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BATTLE OF LEWES

 (14th May 1264)

The dispute was between the rebel Barons, under Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, and the king's side. Simon stated he had no quarrel with the king personally, but that he was in "bad company" with certain Barons and Earls. There had been no war for about fifty years, so the respective armies were not seasoned soldiers.

On the king's side (and described elsewhere), included:

King Henry III and his son Prince Edward (later to become King Edward I).

John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey, who was married to the king's half-sister Alica.

John FitzAlan, 9th Earl of Arundel.

Those on the Baronial side (and described elsewhere), included:

Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Gloucester & Hertford. He commanded the centre of the Baron's army. Gilbert took King Henry III prisoner, having hamstrung his horse. As Prince Edward (the future King Edward I) had also been taken, Gilbert and Montfort were now supreme.

Sir Fulk IV de Warin, who was drowned in the River Ouse when endeavouring to escape after the battle.

Sir Henry de Hastings, who was one of the leaders of the Baronial army, immediately before which he was Knighted by Simon de Montfort.

John Giffard (later created1st Lord Giffard), who was the only notable Baronial knight to be taken prisoner. He surrendered early in the day and was held in Lewes Castle. But before this he had received the surrender of Sir Reginald FitzPiers and Sir Alan de la Zouche. However both these knights were found free a few hours later, with FitzPiers again fighting, and Zouche hiding in Lewes Priory dressed as a monk. It was therefore suspected that Giffard's real allegiance was with his king.

THE MISE OF LEWES

Shortly after losing the battle, King Henry III set his seal to the Mise of Lewes, dictated by Simon de Montfort, which laid the basis for the first Representative Parliament in 1265, the first House of Commons. There is a modern monument on the site of Lewes Priory, commemorating this important event for English democracy. Around the rim on one side, depicting battle scenes, is inscribed:

NOW  ENGLISHMEN  READ  ABOUT  THIS  BATTLE  FOUGHT  AT  LEWES'  WALLS. BECAUSE  OF  THIS  YOU  ARE  ALIVE AND  SAFE.   REJOICE  THEN  IN  GOD

Mise of Lewes monument
(18 March 2005)