Page last updated at 10:14 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Battle of Evesham: the timeline

Early morning

Simon de Montfort finds himself in Evesham, his escape blocked by a large Royal army.

Simon De Montfort was on his way north to join forces with his son at Kenilworth, taking his captive, King Henry III, with him.

Map of the Battle of Evesham
Simon de Montfort's troops saw the Royal standards from a church tower.

Prince Edward (later Edward I), who'd also been a captive of de Montfort, but had escaped, intercepted him at Evesham.

At dawn, lookouts for de Montfort's army, in the tower of Evesham Abbey, reported that the Royal army was at Green Hill, just outside the town.

De Montfort's army found itself in a loop of the River Avon, with Edward's forces holding the high ground, and blocking off the only available bridge.

Despite being outnumbered by at least two to one, de Montfort decided to fight his way out, perhaps confident, because he'd already beaten a Royal army at the Battle of Lewes.

His troops left Evesham at about 8am, just as a violent thunderstorm broke.

This meant they were attacking uphill, in the wet, against superior forces.

An uphill struggle

Simon de Montfort attempts to fight his way out of Evesham, against a much bigger Royal army.

De Montfort, at the head of his cavalry, decided to attack the royal centre, and at first managed to drive this back.

Map of the Battle of Evesham
Simon de Montfort's troops attacked uphill after a thunderstorm

Unfortunately for him, his Welsh troops, who were loyal to Llywelyn the Last, deserted him, and de Montfort soon found himself surrounded by the larger Royal army.

The battle then became a rout - de Montfort's son Henry was killed, and then de Montfort himself was unhorsed, and killed, probably by a foot soldier.

His body was savagely mutilated - indeed, the Royal troops seemed determined to avenge the earlier defeat at Lewes, and showed no mercy.

They pursued and killed many of de Montfort's troops in the river, in the town, and even in the grounds of Evesham Abbey.

King Henry II himself was lucky to escape the massacre, especially as he'd been dressed in rebel colours - probably by Simon, thinking of a bit of post-mortem revenge if he lost the battle. Henry was saved from death by Robert de Leyburn, a former rebel.

Map of the Battle of Evesham
de Montfort's troops were surrounded and slaughtered.

No such luck for Simon de Montfort, who was beheaded, and had other parts of his anatomy cut off, and sent to various Lords around the country, presumably as a warning against future rebellions.

His head was displayed on London Bridge until it rotted.

As an act of charity, the clerks of Evesham Abbey gathered up what was left of his body and buried it under the altar.

The King felt considerably less charitable towards the man who'd held him captive, and ordered that de Montfort's body couldn't be buried on holy ground.

So he is buried under a tree in the grounds - where there is a small memorial to a man who almost changed the course of English history.

Battle of Evesham - who was who
18 Nov 09 |  History


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