Biography of Henry III - Archontology
Henry III

Henry III

b. 1 Oct 1207, Winchester, Hampshire
d. 16 Nov 1272, Westminster, Middlesex

Title: Dei Gracia Rex Anglie Dominus Hibernie, Dux Normannie (et) Aquitanie Comes Andegavie (By the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy, (and) Aquitaine, Count of Anjou) [28 Oct 1216 - 4 Dec 1259] [1]
  Dei Gracia Rex Anglie Dominus Hibernie et Dux Aquitanie (By the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine) [4 Dec 1259 - 16 Nov 1272] [2]
Term: 28 Oct 1216 - 16 Nov 1272
Chronology: 28 Oct 1216, crowned, St. Peter's Abbey, Gloucester
  17 May 1220, crowned, Westminster Abbey [3]
  4 Dec 1259, the Treaty of Paris went into effect: Henry III renounced his claims to Normandy, Anjou, Maine, Touraine, and Poitou (titles of Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou dropped from the royal style) [4; 12]
  16 Nov 1272, died
Henry was the eldest son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême. He was nine years old when his father died naming Henry his heir. Backed by the powerful English nobles, Henry was hastily crowned on 28 Oct 1216 and the government was entrusted to William Marshal earl of Pembroke (see a note on Henry's minority). The army of rebel barons led by Prince Louis (later King Louis VIII of France; see a note), who invaded England in May 1216, was defeated and the peace of Kingston (Lambeth) was concluded on 12 Sep 1217. The royal administration, first headed by William Marshal and then by the papal legate Pandulf and the justiciar Hubert de Burgh, strengthened the king's position. Feudalist rebellions of the earl of Albemarle (1221) and Falkes de Bréauté (1224), who challenged the royal authorities, were suppressed. Henry III was considered to reach his majority by early 1227 and went to his first military campaign against France [5] in May 1230 to reconquer Poitou and Brittany occupied by the French. The campaign on the continent ended in a fiasco, which finally led to the dismissal of Hubert de Burgh (29 Jul 1232). For the next two years Henry III ruled under the influence of two ambitious Poitevins: his former guardian, Peter des Roches bishop of Winchester, and Peter des Rivaux. After the fall of the Poitevins (April 1234) and Henry's marriage to Eleanor of Provence (14 Jan 1236) a considerable number of foreigners, mainly Provençals and Savoyards, came to England. The marriage (1238) between the king's sister, Eleanor, and the Frenchman, Simon de Montfort earl of Leicester, increased the foreign influence. Urged by the appeals of his mother and her second husband, Hugh X de Lusignan, Henry III again invaded Poitou [6] in 1242, but retreated in disgrace and on 7 Apr 1243 a five years' truce was signed. The English barons were infuriated with the king's costly military ventures and the invasion of aliens. As the kings of Castile renewed the old claim to Gascony, Henry went there in person (August 1253) [7] to suppress a revolt caused by the harsh measures taken by Simon de Montfort as seneschal of Gascony. In 1255 Henry concluded an agreement with Pope Alexander IV, offering to finance papal wars in Sicily if the Pope would grant his son, Edmund, the Sicilian crown. Unable to raise funds Henry faced a threat of excommunication for failing to meet this financial obligation. He appealed to the barons for funds, but an opposition party formed itself under the Earls of Gloucester, Leicester, Hereford, and Norfolk, agreed to cooperate only if the king would accept far-reaching reforms. The Provisions of Oxford, drawn up by a 24-man royal commission in June 1258, placed the government under the joint direction of the king and a 15-member baronial council. In 1259 Henry III visited Paris [8], where he concluded a treaty with King Louis IX of France. When the barons quarreled among themselves, Henry seized the opportunity to renounce the Provisions (14 Jun 1261) with the help of a papal bull. After a prolonged visit to France [9], Henry once again confirmed the Provisions (Jan 1263), and peace with the baronial faction seemed restored. In December, 1263, the two parties agreed to submit the question of the validity of the Provisions to the judgment of Louis IX, who repudiated them in the Mise of Amiens (23 Jan 1264). The barons' war broke out in April 1264. Henry and his eldest son, Prince Edward (later King Edward I), were defeated and captured at the Battle of Lewes (14 May 1264). Montfort ruled England in Henry's name until he was defeated and killed by Prince Edward at the Battle of Evesham (4 Aug 1265). On 7 Aug 1265 Henry III issued a proclamation announcing that he had resumed the personal exercise of the royal power, but he allowed Prince Edward to take charge of the government in his last years. [10; 11]

[1] After the Treaty of Paris went into effect, Henry III sent instructions (7 Dec 1259) to England to change the "intitulatio" of charters, etc., but his order was not carried out, and the old royal style continued to be used until Henry's return on 23 Apr 1260 and beyond. The last extant date of a document with the old style is dated 19 Jun 1260; the first with the new style is dated 28 Jun 1260. The Great Seal bearing the old style was destroyed on 18 Oct 1260.
[2] This style was already in use from May 1259 for ratification process of the Treaty of Paris.
[3] Pope Honorius III insisted on the second coronation of Henry as he considered that the first one was carried out not in full accordance with the church rites.
[4] The first ratification of the treaty was done on 20 May 1259 at Westminster, but a document of ratification was later cancelled. The treaty was ratified by Henry III on 13 Oct 1259 and by Louis IX "in October 1259" as dated on the original documents. The kings met on 3 Dec 1259 to clear up a small impediment to the going into effect of the treaty, which was "published" and went into effect on 4 Dec 1259.
[5] Chancellor Ralph Neville (chancellor) and Stephen Segrave (judge) were wardens of England during the king's absence (1 May 1230 - Oct 1230).
[6] Walter Gray Archbishop of York carried out administration (appointed custos 5 May 1242) during the king's absence (9 May 1242 - Sep 1243).
[7] Queen Eleanor of Provence was entrusted (2 Jul 1253) with administration of the kingdom during the king's absence (6 Aug 1253 - 27 Dec 1254). After she joined the king in May 1254, Henry's brother, Richard earl of Cornwall, supervised the state affairs.
[8] Justiciar Hugh Bigod carried out administration during the king's absence (14 Nov 1259 - 23 Apr 1260).
[9] Justiciar Philip Bassett carried out administration during the king's absence (Jul 1262 - Dec 1262).
[10] Handbook of British Chronology (1986)
[11] "The minority of Henry III", by D.A. Carpenter (University of California Press, Berkeley 1990).
[12] "The making of the Treaty of Paris (1259) and the Royal Style" by Pierre Chaplais in ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW, 67 (1952): 235-253.
  Image: Henry III's tomb in the Westminster Abbey.