The ins and outs, and ups and downs of the period known as the Age of Baronial Reform which exploded in 1258 and lasted until 1267, is a complicated story. Adrian Jobson has provided a very clear and well-researched narrative showing the origins of the the reform movement before 1258 and he takes the reader through the following years stage by stage until peace returns again to England but he also looks at the on-going legacy of these dramatic events. He shows that, whilst Henry III is often depicted as a rather simple monarch who could be easily persuaded, the King could pursue policies over a longer period with determination, ruthlessness and even guile. Simon de Montfort's central importance is fully acknowledged but, whilst his heroic continuing determination to support reform is acknowledged, Jobson also shows that, from early on, Montfort's self interest was often a powerful motive for his actions. When, after the battle of Lewes, Montfort achieved almost complete power, he lost support by using it to foster the interests of his own family. The continuing role of the King's brother, Richard of Cornwall, as a mediator and arbitrator is clearly demonstrated. This is an excellent, easy to read book which explains the complexities of the time well.
This was a well researched and rewarding read for anyone interested in the thirteenth century Baron's Wars between Henry III and Simon de Montfort. It is balanced- you won't find Simon the Saint on these pages!- but that is one of the things I loved about it. The conclusion discusses the Wars' place in history and draws comparisons with the reigns of Edward Ii, Richard Ii and Charles I, which was a great end to a great book.
Clarity… not something academics are very good at. The author certainly displays an impressive depth of knowledge on the subject but tortured syntax and sentence structure leave the reader gasping for air at the end of every paragraph. This one’s probably best left in the library with the university monographs, for the interested non-academic like myself I’d recommend John Sadler's excellent book; The Second Baron’s War.