for the creation of a 15-member privy council, selected (indirectly) by the barons, to advise the king and oversee the king’s government, maintaining control over appointments, patronage and policy. 
  • There would be three regular "parliaments" a year (at this time meaning extended meetings of the king’s council) - at Michelmas (September 29th), Candlemas (2nd February), and the first of June - to which were to come the 15 of the king’s council and 12 to be elected by the "community of the realm". They were ‘to review the state of the realm and to deal with the common business of the realm and of the king together’ 
  • The office of justiciar was re-established, to be appointed by common consent, and was to account at the end of his term of office before the council. 
  • Likewise, the treasurer 
  • The chancellor, again appointed by common consent, was to hold office for a year and also to answer for his term before king and council. He was to seal no writs by the king’s will alone, other than those which were routine, without the orders of the council. 
  • The royal household was to be reformed. 
  • Castles were to be placed in the hands of native-born custodians. 
  • Sheriffs were to be knights of the shire, sustained from the king’s revenues and to hold office for one year only. New sheriffs were to swear oaths concerning fees, gifts, bribes and entertainment
In October 1259 the Provisions of Westminster dealt with the issues of suit and distraint, and benefited peasants with protection from royal officials and from their lords.
  • Suits to the private courts of magnates were limited to those required by charters of enfeoffment. 
  • Only the king and his ministers could levy distraints outside his fief. 
  • Some fines imposed by lords when they held the view of frankpledge*, were abolished. 
  • The number of vill representatives having to attend inquests was limited to a reeve and four men. 
  • The burden of the murdum fine on the peasantry, imposed by justices when it was unable to prove that a dead man was English, was confined to those cases of genuine felony.
* FRANKPLEDGE: The legal condition under which each male member of a tithing over the age of twelve is responsible for the good conduct of all other members of the tithing. Failure to control tithing members can lead to amercement of the entire tithing.

The Reign of Henry III - D.A. Carpenter 

h) Why did the Baronial Reform Movement split after 1259 ? What were the objectives of Simon de Montfort ? Why did he fail ? What was the problem of the 'Disinherited' ?
Katie Mooney ----
The baronial reform movement of the reign of Henry III was able to use the king to give them more power over the running of the country, but this can be seen to have begun to fail after 1259. It appears this was mainly achieved by Henry's visit to France in early 1529, because by doing this he was able to divide the barons, half who followed him to the French court and the other half left with the justiciar in England. This move split any unity which had existed between the barons and limited their power over Henry. Also at this time there was growing hostility between the barons themselves, especially between Simon De Montfort, the earl of leicester and the earl of Gloucester. This argument was drawn from Simon marriage to Henry's sister Eleanor, which was a cause of controversy as when her first husband had died she had sworn to be celibate, only late to marry Simon, which was granted by Henry without the permission of the barons. The argument spilt the baronage in half and those who followed Gloucester, became more supportive to the king. 

Henry still prosponed his return to England claiming he had to stop for a funeral and a marriage, this delayed Henry in February when the provisions of Oxford had ordained a parliament should have been held. At this time the parliament could not be held without the kings presence, and Simon de Montfort, who had recently returned to England, claimed Henry not returning was in breech of the provisions, therefore the parliament should be held without him. Simon also asked the barons not to send the king money when he asked for it, this shocked many of the barons who were still conservative and did not agree with Simon's radicalism. This final split what was left of the baronial reform movement due to the absence of Henry and the hostility between the barons. 

Simon De Montfort was a French man who inherited the earldom of Leicester and married Henry III Sister to created a great land block he owned, who in the period of 1264-5 was in virtual control of the government of England, but what were his objectives? 

The objectives of Simon De Montfort has been a great cause of debate as it it difficult to be abel to pinpoint his actual reasons. Historians at the turn of the century believed Simon was an able political reformer and a model medieval statesman, though more recent works this opinion has declined and more personal motive have been claimed. It seems that, as a younger son, Simon had reasons to try and gain political importance after inheriting the earldom of Leicester. It seems likely if Simon had been an active political reformer he would have taken part in the organization of the Provisions of Oxford, as he was in France at the time. It appears that Simon was attempting to gain support from the english baronage because, even though he himself was a frenchmen, he helped campaign against aliens in the English court. Though simon's need for personal advancement which can be seen to be credited for his rise to power, it can not be denied that he did have a need fro political reform to remodel england, though it may not be in the same sense as the turn of the century historians saw it. 

Why did Simon fail in achieving these reforms and the royal power was re-established again by the death of Henry III? This can be traced back to 1261, when the pope Alexander IV absolved the oaths made by Henry making any support of the provisions pointless. Henry could no longer be held by the oaths and Simon lost the power to legitimize the provisions of Oxford, which he often used to justify his power. Also because of this action by the power Henry after his capture at the battle of Lewes did not have to co-operate as the provisions were no longer offically legal. 

Though the battle of Lewes was a victory for Simon, it can also be seen as part of his down fall. The Mise of Amies in 1264 the English and french barons had to except whatever king Louis IX ordained. This in fact can appear to be the English monarchy being put on trial with the barons, but the French king came down on the side of Henry taking away the legitimacy of Simon's control. Though at the battle of Lewes, the mise of Amies did unite the forces against the king leading to his capture, it made this action treasonous, therefore condemning all who took part. Also the escape of Henry's son Edward, who had previously supported Simon, also led to Simon failure as he lost a large part of his support.

At the battle of Evesham simon had lost both his support and his legitimacy, leading to his defeats, but what happened to his supporters? Those who had fought with simon at Evesham was disinherited, their land was confiscated by Henry and became part of the royal lands. this large group became known as the 'disinherited', and caused many problems into the reign of Edward I. They wandered around causing trouble and generally being a thorn in the side of King Henry until they established themselves in Kenilworth castle, on the isle of Ely, the base of Montfort's power, here they kept a strong hold against the king. In 1266 the dictum of Kenilworth replaced disiheritance with redemption, therefore they could buy back their land at seven times its real price. Later these terms had to be modified 1267 because of their harshness, and the isle of Ely was taken and peace restored. This time od resistance can be seen as a period of reform and rebellion within the knights class. 

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I) Why did the knights and the gentry become more important in this period ? Examine the relationship between local and central government during the thirteenth century ? In what ways did the role of the Sheriff change during this period ?
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j) Account for the development of parliamentary assemblies during this reign ? What were these assemblies used for, how did they differ from other kinds of representative assemblies in this period ? Is it possible to distinguish between Parliaments and Great Councils under Henry III ?

Using the relevant volume of ENGLISH HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS find, read and annotate the following documents:



JSI /20/10/99

School of History and Welsh History - University of Wales Bangor