, which he made the seat of his government and where he expanded the abbey as a shrine to Edward the Confessor
1216 King John of England dies at Newark-on-Trent and is succeeded by his nine-year-old son Henry.
1259 Kings Louis IX of France and Henry III of England agree to the Treaty of Paris, in which Henry renounces his claims to French-controlled territory on continental Europe (including Normandy) in exchange for Louis withdrawing his support for English rebels.
1264 The Battle of Lewes, between King Henry III of England and the rebel Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, begins.
1264 Battle of Lewes: Henry III of England is captured and forced to sign the Mise of Lewes, making Simon de Montfort the ''de facto'' ruler of England.
1272 Following Henry III of England's death on November 16, his son Prince Edward becomes King of England.
, which he made the seat of his government and where he expanded the abbey as a shrine to Edward the Confessor
. He is the first of only five monarchs to reign in the Kingdom of England
or its successor states for 50 years or more, the others being Edward III
(1327–1377), George III
(1760–1820), Queen Victoria (1837–1901) and Elizabeth II (1952–present).
He assumed the crown under the regency
of the popular William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke
, but the England he inherited had undergone several drastic changes in the reign of his father. He spent much of his reign fighting the barons over Magna Carta
and the royal rights, and was eventually forced to call the first "parliament
" in 1264. He was also unsuccessful on the Continent, where he endeavoured to re-establish English control over Normandy
, and Aquitaine
MinorityHenry III was born in 1207 at Winchester Castle
, the son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême
. His coronation at age nine was a simple affair, attended by only a handful of noblemen and three bishops at St Peter's Abbey, Gloucester. In the absence of a crown (the crown had recently been lost with all the rest of his father's treasure in a wreck in East Anglia
) a simple golden band was placed on the young boy's head, not by the Archbishop of Canterbury
(who was at this time supporting Prince Louis "the Lion"
, the future king of France) but by another clergyman—either Peter des Roches
, Bishop of Winchester
, or Cardinal Guala Bicchieri
, the Papal legate
. In 1220 a second coronation was ordered by Pope Honorius III
who did not consider that the first had been carried out in accordance with church rites. This occurred on 17 May 1220 in Westminster Abbey
Under John's rule the baron
s had supported an invasion
by Prince Louis because they disliked the way that John had ruled the country. However, they quickly saw that the young prince was a safer option. Henry's regent
s immediately declared their intention to rule by Magna Carta
, which they proceeded to do during Henry's minority.
Eleanor of BrittanyThe treatment of his elder cousin Eleanor of Brittany, who was 23 years his senior (and older than his mother), was a difficult problem for Henry.
Eleanor was the daughter of Duke Geoffrey II of Brittany, elder brother of King John, which meant that she had a better claim to the English throne than John and Henry according to Primogeniture
, thus should have been queen regnant in 1203. But in 1202 John captured Eleanor at Mirebeau
. When John died, the barons passed her over and crowned Henry, leaving the beautiful and defiant princess still imprisoned at Corfe Castle
, guarded by Peter de Maulay.
Viewing her claim to England and Aquitaine, though with little baronial support for her sex, as a threat, the regents, later Henry himself, viewed Eleanor as "state prisoner" and kept her in a state of semi-captivity, or "under a gentle house arrest", and never permitted her to marry. Before Henry held real power, it was alleged that there was a plot to spirit Eleanor away and deliver her to the king of France; de Maulay was accused of the plot and fell out of favor. However many believed such a plot was just an excuse aiming to discredit de Maulay and Peter des Roches
, who would also fall out of favor in spring 1234. Shortly after the plot was discovered, Eleanor was moved away from coast and transferred between Gloucester
, Marlborough and Bristol Castle
. To prevent her from liberation, the princess was under strict custody and always closely guarded, even after child-bearing years. But on the other side, Henry also showed his generosity to his cousin. He styled Eleanor, who had been left no title, as "king's kinswoman" , referred her as "our cousin", and it was recorded that she lived as comfortably as a royal princess who received generous gifts from royal family. Henry himself once gave Eleanor a saddle, suggesting that she was probably a horsewoman, and was not always confined in her apartment. On another occasion, Henry sent her 50 yards of linen cloth, three wimples, 50 pounds of almonds and raisins respectively and a basket of figs. In November 1237 at Woodstock, Henry met a healthy Eleanor. Then the princess was again taken captive to Gloucester under the custody of William Talbot
, and the sheriff there paid for her expenses. In the final years of her life Eleanor was moved to Bristol, and Henry ordered the mayor and bailiff there to increase her household. The governor there exhibited her to the public annually, in case there might be rumors that the royal captive had been injured. The fact might suggest that English people were sympathetic to her.
On 10 August 1241 Eleanor died, and was buried at Amesbury
. In the Chronicle of Lanercost there was a legend saying that before her death, the remorseful Henry gave her a gold crown, which would be donated to his young son Edward
three days later. Another version of events stated that Eleanor returned the crown after wearing it for only one day. After his cousin, who actually never gave up her rights and claim, finally died an unmarried prisoner, Henry was now indisputably the rightful king of England, although years later he was still unwilling to admit that Eleanor had preceded him in English succession line.
In 1268 Henry donated a manor in Melksham
, a place that Eleanor had shown her interest in, to Amesbury for the souls of Eleanor and her younger-brother Arthur, who was captured along with his sister and disappeared mysteriously the next year, it being widely believed that John had him murdered.
Wars and rebellionsIn 1244, when the Scots threatened to invade England, King Henry III visited York Castle
and ordered it rebuilt in stone. The work commenced in 1245, and took some 20 to 25 years to complete. The builders crowned the existing moat with a stone keep, known as the King's Tower.
Henry's reign came to be marked by civil strife as the English barons, led by Simon de Montfort
, demanded more say in the running of the kingdom. French-born de Montfort had originally been one of the King's foreign counselors—a group much resented by the barons. Henry, in an outburst of anger over de Monfort's behaviour in a financial matter, accused de Montfort of seducing his sister and forcing him to give her to de Montfort to avoid a scandal. When confronted by the Barons about the secret marriage that Henry had allowed to happen, a feud developed between the two. Their relationship reached a crisis in the 1250s when de Montfort was brought up on spurious charges for actions he had taken as lieutenant of Gascony
, the last remaining Plantagenet land across the English Channel
. He was acquitted by the Peers of the realm
, much to the King's displeasure.
Henry also became embroiled in funding a war in Sicily
on behalf of the Pope
in return for a title for his second son Edmund. This situation led many of the barons to fear that Henry was following in his father's footsteps and therefore also needed to be kept in check. De Montfort became leader of those who wanted to reassert Magna Carta
and force the king to surrender more power to the baronial council. In 1258 seven leading barons forced Henry to agree to the Provisions of Oxford
, which effectively abolished the absolutist Anglo-Norman
monarchy, giving power to a council of fifteen barons to deal with the business of government and providing for a thrice-yearly meeting of parliament
to monitor their performance. Henry was forced to take part in the swearing of a collective oath to the Provisions of Oxford
In the following years those supporting de Montfort and those supporting the king grew more and more polarised. Henry obtained a papal bull in 1262 exempting him from his oath and both sides began to raise armies. The Royalists were led by Prince Edward
, Henry's eldest son. A civil war, known as the Second Barons' War
The charismatic de Montfort and his forces had captured most of southeastern England by 1263, and at the Battle of Lewes
on 14 May 1264, Henry was defeated and taken prisoner by de Montfort's army. While Henry was reduced to being a figurehead king, de Montfort broadened representation to include each county of England and many important towns—that is, to groups beyond the nobility. Henry and Edward remained under house arrest. The short period that followed was the closest England was to come to complete abolition of the monarchy
until the Commonwealth
period of 1649–60 and many of the barons who had initially supported de Montfort began to suspect that he had gone too far with his reforming zeal.
Fifteen months later Prince Edward had escaped captivity (having been freed by his cousin Roger Mortimer) and led the royalists into battle, turning the tables on de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham
in 1265. Following this victory, savage retribution was exacted on the rebels.
Though not seen as the most tyrannical of kings, unlike his son Prince Edward
, discontent was common during Henry's time and, though traditionally thought of as belonging to the time of King John, the earliest Robin Hood
sources and tales suggest that, if he existed at all, it was during Henry's reign.
DeathOn Henry's death in 1272 he was succeeded by his son Edward I
. His body was laid, temporarily, in the tomb of Edward the Confessor while his own sarcophagus was constructed in Westminster Abbey
Attitudes and beliefs during his reignAs Henry reached maturity he was keen to restore royal authority, looking towards the autocratic model of the French monarchy. Henry married Eleanor of Provence
and he promoted many of his French relatives to higher positions of power and wealth. For instance, one Poitevin
, Peter de Rivaux
, held the offices of Treasurer of the Household
, Keeper of the King's Wardrobe, Lord Privy Seal
, and the sheriff
doms of twenty-one English counties simultaneously. Henry's tendency to govern for long periods with no publicly-appointed ministers who could be held accountable for their actions and decisions did not make matters any easier. Many English barons came to see his method of governing as foreign.
Henry was much taken with the cult of the Anglo-Saxon saint king
Edward the Confessor
who had been canonised in 1161. After learning that St Edward dressed in an austere manner, Henry took to doing the same and wearing only the simplest of robe
s. He had a mural
of the saint painted in his bedchamber
for inspiration before and after sleep and even named his eldest son Edward. Henry designated Westminster
, where St Edward had founded the abbey, as the fixed seat of power in England and Westminster Hall duly became the greatest ceremonial space of the kingdom, where the council of nobles also met. Henry appointed French architects from Rheims
to renovate Westminster Abbey
in the Gothic
style. Work began, at great expense, in 1245. The centrepiece of Henry's renovated abbey was a shrine to Edward the Confessor. It was finished in 1269 and the saint's relics were then installed.
Henry was known for his anti-Jewish decrees, such as a decree compelling Jews to wear a special "badge of shame
" in the form of the Two Tablets. He exacted several tallage
s specifically from Jews to raise money for his campaigns.
Henry was pious and his journeys were often delayed by his insistence on hearing Mass
several times a day. He took so long to arrive for a visit to the French court that his brother-in-law, King Louis IX of France
, banned priests from Henry's route. On one occasion, as related by Roger of Wendover
, when King Henry met with papal prelates, he said, "If [the prelates] knew how much I, in my reverence of God, am afraid of them and how unwilling I am to offend them, they would trample on me as on an old and worn-out shoe."
CriticismsHenry's advancement of foreign favourite
s, notably his wife's Savoyard uncles and his own Lusignan
half-siblings, was unpopular with his subjects and barons. He was also extravagant and avaricious; when his first child, Prince Edward
, was born, Henry demanded that Londoners bring him rich gifts to celebrate. He even sent back gifts that did not please him. Matthew Paris
reports that some said, "God gave us this child, but the king sells him to us".
AppearanceAccording to Proulx et al., Henry was a thickset man of great stature who was often revered for his smooth skin. (His son, Edward I
suffered from a droopy eyelid.)
Marriage and childrenMarried on 14 January 1236, Canterbury Cathedral
, to Eleanor of Provence
, with at least five children born:
- Edward IEdward I of EnglandEdward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...
(b. 17 June 1239 – d. 7 July 1307)
- MargaretMargaret of EnglandMargaret of England was a medieval English princess who became Queen of Scots. A daughter of the Plantagenet king Henry III of England and his queen, Eleanor of Provence, she was Queen consort to Alexander III "the Glorious", King of the Scots.- Family :She was the second child of Henry III of...
(b. 29 September 1240 – d. 26 February 1275), married King Alexander III of ScotlandAlexander III of ScotlandAlexander III was King of Scots from 1249 to his death.-Life:...
- Beatrice of EnglandBeatrice of EnglandBeatrice of England , also known as Beatrice de Dreux, was a Princess of England as the daughter of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence...
(b. 25 June 1242 – d. 24 March 1275), married to John II, Duke of BrittanyJohn II, Duke of BrittanyJohn II was Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond, from 1286 to his death. He was son of Duke John I and Blanche of Navarre...
- Edmund Crouchback (16 January 1245 – d. 5 June 1296)
- Katherine (b. 25 November 1253 – d. 3 May 1257), deaf and mute from birth, though her deafness may not have been discovered until age 2.
There is reason to doubt the existence of several attributed children of Henry and Eleanor.
- Richard (b. after 1247 – d. before 1256),
- John (b. after 1250 – d. before 1256), and
- Henry (b. after 1253 – d. young)
are known only from a 14th century addition made to a manuscript of Flores Historiarum
, and are nowhere contemporaneously recorded.
- William (b. and d. ca. 1258) is an error for the nephew of Henry's half-brother, William de Valence, 1st Earl of PembrokeWilliam de Valence, 1st Earl of PembrokeWilliam de Valence, 1st Earl of Wexford and 1st Earl of Pembroke , born Guillaume de Lusignan or de Valence, was a French nobleman and Knight, who became important in English politics due to his relationship to Henry III...
Another daughter, Matilda, is found only in the Hayles Abbey chronicle, alongside such other fictitious children as a son named William for King John, and an illegitimate son named John for King Edward I
. Matilda's existence is doubtful, at best. For further details, see Margaret Howell, The Children of King Henry III and Eleanor of Provence (1992).
- His Royal Motto was qui non dat quod habet non accipit ille quod optat (He who does not give what he has, does not receive what he wants).
- His favourite wine was made with the Loire ValleyLoire ValleyThe Loire Valley , spanning , is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France. Its area comprises approximately . It is referred to as the Cradle of the French Language, and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards, and artichoke, asparagus, and...
red wine grape Pineau d'AunisPineau d'AunisPineau d'Aunis, also known as Chenin noir is a red wine grape variety that is grown primarily in the Loire Valley around Anjou and Touraine. A favorite of Henry Plantagenet, wine made from the grape was first exported to England in the thirteenth century. Today the grape is blended with the white...
which Henry first introduced to England in the thirteenth century.
- He built a Royal Palace in the town of CippenhamCippenhamCippenham is a suburb of the unitary authority of Slough in the county of Berkshire, England. It was transferred to Berkshire from Buckinghamshire in 1974.The name, Cippenham derives from the old English Cippan-ham, meaning Cippa's homestead....
, SloughSloughSlough is a borough and unitary authority within the ceremonial county of Royal Berkshire, England. The town straddles the A4 Bath Road and the Great Western Main Line, west of central London...
, BerkshireBerkshireBerkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...
named "Cippenham MoatCippenham MoatCippenham Moat refers to the remains of a 13th Century Royal Palace created by King Henry III, located in the Cippenham suburb of Slough, in Berkshire. The area where the Palace once stood is still referred to and marked on maps as Cippenham Moat....
- In 1266 Henry III of England granted the LübeckLübeckThe Hanseatic City of Lübeck is the second-largest city in Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany, and one of the major ports of Germany. It was for several centuries the "capital" of the Hanseatic League and, because of its Brick Gothic architectural heritage, is listed by UNESCO as a World...
and Hamburg Hansa a charter for operations in England, which contributed to the emergence of the Hanseatic LeagueHanseatic LeagueThe Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...
- In The Divine Comedy, Dante sees Henry ("the king of simple life") sitting outside the gates of PurgatoryPurgatoryPurgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven...
with other contemporary European rulers.
- Henry is a prominent character in Sharon Kay PenmanSharon Kay PenmanSharon Kay Penman is an American historical novelist, published in the UK as Sharon Penman. She is best known for the Welsh Princes trilogy and the Plantagenet series. In addition, she has written four medieval mysteries, the first of which, The Queen's Man, was a finalist in 1996 for the Best...
's historical novelHistorical novelAccording to Encyclopædia Britannica, a historical novel is-Development:An early example of historical prose fiction is Luó Guànzhōng's 14th century Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which covers one of the most important periods of Chinese history and left a lasting impact on Chinese culture.The...
Falls the Shadow; his portrayal is very close to most historical descriptions of him as weak and vacillating.
- Henry's Court is described in some detail in James BlishJames BlishJames Benjamin Blish was an American author of fantasy and science fiction. Blish also wrote literary criticism of science fiction using the pen-name William Atheling, Jr.-Biography:...
's historical novel concerning Roger BaconRoger BaconRoger Bacon, O.F.M. , also known as Doctor Mirabilis , was an English philosopher and Franciscan friar who placed considerable emphasis on the study of nature through empirical methods...
, Doctor Mirabilis. Critical events of Henry's reign are well described, including the dismissal of Peter des Roches (after a politically loaded riddle by Roger Bacon is answered by Henry), the ejection of Poitevins from England, the conflict with Hubert de Burgh, the marriage of Eleanor with Simon de MontfortSimon de MontfortSimon de Montfort or Simon de Montford may refer to:*Simon I de Montfort , French nobleman, an ancestor of the following...
, and finally the accession of Henry's son, Edward I after the battle of Evesham. The imprisonment of Eleanor is lightly dealt with, and the story of her crown is turned to the advantage of Bacon, who is said to have received the crown as a gift to secure funding for the publishing of his last great book, Liber de retardatione, concerning old age and its amelioration though the sciences.
- Henry has been portrayed on screen only rarely. As a child he has been portrayed by Dora Senior in the 1899 silent short King John (1899), a version of John's death scene from ShakespeareWilliam ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...
's King John, and by Rusty Livingstone in the 1984 BBC Television ShakespeareBBC Television ShakespeareThe BBC Television Shakespeare was a set of television adaptations of the plays of William Shakespeare, produced by the BBC between 1978 and 1985.-Origins:...
version of the play.