Montfort The Early Years 1229 to 1243


By Katherine Ashe

Publisher : Wake Robin Press

ABOUT Katherine Ashe

Katherine Ashe
I've spent some 34 years researching the life of Simon de Montfort and the 13th century to write my four volume series, Montfort. During that time I also wrote plays, screenplays and radio plays on historical subjects from Columbus and the Borgias to, "Johnny!" on the early 20th  More...



Simon, an all but penniless French youth brought up as companion to King Louis IX of France (Saint Louis), arrives at the Westminster court of King Henry III, where drunkenness is the rule, and young Henry is floundering in his efforts to hold onto his kingdom and his French dukedoms. 
Simon hopes to gain his family's grand, but lapsed, titles Earl of Leicester, Steward of England. More interested in interior decorating than the daily drudgery of charters, Henry befriends the French lad to learn of the court in Paris.
But when the King marries Eleanor of Provence, the daughter of Simon's family's worst enemy, the conflict between Simon and Henry begins a course that will only end with the suppression of the Crown's rule, then Simon's death.

Back in 1977 I was writing another book, a fantasy about fairies actually, with episodes that took place in England in 1258, the year of the consecration of Salisbury Cathedral. I thought I should know what was happening then so I hauled out my Britannica. The encyclopedia's article told of The Barons' War, led by Simon de Montfort. I looked up the article on Montfort -- and was rather stunned by what I took to be curiously bitter negativity. I was surprised by my reaction for I knew nothing of this person -- who was I to criticize the Britannica? A couple of weeks later, attending the reopening of my local public library, my very nearsighted gaze was drawn to a distant set of books in green bindings. Without looking at the title I took one of the books off the shelf and let it fall open where it would. The book was Greene's History of England, and the open page described Simon's death at Evesham -- from the point of view of a writer who thought well of him. I shut the book, determined that exploring the truth of Simon's life would be my next project. I had no idea that project would span 34 years.

Montfort The Early Years: Ashe presents a jousting first installment of a four-volume fiction on the deeply contentious founder of parliament, Simon de Montfort… If the novel is thoroughly researched as Ashe’s is—from descriptions of medieval latrines and houseboys called “Garbage” to the decadence of Europe’s emperors—it is all the more thoroughly imagined.   Kirkus 

Ashe has done an amazing job researching the life of Simon de Montfort and the 13th century. Her speculation about Edward’s paternity is based on an interpretation of King Henry’s recorded comments following Queen Eleanor’s first confession after Edward’s birth. It will be interesting to see how Ashe works this premise into the rest of the tale.
    This is a thoroughly engaging narrative of the life of Simon de Montfort and I look forward to reading the next volumes.                                                                Debra Spidal. Historical Novel Society Review

In a tale crammed with romance, deceit,rampant ambition, failures and triumphs galore, readers will get all they hoped for in this deeply researched and well-told historical narrative. Jane Geniesse, author, Passionate Nomad

“A marvelous work of literature and a great story you have here.”  Bill Jaker, “Off the Page” WSKG Public Radio

“A great read… an marvelous, almost cinematic epic.”  Erika Funke, “Art Scene” WVIA Public Radio