Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book Review: J.R.Maddicott's 'Simon De Montfort'

For any student of what many term the Second Barons' War, J R Maddicott's Simon De Montfort (Cambridge University Press 1994)  is one of the two cornerstone works together with David Carpenter's The Battles of Lewes and Evesham 1264/65. This is the cover of the second print (1995), the illustrations for which are taken from those drawn by the chronicler Matthew Paris for Prince  Edward and Eleanor, interpreted as depicting an apolcalyptic scene with de Montofort's banner in sinister tinctures of reversed shades. The arms depicted atop are also of de Montfort by Paris being the reverse of those more typically cited and used by me for the standard of his son, Henry de Montfort.

Whilst not specifically about the campaigns of 1264/5, Maddicott's work is irrevocably concerned with the events surrounding Lewes with much highly pertinent information to be found in chapters 6, 7 and 8 which concern themselves with the decline of the reform movement, the return of the general and the kingdom of Simon de Montfort up to his final defeat and demise at Evesham.

Meticulously researched, there is a wealth of detailed information including reference to those key Montfortian rebels requiring identification for my reconstructive purposes. It is also a fascinating read and whilst academic in nature, it rarely bogs down into argument with preceding scholarship and remains readable throughout. This is a book for the student and historian, the curious and of all things the wargamer also. I argue that anyone attempting to immerse themselves in the Second Barons' War must start with a detailed understanding of de Montofort who is the epicentre of the revolt and key to understanding Lewes - the climax of his life. In my view, this book remains the best insight into this man.

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