De Montfort Crusaders and Revolutionaries of the Thirteenth Century written By Darren Baker and published by Pen & Sword Books – £25.00 – Hardback – Pages 258

One of the families that dominated the thirteenth century were the de Montforts. They arose in France, in a hamlet close to Paris, and grew to prominence under the crusading fervour of that time, taking them from leadership in the Albigensian wars to lordships around the Mediterranean. They married into the English aristocracy, joined the crusade to the Holy Land, then another crusade in the south of France against the Cathars. The controversial stewardship of Simon de Montfort (V) in that conflict is explored in depth. It is his son Simon de Montfort (VI) who is perhaps best known. His rebellion against Henry III of England ultimately established the first parliamentary state in Europe. The decline of the family began with Simon’s defeat and death at Evesham in 1265. Initially, they revived their fortunes under the new king of Sicily, but they scandalised Europe with a vengeful political murder. By this time it was the twilight of the crusades era and the remaining de Montforts either perished or were expelled. Eleanor de Montfort, the last Princess of Wales, died in childbirth and her daughter was raised as a nun.

A fantastic book about the De Montfort family and the rebellion against the monarch Henry III and the eventual decline of the family standing and power. There has been some good deep research put into this book that stands out and covers not just the rebellion against Henry III but also includes great detail about English and French history of that particular time considering this was a time when the countries were going through the period of the Crusades. Whilst this particular part of history isn’t my specialist subject, from what I have read this is a great book and really emphasises the conflict and growth of the family and supporters. An excellent book written by Darren Baker, very well researched and written. A very good book, certainly recommended.