Dictum of Kenilworth

Dictum of Kenilworth
Award of reconciliation between the king and the rebels of the Barons' War
Kenilworth Castle
TypeEdict, award
Signed31 October 1266
LocationKenilworth Castle
Effective14 December 1266
ConditionRestoration of rebels' land, in exchange for fines.
LanguageLatin

The Dictum of Kenilworth, issued on 31 October 1266, was a pronouncement designed to reconcile the rebels of the Second Barons' War with the royal government of England. After the baronial victory at the Battle of Lewes in 1264, Simon de Montfort took control of royal government, but at the Battle of Evesham the next year Montfort was killed, and King Henry III restored to power. A group of rebels held out in the stronghold of Kenilworth Castle, however, and their resistance proved difficult to crush.

A siege of the castle was started, but through papal intervention King Henry later entered on a more conciliatory path. A commission was appointed to draw up an arrangement that would be acceptable to both sides. The resulting Dictum of Kenilworth offered the rebels the right to buy back forfeited estates, at prices depending on their level of involvement in the rebellion. After initial resistance, the terms were eventually accepted. By the summer of 1267, the country was pacified, and this spirit of reconciliation would last until the 1290s. The Dictum of Kenilworth was later incorporated into the Statute of Marlborough.

Background

At the Battle of Lewes in 1264, the rebellious barons, led by Simon de Montfort, had defeated the royal army and taken King Henry III captive.[1] For the next year, the reins of government were in Montfort's hands, but his support soon began to crumble.[2] On 4 August 1265, Montfort faced an army led by Prince Edward (later King Edward I) and the powerful Earl of Gloucester, who had recently defected to the royalist side, at the Battle of Evesham.[3] The battle resulted in a complete royal victory; Montfort was killed, and King Henry III was restored to full power.[4]

Part of the rebellious forces held out, however, and their stronghold was the virtually impregnable Kenilworth Castle.[5] In the summer of 1266, a siege of the castle was initiated, but the effort proved futile.[6] There were rumours that Montfort's son Simon the Younger was planning an invasion of England from Normandy, and this was the hope that the rebels hung on to.[7] It was in this situation that the papal legate Ottobuono Fieschi exerted his influence, to make the king pursue a more conciliatory policy.[8] In August, the king summoned a parliament at Kenilworth, where the siege was ongoing.[9] He commissioned a number of earls, barons and bishops to draft a treaty of reconciliation.[10]