Weak Rulers = Opportunities?

currently playing on my iPod: Two Against One by Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi

Henry III, king of England from 1216 to 1272, was a total sissy.

Seriously. For a medieval king, he was way weak. First off, he hated war. That is so not medieval of him. In fact, his grave site is engraved with something along the lines of “…war is sweet to those who have not lived it”. When he did stop going to mass for a bit and headed to France to get his lost lands back, he failed miserably. Fighting was just not his forte.

Secondly, he would not humble himself enough to take any advice. Matthew Paris (really famous medieval chronicler) said, “He (Henry III) acted imprudently and without the advice of his nobles, alike rejecting all deliberation and prudence, which generally consider the results of actions beforehand…He ought really to have learned wisdom…” Only sissies are so afraid of being weak that they won’t listen to the men who really run the country.

Third, Henry openly admitted his fear to a political opponent. Not a good move in 1258. One stormy summer day, Henry hid out in the Bishop of Durham’s palace only to find himself face to face with one Simon de Montfort (note: that guy’s definitely not a sissy). Here’s what the jelly-knee king said to his nemesis. “I fear thunder and lightning beyond measure (really, he said that!); but, by God’s head, I fear you more than all the thunder and lightning in the world.” Who says that to the guy looking to kick your tail off the throne? Like I said, sissy.

But England is not worse off for having such a wimp as king back in the day. No way. Because of Henry III’s lack of political smarts and sad portion of, let’s just say, cojones, England gained a Parliament.

Simon de Montfort saw the opportunity in his country’s weak ruler and helped to establish a form of government that places all around the globe mimic even today. Was it perfect? No, but it was hugely better than the mean-spirited, big fisted monarchy setup of earlier days. All in all Henry’s sissiness led to the great place that England is now. So, thanks, Henry III, for being a holy-rollin’, scared of the boom booms, war hating hippie.

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