The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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238                   THE SUSSEX COAST
baronial soldiers: " Come out, you bad miller! . . . you, forsooth, to turn a wretched mill-master; you, who defied us all so proudly, and would have no meaner title than King of the Romans, for ever August." He was ignominiously captured, and scoffing ballads concerning the event gave so much offence in high quarters that in the third year of Edward I. an Act was passed " against slanderous reports and tales to cause discord between King and people." This seems to have been a source of the libel laws and helps to account for the old maxim " the greater truth the greater libel." The fact that the libellous ballads and also the Annals by a certain monk of Lewes (Cotton MSS.) of the same date crudely call Richard " King of Germany " seems to show that even at that time the " Holy Roman Empire " and " King of the Romans " con­veyed little more to many intelligent people than they do at the present day.
The Battle of Lewes did much to found the House of Commons, representatives from the towns being henceforth summoned to Parliament (not at first regularly), and although at first they thought attendance there a bore, they were gradually to change its whole character. Simon de Montfort, though of foreign extraction, became a national hero, and his grave a place of pilgrimage. By popular acclaim he was placed among the saints, whose company indeed includes many a worse man than he. Though never under the official direc­tion of the Church's hierarchy, he was invoked by many lips.
"Hail, Simon de Montfort, hail, Knighthood's fairest flower ! England does thy death bewail, Whom thou didst shield with power.
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