The Battle of
Evesham (4 August 1265) was one of the two main battles
of 13th century England's Second Barons' War. It marked the defeat of
Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and the rebellious barons by the
future King Edward I, who led the forces of his father, King Henry
III. It took place on 4 August 1265, near the town of Evesham,
With the Battle of Lewes, Montfort had won control of royal
government, but after the defection of several close allies and the
escape from captivity of Prince Edward, he found himself on the
defensive. Forced to engage the royalists at Evesham, he faced an army
twice the size of his own. The battle soon turned into a massacre;
Montfort himself was killed and his body mutilated. Though the battle
effectively restored royal authority, scattered resistance remained
Dictum of Kenilworth
Dictum of Kenilworth was signed in 1267.
4 See also
7 External links
Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, had gained a dominant
position in the government of the
Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England after his victory
Battle of Lewes
Battle of Lewes a year earlier. He also held the King, Prince
Edward, and the King's brother Richard of Cornwall in his custody.
However, his sphere of influence began to shrink rapidly, owing to
loss of key allies. In February, Robert de Ferrers,
Earl of Derby
Earl of Derby was
arrested and imprisoned in the Tower. An even more important
collaborator, Gilbert de Clare, the Earl of Gloucester, deserted to
the side of the King in May of the same year. With Gloucester's
assistance, Prince Edward escaped from Montfort's captivity.
With the Lords of the
Welsh Marches now in rebellion, Montfort
solicited the aid of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the Prince of Wales.
Llywelyn agreed to help, in return for full recognition of his title
and the promise that he could keep all military gains. Whatever
benefits this alliance might have brought Montfort, the large
concessions cost him popularity at home. Meanwhile, Edward laid
siege to the town of Gloucester, which fell on 29 June. Montfort's
goal now became to unite with the forces of his son Simon, and engage
with the royal army, but the younger Simon moved much too slowly
westwards from London. Eventually Simon made it to the baronial
stronghold of Kenilworth, but Edward managed to inflict great losses
on Simon's forces, many of whom were quartered outside the castle
walls. From there the Prince moved south, where on 4 August, using
many banners captured at
Kenilworth to deceive Montfort into thinking
his reinforcements were arriving, he managed to trap the older
Montfort in a loop of the Avon, blocking off the only bridge and
thereby forcing Montfort to fight without his son's reinforcements.
When Montfort realized this, he allegedly commented: "May the Lord
have mercy upon our souls, as our bodies are theirs."
Map showing the location of the Battle of Evesham
Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, rebel to Henry III's reign,
dies in the Battle of Evesham.
Heeding a lesson learned at the Battle of Lewes, the royals took
position on the high ground. Along a ridge called Green Hill, just
north of Evesham, Edward set up his forces on the left, with
Gloucester commanding the right. At about eight in the morning,
Montfort left the town of
Evesham as a great thunderstorm began to
rage. At Lewes, the baronial forces had gained confidence to win
the day by a sense of divine destiny, reinforced by white crosses on
their uniforms. This time the royal army had taken their lead, and
wore a red cross as their distinguishing mark. According to the
chronicler William Rishanger, when Montfort saw the advance of the
royal troops, he exclaimed that "They have not learned that for
themselves, but were taught it by me."
The respective forces of the royal and baronial armies have been
estimated to be 5,000 and 10,000 strong. Montfort, facing such
unfavourable numbers, decided to concentrate his forces on the centre
of the enemy’s front, hoping to drive a wedge through the line.
Though the tactics were initially successful, the baronial forces soon
lost the initiative, especially as the Welsh infantry provided by
Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
Llywelyn ap Gruffudd had proved unreliable, and deserted at an early
point. The flanks of the royal army closed in on Montfort's,
surrounding them. With Montfort confronted by a force twice the size
of his own, on unfavourable ground, the battle rapidly turned into a
With their defeat at Lewes still fresh in memory, the royalists fought
with a strong sense of bitterness and resentment. As a result, and
despite attempts to surrender, most of the baronial rebels were killed
on the battlefield rather than taken prisoner and ransomed, as was the
common custom and practice. In what has been referred to as "an
episode of noble bloodletting unprecedented since the Conquest",
Montfort's son Henry was killed first, then Simon himself lost his
horse and died fighting. His body was mutilated; his head, hands,
feet and testicles cut off. King Henry himself, who had been in
the custody of Montfort and dressed up in his colours, was barely
rescued from the mêlée by Roger de Leybourne, a converted rebel.
The royals were eager to settle scores after Montfort’s defeat. At
the Parliament at
Winchester in September the same year, all those who
had taken part in the rebellion were disinherited. Yet even though the
uprising of the younger Simon Montfort in
Lincolnshire was over by
Christmas, scattered resistance remained. The main problem was the
garrison encamped at the virtually impregnable
Kenilworth Castle, and
a siege started in the summer of 1266 seemed futile. By the end of
October, the royals drew up the so-called Dictum of Kenilworth,
whereby rebels were allowed to buy back their land at prices dependent
on their level of involvement in the rebellion. The defenders of the
castle turned down the offer at first, but by the end of the year
conditions had become intolerable, and in 1267 the Dictum was agreed
As far as wide-scale confrontations went, the Battle of
its aftermath marked the end of baronial opposition in the reign of
Henry III. The kingdom now entered into a period of unity and progress
that lasted until the early 1290s.
Henry de Bracton
Henry de Bracton (overseeing hearings for the disinherited)
Brooks, Richard (2015) Lewes and
Evesham 1264–65; Simon de Montford
and the Barons' War. Osprey Campaign Series #285. Osprey Publishing.
ISBN 978 1-4728-1150-9
Burne, A. H. (1950, reprint 2002), The Battlefields of England London:
Penguin ISBN 0-14-139077-8
English Heritage (1995). English Heritage Battlefield Report: Evesham
Maddicott, J. R. (1994), Simon de Montfort, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press ISBN 0-521-37493-6
Powicke, F. M. (1953), The Thirteenth Century: 1216–1307, Oxford:
Clarendon. ISBN 0-19-285249-3
Prestwich, Michael (1988), Edward I, London: Methuen London
Prestwich, Michael (2005), Plantagenet England: 1225–1360, Oxford:
Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-822844-9
^ English Heritage 1995, p. 2.
^ Prestwich (1988), p. 46.
^ Powicke, p. 199.
^ Maddicott, pp. 327–9.
^ Prestwich (1988), pp. 48–9.
^ Maddicott, pp. 337–8.
^ Maddicott, p. 335.
^ Maddicott, pp. 339–40.
^ a b Maddicott, p. 340.
^ Burne, pp. 167–8.
^ Maddicott, p. 341-2.
^ Maddicott, p. 271.
^ Prestwich (2005), p. 116.
^ a b Prestwich (1988), p. 51.
^ Burne, p. 168.
^ Burne, pp. 170–1.
^ a b Maddicott, p. 342.
^ Powicke, p. 202.
^ Prestwich (2005), p. 117.
^ Prestwich (2005), p. 121.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of Evesham.
Simon de Montfort 2014 (More on