Montfort: The Founder of Parliament, The Viceroy, 1243 to 1253 (Vol. II)

Written by Katherine Ashe
Review by Debra Spidal

In Volume II of Montfort: The Founder of Parliament, Ashe continues her story of Simon de Montfort. This work covers the period during which Montfort served as viceroy to King Henry in Gascony. Montfort desired only to join King Louis of France on crusade to retake Palestine. Instead, Henry sends him to secure the Gascon duchy. As viceroy, Montfort acts for the King but may have treated the Gascon lords too harshly. Henry is inconsistent in his support and sides with the Queen’s Gascon cousins against Montfort. Torn between his desire to serve his King and his desire to join Louis in Palestine, Montfort must navigate the treachery of court intrigue. After a brief time in France as regent, Montfort is again recalled by Henry to join him in Gascony and put down the rebellious Gascon lords once and for all.

Throughout this volume, we are reminded of the discontent between the English lords and the King. Many barons and clergy are growing tired of the King’s “tyranny” and his favoritism of his French relatives. This installment ends with Henry restoring Montfort’s title as Steward of England and the engagement of Prince Edward to Princess Eleanor of Castile.

Ashe provides historical context for her story in the form of detailed notes, giving both primary and secondary sources. She has chosen to explain Henry’s erratic behavior as a reaction to the possibility that Montfort was the father of Prince Edward. While it’s perhaps too radical an interpretation for some readers, this is after all a work of fiction. Ashe has brought Montfort and his times to life in a thoroughly enjoyable and knowledgeable manner. Strongly recommended.  (Also avail. as e-book at $9.99)