The Lord Edward

Good man, bad king: a portrait of Henry III

Henry III sat on the English throne for 57 years. Among English monarchs, only George III, Victoria and the late Queen reigned for longer. But they only reigned. Henry’s problem was that he was expected to rule. In medieval England, the role of the king was critical. Public order collapsed without a functioning court system founded on the impartial authority of an active ruler. The scramble for office and influence at the centre quickly turned to civil war when the monarch allowed his vast patronage to be monopolised by a cabal. Contemporaries were satisfied that Henry III was a bad king. But what kind of bad king was he? Some