Behind many great male rulers, whether politicians or monarchs, there have been very intelligent and gifted women who have stood by them.
Eleanor de Montfort was the Countess of Leicester and Pembroke and a very influential woman in 13th-century England, especially during the Second Barons’ War.
Eleanor was born in 1215 and was the youngest child of King John of England and Isabella of Angoulême. By the time Eleanor was 16, she was a widow after losing her first husband, William Marshal. Then, she met Simon de Montfort, an English nobleman who was affiliated with the king.
Eleanor and Simon married in 1238, and Eleanor became the Countess of Pembroke and Leicester. Interestingly, Simon grew to be heavily against Eleanor’s brother, King Henry III.
During the mid-13th century, English barons were unsatisfied with King Henry III’s rule. Between 1264 and 1267, England found itself in the Second Barons’ War.
Simon led the baronial party and the rebellion against the king, Eleanor’s brother. After Henry III was captured in the Battle of Lewes in 1264, Simon became the ruler of England.
Eleanor was very politically involved during her husband’s reign. She was opinionated and assertive, constantly communicating with Simon and his military efforts. She often hosted guests and was very good at networking, unlike other more submissive wives.
However, Simon’s reigning days did not last long, as Eleanor received the tragic news in August of 1265 that her husband and eldest son had been killed at the Battle of Evesham, marking the end of their regime.
Eleanor was then forced to leave Dover Castle and exiled from England. Eleanor stood up for herself and negotiated what her life would look like without Simon and his power.