2015 MARKS THE 750TH ANNIVERSARY OF PARLIAMENT SUMMONED BY SIMON DE MONTFORT IN 1265, PUKAAR MAGAZINE LOOKS BACK AT THE EVENTFUL LIFE OF THE 6TH EARL OF LEICESTER
Though many are unaware of his revolutionary ideas and significance in the city, the statue of Simon de Montfort, a crucial figure in medieval history is passed by thousands of people daily, as his monument stands on the iconic Clock Tower.
In 1207, King John had taken the land of Leicestershire from Simon de Montfort IV, the fifth Earl of Leicester and banished him from England.
With ancestral lineage Simon de Montfort, the future 6th Earl of Leicester was born to Simon de Montfort IV and Alice de Montmorency in Normandy, France around 1208. After living his early years in Normandy, de Montfort moved to England to claim the earldom of Leicester and was eventually granted the lands back by King Henry III in 1231.
In 1238, Simon de Montfort married King Henry III’s sister, Eleanor of England, widow of William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke. As the Earl of Leicester and brother-in-law to the King, Simon held an important and powerful position.
When King Henry’s finances came under criticism, he met with the barons at Oxford, where he had no choice but to reform the way the country was being run. In June 1258, it was agreed that a council of fifteen would advise Henry on his finances.
The King had accepted the Provisions of Oxford, but chose not to follow them and de Montfort was determined to live by them. This led de Montfort to war with Henry III and his heir to the throne, Edward, as de Montfort believed that the Council of Fifteen, set up by the Provisions of Oxford, could if necessary, rule against the King’s wishes.
In 1264, de Montfort led the rebellion against King Henry III of England during the Second Baron’s War and following this became the de facto ruler of England.
During his rule, de Montfort summoned the first directly elected parliament in medieval Europe, where ordinary people were brought to represent the country in 1265.
In 1265, Edward escaped from custody and fought de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham, which resulted in de Montfort’s death.
His significance to date remains in the city and the Leicester Polytechnic was officially renamed in June 1992 to Demontfort University, which was to reflect the University’s long association with Leicester by commemorating the celebrated Simon de Montfort.
This year marks two important anniversaries which include the 750 years since the Simon de Montfort Parliament and 800 years since the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215.