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Simon de Montfort’s hold over King Henry III of England in the mid 13th century was short-lived. After the Battle of Lewes in 1264 de Montfort thought his power would last forever, but just over a year later, in August 1265, he was dead, defeated at the Battle of Evesham and killed with many of his followers, including two of his sons. His surviving followers scattered throughout England and across the Channel in France.
Those who remained in England either gave their allegiance to de Montfort’s remaining family and joined his son in Kenilworth Castle, or fled to save themselves. A large number hid in the Fens, the marshlands of East Anglia, where they stole from the inhabitants and lived by the rule of the sword. Others joined old allies in London, where they were still welcomed by some of the citizens.
For Gregory Rokesley and his friends these were anxious times. The King, once restored, demanded their assistance. His punishment of de Montfort’s followersknown as The Disinherited because their lands were forfeitunsettled the country and made it dangerous to travel. It was uncertain who could be trusted and who had taken the side of the King’s enemies.
Throughout the next two years, Gregory, and Hubert his faithful retainer, along with their friends at court and in the Jewry, struggled to maintain a normal life. Eventually, however, someone who all of the tight-knit group thought could be trusted turned out to be the greatest traitor of them all.
Yet, despite the bad times, there were reasons to celebrate, too. A new baby for one couple and a long-awaited wedding for another pair brought joy to the group of friends.