Simon de Montfort’s 1265 Parliament

750 years ago something unique happened, Simon de Montfort (acting in King Henry III’s name, the King was his captive at the time) called a parliament. For the first time (other than for taxation purposes), he summoned what has come to be called “The Commons” citizens (not knights) of the towns and cities of England.

A Close Roll (TNA ref C 54/82) records the various writs sent out to summon people to the 1265 parliament

A Close Roll (TNA ref C 54/82) records the various writs sent out to summon people to the 1265 parliament


Tuesday 20 January marks the 750th anniversary of the beginning of a crucial parliament in the history of government – one that marks an important change in the extent to which people outside the aristocratic classes were involved in politics.

The parliament was instigated by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, the leader of the baronial rebellion against King Henry III. Simon had defeated Henry III and his forces in battle at Lewes in May 1264, and as a result was in charge of the government – though he was still ruling in the name of the king, who was his captive. But even in these circumstances Simon’s grip on power was far from complete: many powerful nobles were hostile to him, royal officials still controlled many key castles and Henry’s loyal and dynamic queen, Eleanor of Provence, was a few miles across the sea in France.


The roll shows that writs were addressed to the sheriffs (who were the key royal officials in each county) that they should send ‘two of the more law-worthy, honest and prudent knights from each of the counties’ and to the ‘citizens of York, Lincoln and other boroughs of England that they should send… two of their most prudent, law-worthy and honest fellow citizens or burgesses’. Other summonses were sent to nobles loyal to Simon, to churchmen, and to the Cinque Ports (five Channel ports that had special privileges and responsibilities).

Simon de Montfort’s 1265 Parliament | History of government.

I’m doing a course from the University of London on the Magna Charta this winter (and yes, it’s fascinating) which was only 50 years old at the time of Montfort’s innovation. Both mark significant events on the road to the freedom we enjoy today.


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2 Responses to Simon de Montfort’s 1265 Parliament

  1. the unit says:

    Will be reading what else according to this history course you learn. As for now John McCain and Lindsey Graham have not summonsed this noble (patriot) for comment. I the… I, I, I, Me, Me, Me as to noble patriot. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      When Churchill wrote his “History of the English Speaking People” one reviewer said it should have been entitled “Things in History that Interest Me”. This is like that too. stuff that catches my eye, and I find interesting, there’ll be more, I’d bet. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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