Henry III. Plantaganet, King of England (1216-1272), was born on October 1, 1207, at Winchester, and died on November 16, 1272, at St. Edmundsbury, and was buried at Westminster Abbey. He reigned from 1216 to 1272.
He was only nine years old when his father died, and he was crowned king of England, on October 28, 1216.
William Marshal was persuaded by King John's executors to become rector of the king and kingdom. The king's mother, Isabel of Angouleme, left England and married again (1220), the Marshal died (1219), and Hubert de Burgh ruled undisturbed until 1223. Then Henry, aged sixteen, became fully responsible for the disposal of his seals, castle, lands, and wardships.
He was also Earl of Winchester.
In 1227 he declared himself of age; in 1232 he deprived Hubert de Burgh, who ruled as regent and justiciary, of all his offices; and in 1234 he took administration into his own hands.
On January 14, 1236, he married Eleanor of Provence, daughter of Raymond Berengar (Berenger) IV., Count of Provence, 1222-1291, and his wife, Beatrix of Savoy. Eleanor was also the
sister-in-law of St. Louis, King of France, and niece of Amadeus IV., Count of Savoy.
Henry III. reigned in the period from 1216 to 1272. He was memorable because he showed himself unfitted to exercise supreme power (1234-1258). By acting as if the Magna Charta had never been, he provoked the opposition of the barons and made possible the rise of Simon de Montfort. Dante represents him in Purgatory among those punished for being negligent rulers. Unsuccessful in war, whether in Wales (1228) or Gascony (1242-43), he was equally unsuccessful at home, and the defeat of Simon de Montfort's baronial rebellion was due not to Henry but to his son, Edward I.
After his death Queen Eleanor became a nun at Ambresbury in Wiltshire and died there on June 24, 1291.
("The Genealogy of Homer Beers James", V1, JANDA Consultants, c 1993 Homer James)
In the 24 years (1234-58) during which he had effective control of the government, he displayed such indifference to tradition that the barons finally forced him to agree to a series of major reforms, the Provisions of Oxford (1258).
The elder son and heir of King John (ruled 1199-1216), Henry was nine years old when his father died. At that time London and much of eastern England were in the hands of rebel barons led by Prince Louis (later King Louis VIII of France), son of the French king Philip II Augustus. A council of regency presided over by the venerable William Marshal, 1st earl of Pembroke, was formed to rule for Henry; by 1217 the rebels had been defeated and Louis forced to withdraw from England. After Pembroke's death in 1219 Hubert de Burgh ran the government until he was dismissed by Henry in 1232. Two ambitious Frenchmen, Peter des Roches and Peter des Rivaux, then dominated Henry's regime until the barons brought about their expulsion in 1234. That event marked the beginning of Henry's personal rule.
Although Henry was charitable and cultured, he lacked the ability to rule effectively. In diplomatic and military affairs he proved to be arrogant yet cowardly, ambitious yet impractical. The breach between the King and his barons began as early as 1237, when the barons expressed outrage at the influence exercised over the government by Henry's Savoyard relatives. The marriage arranged (1238) by Henry between his sister, Eleanor, and his brilliant young French favourite, Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, increased foreign influence and further aroused the nobility's hostility. In 1242 Henry's Lusignan half brothers involved him in a costly and disastrous military venture in France. The barons then began to demand a voice in selecting Henry's counsellors, but the King repeatedly rejected their proposal. Finally, in 1254 Henry made a serious blunder. He concluded an agreement with Pope Innocent IV (pope 1243-54), offering to finance papal wars in Sicily if the Pope would grant his infant son, Edmund, the Sicilian crown. Four years later Pope Alexander IV (pope 1254-61) threatened to excommunicate Henry for failing to meet this financial obligation. Henry appealed to the barons for funds, but they agreed to cooperate only if he would accept far-reaching reforms. These measures, the Provisions of Oxford, provided for the creation of a 15-member privy council, selected (indirectly) by the barons, to advise the King and oversee the entire administration. The barons, however, soon quarrelled among themselves, and Henry seized the opportunity to renounce the Provisions (1261). In April 1264 Montfort, who had emerged as Henry's major baronial opponent, raised a rebellion; the following month he defeated and captured the King and his eldest son, Edward, at the Battle of Lewes (May 14, 1264), Sussex. Montfort ruled England in Henry's name until he was defeated and killed by Edward at the Battle of Evesham, Worcestershire, in August 1265. Henry, weak and senile, then allowed Edward to take charge of the government. After the King's death, Edward ascended the throne as King Edward I.
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