The aged William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, by far the most important and respectable personage who had adhered to John's cause, assumed the position of regent. He at once offered in the name of the young king pardon and oblivion of offences to all the insurgent barons. At the same time he reissued the Great Charter, containing all the important concessions which John had made at Runnymede, save that which gave the control of taxation to the tenants-in-chief. Despite this and certain other smaller omissions, it was a document which would satisfy most subjects of the crown, if only it were faithfully observed. The youth of the king and the good reputation of the earl marshal were a sufficient guarantee that, for some years at any rate, an honest attempt would be made to redeem the pledge. Very soon the barons began to return to their allegiance, or at least to slacken in their support of Louis, who had given much offence by his openly displayed distrust of his partisans and his undisguised preference for his French followers. The papal influence was at the same time employed in the cause of King Henry, and Philip of France was forced to abandon open support of his son, though he naturally continued to give him secret help and to send him succours of men and money.

The fortune of war, however, did not turn without a battle. At Lincoln, on the 20th of May 1217, the marshal completely defeated an Anglo-French army commanded by the Count of Perche and the earls of Winchester and Hereford. The former was slain, the other two taken prisoners, with more than 300 knights and barons. This was the death-blow to the cause of Louis of France; when it was followed up by the defeat in the Dover Straits of a fleet which was bringing him reinforcements (August 17), he despaired of success and asked for terms. By the Treaty of Lambeth (September 11, 1217) he secured an amnesty for all his followers and an indemnity of 10,000 marks for himself. Less than a month later he quitted England; the victorious royalists celebrated his departure by a second reissue of the Great Charter, which contained some new clauses favourable to the baronial interest.

After the departure of Prince Louis and his foreigners the earl marshal had to take up much the same task that had fallen to Henry II in 1154. Now, as at the death of Stephen, the realm was full of adulterine castles, of bands of robbers who had cloaked their plundering under the pretence of loyal service to the king or the French prince, and of local magnates who had usurped the prerogatives of royalty, each in his own district. It was some years before peace and order were restored in the realm, and the aged Pembroke died in 1219 before his work was completed.

After his decease the conduct of the government passed into the hands of the justiciar Hubert de Burgh, and the papal legate Pandulf, to whom the marshal had specially recommended the young king. Their worst enemies were those who during the civil war had been their best friends, the mercenary captains and upstart knights whom John had made sheriffs and castellans. From 1219 to 1224 de Burgh was constantly occupied in evicting the old loyalists from castles which they had seized or offices which they had disgraced. In several cases it was necessary to mobilize an army against a recalcitrant magnate. The most troublesome of them was Falkes de Breaut, the most famous of King John's foreign condottieri, whose minions held Bedford castle against the justiciar and the whole shire levy of eastern England for nearly two months in 1224. The castle was taken and eighty men-at-arms hanged on its surrender, but Falkes escaped with his life and fled to France. It was not till this severe lesson had been inflicted on the faction of disorder that the pacification of England could he considered complete.

Text extracted from the entry for ENGLISH HISTORY in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

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