Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dictum of Kenilworth

The Dictum of Kenilworth was a set of terms offered by King Henry III of England to the supporters of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, to end their rebellion.

Background – the Second Barons War:
The Second Barons’ War was a civil war (1264 – 1267) led by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester against the royalist forces of King Henry III of England and his son Prince Edward (later King Edward I).

The main cause of the civil war was dissatisfaction with Henry III’s government and fiscal mismanagement. Henry’s foreign policies (war with Sicily) were also a source of contention.

Henry III was forced to agree to the Provisions of Oxford (1258) which effectively curtailed royal power and gave that power to the Parliament. Henry III obtained a Papal Bull (1261) which then “annulled” the Provisions of Oxford, and resulted in the Second Barons’ War.

The Second Barons’ War:
For the first few years, de Montfort was ascendent (1263 – 1264), winning battles and capturing a defeated King Henry III (1264). Henry was now merely a figurehead – however, de Montfort’s reforms began to cause dissention amongst his own followers who felt that he had gone too far.

Simon de Montfort began to suffer a series of reversals following the escape from captivity of Prince Edward. At the battle of Evesham (4/8/1265), de Montfort was defeated and killed. Henry III regained his lost authority.

The Terms of Surrender:
A few loyal supporters of de Montfort fled to Kenilworth Castle where the forces of Prince Edward set about laying siege (May 1266). It was considered one of the largest sieges over to have been undertaken on English soil – Kenilworth housed over 1000 of de Montfort’s supporters.

The terms were offered to those who still held out against the King, in Kenilworth Castle (October 1266). They were initially rejected – those supporters of de Montfort who held out against the King had their lands and titles confiscated. However, failing provisions and sickness proved to be a motivating force in the acceptance of the Dictum of Kenilworth. The terms were accepted by Henry de Hastings, garrison leader, on behalf of those who held out, and safe conduct was issued (14/12/1266).

After some slight modification to the original terms of the Dictum of Kenilworth, peace was concluded the following year (1267).

The Dictum of Kenilworth states:
*** That the liberties of the Church shall be preserved, and also the great charters, which the king is bound by his oath to keep (drawn up by an assembly of clergy at Coventry).
*** It declares that there shall be no disherison (disinheriting or debarring from inheritance), but instead, fines from seven to half a year's rent.

The modification sought by the supporters of de Montfort was:
*** The right to buy back confiscated estates.

~~~ Melisende (first pub: 27/3/2007)

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