Henri III of England

Feb 2019
Do you guys mind giving me your opinions? Most of what I can remember about Henry I read in Thomas B. Costain's "the Platagenents." He made him sound like a weak-willed good-hearted type.

What is his proper place in history, bearing in mind that he was the son of John?
Mar 2016
What is his proper place in history, bearing in mind that he was the son of John?
He had the misfortune of becoming king as a young child and during a time where the barons had enormous power and autonomy. His reign saw a long back-and-forth between royal power and baronial power, which he lost a few times (most notably in the coalition led by Simon de Montfort) but he ultimately won thanks in no small part to his son (the future Edward I). Royal power was fairly strong and secured by the end of his reign, although Parliament had already begun to be established as a significant factor in the English political community. But this was preferable to open civil war with the barons. However, his reign was not particularly impressive or wise. His blatant favouritism to his French relatives - giving them high offices in government over local barons and lords - caused a lot of controversy and unrest among the upper class, and his bad economic management and heavy-handed enforcement of taxation was allegedly the real inspiration for Robin Hood. His attempt to reconquer the Angevin lands in France were a complete disaster, both militarily and economically, and he wasted a lot of time, effort and money trying to secure Sicily for his dynasty following the defeat of the Hohenstaufens which ultimately was completely unsuccessful and pointless. He had grand ambitions for expansion but lacked the skill to actually achieve any of it. However, his two redeeming qualities were his extreme piety, driven by his adoration of Edward the Confessor which led him to rebuild Westminster Abbey, and raising his son Edward, who would go on to be England's greatest king.

He's a very complicated king to judge. He reigned for a long time and ultimately England was fairly stable and peaceful by the end of his reign unlike that of his father John's, but he also lacked the charisma, energy and skill of John. He's also overshadowed by his far greater son and successor. He made a lot of mistakes but he was fortunate that luck was on his side and he managed to get through many crises. His eventual willingness to cooperate with the barons on a near-equal level was very important for the development of Parliamentarianism in England, which his son would further support and solidify.


Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
He was a weak king.
His weakness led to, ultimately, Parliament's existence, and the full implementation of Magna Carta.

He was lucky to have had (then) Prince Edward Longshanks to help him defeat de Montfort at Evesham.
Moreover, his father King John gave lip service to Magna Carta, as did the nobles in truth, since it was just a piece of paper to keep both sides quiet.

But his ineptitude as king made the old model of English kingship (in a king supported by the nobles and senior clergy) develop into one where the King relied on Parliament for taxation.

He's not the worst Plantagenet king imho. That accolade goes to Richard Lionheart. I don't care what he did in the Crusades, but John at least had some positive administrative developments and had some interest in England's administration. Richard only used England for taxation to fund his Crusades. The best imho incidentally is Edward Longshanks.
Jul 2007
There are a couple of good books out there on Henry III:

Darren Baker - Henry III - The Great King England Never Knew It Had
Matthew Lewis - Henry III, The Son of Magna Carta

Might want to give them a try if you are interested.
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