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The war,

commanding spirit that his oppressions had raised, he had a kind of prescience of the fact, which is somewhat remarkable. Being one day, in the month of June, in his barge on the Thames, there came on so heavy a storm of rain, thunder, and lightning, that Henry impatiently caused himself to be set down at the nearest mansion, which happened to be Durham House, where the Earl of Leicester then

De Montfort came forth to meet him, and seeing the king's alarm, observed, “Sir, why are you afraid ? the ten pest is now past.” Henry, looking at the speaker with a troubled and lowering aspect, replied, “I fear thunder and lightning above measure ; but, by the head of God, I do more fear thee than all the thunder and lightning of the world.” The quiet dignity of the earl's reply was admirable :“My liege, it is injurious and incredible that you should stand in fear of me, who have always been loyal both to you and your realm, whereas you ought to fear your enemies, such as destroy the realm and abuse you with bad counsels." towards which all things had been long tending, at last broke out. In 1264 there met at Lewes two great armies, the one headed by the king, and his son Prince Edward, who had till recently supported the barons, the other by De Montfort, whose soldiers were directed to wear white crosses on their breasts and backs, to show they fought for justice. The result was a complete triumph for the popular party; the king was taken prisoner in the battle, and the prince yielded himself also to captivity the day after, as a hostage of peace. De Montfort's power was now supreme over England, and though there appears not the smallest proof that he ill-used it, some among his brother nobles grew jealous, especially the earl of Gloucester. By his contrivance Prince Edward escaped ; whose address and energy speedily raised once more a powerful royalist army. Seldom has a general been placed in a more difficult position. His own father was in De Montfort's hands—the feeling of the more enlightened of the people, those resident in the chief towns, was in favour of the “traitors”—above all, the bravest of England's chivalry were the men who had to be overthrown. Through all Edward's subsequent career, so brilliant in a military sense, there is no event that does more credit to his skill than the strategy by which he succeeded in placing himself between two bodies of the enemy, preventing them from joining each other, or simultaneously attacking him; and then confronting the chief adversary thus shorn of a considerable portion of his strength. There appeared, it seems,

In that black night before this sad and dismal day
Two apparitions strange, as dread heaven would bewray
The horrors to ensue: Oh most amazing sight!
Two armies in the air discerned were to fight,
Which came so near to earth, that in the morn they found
The prints of horses' feet remaining on the ground;
Which came but as a show, the time to entertain,

Till the angry armies joined to act the bloody scene. Such, according to the Warwickshire poet Drayton, and the old chroniclers, were the dire portents by which the great battle of Evesham was preceded. The scene of this sanguinary encounter has been thus described in ‘William Shakspere: a Biography,' from personal observation :

“ About two miles and a half from Evesham is an elevated point near the village of Twyford, where the Alcester Road is crossed by another track. The Avon is not more than a mile distant on either hand, for flowing from Offenham to Evesham, a distance of about three miles, it encircles that town, returning in nearly a parallel direction, about the same distance, to Charlbury. The great road, therefore, passing Alcester to Evesham, continues, after it passes Twyford, through a narrow tongue


of land bounded by the Avon, having considerable variety of elevation. Immediately below Twyford is a hollow now called Battlewell, crossing which the road ascends to the elevated platform of Greenhill.” Edward, early in the day on the 4th of August, 1265, appeared on the heights above Evesham. The young soldier at the head of the royalists, recently escaped from the custody of the veteran whom he is now to oppose, was the prince, burning to revenge his defeat and captivity, and to release his father the king. The great object of his maneuvres was to prevent a junction of the forces under Simon de Montfort and his eldest son. order to effect this it was necessary to keep the old earl on the right bank of the Severn, with which view he destroyed all the bridges and boats on that river, and gecured the fords. But the earl himself was not to be out-manæuvred by his clever young adversary—he managed to cross, and encamped at first near Worcester, hoping hourly that his son would join him. But Simon the younger, though he does not appear to have been deficient in patriotism or courage, was no match for a genius in war like Edward. He was surprised near Kenilworth by night, lost his horses and his treasure, and most of his knights, and was compelled to take refuge, almost naked, in the castle there, which was the principal residence of the De Montfort family. This, though as yet he knew it not, was a death-blow to the earl, who, still hoping and expecting with impatience to meet his son, marched on to Evesham. There he waited, but waited in vain. The day before the fatal 4th, no shadow of the truth clouding the confidence he felt in his son, he had solemn masses performed in the Abbey Church, and expressed himself well assured that his son would join him presently, and that Heaven would uphold his cause against a perjured prince. “The next morning he sent his barber Nicholas to the top of the abbey tower to look for the succour that was coming over the hills from Kenilworth. The barber came down with eager gladness, for he saw, a few miles off, the banner of young Simon de Montfort in advance of a mighty host. And again the earl sent the barber to the top of the abbey tower, when the man hastily descended in fear and horror, for the banner of young De Montfort was no more to be seen, but, coming nearer and nearer, were seen the standards of Prince Edward, and of Mortimer, and of Gloucester."

The danger attending the junction of such powerful personages, the grief and disappointment at the evident discomfiture of his son—fifteen of whose standards were presently raised in exulting mockery in front of the Royalist forces on the Evesham heights, and apprehension for that son's fate, must have altogether sorely tried the earl, who had the further bitterness of reflecting that Gloucester and his powerful father had been with him at the head of the barons, and had deserted him merely out of jealousy of his superior popularity. His greatest friend and counsellor was now armed to crush him. Under all these painful feelings, and seeing not only on the heights before him, but also on either side and in his rear, the heads of columns gradually blocking up every road, he exclaimed at once in despair and admiration, “ They have learned from me the art of war.” And then, instantly comprehending all that must follow, he is said to have exclaimed, according to one writer, “God have our souls all, our days are all done ;” and according to another writer, “Our souls God have, for our bodies be theirs.” But, had retreat been allowed him, he was not the man to avail himself of it. Having marshalled his men in the best manner, he spent a short time in prayer, and took the sacrament, as was his wont, before going into battle. Having failed in an attempt to force the road to Kenilworth, he marched out of Evesham at noon to meet the prince on the summit of the hill, having in the midst of his troops the old King Henry, his prisoner, encased in armour which concealed his features, and mounted on a warhorse. As the battle grew more and more desperate, the earl made his last stand


in a solid circle on the summit of the hill, and several times repulsed the charges of his foes, whose numbers, as compared with his own, were overwhelming. Gradually the royalists closed around him, attacking at all points. There was but little room, so the slaughter was confined to a small space, and it is fearful to picture to one's self the slow but sure progress of the work of death during that long summer afternoon and evening. Every man, valiant as a lion, resolved neither to give nor take quarter. In one of the charges the imbecile Henry was dismounted and in danger of being slain ; but he cried out “ Hold your hand ! I am Harry of Winchester," which reaching the ears of the prince, he fought his way to his rescue, and succeeded in carrying him out of the mêlée. At length the barons' forces, wearied by the nature of the ground, which compelled them to be the assailants, and worn out by the determined resistance of the royalists, wavered in their attacks. At the going down of the sun, which they were never more to see setting in that western sky, Leicester himself, with his son Henry, and a handful of friends and retainers, were struggling on foot against a host of foes, who were animated by the exhilarating consciousness that the victory was theirs. And now the scene began to close. The earl's horse was killed under him, but De Montfort rose unhurt from the fall, and fought bravely on foot. Hope, however, there was none. It is said, that feeling for the brave youth who fought by his side, his son Henry, and for the few bravest and best of his friends that were left of all his followers, he stooped his great heart to ask the royalists if they gave quarter. “We have no quarter for traitors,” was the merciless answer, on which the doomed veteran again exclaimed, " God have mercy upon our souls, our bodies must perish !" and rushed amid his foes with resolute despair. At last he saw his gallant son Henry fall, his noble adherents were then cut to pieces, and, finally, the veteran chief himself dropped, his sword still in his hand. The prophecy was verified which had been uttered twelve years before by the dying lips of the far-seeing Bishop of Lincoln, Robert Grosteste, whose views of the national abuses were as strong as De Montfort's. “Oh, my dear son,” cried the venerable old man, laying his hands on the head of De Montfort's son Henry, "you and your father will die on one day, and by the same kind of death, but in the cause of truth and justice."

The remnant of the defeated army was pursued to Offenham, a mile and a half from Evesham, where the slaughter was very great, the bridge having been, probably, cut away by the prince's troops to prevent their retreat. The reservoir now called Battlewell is supposed to have been so choked with dead bodies, as to have remained long useless to the neighbouring peasantry, but this seems questionable. The bloody contest lasted from two in the afternoon till nine at night. No prisoners were taken ; of one hundred and eighty barons and knights of De Montfort's party, there was not one knowingly left alive ; although some ten or twelve of the knights, who were afterwards found to breathe when the dead were examined, were permitted to live if they could. A more savage, inhuman carnage never disgraced England ; or one that inflicted more widely diffused and permanent sentiments of distress and horror. These sentiments have found undying record in a ballad written at the time in the Anglo-Norman French, which has been thus translated by Mr. George Ellis :

In song my grief shall find relief;

Sad is my verse and rude ;
I sing in tears our gentle peers

Who fell for England's good.
Our peace they sought, for us they fought,

For us they dared to die;
And where they sleep, a mangled heap

Their wounds for vengeance cry.

On Evesham's plain is Montfort slain,

Well skill'd he was to guide;
Where streams his gore shall all deplore :

Fair England's flower and pride.

Ere Tuesday's sun its course had run

Our noblest chiefs had bled :
While rush'd to fight each gallant knight,

Their dastard vassals fled ;
Still undismay'd, with trenchant blade

They hew'd their desperate way:
Not strength or skill to Edward's will,
But numbers give the day.

On Evesham's plain, &c.

Yet by the blow that laid thee low,

Brave earl, one palm is given;
Not less at thine than Becket's shrine

Shall rise our vows to heaven!
Our church and laws, your common cause :

'Twas his the church to save , Our rights restored, thou, generous lord, Shalt triumph in thy grave.

On Evesham's plain, &c.

Despenser true, the good Sir Hugh,

Our justice and our friend, Borne down with wrong, amidst the throng

Has met his wretched end.
Sir Henry's fate need I relate.

Or Leicester's gallant sols
Or many a score of barons more,
By Gloucester's hate undone ?

On Evesham's plain, &c.

Each righteous lord, who bravd the sword,

And for our safety died,
With conscience pure shall aye endure

The martyr'd saint beside.
That martyr'd saint was never faint

To ease the poor man's care:
With gracious will he shall fulfil
Our just and earnest prayer.

On Evesham's plain, &c.

On Montfort's breast a haircloth vest

His pious soul proclaim'd;
With ruffian hand the ruthless band

That sacred emblem stain'd :
And to assuage their impious rage,

His lifeless corse defaced, Whose powerful arm long saved from harm The realm his virtues graced,

On Evesham's plain, &c.

Now all draw near, companions dear,

To Jesus let us pray That Montfort's heir his grace may share,

And learn to Heaven the way.

No priest I name; none, none I blame,

Nor aught of ill surmise :
Yet for the love of Christ above
pray, be churchmen wise.

On Evesham's plain, &c.

No good, I ween, of late is seen

By earl or baron done ;
Nor knight or squire to fame aspire,

Or dare disgrace to shun.
Faith, truth, are fled, and their stead

Do vice and meanness rule;
E'en on the throne may soon be shown
A flatterer or a fool.

On Evesham's plain, &c.

Brave martyrd chief! no more our grief

For thee or thine shall flow!
Among the blest in Heaven ye rest

From all your toils below.
But for the few, the gallant crew,

Who here in bonds remain,*
Christ condescend their woes to end,
And break the tyrant's chain.

On Evesham's piain, &c.

It was a striking evidence of the indestructibility of the principles for which De Montfort had fought and perished, that even in the hour of full success the king did not dare to revoke the Great Charter ; and when he and a parliament held at Winchester passed severe sentences against the family and adherents of De Montfort, he provoked a new resistance, which occupied Prince Edward two years to put down. Kenilworth Castle especially resisted all efforts of the besiegers ; and at last it became necessary to offer reasonable terms. The “Dictum de Kenilworth" was consequently enacted, and gradually all parties submitted. And thus ended the last armed struggle in England for Magna Charta.

The few knights above mentioned who were found still alive among the bodies of the slain.

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