Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess Rivers

Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess Rivers

Female 1416 - 1472  (56 years)

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  1. 1.  Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess RiversJacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess Rivers was born 1415-1416, Palace of Westminster, London, England (daughter of Peter I, Count of Saint-Pol and Margaret of Baux); died 30 May 1472.

    Other Events:

    • Also Known As: Duchess of Bedford


    Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess Rivers (1415/1416 – 30 May 1472) was the eldest daughter of Peter I of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol, Conversano and Brienne and his wife Margaret of Baux (Margherita del Balzo of Andria). She was a prominent, though often overlooked, figure in the Wars of the Roses. Through her short-lived first marriage to the Duke of Bedford, brother of King Henry V, she was firmly allied to the House of Lancaster. However, following the emphatic Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Towton, she and her second husband Richard Woodville sided closely with the House of York. Three years after the battle and the accession of Edward IV of England, Jacquetta's eldest daughter Elizabeth Woodville married him and became Queen consort of England. Jacquetta bore Woodville 14 children and stood trial on charges of witchcraft, for which she was exonerated.

    Family and ancestry

    Her father Peter of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol, was also the hereditary Count of Brienne from 1397 until his death in 1433.

    Peter had succeeded his father John of Luxembourg, Lord of Beauvoir, and mother Marguerite of Enghien. They had co-reigned as Count and Countess of Brienne from 1394 to her death in 1397. John had been a fourth-generation descendant of Waleran I of Luxembourg, Lord of Ligny, second son of Henry V of Luxembourg and Margaret of Bar. This cadet line of the House of Luxembourg reigned in Ligny-en-Barrois.

    Jacquetta's paternal great-grandmother, Mahaut of Chăatillon, was descended from Beatrice of England, daughter of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence.[1] Jacquetta's mother, Margherita del Balzo, was a daughter of Francesco del Balzo, 1st Duke of Andria, and Sueva Orsini.[2] Sueva descended from Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester and Eleanor of England, the youngest child of King John of England and Isabella of Angoulăeme.[2]

    The Luxembourgs claimed to be descended from the water deity Melusine through their ancestor Siegfried of Luxembourg (AD 922-998).[3] Jacquetta was a fourth cousin twice removed of Sigismund of Luxembourg, the reigning Holy Roman Emperor and king of Bohemia and Hungary.

    Early life

    Most of Jacquetta's early life is a mystery. She was born as the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years War began. Her uncle, John II of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny, was the head of the military company that captured Joan of Arc. John held Joan prisoner at Beauvoir and later sold her to the English.

    First marriage

    On 22 April 1433 at age 17, Jacquetta married John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford at Therouenne. The Duke was the third son of King Henry IV of England and Mary de Bohun, and thus the grandson of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, himself the third son of Edward III. The marriage was childless and the Duke died on 15 September 1435 at Rouen. As was customary at the time, after her second marriage Jacquetta retained the title of her first husband and was always known as the Duchess of Bedford, this being a higher title than that of countess. Jacquetta inherited one-third of the Duke's main estates as her widow's share.[4]

    Second marriage

    Sir Richard Woodville, son of Sir Richard Wydevill, who had served as the late Duke's chamberlain, was commissioned by Henry VI of England to bring Bedford's young widow to England. During the journey, the couple fell in love and married in secret (before 23 March 1437), without seeking the king's permission. Jacquetta had been granted dower lands following her first husband's death on condition that she did not remarry without a royal licence. On learning of the marriage, Henry VI refused to see them, but was mollified by the payment of a fine of ą1000. The marriage was long and very fruitful: Jacquetta and Richard had fourteen children, including the future Queen Consort Elizabeth Woodville. She lost her first-born son Lewis to a fever when he was 12 years old. A daughter also named Jacquetta (Woodville) married John le Strange, 8th Baron Strange.

    By the mid-1440s, the Woodvilles were in a powerful position. Jacquetta was related to both King Henry and Queen Margaret by marriage. Her sister, Isabelle de Saint Pol, married Margaret's uncle Charles du Maine while Jacquetta was the widow of Henry VI's uncle. She outranked all ladies at court with the exception of the queen. As a personal favourite, she also enjoyed special privileges and influence at court. Margaret influenced Henry to create Richard Woodville Baron Rivers in 1448, and he was a prominent partisan of the House of Lancaster as the Wars of the Roses began.[3]

    Wars of the Roses

    The Yorkists crushed the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461, and Edward IV, the first king from the House of York, took the throne. The husband of Jacquetta's oldest daughter Elizabeth (Sir John Grey) had been killed a month before at the Second Battle of St. Albans, a Lancastrian victory under the command of Margaret of Anjou. At Towton, however, the tables turned in favour of the Yorkists.

    Edward IV met and soon married the widowed Elizabeth Woodville in secret; though the date is not accepted as exactly accurate, it is traditionally said to have taken place (with only Jacquetta and two ladies in attendance) at the Woodvile family home in Northamptonshire on 1 May 1464.[5] Elizabeth was crowned queen on 26 May 1465, the Sunday after Ascension Day. The marriage, once revealed, ruined the plans of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, Edward's cousin, who had been negotiating a much-needed alliance with France via a political marriage for Edward.

    With Elizabeth now Queen of England, the Woodvilles rose to great prominence and power. Jacquetta's husband Richard was created Earl Rivers and appointed Lord High Treasurer in March 1466. Jacquetta found rich and influential spouses for her children and helped her grandchildren achieve high posts.[6] She arranged for her 20-year-old son, John, to marry the widowed and very rich Katherine Neville, Duchess of Norfolk, who was at least 45 years older than John. The rise of the Woodvilles created widespread hostility among the Yorkists, including Warwick and the king's brothers George and Richard, who were being displaced in the king's favour by the former Lancastrians.

    In 1469, Warwick openly broke with Edward IV and temporarily deposed him. Earl Rivers and his son John were captured and executed by Warwick on 12 August at Kenilworth. Jacquetta survived her husband by three years and died in 1472, at about 56 years of age.

    Witchcraft accusations

    Shortly after her husband's execution by Warwick, Thomas Wake, a follower of Warwick’s, accused Jacquetta of witchcraft. Wake brought to Warwick Castle a lead image “made like a man-of-arms . . . broken in the middle and made fast with a wire,“ and alleged that Jacquetta had fashioned it to use for witchcraft and sorcery. He claimed that John Daunger, a parish clerk in Northampton, could attest that Jacquetta had made two other images, one for the king and one for the queen. The case fell apart when Warwick released Edward IV from custody, and Jacquetta was cleared by the king’s great council of the charges on February 21, 1470.[7] In 1484 Richard III in the act known as Titulus Regius[8] revived the allegations of witchcraft against Jacquetta when he claimed that she and Elizabeth had procured Elizabeth's marriage to Edward IV through witchcraft; however, Richard never offered any proof to support his assertions.


    Through her daughter Elizabeth, Jacquetta was the maternal grandmother of Elizabeth of York, wife and queen of Henry VII, and therefore an ancestor of all subsequent English monarchs.


    Elizabeth Woodville, Queen consort of England (c. 1437 – 8 Jun. 1492), married first Sir John Grey, second Edward IV of England.
    Lewis Woodville (c. 1438), died in childhood.
    Anne Woodville (1438/9 – 30 Jul. 1489). Married first William Bourchier, Viscount Bourchier, second Sir Edward Wingfield, third George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent.
    Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers (c. 1440 – 25 Jun. 1483), married first Elizabeth Scales, 8th Baroness Scales, second Mary Fitzlewis; not married to Gwentlian Stradling, the mother of Margaret.
    John Woodville (c. 1444 – 12 Aug. 1469), married Catherine Neville, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.
    Jacquetta Woodville (1445–1509), married John le Strange, 8th Baron Strange of Knockin.
    Lionel Woodville, Bishop of Salisbury (c. 1446 – Jun. 1484).
    Eleanor Woodville (d. c. 1512), married Sir Anthony Grey.
    Margaret Woodville (c. 1450 – 1490/1), married Thomas Fitzalan, 17th Earl of Arundel.
    Martha Woodville (d. c. 1500), married Sir John Bromley.
    Richard Woodville, 3rd Earl Rivers (1453 – Mar. 1491).
    Edward Woodville, Lord Scales (1454/8 – 28 Jul. 1488).
    Mary Woodville (c. 1456 – 1481), married William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke.
    Catherine Woodville (c. 1458 – 18 May 1497), married first Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, second Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford.[9]
    end of biography

    Jacquetta married Richard Woodville, Knight, 1st Earl Rivers Bef 23 Mar 1437. Richard (son of Richard Wydeville, Duke of Bedford and Joan Bittlesgate) was born 0___ 1405, Maidstone, Kent, England; died 12 Aug 1469, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England. [Group Sheet]

    1. Elizabeth Lucy Wydeville, Queen of England was born ~ 1437, Grafton Regis, Northampton, England; died 8 Jun 1492, Bermondsey, London, England; was buried St. George's Chapel, Windsor, England.
    2. Anne Woodville, Viscountess Bourchier was born ~ 1438, Grafton Regis, Northampton, England; died 30 Jul 1489; was buried St. Leonard Churchyard, Warden, Bedfordshire, England.
    3. Mary Woodville, Countess of Pembroke was born ~ 1456; died 0___ 1481.
    4. Katherine Woodville, Duchess of Buckingham was born ~ 1458, (Maidstone, Kent, England); died 18 May 1497.

Generation: 2

  1. 2.  Peter I, Count of Saint-Pol

    Peter — Margaret of Baux. [Group Sheet]

  2. 3.  Margaret of Baux (daughter of Francis of Baux and Sueva Orsini).
    1. 1. Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess Rivers was born 1415-1416, Palace of Westminster, London, England; died 30 May 1472.

Generation: 3

  1. 6.  Francis of Baux

    Francis — Sueva Orsini. [Group Sheet]

  2. 7.  Sueva Orsini (daughter of Nicola Orsini and Jeanne de Sabran).
    1. 3. Margaret of Baux

Generation: 4

  1. 14.  Nicola Orsini (son of Roberto Orsini and Sueva del Balzo).

    Nicola — Jeanne de Sabran. [Group Sheet]

  2. 15.  Jeanne de Sabran
    1. 7. Sueva Orsini

Generation: 5

  1. 28.  Roberto Orsini was born 0___ 1295, (Italy) (son of Romano Orsini, Senator of Rome and Anastasia de Montfort, Countess of Nola); died 15 Jan 1345.

    Roberto — Sueva del Balzo. Sueva (daughter of Hugues de Balzo, Count of Solena and Jacopa della Marra) was born (Italy). [Group Sheet]

  2. 29.  Sueva del Balzo was born (Italy) (daughter of Hugues de Balzo, Count of Solena and Jacopa della Marra).
    1. 14. Nicola Orsini

Generation: 6

  1. 56.  Romano Orsini, Senator of Rome was born 0___ 1268, (Italy); died 0___ 1327.

    Romano married Anastasia de Montfort, Countess of Nola 8 Jun 1293, (Italy). Anastasia (daughter of Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola and Margherita Aldobrandesca, Lady of Sovana) was born ~ 1274, (Siena) Italy. [Group Sheet]

  2. 57.  Anastasia de Montfort, Countess of Nola was born ~ 1274, (Siena) Italy (daughter of Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola and Margherita Aldobrandesca, Lady of Sovana).

    Other Events:

    • Also Known As: Dame de Chailly
    • Also Known As: Dame de Longjumeau


    Anastasia de Montfort, Countess of Nola (born c.1274), was an Italian noblewoman and a wealthy heiress. She was the eldest daughter of Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola, himself the son of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester. She held the title suo jure Countess of Nola after her father's death in 1291. She also held the titles of suo jure Dame de Chailly and suo jure Dame de Longjumeau. She was the wife of Romano Orsini, Senator of Rome, by whom she had at least three children. English queen consort Elizabeth Woodville was among her numerous

    Anastasia de Montfort
    suo jure Countess of Nola
    suo jure Dame de Chailly
    suo jure Dame de Longjumeau
    Born c. 1274
    Died before January 15, 1345
    Noble family House of Montfort
    Spouse(s) Romano Orsini, Senator of Rome
    Roberto Orsini, Count of Nola
    Guido Orsini, Count of Pitigliano
    Giovanna Orsini
    Father Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola
    Mother Margherita Aldobrandeschi, suo jure Countess of Sovana and Pitigliano


    Anastasia was born in Italy in about 1274, the eldest daughter of Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola, and Margherita Aldobrandeschi, Countess of Sovana and Pitigliano (c. 1255-after 1313).[1] She had a younger sister, Tommasia, who married Pietro Vico, but the marriage was childless. Her paternal grandparents were Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester and Eleanor of England, daughter of King John of England and Isabella of Angoulăeme. Her maternal grandparents were Ildebrandino Aldobrandeschi, Count of Sovana and Tommasia di Baschi.

    Her father, Guy, fled England in 1266 after he had escaped from prison, eventually arriving in Italy. He entered the service of Charles of Anjou who made him Count of Nola and Vicar-general of Tuscany. On 10 August 1270, Guy married Margherita Aldobrandeschi at Viterbo.[1] In 1271, her father was excommunicated for killing his cousin Henry of Almain inside San Silvestro church. Later he was captured by the Aragonese and died in a Sicilian prison in 1291.

    Upon his death, Anastasia became the suo jure Countess of Nola. In an effort to retain her lands, Anastasia's mother married four more times after Guy's death. Her four additional husbands were: Orsello Orsini, Loffredo Caetani, her cousin Guido Aldobrandeschi di Santa Fiora, and Nello de' Pannocchieschi.

    Marriage and issue

    On 8 June 1293 Anastasia married Romano Orsini (1268–1327), Senator of Rome and son of Gentile II Orsini, Senator of Rome and Claricia de Ruffo.[1] The marriage had been arranged by Cardinal Napoleon Orsini, who was her mother's guardian. Anastasia, being Margherita's eldest daughter and heiress, eventually brought the rich Aldobrandeschi and Sovana inheritances into the Orsini family.

    Together Romano and Anastasia had at least three children:

    Roberto Orsini, Count of Nola (1295- 15 January 1345), married Sueva del Balzo,[1] the daughter of Hugues del Balzo, Count of Soleto and Seneschal of Naples, and Jacopa della Marra, by whom he had issue.
    Guido Orsini, Count of Pitigliano (died after 1348), married Agostina della Gherardesca, by whom he had issue.
    Giovanna Orsini, married in 1334 Nicolo Caetani by whom she had issue.
    Anastasia died on an unknown date, which occurred sometime before her eldest son, Roberto's death on 15 January 1345 as he had succeeded her as Count of Nola. Her husband Romano died in 1327.

    1. 28. Roberto Orsini was born 0___ 1295, (Italy); died 15 Jan 1345.

  3. 58.  Hugues de Balzo, Count of Solena was born (Italy).

    Hugues — Jacopa della Marra. Jacopa was born (Italy). [Group Sheet]

  4. 59.  Jacopa della Marra was born (Italy).
    1. 29. Sueva del Balzo was born (Italy).

Generation: 7

  1. 114.  Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola was born 0___ 1244 (son of Simon de Montfort, V, Knight, 6th Earl of Leicester and Eleanor of Leicester); died 0___ 1288, Sicily.


    Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola (1244 – 1291) was the son of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester and Eleanor of England.[1]


    He participated in the Battle of Evesham against the royalist forces of his uncle, King Henry III of England, and his cousin, Prince Edward. Both his father and elder brother were traumatically killed during the disastrous battle, Guy de Montfort was extremely wounded and captured.[2]

    He was held at Windsor Castle until spring 1266, when he bribed his captors and escaped to France to rejoin his exiled family. Guy and his brother, Simon the younger, wandered across Europe for several years, eventually making their way to Italy.[2]

    Guy took service with Charles of Anjou, serving as his Vicar-General in Tuscany. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Tagliacozzo and was given Nola by Charles of Anjou.

    In 1271, Guy and Simon discovered that their cousin Henry of Almain (son of Richard, Earl of Cornwall) was in Viterbo at the church of San Silvestro.[3] In revenge for the deaths of their father and brother at Evesham, on 13 March, 1271, Guy and Simon murdered Henry while he clutched the altar, begging for mercy. "You had no mercy for my father and brothers", was Guy's reply. This murder was carried out in the presence of the Cardinals (who were conducting a papal Election), of King Philip III of France, and of King Charles of Sicily. For this crime the Montfort brothers were excommunicated, and Dante banished Guy to the river of boiling blood in the seventh circle of his Inferno (Canto XII).

    The news reached England, and King Edward I(Note: Edward didn't succeed to throne until 1272) dispatched a clerk of the royal household to inform the northern counties and Scotland about the excommunication.[2] Pope Gregory X wrote a letter (29 November, 1273) to King Edward from Lyons, where he was preparing for an ecumenical council, that Cardinal Riccardo Annibaldi and Cardinal Giovanni Orsini were still in Rome and had been ordered to find a secure place of imprisonment in the territories of the Church for Guy de Montfort.[4]

    Simon died later that year at Siena, "cursed by God, a wanderer and a fugitive". Guy was stripped of his titles and took service with Charles of Anjou again, but was captured off the coast of Sicily in 1287 by the Aragonese at the Battle of the Counts. He died in a Sicilian prison.[2]


    In Tuscany, he married an Italian noblewoman, Margherita Aldobrandesca, the Lady of Sovana.[5] With her he had two daughters:[6] Anastasia, who married Romano Orsini,[7] and Tomasina, who married Pietro di Vico.

    Among his direct descendants (via his elder daughter, Anastasia): late 15th century Kings of Naples, England's Queen-Consort Elizabeth Woodville, 16th century rulers of Poland, Dukes of Ferrera, and Dukes of Guise.

    end of biography

    Guy married Margherita Aldobrandesca, Lady of Sovana Tuscany, Italy. [Group Sheet]

  2. 115.  Margherita Aldobrandesca, Lady of Sovana
    1. 57. Anastasia de Montfort, Countess of Nola was born ~ 1274, (Siena) Italy.
    2. Tomasina de Montfort was born (Siena) Italy.

Generation: 8

  1. 228.  Simon de Montfort, V, Knight, 6th Earl of LeicesterSimon de Montfort, V, Knight, 6th Earl of Leicester was born ~ 1208, Montfort-l'Amaury, France (son of Simon de Montfort, IV, 5th Earl of Leicester and Alix de Montmorency); died 4 Aug 1265, Evesham, Worcestershire, England; was buried Evesham Abbey, Evesham, Worcestershire, England.

    Other Events:

    • Also Known As: Simon de Munford


    Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester (c.?1208 – 4 August 1265), also called Simon de Munford and sometimes referred to as Simon V de Montfort to distinguish him from other Simons de Montfort, was a French-English nobleman who inherited the title and estates of the earldom of Leicester in England. He led the rebellion against King Henry III of England during the Second Barons' War of 1263–64, and subsequently became de facto ruler of England.[1] During his rule, Montfort called two famous parliaments. The first stripped the King of unlimited authority, the second included ordinary citizens from the towns.[1] For this reason, Montfort is regarded today as one of the progenitors of modern parliamentary democracy.[2] After a rule of just over a year, Montfort was killed by forces loyal to the King in the Battle of Evesham.[1]


    Montfort was a younger son of Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, a French nobleman and crusader, and Alix de Montmorency. His paternal grandmother was Amicia de Beaumont, the senior co-heiress to the Earldom of Leicester and a large estate owned by her brother Robert de Beaumont, 3rd Earl of Leicester, in England.

    With the irrevocable loss of Normandy, King John refused to allow the elder Simon to succeed to the earldom of Leicester and instead placed the estates and title into the hands of Montfort senior's cousin Ranulf, the Earl of Chester. The elder Simon had also acquired vast domains during the Albigensian Crusade, but was killed during the Siege of Toulouse in 1218 and his eldest son Amaury was not able to retain them. When Amaury was rebuffed in his attempt to get the earldom back, he agreed to allow his younger brother Simon to claim it in return for all family possessions in France.

    Simon arrived in England in 1229, with some education but no knowledge of English, and received a sympathetic hearing from King Henry, who was well-disposed towards foreigners speaking French, then the language of the English court. Henry was in no position to confront the powerful Earl of Chester, so Simon approached the older, childless man himself and convinced him to cede him the earldom. It would take another nine years before Henry formally invested him with the title Earl of Leicester.

    Simon de Montfort shared various levels of consanguinuity and "by-marriage" connections with both English and French royal lineages. For instance, his ancestor Simon I de Montfort was father of Bertrade de Montfort who herself was a paternal great-grandmother of King Henry II. He was also descended from William the Conqueror through one of the numerous progeny of Henry I.

    Early life

    Relief of Simon de Montfort in the Chamber of the United States House of Representatives
    As a younger son, Simon de Montfort attracted little public attention during his youth, and the date of birth remains unknown. He is first mentioned when his mother made a grant to him in 1217.[3] As a boy, Montfort accompanied his parents during his father's campaigns against the Cathars. He was with his mother at the Siege of Toulouse in 1218, where his father died after being struck on the head by a stone pitched by a mangonel. In addition to Amaury, Simon had another older brother, Guy, who was killed at the siege of Castelnaudary in 1220. As a young man, Montfort probably took part in the Albigensian Crusades of the early 1220s. He and Amaury both took part in the Barons' Crusade.

    In 1229 the two surviving brothers (Amaury and Simon) came to an arrangement with King Henry whereby Simon gave up his rights in France and Amaury gave up his rights in England. Thus freed from any allegiance to the King of France, Montfort successfully petitioned for the English inheritance, which he received the next year, although he did not take full possession for several years, and did not win formal recognition as Earl of Leicester until February 1239.

    As Lord of Leicester, he expelled the small Jewish community from Leicester in 1231, banishing them "in my time or in the time of any of my heirs to the end of the world". They moved to the eastern suburbs, which were controlled by Montfort's great-aunt Margaret, Countess of Winchester. He justified his action as being "for the good of my soul, and for the souls of my ancestors and successors": inspiration may have come from the hostility his parents had shown to Jews in France, where his father was known for his devout Christianity, and where his mother had given the Jews of Toulouse a choice of conversion or expulsion; as well as from the intellectual arguments of the scholar Robert Grosseteste (at this date Archdeacon of Leicester). It was also a strategy to enhance his popularity in his new domains by banishing the practice of usury (widely associated with Jews).[4][5]

    Montfort became a favourite of King Henry III and even issued a charter as "Earl of Leicester" in 1236, despite having not yet been granted the title.[6]

    In that same year Simon tried to get Joan, Countess of Flanders to marry him. The idea of an alliance between the rich County of Flanders and a close associate of Henry III of England did not sit well with the French crown. The French Queen Dowager Blanche of Castile convinced Joan to marry Thomas II of Savoy instead.

    Royal marriage

    Eleanor of England, who married Montfort in 1238

    In January 1238, Montfort married Eleanor of England, daughter of King John and Isabella of Angoulăeme and sister of King Henry III. While this marriage took place with the King's approval, the act itself was performed secretly and without consulting the great barons, as a marriage of such importance warranted. Eleanor had previously been married to William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, and she swore a vow of perpetual chastity upon his death, when she was sixteen, which she broke by marrying Montfort. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund Rich, condemned the marriage for this reason. The English nobles protested the marriage of the King's sister to a foreigner of modest rank. Most notably, the King's and Eleanor's brother Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, rose up in revolt when he learned of the marriage. King Henry eventually bought off Richard with 6,000 marks and peace was restored.

    The marriage brought the manor of Sutton Valence in Kent into Montfort's possession.[7] Relations between King Henry and Montfort were cordial at first. Henry lent him his support when Montfort embarked for Rome in March 1238 to seek papal approval for his marriage. When Simon and Eleanor's first son was born in November 1238 (despite rumours, more than nine months after the wedding), he was baptised Henry in honour of his royal uncle. In February 1239, Montfort was finally invested with the Earldom of Leicester. He also acted as the king's counsellor and was one of the nine godfathers of Henry's eldest son, Lord Edward, who would inherit the throne and become Edward I ("Longshanks").

    Crusade and turning against the King

    Shortly after Prince Edward's birth, however, there was a falling out between the brothers-in-law. Simon owed a great sum of money to Thomas II of Savoy, uncle of Queen Eleanor, and named King Henry as security for his repayment. The King evidently had not approved this, and was enraged when he discovered that Montfort had used his name. On 9 August 1239, Henry is reported to have confronted Montfort, called him an excommunicant and threatened to imprison him in the Tower of London. "You seduced my sister", King Henry said, "and when I discovered this, I gave her to you, against my will, to avoid scandal." Simon and Eleanor fled to France to escape Henry's wrath.

    Having announced his intention to go on crusade two years before, Simon raised funds and travelled to the Holy Land during the Barons' Crusade, but does not seem to have faced combat there. He was part of the crusading host which, under Richard of Cornwall, negotiated the release of Christian prisoners including Simon's older brother Amaury. In autumn 1241, he left Syria and joined King Henry's campaign against King Louis IX in Poitou. The campaign was a failure, and an exasperated Montfort declared that Henry should be locked up like King Charles the Simple. Like his father, Simon was a soldier as well as a capable administrator. His dispute with King Henry came about due to the latter's determination to ignore the swelling discontent within the country, caused by a combination of factors, including famine and a sense among the English Barons that King Henry was too quick to dispense favour to his Poitevin relatives and Savoyard in-laws.

    In 1248, Montfort again took the cross with the idea of following Louis IX of France to Egypt. But, at the repeated requests of King Henry, he gave up this project in order to act as viceroy in the unsettled and disaffected Duchy of Gascony. Bitter complaints were excited by the rigour with which Montfort suppressed the excesses of the Seigneurs and of contending factions in the great communes. Henry yielded to the outcry and instituted a formal inquiry into Simon's administration. Simon was formally acquitted on the charges of oppression, but his accounts were disputed by Henry and Simon retired to France in 1252. The nobles of France offered him the Regency of the kingdom, vacated by the death of Queen Blanche of Castile. The earl preferred to make his peace with Henry III, which he did in 1253, in obedience to the exhortations of the dying Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln. He helped the King deal with disaffection in Gascony, but their reconciliation was a hollow one. In the Parliament of 1254, Simon led the opposition in resisting a royal demand for a subsidy. In 1256–57, when the discontent of all classes was coming to a head, Montfort nominally adhered to the royal cause. He undertook, with Peter of Savoy, the Queen's uncle, the difficult task of extricating the King from the pledges which he had given to the Pope with reference to the Crown of Sicily; and Henry's writs of this date mention Montfort in friendly terms. But at the "Mad Parliament" of Oxford (1258) Montfort appeared with the Earl of Gloucester,[8] at the head of the opposition. He was part of the Council of Fifteen who were to constitute the supreme board of control over the administration. The King's success in dividing the barons and in fostering a reaction, however, rendered such projects hopeless. In 1261, Henry revoked his assent to the Provisions of Oxford and Montfort, in despair, left the country.

    War against the King

    Main article: Second Barons' War

    Simon de Montfort returned to England in 1263, at the invitation of the barons who were now convinced of the King's hostility to all reform and raised a rebellion with the avowed object of restoring the form of government which the Provisions had ordained. Henry quickly gave in and allowed Montfort to take control of the council. His son Edward, however, began using patronage and bribes to win over many of the barons. Their disruption of parliament in October led to a renewal of hostilities, which saw the royalists able to trap Simon in London. With few other options available, Montfort agreed to allow Louis IX of France to arbitrate their dispute. Simon was prevented from presenting his case to Louis directly on account of a broken leg, but little suspected that the King of France, known for his innate sense of justice, would completely annul the Provisions in his Mise of Amiens in January 1264. Civil war broke out almost immediately, with the royalists again able to confine the reformist army in London. In early May 1264, Simon marched out to give battle to the King and scored a spectacular triumph at the Battle of Lewes on 14 May 1264, capturing the King, Lord Edward, and Richard of Cornwall, Henry's brother and the titular King of Germany. Montfort used his victory to set up a government based on the provisions first established at Oxford in 1258. Henry retained the title and authority of King, but all decisions and approval now rested with his council, led by Montfort and subject to consultation with parliament. His Great Parliament of 1265 (Montfort's Parliament) was a packed assembly to be sure, but it can hardly be supposed that the representation which he granted to the towns was intended to be a temporary expedient.

    Montfort sent his summons, in the King's name, to each county and to a select list of boroughs, asking each to send two representatives. This body was not the first elected parliament in England. In 1254, Henry was in Gascony and in need of money. He gave instructions for his regent, Queen Eleanor, to summon a parliament consisting of knights elected by their shires to ask for this 'aid'. Montfort, who was in that parliament, took the innovation further by including ordinary citizens from the boroughs, also elected, and it was from this period that parliamentary representation derives. The list of boroughs which had the right to elect a member grew slowly over the centuries as monarchs granted charters to more English towns. (The last charter was given to Newark in 1674.)

    The right to vote in Parliamentary elections for county constituencies was uniform throughout the country, granting a vote to all those who owned the freehold of land to an annual rent of 40 shillings (‘Forty-shilling Freeholders’). In the Boroughs, the electoral franchise varied and individual boroughs had varying arrangements.

    The reaction against his government was baronial rather than popular. The Welsh Marcher Lords were friends and allies of Prince Edward, and when he escaped in May 1265, they rallied around his opposition. The final nail was the defection of Gilbert de Clare, the Earl of Gloucester, the most powerful baron and Simon's ally at Lewes. Clare had grown resentful of Simon's fame and growing power. When he and his brother Thomas fell out with Simon's sons Henry, Simon, and Guy, they deserted the reforming cause and joined Edward.

    Though boosted by Welsh infantry sent by Montfort's ally Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Simon's forces were severely depleted. Lord Edward attacked his cousin, his godfather's son Simon's forces at Kenilworth, capturing more of Montfort's allies. Montfort himself had crossed the Severn with his army, intending to rendezvous with his son Simon. When he saw an army approaching at Evesham, Montfort initially thought it was his son's forces. It was, however, Edward's army flying the Montfort banners they had captured at Kenilworth. At that point, Simon realised he had been outmaneuvered by Edward.


    A 13th-century cloth depiction of the mutilation of Montfort's body after the Battle of Evesham
    An ominous black cloud hung over the field of Evesham on 4 August 1265 as Montfort led his army in a desperate uphill charge against superior forces, described by one chronicler as the "murder of Evesham, for battle it was none".[9] On hearing that his son Henry had been killed, Montfort replied, "Then it is time to die."[10] During the battle, a twelve-man squad of Edward's men had stalked the battlefield independent of Edward's main army, their sole aim being to find the earl and cut him down. Montfort was hemmed in; Roger Mortimer killed Montfort by stabbing him in the neck with a lance.[11] Montfort's last words were said to have been "Thank God".[10] Also slain with Montfort were other leaders of his movement, including Peter de Montfort and Hugh Despenser.

    Montfort's body was mutilated in an unparalleled frenzy by the royalists. News reached the mayor and sheriffs of London that "the head of the earl of Leicester ... was severed from his body, and his testicles cut off and hung on either side of his nose";[11] and in such guise the head was sent to Wigmore Castle by Roger Mortimer, 1st Baron Mortimer, as a gift to his wife, Maud.[12] His hands and feet were also cut off and sent to diverse places to enemies of his as a great mark of dishonour to the deceased.[13] Such remains as could be found were buried under the altar of Evesham Abbey by the canons. It was visited as holy ground by many commoners until King Henry caught wind of it. He declared that Montfort deserved no spot on holy ground and had his remains reburied under an insignificant tree. The remains of some of Montfort's soldiers who had fled the battlefield were found in the nearby village of Cleeve Prior.

    Montfort's niece, Margaret of England, later killed one of the soldiers responsible for his death, purposely or inadvertently.

    Matthew Paris reports that the Bishop of Lincoln, Robert Grosseteste, once said to Montfort's eldest son, Henry, "My beloved child, both you and your father will meet your deaths on one day, and by one kind of death, but it will be in the name of justice and truth.


    In the years that followed his death, Simon de Montfort's grave was frequently visited by pilgrims. Napoleon Bonaparte described Simon de Montfort as "one of the greatest Englishmen".[14] Today, Montfort is mostly remembered as one of the fathers of representative government.[2][15][16]

    Evesham Abbey and the site of Montfort's grave were destroyed with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century. In 1965 a memorial of stone from Montfort-l'Amaury was laid on the site of the former altar by Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Harry Hylton-Foster and Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey.

    Statue of Montfort on the Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower in Leicester
    Various local honours were dedicated to his memory, and he has become eponymous several times over. De Montfort University in Leicester is named after him, as is the nearby De Montfort Hall, a concert venue. A statue of Montfort is one of four to adorn the Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower in Leicester. A relief of Montfort adorns the wall of the Chamber of the United States House of Representatives.

    Montfort's banner called the 'Arms of Honour of Hinckley', blazoned Per pale indented argent and gules, and displayed in stained glass in Chartres Cathedral, is especially used in the coat of arms of the town of Hinckley, part of his Earldom in Leicestershire, and by many of its local organizations. Combined with his personal Coat of Arms, the banner forms part of the club crest for the town's football club Hinckley A.F.C.[17]

    A school[18] and a bridge on the north east stretch of the A46 are named after him in Evesham.

    In fiction

    Sharon Penman's novel, Falls the Shadow, is a fictional retelling of Montfort's life from his arrival in England to his death. The Montfort story is the focus of the second part of The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet by Edith Pargeter (who also wrote as Ellis Peters). The four books tell the story of Llewellyn Prince of Wales, who married Simon's daughter Eleanor, and his three brothers. More recently are the four speculative novels, Montfort, Vol. I-IV, by Katherine Ashe.[19] Simon de Montfort and (especially) his wife Eleanor feature in Doctor Mirabilis by James Blish, a semi-fictional novel about the medieval philosopher, Franciscan friar Roger Bacon.[citation needed]


    Simon de Montfort and Eleanor of Leicester had seven children, many of whom were notable in their own right:[20]

    Henry de Montfort (November 1238 – 1265)
    Simon the Younger de Montfort (April 1240 – 1271)
    Amaury de Montfort, Canon of York (1242/1243-1300)
    Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola (1244–1288). Elizabeth Woodville, Queen Consort of Edward IV of England, was one of Guy's descendants through his daughter, Anastasia de Montfort, Countess of Nola.
    Joanna de Montfort (born and died in Bordeaux between 1248 and 1251).
    Richard de Montfort (d.1266). Date of death is not certain.
    Eleanor de Montfort (1252–1282). She married Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales, honouring an agreement that had been made between Earl Simon and Llywelyn. Eleanor, Lady of Wales, died on 19 June 1282 at the royal Welsh home at Abergwyngregyn, on the north coast of Gwynedd, giving birth to a daughter, Gwenllian of Wales. After Llywelyn's death on 11 December 1282, Gwenllian was captured by King Edward I and spent the rest of her life in a convent.

    end of biography

    Simon married Eleanor of Leicester 7 Jan 1238. Eleanor (daughter of John I, King of England and Isabelle of Angouleme, Queen of England) was born 0___ 1215, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England; died 13 Apr 1275, Montargis Abbey, France; was buried Montargis Abbey, France. [Group Sheet]

  2. 229.  Eleanor of Leicester was born 0___ 1215, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England (daughter of John I, King of England and Isabelle of Angouleme, Queen of England); died 13 Apr 1275, Montargis Abbey, France; was buried Montargis Abbey, France.

    Other Events:

    • Also Known As: Eleanor of England
    • Also Known As: Eleanor Plantagenet


    Eleanor of Leicester (also called Eleanor Plantagenet [1] and Eleanor of England) (1215 - 13 April 1275) was the youngest child of King John of England and Isabella of Angoulăeme.

    Early life

    At the time of Eleanor's birth at Gloucester, King John's London was in the hands of French forces, John had been forced to sign the Magna Carta and Queen Isabella was in shame. Eleanor never met her father, as he died at Newark Castle when she was barely a year old. The French, led by Prince Louis the Lion, the future Louis VIII, were marching through the south. The only lands loyal to her brother, Henry III of England, were in the Midlands and southwest. The barons ruled the north, but they united with the royalists under William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, who protected the young king Henry, and Louis was defeated.

    Before William the Marshal died in 1219 Eleanor was promised to his son, also named William. They were married on 23 April 1224 at New Temple Church in London. The younger William was 34 and Eleanor only nine. He died in London on 6 April 1231, days before their seventh anniversary. There were no children of this marriage.

    Eleanor had brought a dowry of 10 manors and 200 pounds per year to this marriage. According to the law of the time, widows were allowed to retain one third of the estates of the marriage. However, her brother-in-law Richard took all of the estates and sold many, including her dowry, to pay William's debts. Eleanor strove for many years to try and recover her lost property.[2]

    The widowed Eleanor swore a holy oath of chastity in the presence of Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury.[3]

    Simon de Montfort

    Seven years later, she met Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester. According to Matthew Paris, Simon was attracted to Eleanor's beauty and elegance as well as her wealth and high birth. They fell in love and married secretly on 7 January 1238 at the King's chapel in Westminster Palace. Her brother King Henry later alleged that he only allowed the marriage because Simon had seduced Eleanor. The marriage was controversial because of the oath Eleanor had sworn several years before to remain chaste. Because of this, Simon made a pilgrimage to Rome seeking papal approval for their union. Simon and Eleanor had seven children:

    Henry de Montfort (November 1238 – 1265)
    Simon the younger de Montfort (April 1240 – 1271)
    Amaury de Montfort, Canon of York (1242/1243-1300)
    Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola (1244–1288)
    Joanna, born and died in Bordeaux between 1248 and 1251.
    Richard de Montfort (1252–1281)
    Eleanor de Montfort Princess of Wales (1258–1282)
    Simon de Montfort had the real power behind the throne, but when he tried to take the throne, he was defeated with his son at the Battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265. Eleanor fled to exile in France where she became a nun at Montargis Abbey, a nunnery founded by her deceased husband's sister Amicia, who remained there as abbess. There she died on 13 April 1275, and was buried there. She was well treated by Henry, retained her incomes, and her proctors were allowed to pursue her litigation concerning the Leicester inheritance in the English courts; her will and testament were executed without hindrance.[4]

    Through her son Guy, Eleanor was an ancestor of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of Edward IV.

    Eleanor's daughter, Eleanor de Montfort, was married, at Worcester in 1278, to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales. She would die giving birth to their only child, Gwenllian of Wales. After the conquest of Wales, Gwenllian was imprisoned by Edward I of England, her mother's first cousin, at Sempringham priory, where she died 1337.


    In January 1238, Montfort married Eleanor of England, daughter of King John and Isabella of Angoulăeme and sister of King Henry III.

    While this marriage took place with the King's approval, the act itself was performed secretly and without consulting the great barons, as a marriage of such importance warranted. Eleanor had previously been married to William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, and she swore a vow of perpetual chastity upon his death, when she was sixteen, which she broke by marrying Montfort.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund Rich, condemned the marriage for this reason.

    The English nobles protested the marriage of the King's sister to a foreigner of modest rank. Most notably, the King's and Eleanor's brother Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, rose up in revolt when he learned of the marriage. King Henry eventually bought off Richard with 6,000 marks and peace was restored.

    1. Henry de Montfort was born 0Nov 1238; died 0___ 1265.
    2. Simon de Montfort was born 0Apr 1240; died 0___ 1271, Siena, Italy.
    3. Amaury de Montfort was born 1242-1243; died 0___ 1300.
    4. 114. Guy de Montfort, Count of Nola was born 0___ 1244; died 0___ 1288, Sicily.
    5. Eleanor Montfort, Princess of Wales was born 0___ 1258; died 0___ 1282.