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The Battle that was Fought in a Storm

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Western regions of the UK and Ireland brace themselves for a battering as the Met Office issued warnings of 80mph winds and heavy rain that could cause flooding in some areas.

The advice is to stay indoors during the storm, which is something those who took part in The Battle of Evesham wished they'd been given.

The Battle of Evesham happened on August 4th, 1265, during England’s Second Baron’s War and resulted in the defeat of Simon de Montfort's army by the royal forces under the command of Prince Edward (later King Edward I).

The battle began around 8am as a severe thunderstorm struck the area. The battle was a massacre with Simon de Montfort's body severely mutiliated….his head, hands, feet, and testicles cut off. That certainly puts having to pick your wheelie bin up in to perspective.

Montfort and his allies rebelled against what they saw as poor government and excessive spending on foreign wars by Henry III. Initial success at the Battle of Lewes gave Montfort practical control of the government, and he instituted reforms which eventually led to the English Parliamentary system of government by representation.

However, Montfort was undone by his bickering allies.

Prince Edward (who had been captured previously) escaped from captivity to raise the royal standard on the Welsh Marches.

Montfort, carting along the King, marched north, intending to join forces with his son at Kenilworth, near Warwick. Prince Edward got there first, routed the younger Montfort, and surprised Simon at Evesham.

In a story which is likely apocryphal, Montfort, realising that his army was trapped in a loop of the Avon (avon meaning river) by a superior force, said to his aides, "Let us commend our souls to God, because our bodies are theirs".

He was right.

Montfort's already slim chances of breaking through the royal lines were made even more remote when his Welsh allies deserted before the battle was joined. This left him facing an enemy with perhaps four times the number of his own troops.

Montfort's men charged uphill against the royal lines, but they never stood a chance. Edward's wings pivoted and converged on Montfort's flanks, and the fight quickly became a massacre.

Even the fleeing Welsh were cut down or drowned in the river. No quarter was given to the rebels, and the carnage would've been terrible.

Montfort's body was badly mutilated and dispersed to different parts of the kingdom. His torso, at least, was sent to Evesham Abbey, where his tomb became a popular pilgrimage centre.

Evesham marked the end of the so-called Baron's War. A few futile skirmishes followed, but the result was a foregone conclusion. Henry III was restored to power and the remaining sons of Montfort eventually fled the country. Prince Edward also proved himself an able and talented military leader, a fact which his later career in Wales and Scotland certainly bears out.

So no matter what the damage of personal property over the next few days, at least we won't be hacked to pieces by an angry prince... Or at least, that is the hope.

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