It was his King John’s son who unwittingly went about defining our sense of nationhood even further. His son was called Henry (very original name that John). Henry III was a pious king who devoted his time to prayer and pilgrimage, he must have been boring as fuck. One day, The Pope invited Henry to buy the Kingdom of Sicily for absolutely no fucking reason other than to enrich himself further. Henry moronically did as he was asked. It was a mistake. He’d have to raise taxes and this went against the interests of the barons and the population as a whole. Purchasing a costly Mediterranean island for no apparent reason made him about as popular as HS2 in Aylesbury.
After John lost all the Plantagenet lands abroad, the barons had been forced to swear allegiance to either the French or the British crowns, the English Channel (as we like to call it) was no longer a bridge, it was a barrier that separated two new nations. John losing land in France was in some regards the start of an English sense of Englishness. We’d cut ties with the continental mainland and a growing sense of national pride began to emerge. This was a medieval from of Brexit but for some it wasn’t hard enough.
Henry had still managed to fill his court with foreign born Frenchies, they all spoke French and did French-like things with garlic hanging round their necks. The Brexit barons resented them as they no longer owned lands in France, they were English and they didn’t trust outsiders. They were suspicious of these foreigners who came over here and occupied perfectly good English castles without even contributing anything to the economy (whilst also receiving benefits). NHS waiting times were through the roof. There was a growing sense of national feeling that conflicted with these French fuckers being over here. A chronicle of the time, written by a monk called Mathew Parris (Parris….seriously?) praised a Brexit baron who had been fighting a French invasion force. He used an interesting piece of language that perhaps far-right political groups may wish to adopt, ‘anglir – anglia’ its translation simply means, ‘England for the English’. This is proof that even monks are racist.
Eventually, the 13th Century Brexiteers had had enough of the king’s French relatives living in THEIR English castles. In April 1258, seven of them, wearing full suits of armour, marched into Henry’s court and demanded that all his French relatives fuck off back to France and return the castles. This is the kind of shit that Jacob Rees-Mogg masturbates to. I imagine they also adopted the ‘power stance’ that Tories use in photoshoots, George Osborne did it best.
Henry was completely bankrupt and was at the mercy of his barons. He was forced to relent. His submission sparked a flurry of reforms that are still with us today. A king had been humiliated and the way that England was governed completely changed. The ‘Provisions of Oxford’ meant that for the first time in English history, the king (reluctantly) shared his power with a council. Medieval kings had always ruled alone but silly Henry III had totally fucked up the best power trip in the world. This was a huge turning point in our history. Seven angry barons, wearing suits of armour (full-kit wankers, they even had shin pads on as well) had managed to grab a little power for themselves and their mates. Royal authority was now to a large extent limited and a new institution was established; it’s name derived from the French word for ‘speak’ (parle) and ‘Parliament’ was born.
Parliament soon turned against Henry. His own brother-in-law, Simon De Monfort condemned Henry as a king who had lost touch with the people, not that any medieval king was ever really in touch with ‘the people’. Monsieur De Monfort believed he would be a better ruler so he did what any reasonable psychopath would do and raised an army against the king. He won. Henry escaped but was now king in name only. For the following fifteen months Simon De Monfort ruled England and he did so through Parliament. In 1265, he even built an extension. The esteemed property owners of England were told to elect their own knights and hobbits from the shires and boroughs and send them to Parliament. Obviously, they weren’t allowed to sit with the bishops and barons, they were to have their own little house - for common folk. These new institutions would later be known as, The House of Lords and The House of Commons. If you’re bang into drugs and prostitutes then try and get yourself in with The Lord’s side, although someone will have to put you there – as you may already be aware we still haven’t got around to electing officials into that house yet. The long arm of egalitarianism doesn’t stretch that far even in the 21st Century.
De Monfort had put together the beginnings of our democracy. The Crown had to answer to Parliament. Don’t go thinking De Monfort was a nice guy. He was a huge anti-Semite. He ordered all Jewish people to be thrown out of England and then went about massacring any that he found. Jeremy Corbyn probably has a shrine dedicated to him in his bedroom. He got his comeuppance at the Battle of Evesham where royal forces led by Edward (Henry III’s son) defeated Simon and his army. They didn’t just kill him, they cut of his testicles and hung them round his nose, always larking about those medieval jesters, proper banter that. De Monfort was dead but his Parliament lived on. Henry III was back, thanks to his son. Then he died. He was buried at the gaff he’d spent most of his fortune on (Sicily aside), Westminster Abbey. He requested that his heart be cut out and buried in France. Twat.
Henry III had made two massive mistakes during his reign. He kept running out of money and he kept pissing the barons off with his shit French mates. As a result, royal power had been diminished and English kings had to now cooperate with elected officials in Parliament. In a strange way, our suspiciousness of the French has led to the birth of our democracy. Perhaps if we flood the tunnel, ban baguettes and stop eating croissants, we may be able to reform The House of Lords.