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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Henry III of England

Henry was born in Winchester Castle on October 1, 1207. He was the eldest son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême.

On October 19, 1216, King John died and the nine-year-old Henry III became King of England.
Henry III was not England’s youngest king. That title is held by Henry VI, who was eight months and 25 days old at the time of his accession.

A 13th-century depiction of Henry III's coronation

After Henry III became king, England was ruled by regents until he assumed formal control of his government in January 1227. Some contemporaries argued that he was legally still a minor until his 21st birthday the following year.

Henry was around 168 centimetres (5 ft 6 in) tall, and accounts recorded after his death suggested that he had a strong build, with a drooping eyelid.

In 1235 the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II sent Henry III three leopards to mark his wedding to Eleanor of Provence, the emperor's sister.


A lion was next to arrive, followed in 1252 by a polar bear (or 'white bear', as it is called in records) together with its keeper - both gifts from Haakon IV of Norway. The sheriffs of London provided twopence a day for the bear's upkeep and when this ran out, it was allowed to catch fish in the Thames.

In 1255, Louis IX of France gave Henry an African elephant, the first of its kind in the country. All these animals were all kept at a private zoo located at the Tower of London.

Contemporary chroniclers referred to Henry III as “simplex” probably because he had a saintly simplicity. He was easily moved to tears by religious sermons.

Henry's pious manner showed itself in his practice of feeding 100 paupers at court every day.

In 1247 Henry III prepared to receive a relic of the Holy Blood of Jesus sent from Jerusalem, by keeping vigil the night before its reception in London, fasting on bread and wine with many candles and solemn prayers.

Henry carrying the Relic of the Holy Blood to Westminster by Matthew Paris

Henry rebuilt Westminster Abbey to serve as a burial place and shrine for Edward the Confessor.

On May 14, 1264 King Henry III was defeated at the Battle of Lewes by the forces of his brother-in-law Simon de Montfort. The king was forced to sign the Mise of Lewes ceding many of his powers to Montfort, making  him the de facto ruler of England.

The following year Montfort was defeated in August at the Battle of Evesham and within two years the rebellion was extinguished.

When Henry III died on November 16, 1272, his body was buried in Westminster Abbey and his heart was buried at the abbey at Fontevrault, France.

Effigy of King Henry III in Westminster Abbey, 

He had ruled for 56 years, a reign unsurpassed in length by an English king until George III clocked up 59 years five centuries later.

Source Daily Express

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