Simon de Montfort was the son of the renowned
crusader and diplomat, Simon de Montfort the Elder (c. 1153-1218),
and arrived in England c. 1230 to pursue his claim to the earldom
of Leicestershire. Simon initially enjoyed a close relationship
with Henry III and married the king’s sister, Eleanor, in 1238.
Their friendship, however, soon soured and Simon was approached
to champion baronial opposition against the Crown. In 1264 the royal
troops were defeated at the Battle of Lewes and Simon headed a new
government; in 1265 he called a parliament which included, for the
first time, the representatives of the shires and boroughs. Simon’s
taste for power was seen by many as a threat and in 1265 he was
defeated and killed by the royalists at the Battle of Evesham. Simon
has remained a controversial character, viewed by some as an idealist,
by others as a man driven by greed.