2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

The Return of the King?:
Politics and Kingship in England in the Mid-Thirteenth Century

Hui Liu

Department of History, National Taiwan University

This article focuses on the activities of King Henry III of England (r. 1216-1258) during his stay in France from November 1259 to April 1260. The importance of the baronial movement from 1258 to 1267 for English constitutional development has long been recognized. In this article, the actions of Henry and the baronial council in England are analyzed in order to show what kingship meant to the king and to the barons. Over the months he stayed in France, Henry’s attitude changed from delight in being free from conciliar control, to defiance towards the council, and then to an impressive hauteur when defending his traditional, kingly rights to presentation during an episcopal vacancy. Meanwhile, whilst jealously guarding their control over all branches of government and over the king’s patronage, the barons had to depend on the king for quite a few things. The king’s place in the ceremonials before a tenant-in-chief could assume his inheritance was not taken from him, nor could anyone else claim the authority to pardon homicides or to issue royal charters. Such rights may well have served as a constant reminder of how indispensable the king was and contributed to his recovery of power.


Keywords: kingship, thirteenth-century England, Henry III, baronial movement