Page 1429

1429 THE CRUSADESENGLAND AND FRANCE IN THE 13TH CENTURY. 1429

he also showed his weakness. Nearly all his

administrative acts were marked by a spirit

of narrowness and bigoted imprudence. Popes

Innocent IV. and Alexander IV. were not slow

to perceive the advantages which might be

gained for the Church by an interference with

English affairs. Italian ecclesiastics were accordingly insinuated into the principal religious offices of the kingdom, and these became the agents to carry out the papal will

and pleasure respecting questions which were

purely English. In 1255 the Pope conferred

on the king's son Edmund the title of King

of Sicily, hoping by this means to induce

the English nation to espouse his own cause

in a quarrel which he had had with Mainfroy,

the Sicihan monarch. But the English barons,

more wise than their sovereign, refused to be

inveigled into the Pope's scheme, and the

enterprise was about to come to nought.

Henry, however, finding that no inducement

could avail with his refractory subjects, undertook to raise the money for the Sicilian expedition by a means as novel as it was outrageous. He caused to be drawn bills of exchange

against the prelates of England, and gave

these bills to Italian merchants for money

pretendedly advanced by them for the war.

The prelates at first refused payment of

these forged accounts, but since the ecclesiastics were not supported by either the

king or the Pope, who made common cause

in support of the fraud, they were obliged to

give up the contest and pay the Italian

bills.

The effect of these measures was to revive

the antipathies of the English nobles against

the king. A new rebellion broke out in 1258.

Simon de Moritfort, earl of Leicester, who had

himself been one of the king's favorites, headed

the insurrection. The insurgents gathered in

such strength at Oxford that Henry and his

son were obliged to sign a treaty, by which it

was agreed that twenty-four of the barons, including the Earl of Leicester, should be constituted a sort of commission to reform the

abuses of the kingdom. The legitimate work

of reform, however, was soon abandoned for

the assumption of the right of government

by the barons. The nation was thrown into

a state of turmoil, which continued with

unabated violence for about six years. The

struggle is known in history as the Wars or

The Barons, and constituted one of the most

disastrous epochs in the annals of England.

Louis IX. of France, actuated by nobler

motives than were common in the princes

of his times, made unavailing efforts to bring

about a peace between Henry and his nobles;

but neither would the one yield to reason nor

the other to patriotism.

Not until the year 1264 did events assume

such form as to promise a settlement. At

that time Prince Edward, heir to the English crown, born to greater candor than his

grandfather and greater ability than his father,

came forward as a leader of the royal forces,

and for a season it appeared that the insurgent nobles had met their match. Many of

the barons, seeing with pride the spirit

and valor displayed by their prince, went

over to his standard. At length a battle

was hazarded with the forces of De Montfort, but the result was exceedingly disastrous to the royal cause. Edward's army

was defeated and himself captured, and sent

with his cousin, Prince Henry, a prisoner to

the Castle of Dover.

The Earl of Leicester was now master of

the field. He at once conceived the ambition of making himself king of England.

To this end he seized the royal castles not a

few, and presently allowed his ambition

to reveal his purposes. At this juncture

the Earl of Gloucester appeared as a rival

of De Montfort, and began to plan his overthrow. Leicester perceived that the heart

of the nobles was turned against him, and

began to bid for a renewal and continuance

of their support. All his acts were done in

the king's name. As a sop to Cerberus, he

set Prince Edward at liberty. Gloucester

established himself on the confines of Wales,

and De Montfort, having proclaimed his

rival a traitor, and assuming the office of

protector to Henry and Edward, set out to

overthrow the insurgents. When nearing the

camp of Gloucester, the latter managed to

open communications with Edward, and the

prince made good his escape, and went over

to the barons. Many of the nobles followed

his example, and Leicester was obliged to send

in all haste to London for an army of reinforcements commanded by his son, Simon de

Montfort, the younger. The latter was intercepted on the way to join his father, and was

decisively defeated by Prince Edward in the

battle of Kenilworth. A general engagement