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THE distant view of the Castle and Battle Field of Lewes having led the Author to examine, with additional interest, the causes and circumstances of the great event which has given them a place in history, he felt that the mere details of a sanguinary contest would be unsatisfactory, unless, in some degree, illustrated by the manners and temper of the times, as well as by the characters and motives of the chief actors. He has not therefore scrupled to digress widely with that object, and the intended narrative of a day has insensibly swelled into a sketch of many years; but on considering the importance of that period of British history, it did not appear that justice would otherwise be done to the subject.
Surprise may well be felt by those who are not conversant with the rude materials from which History has to be constructed, at the confusion and contradictions of the various chronicles relating to these times: many of these have been consulted by
the author in manuscript, and of several important papers which have been lately published free use has been also made. Much of their discrepancy, however, becomes corrected by the authentic test of public documents, and much by a due consideration of the circumstances of the writers. While party bias, for they had party even in those days, often induced some to distort facts, others, from the seclusion of their habits, had no means of accurately ascertaining even contemporary events; not a few wrote a century too late for collecting original evidence, and many in their indiscriminate records did not refuse even "profane and old-wives' fables." Later writers in succession, glad of an easy path, have often contentedly followed such authorities, as on a sheep-track, without further enquiry. The weight of each witness thus requiring adjustment in the balance, a list of the principal references has been subjoined, somewhat explanatory of their relative value.
Several specimens of the quaint but characteristic poetry of the age have been purposely introduced in
evidence of the opinions then current, and the aspect of their antique phraseology has been occasionally rendered less forbidding by translation.
To the kindness of friends the author is much indebted for some of the illustrations*, and for some *These have been omitted from the present edition.-Editor.
notices on the family of Simon de Montfort in its foreign branches.
The following pages were not intended as a disquisition on the origin and nature of Parliaments, so ably treated by others, and being but "an ancient tale new told," may not present many new facts to the historical student, yet it is hoped that the details, freshly gathered from their original sources, and here newly combined, may impart to some readers a clearer view or a warmer interest in so remarkable a crisis of British history.
W. H. B.
AFTER Mr Blaauw's death, I learned that he had been preparing a second edition of the Barons' War when he was struck down by the illness that eventually carried him off. There was a difficulty in finding any one who could see the sheets through the press. Under these circumstances I volunteered to give what aid I could. When the papers came into my hands, I found that the author had scarcely touched the text except to make a few verbal corrections, most of which had been suggested to him by his friend, the well-known archæologist, Mr Weston S. Walford. On the other hand there was a mass of notes, many of which were quotations from modern authors or picturesque extracts from chronicles that had struck Mr Blaauw's fancy. Altogether, I think, several pages had been transcribed from Jocelin de Brakelond. It was clearly unnecessary to reprint these, and I have therefore had the difficult task of sifting what was to be retained from