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England-The Barons' Wars

1007 the people did not trust him at first, but he soon convinced them that he was as much an Englishman at heart as they, and was ready to risk anything to help them. Even the King recognized the stern stuff of which his brother-in-law was made. One day, when the royal barge was caught in a thunder-storm on the Thames, the earl, seeing His Majesty's terror, tried to soothe him with assurance that the tempest would soon pass. "Ah," replied the King, "I fear

you more than all the thunder and lightning in the world."

When the people came to recognize Simon de Montfort's nobility of character, they gave him the name of "Righteous Simon." He held his peace as long as he could, but the mountains of debt continued to pile up, and Henry kept plunging into the most foolish of wars and taxed the people beyond their ability to bear. There came a terrible year, when the harvest failed, and, in the famine that followed, thousands of poor peasants died in their miserable huts. It was in this fearful crisis that Henry demanded that one-third of the revenue of the country should be sent to the Pope.

Simon the Righteous could stand it no longer. When the Great Council met at Oxford, he was at the head of the armed barons who crowded into the assembly. They resolved that a number of councillors should be appointed whose permission should be necessary before the king could act. To this the King perforce agreed, and the resolutions passed at this meeting were known as the "Provisions of Oxford." The good government, which promised so well, did not, however, last long, for the members of the council quarrelled among themselves, and Henry was soon at war again with the barons. His eldest son, Prince Edward, who had been at times on his father's side, and at other times against him, thought perhaps it would be best to support his parent, and he now joined the royal troops. The two forces met in Sussex, and in the battle of Lewes, in May, 1264, Henry was taken prisoner by the barons, and Prince Edward gave himself up as a captive. For most of the year following, England was ruled by Simon de Montfort and his councillors.

The most famous act of this patriot was the change he effected in the Great Council of the kingdom. Hitherto that body had been composed mostly of the barons and bishops, but Simon thought it fair that the lesser tenants, or knights of the shire, should have a voice in making the laws of their country. He, therefore arranged that two knights out of each shire should be summoned by writ in the king's name to the national assembly. He provided further that each town and borough should send two citizens or burgesses to the Great Council, as the direct representatives of the wishes of the people. This was the beginning of the House of Commons, and the Great Council was, for the first time, called the Parliament, while Simon de Montfort was at the head of affairs.

Unfortunately the sons of Simon were wholly unlike their father, who was inspired in everything by unselfish motives. They were overbearing and contemptuous in their treatment of others, and, after a while, the barons fell to quarrelling among themselves. Prince Edward effected his escape and began gathering an army. The disaffected barons rallied to him, and the supporters of Simon rapidly fell away, most of them being Welshmen led by Prince Llewellyn. Simon, the younger, allowed himself to be surprised by Edward and his army at Kenilworth, after which Edward marched against the elder Simon at Evesham, in August, 1265. By displaying in front the banners captured at Kenilworth, he deceived Simon and his followers into the belief that friends were approaching. As soon as the royalist ensigns were shown, Simon exclaimed: "May God have mercy on our souls, for the King has our bodies!" The little company made a valiant fight, but were overpowered, Simon being among the slain. The defeat gave back authority to Henry, who reigned for fifty-six years, his death occurring on the 16th of November, 1272.

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EDWARD III.

ENRY'S son, Prince Edward, was in the Holy Land on a Crusade, when his father died, and did not reach home for two years. Though his accession is dated in 1272, he was not crowned till 1274. While in the Holy Land he was struck by the poisoned dagger of an assassin, but exerting all his great strength, he turned the dagger upon his assailant and slew him. Edward's life, it was said, was saved by his wife Eleanor sucking the venom from the wound. Good authorities, however, doubt the story, and think that he was saved by the quick excision of the flesh surrounding the hurt.

Edward I. was surnamed Longshanks, because of his towering stature, which raised his head and shoulders above those of ordinary men. He was immensely powerful, a fine horseman, and wonderfully skilled in knightly accomplishments. Moreover, his mind was of a superior order, and he ranks as

a great statesman and ruler.

He had not been in England long, when he convened a parliament to which the representatives of the people were called. This body declared that all the laws should be impartially executed, and there should be no interference with the elections.

In 1295, toward the close of his reign, the regular Parliament

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