Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester : Leader of the Barons Revolt Against Henry III of England

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Family

Third son of Simon de Montfort, born 1208, the family seat was at Montfort l'Amaury, about halfway between France and the border of the Duchy of Normandy
father was a noted crusader who combined religious fervour, charismatic leadership and a keen eye for his own self-interest, traits his son shared
the elder Simon de Montfort fought with distinction in the Fourth Crusade and led the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathar heretics of southern France, dieing at the siege of Toulouse in 1218
he was genuinely devout, a friend of St Dominic
when Pope Innocent III forbade an assault on the Christian city of Zara in 1202 he withdrew unlike the other crusaders

Early Career

Little is known of de Montforts early life although it is likely he fought in the renewed Albigensian Crusade of 1226-1229
the de Montforts had a hereditary claim to the Earldom of Leicester but as major landowners in northern France were unable to hold it
Amaury, Simons older brother, made over his claim to Simon, in exchange for Simon giving up any claim to the families French lands and probably a financial inducement too
in 1230 Simon de Montfort arrived in England to claim the Earldom of Leicester
Henry III had made a life grant of these lands to Earl Ranulf of Chester so he was only able to offer to Simon that they would revert to him upon Earl Ranulfs death, but de Montfort managed to convince Earl Ranulf to agree to the early transfer of his lands
in 1231 Henry III took de Montforts homeage for the honour of Leicester
in his early years in England de Montfort was mainly concerned with establishing his place as a noble
in 1231 or 1232 he expelled the Jews from Leicester, an act that met with the approval of the church and was seen as an act of patronage to the townsfolk
during this period he was also seeking a marriege aiming characteristically high, his targets included Mahaut, Countess of Boulougne, and Joanna, Countess of Flanders
he began to rise in prominance at court in 1236 he acted as steward of England at Hernry IIIs marriege
in he was 1237 was nominated to negotiate with the Scots but the mission was cancelled
he was also sent to inspect the royal castles at Bamburgh and Newcastle resulting in their extensive repair and refortification

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