Responses to the Provisions of Oxford

The Provisions of Oxford set out a series of changes in the way England was governed. As a consequence of the Provisions, Henry III effectively lost power over the government to the council of fifteen, one of which was Simon de Montfort.

How were the Provisions of Oxford Received?

By 1261, the king had regained power and had the Provisions of Oxford condemned by the Pope. He had regained power by exploiting divisions in the reforming group of earls. Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester had become less enthusiastic about the damage local reform could do to his own vast local interests. Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, however, remained resolutely in favour of the Provisions of Oxford. He had, along with the other barons and the king, Montfort argued, sworn a solemn oath to uphold the Provisions and would not renounce them. In this stance, he became isolated and withdrew to France. By 1263, other barons had become disaffected with the king and called Montfort back to England.

On Montfort’s return, he gathered a military force together and began attacking the estates of prominent royalists. The king and Simon de Montfort agreed to refer their disagreement over the Provisions of Oxford to King Louis IX (St Louis) of France. In January 1264, King Louis, having heard the cases of both sides, quashed the Provisions of Oxford completely, perhaps having realised the revolutionary implications they could have for all monarchs.

Simon de Montfort and his allies refused to accept King Louis’s judgement and a civil war began. In May 1264, Simon de Montfort’s army captured King Henry III, his brother, Richard, earl of Cornwall, and the king’s son, Edward. With the king captive, Montfort set about ruling himself, but in the king’s name. He re-imposed the Provisions of Oxford but with most of the major barons now on the king’s side, the Council of Fifteen could no longer function. Instead, Montfort introduced a much more authoritarian constitutional arrangement whereby he together with two of his closest allies would appoint a Council of Nine, which was made up mainly of Montfort’s friends and dependents.

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@Parliament750 is a new twitter account led by the Parliamentary Archives. The feed will run throughout 2015 to commemorate the 750th anniversary of Simon de Montfort's parliament.

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