Battle of Lewes

Battle of Lewes

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Lewes
partof=Second Barons' War

caption=Plan of the Battle of Lewes
date=May 14, 1264
place=Lewes, Sussex
result=Baronial victory
combatant1=Baronial forces
combatant2=Royal forces
commander1=Simon de Montfort
Gilbert de Clare
commander2=Henry III
Prince Edward
Richard of Cornwall
strength1=c. 10,000
strength2=c. 5.000

The Battle of Lewes was one of two main battles of the conflict known as the Second Barons' War. It took place at Lewes in Sussex, on May 14, 1264. It marked the high point of the career of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, and made him the "uncrowned King of England".

The battle occurred because of the vacillation of King Henry III, who was refusing to honour the terms of the Provisions of Oxford, an agreement he had signed with his barons, led by Montfort, in 1258. The King was encamped at St. Pancras Priory with a force of infantry, but his son, Prince Edward (later King Edward I) commanded the cavalry, at Lewes Castle a mile to the north. A night march enabled Montfort's forces to surprise Prince Edward and take the high ground of the Sussex Downs, overlooking the town of Lewes, in preparation for battle. They wore white crosses as their distinguishing emblem. [Maddicott, p. 271.]

The royalist army, perhaps as much as twice the size of Montfort's, [Burne, p. 146.] was led by Edward on the right and the King's brother Richard of Cornwall on the left, while the King himself commanded the central battalion. [Prestwich, p. 45.] Having led his men out from the castle to meet the enemy, Edward gained early success, but unwisely pursued a retreating force to the north, thus sacrificing the chance of overall victory. [Prestwich, p. 45-6.] Meanwhile, Montfort defeated the remainder of the royal army led by the King and Cornwall. All three royals were eventually captured, and by imprisoning the King, Montfort became the de facto ruler of England.

The King was forced to sign the so-called Mise of Lewes. [A mise is a form of settlement.] Though the document has not survived, it is clear that Henry was forced to accept the Provisions of Oxford, while Prince Edward remained hostage to the barons. [Maddicott, p. 272-3; Prestwich, p. 46.] This put Montfort in a position of ultimate power, which would last until Prince Edward's escape, and Montfort's subsequent defeat at the Battle of Evesham in August 1265.



* Burne, A. H. (1950, reprint 2002) "The Battlefields of England" London: Penguin ISBN 0141390778
*Prestwich, Michael (1988) "Edward I", London: Methuen London ISBN 0413281507
*Maddicott, J. R. (1994) "Simon de Montfort", Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521374936
*Carpenter, D. A. (1996) "The reign of Henry III", London: Hambledon ISBN 1852850701

External links

* [ A map and timeline] of the battle

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