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HENRY III, King of England

HUSBAND:
HENRY III, King of England. [CHART A1].
Born on 1 October 1207 at Winchester Castle; son of JOHN I, Lackland and Isabella de Angouleme.

Following John’s death in 1216, Henry, aged nine, was hastily crowned in Gloucester as the barons, who had been supporting an invasion by Prince Louis of France in order to depose John, quickly saw that the young prince was a safer option. Henry's regents immediately declared their intention to rule by Magna Carta, which they proceeded to do during Henry’s minority. The Magna Carta was reissued in 1217 as a sign of goodwill to the barons and the country was ruled by regents until 1227.

According to Nicholas Trevet, Henry was a thickset man of medium height with a narrow forehead and a drooping left eyelid (inherited by his son, Edward I).

When Henry reached maturity, he was keen to restore royal authority, looking towards the autocratic model of the French monarchy. Henry married Eleanor of Provence [F49330337] on 14 January 1236 in Cantebury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent.

He promoted many of his French relatives to power and wealth. For instance, one Poitevin, Peter des Riveaux, held the offices of Treasurer of the Household, Keeper of the King's Wardrobe, Keeper of the Privy Seal, and the sheriffdoms 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 himself, on the other hand, was much taken with the cult of the Anglo-Saxon saint king Edward the Confessor who had been canonised in 1161. Told that St Edward dressed austerely, Henry took to doing the same and wearing only the simplest of robes. He had a mural of the saint painted in his bedchamber for inspiration before and after sleep and, of course, he named his eldest son after 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 the renovation of Westminster Abbey in Gothic style. Work began, at great expense, in 1245. The centrepiece of Henry's renovated Westminster Abbey was to be a shrine to the confessor king, Edward.

Henry was extremely pious and his journeys were often delayed by his insistence on hearing Mass several times a day. He took so long to arrive on 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."

Henry's advancement of foreign favourites, 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."

Henry's reign came to be marked by civil strife as the English barons, led by de Montfort, demanded more say in the running of the kingdom. French-born Simon de Montfort had originally been one of the foreign upstarts so loathed by many as Henry's foreign councillors; after he married Henry’s sister Eleanor, without consulting Henry, 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 took 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, a state of affairs that made many barons fearful that Henry was following in the footsteps of his father, King John, and needed to be kept in check too. 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 three-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 under Edward Longshanks, Henry's eldest son. Civil War, known as the Second Barons' War, followed.

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 continued 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 1649–1660 and many of the barons who had initially supported de Montfort began to suspect that he had gone too far with his reforming zeal.

But only fifteen months later Edward Longshanks had escaped captivity to lead the royalists into battle again and he turned the tables on de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. Following this victory savage retribution was exacted on the rebels.

Henry's shrine to Edward the Confessor was finally finished in 1269 and the saint's relics were installed. He died on 16 November 1272, and his body was lain temporarily in the tomb of the Confessor while his own sarcophagus was constructed in Westminster Abbey.

Henry was succeeded by his son, Edward I of England.

WIFE:
Alianore de Provence. (Eleanor).
Born probably about 1223 in Aix-en-Provence; daughter of RAMON Berengar IV, Count of Provence and Beatrice of Savoy. Matthew Paris describes her as being "jamque duodennem" (presently twelve) when she arrived in the Kingdom of England for her marriage. Eleanor was renowned for her beauty. Eleanor was married to Henry III, King of England (1207-1272) on 14 January 1236. She had never seen him prior to the wedding at Canterbury Cathedral. Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury, officiated. Eleanor and Henry had five children.

Eleanor seems to have been especially devoted to her eldest son, Edward; when he was deathly ill in 1246, she stayed with him at the abbey at Beaulieu for three weeks, long past the time allowed by monastic rules. It was due to her influence that King Henry granted the duchy of Gascony to Edward in 1249. Her youngest child, Katharine, seems to have had a degenerative disease that rendered her mute. When she died aged four, both her royal parents suffered overwhelming grief.

She was a confident consort to Henry, but she brought in her retinue a large number of cousins, "the Savoyards," and her influence with the King and her unpopularity with the English barons created friction during Henry's reign. Eleanor was devoted to her husband's cause, stoutly contested Simon de Montfort, raising troops in France for Henry's cause. On July 13, 1263, she was sailing down the Thames on a barge when her barge was attacked by citizens of London. In fear for her life, Eleanor was rescued by Thomas FitzThomas, the mayor of London, and took refuge at the bishop of London's home.

In 1272 Henry died, and her son Edward, 33 years old, became Edward I, King of England. She stayed on in England as Dowager Queen, and raised several of her grandchildren -- Edward's son Henry and daughter Eleanor, and Beatrice's son John. When her grandson Henry died in her care in 1274, Eleanor mourned him and his heart was buried at the priory at Guildford she founded in his memory. Eleanor retired to a convent but remained in touch with her son and her sister, Marguerite.

Eleanor died (in 1291-S4)(1298-S2)(on 25 June 1291) in Amesbury, England.

CHILDREN of HENRY III and Eleanor of Provence:
  1. EDWARD I, King of England. Born in 1239. He died in 1307.
  2. Margaret. Born in 1240. She married King Alexander III of Scotland. She died in 1275.
  3. Beatrice of England. Born in 1242. She married John II, Duke of Brittany. She died in 1275.
  4. EDMUND Crouchback. (Edmund Plantagenet). Born in 1244-1245. He married Blanche de Artois. He died in 1296.
  5. Katharine. Born in 1253. She died in 1257.
  6. NOTE: Other children are attributed to Henry III, but their existence is doubtful. Of several attributed children of Henry and Eleanor, Richard, John, and Henry are known only from a 14th century addition made to a manuscript of Flores historiarum, and are nowhere contemporaneously recorded. William is an error for the nephew of Henry's half-brother, William de Valence. 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 a bastard son named John for King Edward I. Matilda's existence is doubtful, at best.


SOURCES:

HOW ARE WE RELATED:
Henry III, King of England (1207-1272) and Eleanor of Provence (c1223-1298)
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Edward I, King of England  (1239-1307)     Edmund, Crouchback (1244-1296)  
and Eleanor of Castile                                                and Blanche de Artois   
                                                                                     (see separately)         

    ___|________________________________________________________________
    |                                                             |                                                                                  |
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  and Isabella of France             and Gilbert de Clare                                         and Humphrey de Bohun
                                                       (see separately)                                                 (see separately)

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